Interview with Rahul Dasgupta, Trustee, Globsyn Knowledge Foundation on Management Education

Baishali Mukherjee got in touch with Rahul Dasgupta, Trustee, Globsyn Knowledge Foundation, to delve deep into the issues with management education today. Dasgupta who has emerged as a thought leader and has understood the requisites of the management industry is shaping Globsyn Business School accordingly, with an edifice built on Innovation, Research and Technology, coupled with unique initiatives in the form of ‘Knowledge Connect’ and ‘Corporate Connect’.


A selected excerpt of the interaction –


Not even halfway through the 21st century, mere management education from an institution, irrespective of the rank it secures on the league table is not considered adequate any longer. – Your comment. What else is needed?


Management education, like every other education domain, is under tremendous pressure from the industry to stay relevant in today’s internet-dominated economy. The three major limitations that management education faces come from three of its most important stakeholders – students, institutions and governance. While students are focused on their exit with a high-paying job and not on the knowledge and skills to be acquired during their time in a B-School, most management institutions are keen on only delivering the ‘curriculum’ to equip the students with the required knowledge to get a job. Doing so, they miss out on enabling the students with skills – cognitive, inter-personal and intra-personal – required to operate in today’s corporate environment.


The governing ordinances for management education stresses on the academic qualification, without giving much importance to the industry experience of the faculty. While academic qualification is important, industry experience of a faculty helps bring in relevant experiences and cases to compliment the curriculum delivery to a cohort.


The approach to tackle these limitations should be respective to the three stakeholders and in some cases, also the influencers. India is still a country where career paths of youngsters are influenced by their parents. Both students and their parents, even in the post graduate education level, should be counseled and educated to give importance to the acquisition of knowledge and skills over the high-paying job. From our experience of being connected to the industry we can definitely say that there are fewer number of ‘relevant’ graduates when compared to the job opening available with the corporates. This we know since Globsyn Business School deals with over 150 corporates across multiple sectors every year.


Institutions, irrespective of the rank it secures on the league table, mostly still depend on the curriculum and pedagogy that was developed during their formative years. Furthermore, the corporate world today evolves at a much faster pace than what it did two years ago, which makes it challenging for the B-schools to stay relevant. In this world of Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Blockchain and IoT, where the concept of geographies and offices have transcended all walls and boundaries, academic knowledge alone doesn’t make a student ‘relevant’ for the corporate world. Therefore, B-Schools should continuously innovate to ensure their pedagogy and curriculum stay relevant in the 21st century. Activities, exercises and role-plays ‘beyond traditional education’ need to be an integral part of the curriculum to ensure the students develop cognitive, inter-personal and intra-personal skills to be truly ‘ready’ and ‘relevant’ for the industry.


Deep knowledge of a subject is required to deliver an academic curriculum. But, when we are talking about management sciences, which is more behavioral than writing lines of codes, maintaining books of accounts or ensuring smooth movement of the conveyer belt, bringing in live experiences or cases into classroom, enables better application of the subject. While governing bodies mandate the academic qualification of the faculty in a B-School, industry experience to compliment the knowledge should also be mandated to better employ innovative academic delivery mechanisms.


Fortunately, the current governing body, AICTE, has started taking small steps to bridge this skills gap by introducing mechanisms like ‘Flip Classroom’, which they are proposing every institute should adopt. Let me explain the concept of a ‘Flip Classroom’ for you to understand why a faculty with industry experience will be marginally better than those without any industry experience. In a ‘Flip Classroom’ students are required to acquire the basic knowledge of the subject out of classroom and come to class prepared to participate in the experiential and case-based learning facilitated by the faculty. This would ensure better retention and application of the knowledge gained.


How do you define industry ready candidates?


Before I get on to define an ‘industry ready candidate’, I would like to highlight that being ‘industry relevant’ is as important as being ‘industry ready’. Being ‘industry ready’ does not ensure a person to be sustainable in a particular job role, the person also needs to be relevant to both the job role and the industry. An institution’s responsibility does not end with creating ‘industry ready candidates’ and placing them, but to place them in relevant jobs based on their skill-set, attitude and aptitude.


The emergence of AI and Data Analytics has made this far easier than what it used to be. At Globsyn, we are in the process of building an AI tool that matches students to the offers coming to campus. This process ensures only relevant students apply for the appropriate jobs. Doing this, we believe, will have two-pronged benefits – corporates will save a lot of time and energy through the leaner hiring process, and students will be able to get an offer within fewer opportunities.


Now, let us demystify the term, ‘industry ready’. As I have already mentioned, it is not the knowledge alone that makes a student ‘industry ready’. Activities, exercises and role-plays ‘beyond traditional education’ need to be an integral part of the curriculum to ensure that the students develop cognitive, inter-personal and intra-personal skills. We believe in Learning Beyond Education, where students are exposed to various out of classroom activities involving running virtual organizations, building business ideas, elderly care, specially-abled care, underprivileged education, conducting healthcare camps and other myriad of social activities.


Beyond our curriculum, we also organize Lecture Sessions with renowned technologists on subjects like AI, Data Analytics, Blockchain and IoT. We have also introduced the concept of Boardroom, wherein students assume the different senior management roles of an organization with a representative from the corporate playing the role of the Chairman of the board that is tasked upon to solve simulated business crisis situations. These activities help students imbibe leadership and intrapreneurial skills, become dedicated and compassionate managers and be technologically bent, which makes them truly ‘ready’ and ‘relevant’ for the current industry.


The real challenge an institution faces is how to teach the emerging players of the industry ‘How to learn’ and mould the candidates to become ‘Self-managed learners’. – Your comment.


In India, the students are all but 23-24 years of age, fresh out of college, with little or no experience. It is not their fault that they are not ‘self-managed learners’ who are not equipped with the know-how of ‘how to learn’. Majority consider post graduate education as an extension of their college days. Yet they look at their post graduate education as a road map to a high-paying job. These factors keep the students from ‘learning’ during their time in a B-School, which is the foundation of their success in their respective careers.


The institutions should build a ‘learner-centric’ pedagogy, which emphasizes on experiential and case-based teaching methodologies. The pedagogy should enable acquisition of knowledge, followed by application and management of it, to finally ensure performance. This is exactly what we do when delivering our curriculum through our proprietary Knowledge Finishing School (KFS) System. The KFS System moves beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge and stresses more on the application and management of it, as these lead to the performance of the students; and all of these happen while they operate in teams which we call ‘learning groups’.


Globsyn Business School is truly on its way to create an agile group of professionals equipped to operate in today’s technology driven business environment. – How?


I had mentioned in an earlier question how appreciation and knowledge of emerging technology platforms ensure that students are ‘ready’ and ‘relevant’ for the current industry. While on one side we provide Lecture Sessions on emerging technology subjects, we also rely heavily on technology to streamline various systems and processes that you would come across in an education institute. We have a platform called GBS Direct, which enable students to get admitted in to GBS from the comfort of their homes. We were among the first institutions in the country to have a dedicated LMS portal, eGlobsyn, that acts as a virtual classroom allowing the students to access all their learning resources, interact with faculty on subject matters and take self-assessments to regularly monitor their progress.


I would also like to mention here that GBS is among the first institutions in India, which has done away with the age old system of issuing paper certificates and replaced them with digital certificates issued on Blockchain. As mentioned earlier, we are also in the process of building a tool that matches students to relevant jobs using AI and Data Analytics. When the students are continuously exposed to such technology platforms, it subconsciously aligns them to be comfortable in adopting and operating with new-age technology platforms. While students feel that the technology innovations provided to them by their school is to make their life in GBS easy, they do not know that that we are also preparing an agile group of professionals equipped to operate in today’s technology driven business environment.


What makes Globsyn Business School unique?


All my previous responses actually capture why we are unique, but if I have to summarize it for you I would just quote the sign-off line of our group, ‘taking people to the next level’ and our Chairman, Mr. Bikram Dasgupta’s famous quote, “ordinary people can do extraordinary things”. We truly believe in these two lines and every Globsynite lives by them. Everything that we do – from innovating the Knowledge Finishing School System to implementing Learning Beyond Education, from deep rooted indulgence in technology to matching relevant students to right kind of jobs, from creating ‘industry ready’ mangers to producing ‘industry relevant’ managers – always underpins those two lines.


Anything else you want to share?


Let me introduce you to a new term – VUCA. VUCA is an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, and it is the combination of these four that characterizes the nature of the education market in today’s times. In such a scenario, the post graduate education ecosystem that primarily consists of the students, the faculty, the corporates, the institutes, the government and the parents is plagued with something that I like to call ‘stakeholder integration’. In my earlier responses I have covered majority of the limitations that surrounds these six stakeholder. As long as the stakeholders keep on struggling with the challenges of their own respective domains and not work in tandem towards the greater picture of integrating a better platform for the youth of today, the post graduate education ecosystem will keep on grappling with these bottlenecks.




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