In a discussion with Higher Education Plus, Professor Durairaj Maheswaran (Mahesh), the Paganelli-Bull Professor of Marketing and International Business, Stern School of Business, New York University and the author of ‘Understanding Indian Consumers’ published by Oxford University Press, talks about employability skills, behaviour of Indian consumers and the improvement areas of schools of business in India.
What has been your understanding of the consumer behaviour in India in comparison to other countries?
Indian consumers have shared characteristics with the west and also have unique characteristics of their own. They value their traditions and prefer products that are part of the culture. So, the same advertising approach from the west may not always be the best strategy.
What are the top 5 changes a school of Business in India must go for?
Research: It is important to develop new knowledge to train students.
Teaching: Faculty should be trained on the job to be good teachers
Faculty: Need to have some real-world experience and interaction with the managers
Feedback: Must get and implement suggestions from alum, recruiters and the public
Ethics: Have courses in ethics to train managers to make a profit by fair means and protect the society
Your thoughts on budget assigned by Indian Government to education.
The US model of privatizing higher education is really beneficial for both the students and the university. It fosters competition in acquiring financial resources and the best schools survive and flourish. The budget is not adequate to develop cutting edge research or attract top talent both in terms of students and faculty. Alumni can step in the along with the government and contribute to a larger budget.
What skills do you think students must develop themselves and what skills must the institution cultivate in students?
I think most Indian universities do train the students well. However, the students need to develop communication and interpersonal skills to do well in their career. Also, course work should include some projects and internships that could help the students to be more employable.
Anything else which you would like to add…
India has great talent and many Indians are successful in global corporations. Most students want to take up jobs with multinationals and be posted abroad. There must be more thrust in starting companies for the domestic market and develop them to become global. China has its own social media as well as global corporations. Despite the large size of the Indian market, availability of talent and leadership this has not happened.
Note: All views expressed by the author are personal