IIM Shillong is perhaps the only leading business school in India whose website has a link that tells recruiters how to reach the place. There is a good reason for this. Although Shillong has an airport, it gets few direct flights from the bigger cities. The nearest major airport and railway station are in Guwahati, which is nearly 100 km away. One can either drive down or opt for helicopter services from Guwahati. For those who want to travel only by an airplane, Air India operates a direct flight from Kolkata to Shillong.
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IIM Shillong, or Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Management, as it is also called, has put in a lot of work and innovative thinking to overcome this impediment. This is showing in the kind of interest it is getting from recruiters. In this year's survey, it has risen four ranks to enter the top 20 for the first time. Last year, it was at the 23rd rank.
Early on in its life, the institute started using a slew of web tools for conducting job interviews through video conferencing. It even went so far as to facilitate job interviews at company offices. That is why it is not surprising that it has been getting some of the best recruiters since it opened seven years ago.
Consider the last final placement for the flagship two-year post-graduate (PG) programme. The batch of 119 got 130 offers from 42 companies. In the year prior to that, the batch of 107 had got an equal number of offers from 53 companies. Some new recruiters during the last placement were Google, American Express, L'Oreal, Perfetti Van Melle, Hero Motocorp, J.P. Morgan, Flipkart and Mjunction. Cognizant, the top recruiter, made 12 offers.
Amitabha De, Director, IIM Shillong, says the institute's graph has been rising since day one and last year was a continuation of the trend. The number of recruiters coming to the campus, he says, has been going up substantially over the years. One of the school's strengths that could have had an impact last year is its alumni. "We have 600 alumni who are doing exceptionally well. Efforts by the students and initiatives by the faculty have added up. As they say, 1+1 is greater than two."
Basav Roy Choudhury, who is Associate Professor of information technology at the school, says two things stand out about IIM Shillong. One is the large bouquet of electives, around 80, that is offered to students. This is arguably the highest among leading business schools. Moreover, it is changed each year. What is more important, he says, is that though this poses a challenge in class scheduling, the student strength per elective is not more than 30 to 40, which ensures greater personal time with faculty members. Though Choudhury did not comment on the batch sizes in other business schools, it is learnt that in some cases the number goes up to even 80 or 90.
But why more electives? It brings in more variety, says Choudhury. The school has also been increasing its faculty strength. At present, it has 27 permanent faculty members as against 16 till three years ago.
Amitabha De says the school is focussing on support for faculty research, increasing engagement with industry so that there is greater understanding of what is happening in the corporate world, and broaden the strengths of students. He says it has always been known for its strengths in finance and marketing to which they are adding consulting, analytics, manufacturing and human resources. De believes in steady progress, but all these put together can give the school a quantum jump.
Now, that could be music to students' ears, used to listening to blues and rock bands in this hill town.