Centre For Excellence

The growth of MNCs in India extrapolated the developments in the educational sphere in the 90s. And, as a result, the need for specialized business management programmes gained prominence. Though there were a few institutes in the country which were running such programmes along the lines of leading global universities such as Harvard and Stanford, such institutes were not very accessible to a large chunk of MBA aspirants.

 

In the past two decades, many business schools came into being to fulfil the demand for qualified professionals. India being a highly populated country, and getting into a top league institute is simply arduous, considering the level of competition. According to experts in the academic sphere, it is more difficult to secure a seat in the IITs or the IIMs as compared to any top university abroad.

 

After spending nearly 23 years in the US, Dr. P. S. Rao returned back to his native place in rural Karnataka. Being an economist, he had been predicting high growth in India. Thus, taking this into the ambit, and, the consequent rise in demand for business management professionals, he felt he must create a learning centre, where he can develop future business professionals.

 

In the year 1994, he established Radiant Management Studies Institute, a management institute in Bangalore and offered a two years full-time course in business management. He initially utilized his own personal financial corpus that he had managed to earn while in the US. Within a few years, the institute moved from a two‑classroom facility to a multi-storied building around Central Bangalore. Eventually, a trust was created through which funds were raised through bank loans and government initiatives. The multi-storied building was named Palaash, and housed 12 classrooms, faculty cabins, staff rooms, information technology infrastructure, library, and, the offices of the Registrar and the Director. Initially, on the basis of a consensus from the trust and board members, Dr. Rao was unanimously appointed as the Director of the institute, a position he held on for nearly fifteen years.

 

Dr. Rao was a man of principles, and, under no circumstances would he let go of his integrity and honesty. He was a strong believer of ethics and morality. He engaged faculty and staff, all of whom were closely associated with him and believed in his ideology. The institute started to gain prominence in due course of time and functioned with efficiency. It produced potential high-quality professionals. The content of the course was up-to-date and in line with the market requirements. During those days, education was seen as a potential area of business and the trend was continuing. So, business schools started to function in the country with lucrative services like placements, alumni association, and so on. But Dr. Rao never believed in the trend of ‘100% placement’ and strongly felt that an educational institute was not a placement bureau. However, students were always attracted to other institutes which were offering good placements. Nevertheless, his institute always managed to get students since the fees offered were relatively low.

 

It has been more than a decade now that Dr. Rao had been running the institute as the Founder-Director. His principle and ideology were well accepted by many in the industry, and, garnered him high respect and credibility. In the year 2003, Dr. Rao appointed young faculty members to have a mix of experienced and young teachers with fresh ideas. The new faculty members were quite excited to work for the institute and ensure that its name assumed prominence on the national front. Many felt the importance of an interface with the industry as also the placements. Faculty members explained the need for enhanced student placements to Dr. Rao, and, he concurred with their views since he felt that the current generation had high expectations, and, placement was deemed essential. Eventually, the focus of the curriculum centred more towards the industry requirements, as the institute leaned towards increased average pay package for its students. Naturally, courses on big data, business analytics, design thinking, and communication skills gained importance in the entire management ecosystem. Thus, it attracted a lot of aspirants in the subsequent rounds of admission to pursue management studies at this institute, primarily to leverage on the industry‑specific courses and get a good placement offer.

 

The institute, however did establish a footprint in the industry, but, going by the recent remarks by its alumni, there was a drastic drop in student quality. During an industry convention, alumnus Rakesh Ranjan, AVP, Retail Banking, CDC bank provided the feedback to Dr. Rao that the management trainees recruited recently from the institute were not up to the mark.

 

In contrast, on the academic front, there was mismanagement in terms of coordinating the class timings and bringing quality guest faculty, and, a rivalry was brewing between the members of the faculty and the administrative staff. Dr. Rao was open-minded, and, a lot many people, including the students, took advantage of this aspect. For instance, while it was mandatory to attend the classes, no action was initiated against those who remained absent. And, on the administrative front, there was too much documentation required in terms of day-to-day functioning. During the payment of fees, there would be a huge rush, and, students were excused from lectures just to pay the fees for the semester.

 

Looking out of his office window, Dr. Rao looked back at his journey and the philosophy behind establishing Radiant Management Studies Institute. Even today, he did not let go of his belief that education is a weapon for change and transformation, and, he wanted to change his approach towards developing the institute to not only build managers, but, to contribute to the holistic development of an individual. So, he was gearing up to build his centre for excellence in the changing landscape of business and technology. He intended to hire the services of a consultant to recommend effective measures to restructure the institute, and, bring back its founding principles to the courses and the lives of the students. However, Dr. Rao is still not convinced that an educational institute should merely be imparting skills to its students. He is concerned that the market now demands skills over knowledge more than before, owing to large scale changes in the global economy.

Mrinmoy Majumder teaches courses on people management, industrial relations and qualitative methodology. He can be reached on [email protected]

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