Prof Bala V Balachandran, the name behind three successful management schools — Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, and his own Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM), Chennai — the JL Kellogg Distinguished Professor (Emeritus in service) of accounting and information Management, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA, settles for a brief chat with edex on management education and more.
Kapil Sibal has been pressurising IIMs to offer degrees and not diplomas. Will GLIM and other institutes come under the scanner too?
Though Mr Sibal is a great leader, he fails to understand that it is the final output that matters and what your course is being called is trivial. Whether it is a master degree, diploma or a certificate, if the course or the institute attracts the best business/HR leaders in the country, you are a winner in the making. Though universities may offer degrees, when compared to IIMs or other top institutes, the brand value pales.
Why has GLIM started two-year MBA programmes?
When institutes are moving away from the so-called traditional two-year programmes to one-year programmes, we have ventured to do the reverse. We did not wish to lose good quality students to other institutes because our one-year programme requires you to at least have two years of work experience. We thought why not be more flexible and equally accommodate students with less than two years of work experience. Those under 24 months of experience can opt for the two-year programme while the rest can head for our fast track one-year MBA. For the very purpose of not losing students, I have even made the canteen to cater to non-vegetarians.
Management colleges are mushrooming practically at every corner of the country. Are you worried about the effect it would have on the quality of institutes and students?
Yes, there are indeed a lot of scams and fly-by-night institutes that are purely here to make a quick buck. Not only is the quality going down, student numbers are also going down. Just like engineering colleges in the South, these institutes have a lot of vacant seats. Another concern is the quality of faculty. Where will you scout for so much quality faculty who at least hold a PhD qualification, forget about the experience of having worked in reputed institutes. But that being said, there will always be good institutes for deserving candidates.
A person you idolise.
There are two in fact — Ravi Mathai, founder and creator, IIM-A. Though I had an opportunity to work with him for just two-and-a-half-months, he left a lasting impression on me. We talk about academics highly all the time, but here was someone who has just a bachelor’s and yet is the person behind India’s finest b-school.
The other is Donald P Jacobs who was my dean at Kellogg School of Management, ie, my alma mater. He is like an elder brother. He was the one who stressed on the importance of a global mindset but at the same time keeping intact your desi roots was important too. I am merely carrying their legacy forward.
Economists you follow.
Am a big time fan of the teachings and research of the late Peter Drucker and our own CK Prahalad (also no more). — firstname.lastname@example.org