LOYOLA INSTITUTE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
courses in geographical information systems (GIS), neural networks,
and disaster recovery management? That's just one of the changes
Casimir Raj ushered in soon after he returned to LIBA in 2001. The
other thing that the B-school's director did was to introduce the
XLRI test for admissions, widening the scope of students to all
India rather than just south India, and making recruiters take note.
Then, he overhauled large parts of the syllabus, making it contemporary.
His agenda was straightforward: Catch up at least with XLRI, which
is another Jesuit b-school like itself.
On that front, Raj-who in 1986 left LIBA for
XLRI and later Santa Clara University in the US, among others-is
doing rather nicely. While last year LIBA came in at No. 21 (XLRI
did not participate in our survey last year), this year it's at
No. 9, just five places behind its kindred school in eastern India.
What makes LIBA's rank even more commendable is the fact that its
full-time MBA programme is barely eight years old, although it has
had a three-year, part-time course since 1979. Says K. Pandia Rajan,
Managing Director, Ma Foi Consultants, "LIBA has managed to
impress corporates with its curriculum and some good marketing."
Over the last few years, Raj has focused on
improving the school's fundamentals. For example, students had limited
access to computers and the pedagogy did not encourage practical
work. Raj had the institute invest more than Rs 3 crore in setting
up a computer lab with state-of-the-art software tools, including
those for datamining and data warehousing. Today, the 120 students
have unlimited access to the 60 computers in the lab. A barrage
of electives (83 in all, and picking six per term is mandatory)
on subjects like BPO management, emotional intelligence, and safety
management for it ensured that students get a hands-on experience
of the subject. Then, there are projects that all the students have
to work on outside their regular classes. Currently, LIBA-it has
positioned itself as a school of marketing-has six such projects
underway, including one that examines the feasibility of a "value-based"
(in terms of content) south Indian TV channel.
The initiatives have helped bring in more companies
for campus recruitment. Prior to 2001, the number of recruiting
companies was less than 20 on an average. Last year, though, 59
companies came. That's boosted the average annual salary from Rs
72,000 to Rs 3.2 lakh. Says N. Raghavan, Director, ORG-Marg (Chennai):
"LIBA is increasingly getting assessed independent of Loyola
and, as recruiters, we find that the quality of their students is
good. That's what matters."
Small wonder, then, companies like Citigroup,
HDFC Bank, Euro RCG Advertising and Reliance Industries figure among
the recruiters at LIBA. But the young B-school has a long way to
go. It has to spruce up its infrastructure and add to its management
development programmes, of which it only has 20. Agrees Raj: "We
have made a beginning, but the pace has to be stepped up."
Happily for him, LIBA may already have caught a lucky wind.