|One Big Happy Family: ISB's new dean, Vijay
Mahajan, centre, with the new batch at the "Rock"
on the Hyderabad campus
Laurens Hegeler first learnt of the Indian School of Business in
a French magazine. Although the 29-year-old market development manager
at Intel's Munich office already had a degree in international business,
ISB's one-year MBA programme seemed just the kind of experience
he was looking for to switch to Intel's venture capital arm. When
Hegeler, who went to school both in Germany and France, put forth
the idea to his employer, it was excited enough to write out a cheque
for his tuition fee.
Not surprising. The one-year-old school has
just the right kind of credentials to lure students like Hegeler.
Right from the 250-acre campus to its faculty, ISB has the word
global written into its DNA. Conceived by consulting numero uno,
McKinsey and Co., the school is affiliated to the Kellogg School
of Management, the Wharton School, and the London Business School.
Its governing board boasts of corporate big-wigs, including Bernard
Arnault of LVMH, Keki Dadiseth of Unilever, Rajat Gupta of McKinsey,
Bon-Moo Koo of LG, Rahul Bajaj of Bajaj Auto, Ramesh Wadhwani of
i2 Technologies, and N. R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys, among others.
Its one-year MBA programme-designed to reflect
the international trend-is taught by a star-studded visiting faculty,
including Bala Balachandran of Kellogg, Sumantra Ghoshal of London
Business School, Jagmohan Raju of Wharton, and Rajiv Banker of University
of Texas (Dallas). Even the campus is designed by international
architectural firm, Portman & Associates, which made sure that
the modern structure embraces elements of traditional Indian architecture.
For example, many of the buildings have been lifted off the ground
to enhance airflow, and incorporate water bodies in the design for
natural cooling as an answer to Hyderabad's dry weather.
These, then, are some of the reasons why despite
launching its first batch of graduates in 2001-arguably the worst
year for B-schools globally-ISB managed to attract top-notch recruiters
such as Lehman Brothers, Novartis, Unilever, GE, Goldman Sachs,
McKinsey, DaimlerChrysler, and Deutsche Bank. Until about the first
week of July this year (the school follows a rolling placement model),
about 70 companies had visited the campus for recruitment, making
193 offers in all. Of these, 27 were for overseas positions, and
the remaining were local.
|IT TAKES ALL SORTS...
This 29-year-old marketing executive from Intel, Germany, is
looking for a future in the chip-maker's venture capital arm.
A doctor from Christian Medical College, Vellore, Prasad expects
ISB to help marry her knowledge of medicine with management.
The average overseas salary works out to $82,000
and the average rupee salary, Rs 8.4 lakh. Impressively enough,
159 of the offers made on campus were for higher-than-entry-level
positions. The highest Indian salary offered was Rs 28 lakh and
the highest overseas, £140,000. While, most of the batch has
been placed, about 10 students have not received any offer-an issue
the school is grappling with. Says Vijay Mahajan, ISB's dean of
20 days, who has come on lien from the University of Texas at Austin:
"We have no control over the economy, yet in a sluggish market
the school did very well."
Still, Mahajan has his work cut out. With ISB's
processes in place, his focus is now on building the faculty and
raising funds. For starters, he has recast the seven to eight-member
international recruiting committee to include those well connected
with the academic community. Parallely, he has re-energised the
process to undertake a global search best-fit faculty. "I have
also sent out e-mails to all the deans of the major schools that
have phd programmes," he says, as if to emphasise the urgency
and the top attention being given to this issue.
Similarly, Mahajan has begun making presentations
to "high-power people" to get endowments-ISB's primary
source of capital. It had set out to raise about $100 million by
2007, but so far it has managed just half of it. No doubt, the result
of tech meltdown and the global slump. But money is required to
roll out ISB's centres of excellence in five areas: entrepreneurial
development, strategic management, finance, technology and leadership
and change management. "We want to be research-oriented and
produce thought leaders in these areas with a global orientation,"
ISB already has a centre for entrepreneurial
development, named after its benefactor Romesh Wadhwani, Vice Chairman,
i2 Technologies. Launched in December last year, it is founded,
led, and managed by entrepreneurs and academics, and aims to create
entrepreneurs from among the student community. The research focus
is to develop quality entrepreneurship, particularly in developing
The school will need to generate its own funds
for another reason: it has built a capacity three times its current
operations. While its long-term needs are taken care of by the commitments
made by institutions and corporates, it is currently trying to best
manage its cash flows. ISB wouldn't reveal its cash burn rate, but
says that it is "pretty manageable".
To that end, cash management is done in a typical
enterprise fashion, with budgets and a CFO. For sometime now, ISB
has being toying with the idea of looking at "innovative ways"
to generate funds, including bonds. It could also consider raising
funds through endowments or donations for setting up a chair (this
way the expenses of the professor can also be met).
One visible shift in the composition of ISB's
second batch is the increased share of those from information technology
and telecom, and the drop in the number of executives with a manufacturing
| STAR CAST
ISB's visiting faculty list sports some
| KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
Balachandran is the J L Kellogg Distinguished Professor of Accounting
Information & Management and teaches cost management at
LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL
Ghoshal, Professor of Strategic and International Management
at London Business School, was part of the core team that founded
ISB, and gave it a hi-profile.
A Visiting Professor for Marketing Decision Making at Wharton,
Raju is considered an expert in the areas of pricing and retailing.
Currently the Vice Dean and Director of the Wharton Graduate
Division, Allen is a Visiting Professor for Microeconomics.
For instance, more than a quarter of ISB's maiden
batch had experience in manufacturing, but that percentage has dropped
to six in the case of the current batch. In contrast, the share
of it and telecom has gone up from 18 per cent last year to 39 per
cent. Mahajan's explanation: there's relatively less retrenchment
in manufacturing industries, whereas tech executives are using layoffs
as an opportunity to upgrade their skills in a bad year.
Happily for ISB, though, it has more takers
this year. The number of students has increased to 168 from 128
last year. And like last year, the current batch has a diverse background.
There are two doctors, as against one last year (who has now joined
Dr Reddy's Laboratories). One of them is Deepti Prasad. Says the
31 year old, who is passionate about working on social issues and
is involved with the aids Forum in Karnataka: "I see a knowledge
gap between my awareness about the medical healthcare on one end
and the social issues on the other." After ISB, Prasad hopes
to work for some un organisations or may be on individual projects
or even join a company that is socially responsible.
If Prasad is hoping the ISB will help her better
manage social issue projects, her batchmate Reshma Krishnan, the
23-year-old BA in international management from Oxford-Brookes University
B-school, feels the ISB experience will help her bridge the knowledge
gap in finance. Says she: "We have some excellent professors
in this field like Bala V. Balachandran."
Krishnan, whose father is a merchant navy officer
and mother, an entrepreneur from Coimbatore, is hoping for an overseas
job, but would also be comfortable in India. "With family members
spread between Europe and India, any option would suit," she
Placement, says Mahajan, is just one of the
channels to find employment. "We will encourage our students
to aggressively network with alumni and other industry people and
keep themselves attuned to global trends. While Mahajan spends time
between India and Texas, and travels extensively over the next few
months for fund-raising, faculty-building and recruitment, the ISB
will have a question to answer on the permanency at the top, quite
like what Ravi Mathai gave to the Indian Institute of Management
Ahmedabad, and N.S. Ramaswamy to IIM Bangalore in the initial years.
This 23-year-old went to Oxford Brookes University, the UK,
and then joined ISB to strengthen her understanding of corporate
Equally important is the fact that despite its
high-tech campus, with all the gizmos for wired classes and video
conferencing set ups, the ISB is not alone in seeking to provide
students with global perspective and leadership skills.
The IIMs, for instance, are closely looking
at their curriculum and increasing emphasis on giving a global perspective
to their students. As early as last year, Prof. Pritam Singh, Director
of IIM Lucknow, had talked of a global amp (Advanced Management
Programme) at its new campus coming up in Noida, near Delhi. The
programme involves three weeks of stay on the IIM-L campus and two
weeks abroad (France, Germany, United Kingdom and Holland).
The ISB nonetheless, has chalked out plans
to create synergies between India, Asia and the global business
environment by creating a global community of students, faculty,
and business leaders. It will teach its students a distinctive set
of skills and capabilities to capitalise on today's opportunities
and to face tomorrow's challenges.
What the ISB claims to produce is "not
capable management graduates but true global business leaders".
It is now upto the new dean and the new set of students to move
up the path laid out by ISB's ambitious founders.