If one sector of higher education is all set to see major changes post-pandemic, it is the domain management education.
Business education in India has proliferated with more than one thousand independent management colleges apart from 900 plus universities having a management education faculty or department. Alongside, commerce education is common in more than 20,000 colleges and the universities in the country.
Business education traditionally has been plagued with the following challenges:
It is delivered largely face-to-face with concepts and theories of management or usual taxation & accounting laws and principles being the focus; It is delivered by resource persons who have rarely practiced what they are teaching, and from books of management largely written in the Western nations; It is evaluated with a semester-end or an annual written examination which is the base of scoring, awarding degrees and considering for jobs; and It is heavily biased towards jobs in large corporations, indigenous or MNCs, while in reality the actual engagement later is in MSME sector or in small start-ups or entrepreneurial ventures of the learners of today.
The pre-pandemic times already necessitated many changes which several universities started adopting, and the pandemic has now quickly fastened the process of redefining business education in the country. The changes in business education which we may see in the next decade are as follows:
Business education will begin with a flipped classroom model, where the learners shall be provided multiple learning resources as required for that course, including open source resources and proprietary resources of the mentors themselves. These resources shall be videos, podcasts, pdfs, book chapter, case-study, info-graphics, interviews, slideshow, etc.
The learners are expected to develop asynchronous self-learning muscles in the first place, evolving in learning to learn, and then take up their doubts and challenges in synchronous sessions, which can be digital or physical, or at times even PhyGital (some in class and some online).
The third level in business learning then shall be problem-solving, critical thinking exercises with simulated situations given by the mentors to examine comprehension of the subject concerned, and application of the insights and knowledge gained in the given situations. Case-studies been already understood earlier, the learners shall be next asked to develop their own case-studies dependent on their interest areas. Alongside, after initiation to overall management, or commerce, principles and practices, the learner is supposed to take up a broad specialization area, which, at the first level can be marketing, human resources, finance and systems for the management learners. For commerce learners, it can be advanced accounts, taxation, actuarial sciences, business economics, etc.
The specialization next, especially at the Masters level, moves on to a niche area of specialization within the broad domain selected. In management it can be focussing on retail, services, leadership, budget management, project management, banking & insurance, learning & development, brand management, rural or agri-business management, data analytics management, energy management, logistics and supply chain management, IT & technology management, telecom management, entertainment & media management, social business management, development management, pharmaceuticals management, strategic management, Export-Import management, Sales Management, and the like. Similarly in commerce, one can go deep into one domain within taxation or accounting, for example.
It is also important to know quantitative aspects often neglected in traditional management education, like, econometrics, statistics, quantitative analyses software, big data analytics, IT applications of all sorts as needed. A couple of courses covering these will be very significant, more so today in post pandemic times.
It is significant at this stage to develop a few case-studies of success and/or failure of business initiatives in the chosen niche specialization area. Alongside, for hands-on experience, a couple of live projects and at least one major full-time internship should be done in the chosen niche area of business. In today’s times, one can have a low-engagement online internship also running along with the academic program, managing time and using the weekends well.
Higher emotional intelligence, ability to be a team-worker and when required to lead from a remote location, professional skills and work ethics, and a stronger sense of life skills are other necessities heightened in their significance post pandemic. Having a minor specialization in ITES with IT-Computer Science school, or in brand communication with the media school, or in corporate law or cyber law with the law school of the university one is studying, will be a big advantage and differentiator in a market-place full of management generalists with plain vanilla BBA-MBA degrees.
Jobs, Employers & Salaries:
On the jobs front, first lesson to be learnt is that one should seek a career and not just a job which is the manifestation of the chosen career at a point of time. If the focus is on the career per se, all or most of the above needs to be taken care of for better jobs.
Jobs today are available quite well in retail sector (online and offline together), pharma & healthcare sector, energy sector (conventional and non-conventional together), food sector, and in MSMEs as they shall be the driver of economic revival in the world which just now had 5% contraction last year from a total of 80 trillion dollar size, and in India which has gone through a huge 23% contraction in economy.
A quick survey with the placements offices of a few universities, including a talk with the corporate relations director Abhijit Giri of the university I am associated with, shows the following trends today:
The top six sectors employing freshmen from B-schools in India today are edutech, logistics & supply chain, banking and insurance, telecommunications, ecommerce/retail and analytics & consulting, and in this order. Among edutech enterprises, BYJU’s, Jaro, Toppers, and Extramarks are recruiting heavily, while DTDC and SafeExpress are the top logistics recruiters. Bank of America, ICICI, Aditya Birla and JR Laddha have been major recruiters in at least two universities I talked to in the banking and finance sector, along with a number of micro finance organizations. Reliance Jio takes the cake among telecoms and Amazon, e-kart and Flipkart in the ecommerce segment. AC Nielson and Emphasis major data and consulting recruiters. Our university had 94% final placements with range being from Rs.3.5 lacs to Rs.10 lacs per annum package, with Edutech giving highest packages, and the data analytics and consultancy companies paying next highest.
Re-invent yourself, re-define your career goals, re-strategize your journey, re-focus on specifics, re-learn after much unlearning, and re-invigorate the economy, post pandemic, taking the right lessons: that’s the mantra in the B-Schools of India today.
The author is the Pro Vice Chancellor of Kolkata based Adamas University.