|Sitting pretty: IIM, Ahmedabad students
at the 2004 convocation ceremony
| INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, AHMEDABAD
FIRST FULL-TIME DIRECTOR:
Ravi J. Mathai
FOUNDER: Dr Vikram Sarabhai
CURRENT DIRECTOR: Bakul Dholakia
N. R. Narayana Murthy
NO. OF GRADUATED BATCHES: 43
once said: "don't sell the steak; sell the sizzle."
the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) treats this
dictum with all the seriousness it deserves. Ask five people the
question: What makes IIM-A special? Chances are you'll get only
one answer: the case method of study. But everyone will qualify
that with his own take on the matter.
Narendra K. Ambwani, President & Managing
Director, Johnson & Johnson India, who passed out of the institute
in 1972, is very clear about it. "This method stresses on
translating theory into practice. And there's a lot to learn from
fellow students with prior work experience." Adds Pankaj
Baliga, Vice President, Tata Consultancy Services, who graduated
from IIM-A in 1971: "The course is structured in a manner
that forces you to think. Mere reading and study are not enough.
You have to come up with solutions for given problems. And when
you discuss everybody else's solutions at the end of the session,
you absorb many different thought processes and emerge richer
from the exercise."
Everyone BT spoke to agreed on this. "The
course comes packaged with two years of high voltage management
fundas," says Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman of Feedback Ventures
and an alumnus from the Class of 1981. "Huge companies are
bought and sold (or often liquidated) in charged case study discussions
only to be restrategised and resurrected in the next session.
Freshly discovered jargon is joyously yelled across from dorm
to dorm. And eager beavers sweat it out together under nerve-wracking
pressure to get the right grades," he adds.
| GLOBAL HR MAGNET
Dholakia, director of IIM-A, prides himself on the fact that
his institute produces "truly global managers".
And recruiters at leading global companies seem to agree with
his assessment. This year itself, as many as 71 IIM-A grads
were picked up by foreign companies for their global ops.
Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and others are
regulars at the campus (see list below). And the roster keeps
growing every year. Says Vikram Bhalla, Principal, Boston
Consulting Group, who handles recruitments for the group:
"The curriculum and training at the institute, and the
depth and quality of the talent pool ensures that you get
young managers who are as good as, and often better than,
those from the best institutes across the world." Bhalla
adds that since the Ivy League colleges have been around much
longer, the alumni network and their reach is greater, "but
it's just a matter of time before IIM-A gets there".
The cases discussed are all "live"
ones; that means they deal with real problems faced by real companies.
"Our faculty members interact regularly with the corporate
world to develop these case studies," informs Bakul Dholakia,
Director of the institute. Typically, two-and sometimes, three-faculty
members get together to develop these cases. The time taken can
vary between one and two months. "We ensure that our cases
keep pace with the times and deal with contemporary issues. We've
recently developed cases dealing with mergers and acquisitions.
We developed cases on derivatives and futures and options when
these instruments were first introduced in India. Before that,
we focussed on supply chain management. Whenever there is a new
development in the real world, we develop a new course to cover
it," he says, adding: "Our faculty is the single-largest
source of teaching material in India."
| NEW FOREIGN RECRUITERS
AT IIM-A IN 2005
Al Ghanim: Kuwait-based business conglomerate
Archeus Capital: New York-based hedge fund
Bain & Co.: One of the top global consulting
Barclays Capital: I-banking arm of Barclays Plc
Booz Allen Hamilton: One of the top global consulting
Deloitte: IT consulting major
General Motors Shanghai: One of the top global auto
Marakon Associates: International consulting major
Singapore Airlines: Well-known airline service
Old favourites Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs,
HSBC, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AT
Kearney, BCG and McKinsey also recruited from IIM-A in 2005
It's little wonder then that ex-students are
still in awe of the teachers who once taught them here. "Anything
said about the quality of faculty at iim-a would be an understatement.
They are 'Gods' in their chosen field, be it finance, hr, organisational
behaviour, etc. They would often point out things the entire class
had missed," says P. Balaji, Vice President, Marketing &
Technical Solutions, Ericsson, who graduated from here in 1990.
Gunit Chadha, Managing Director & CEO
of Deutsche Bank India, who belongs to the Class of 1984, adds
another dimension to the discussion. "To build a reputation
and maintain it consistently over decades is not easy," he
says, adding, "the autonomy IIM-A enjoys is probably one
reason for it. Besides, the place offers exposure to a diverse
environment, not just in terms of learning but also in terms of
the people one meets."
| K.V. KAMATH
MD & CEO/ICICI BANK
CLASS OF 1971
retail thrust and transformed a project finance company into
a retail lending giant
| M.S. BANGA
CLASS OF 1977
First MBA to head
HLL. Spearheaded the
company's power brands strategy in India
|CASE IN POINT
IIM-A is not just the Harvard
of India; it's the Harvard of Asia," says Bakul Dholakia,
the Director of the institute. "Our students analyse
over 300 live cases drawn from Indian, Asian, European and
American industry in the first year and over 200 smaller cases
in the second year. Nowhere (he repeats this word thrice to
emphasise his point) else in the world do you get this kind
of depth and breadth. This is what allows us to develop managers
who can fit into any culture anywhere in the world."
|IIM-A's Dholakia: Leading the
So much so that some former students even
get passing thoughts of returning there. S. Ramasundar, Executive
Vice President (Finance), Ranbaxy, and an alumnus from the Class
of 1976 is one such. "I would love to go back and teach there
if only to keep myself fresh and mentally agile," he says.
That, many ex-students admit, could be the
only way they could get back into their alma mater. Deutsche Bank's
Chadha, for one, is certain he wouldn't get admission were he
to try again today. "IIM-A is probably the toughest place
in the world to get into (apart from the IITs)," he says.
Only the very best gain admission here. And the cream invariably
rises to the top.
That brings us back to the example of the
steak, if you'll pardon the mixed culinary metaphor. Sums up Feedback's
Chatterjee: "IIM-A does a great steak. So do many other B-schools.
But IIM-A undoubtedly does the best sizzle."