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Perched at the top

Recognised globally for excellence in management education, IIM Ahmedabad is now reaching out to the world of research and practice.

Perched at the top

IIM Ahmedabad has been one of the most preferred hunting grounds for recruiters (Photo: Shailesh Raval)

A few days ago, e-commerce giant Amazon made 25 offers to students of flagship Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at IIM, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) for its summer internship. Aditya Birla Group, Mahindra, Tata Administrative Services (TAS), Coca-Cola, General Mills, Hindustan Unilever, ITC and Procter & Gamble have offered leadership roles to students at the cluster two of the summer internship placement process.

More than 40 firms had participated in the cluster one placement race. Accenture Strategy had emerged on top with 17 offers, followed by Bain & Co, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citibank, McKinsey & Co, Morgan Stanley and The Boston Consulting Group. Aggressive state governments have also approached IIM-A. Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary of Telangana Industries Department, recently gave a presentation at IIM-A for attracting top talent.

Ashish Nanda, Director of IIM-A, says the focus of the placement process has always been to seek career fit between students and recruiters. "Economic swings change the sectoral composition of placements somewhat, but overall, our students tend to gravitate towards jobs they find challenging, interesting, and learning-oriented," he says. Nanda, who studied at IIM-A between 1981 and 1983, took up the Director's job after leaving Harvard Law School, where he was the Robert Braucher Professor of Practice.

IIM-A measures academic quality on three dimensions - research (peer-reviewed articles, academic books), teaching and course development (cases and teaching notes), and impact on policy and practice.

With the rise in start-up ambitions in the country, IIM-A initiated two programmes recently to encourage entrepreneurship - 'Young IIMAVericks programme' and 'IIMAvericks Internship programme'. The PGP students looking to kick-start entrepreneurial careers get Rs 7.2 lakh in two years as grants from IIM-A alumni and companies.

In October, the institute hosted the annual conference for Partnership in International Management (PIM), a consortium of leading international B-schools . Around 90 participants representing 50 countries took part in the conference, which was held in India for the first time.

Nanda says in an e-mail response that the education is going through some dramatic changes. "Historically, IIM-A has been a very well regarded institution with high quality, but it has functioned in an autarchic environment. However good we are, we have to be more proactive in reaching out to people. This includes reaching out to the world of research and practice," he adds.

Much of academics is based on an apprenticeship model in IIM-A. Through mentorship and colleagueship, faculty members guide and advise each other on research, case writing, and teaching. The institute provides resources to conduct research, opportunities to experiment with course material, and guidance to excel in classroom teaching.

Established in 1961, IIM-A is recognised globally for excellence in management education. Aditya Birla Group's Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla is the chairman of IIM-A. Before him, L&T Chairman A.M. Naik served at the top post. The institute's strategic priorities include strengthening connection with its various constituencies, including academics, practitioners, alumni, and the community; nurturing a high performance work environment of stretch, autonomy, and teamwork; and strategic growth while maintaining emphasis on quality.

"The challenges to businesses in today's global business environment are dynamic in nature. The management education at IIM-A helps students cultivate practical skill sets required for the specific industries," says a Mumbai-based education specialist.

Nanda plans to open an institute for public policy in the next two years, in addition to starting engagement centres for enabling outreach and incubation. The distance education programme will start from next year. He is also looking to upgrade the institute's IT infrastructure and enterprise resource planning (ERP) process for enabling increased automation and integration. He has many other targets in mind - including lifting the institute amidst global competition with partnerships around the world.

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