By Madhav Mani, President and Head, HR, Usha International
Management education is one of the most sought-after disciplines. In the post-corona era, B-schools will likely reinvent and re-align themselves to equip students with skills to deal with the demands of the ‘new normal’. The world is evolving at an unprecedented way and education needs to evolve at the same pace in order to be truly successful.
While many B-Schools are already looking at the ‘new’ how, what, when, and where of skills, here is my take on some of the aspects that can really boost both confidence and performance of every B-School grad:
Ensuring that students get exposure to relevant real life case studies so that they can understand issues that could crop up on projects and watch out for potential pitfalls. Practical learning where industry leaders engage with students and walk them through their own professional journey and learnings from crises they have faced is invaluable. Applied research, classroom discussions, case studies, role-plays, special sessions, management games, industrial visits, etc. all contribute immensely to the overall development of a student.
Building Soft Skills
There is a need to hone the Emotional Quotient of students, which can be that differentiator between a good manager and a brilliant leader. B-Schools need to teach students resilience, and inculcate in them the confidence to move outside their comfort zones. There is also an increasing demand for young leaders to be involved in sustainability, environmental, CSR, and ethical initiatives. Therefore, business programs must take part onus of creating leaders who are ethical along with being environmentally and socially conscious.
In the Digital era, all management programs need to offer a well curated mix of traditional classroom and virtual education that aids optimum learning. This will empower students with the savviness needed to use innovative technology to their advantage in the real world. Thus, B-Schools must adopt a new approach towards the design of their classroom, teaching materials, and leverage technology to its fullest.
Project Management Skills
To be a successful project manager, skills that play a critical role include time and team management, attention to detail, adherence to timelines, the ability to stay calm and implement strategic change, etc. As each student is an ambassador for the B-school he/she represents, these are skills that can make or break the Schools’ reputation.
Going forward, it’s the experiential learnings within and outside of the classroom is what will distinguish the leaders of tomorrow. Differential learning through faculty guided projects with organizations for students to learn in real time environment will provide them with the foundation of new skills needed to lead teams.
Connecting the Dots
The idea is to develop the ability of “Conceptualization to Execution” – or to think end-to-end. Students need to be trained to relate the external with the internal, the industry and competition vis-à-vis their own organization, and strategically make plans that lead to the best possible results. Basically, the skill to be able to work in the ‘now’, while staying focused on future and how it all fits into the bigger vision.
It’s critical for students to learn the art of letting go of what has not worked for them, embrace failures as stepping stones, and focus on moving forward. This will help them accept ambiguity, build agility, resilience and a willingness to make change as the situation demands. Keep the learnings, let go of the rest!
To be leaders in the world of tomorrow, it is imperative that students be equipped and adept at not just managing, but everything that feeds into making them and the organizations they work for successful – they need digital, intuitive, ethical, and emotional skills. B-Schools need to recognize the huge responsibility they shoulder, which is that of shaping these future leaders.