“We need to be open to change. If one is not open to change, then they will come up with a thousand reasons not to do so.”
The secret to success in the Education sector is Quality. The institutions that can provide quality education, have time and time again proven to be successful enterprises. The institutes that cater to the need of the industries are able to create successful and resourceful students. This is why most students in top-ranked institutes, like the IMIs, get placed every batch. To learn more about an institution’s path to success, we had an informative session with Mr. Ramesh Behl who is the Director and Professor at the International Management Institute – IMI Bhubaneswar.
Let us understand the path Mr. Behl followed, leading to the success of his Institution.
Mr. Ramesh Behl has been working with IMI on a Strategic and Board level Role. He has established IMI Bhubaneswar from scratch and also made it profitable in less than five years.
Hence, our first question to him was how can a reputed college/institute owner scale up his business, through franchising or by opening their branches?
Mr. Behl told us that he started this institute in 2011 when there were very few such institutes in the Eastern part of the country. Unfortunately, around the time the institute was started, there was a downfall in MBA education, hence it was a struggle for them to get the institute up.
Mr. Ramesh with a very positive outlook then decided to set a target for him and his team, because they had nothing to lose. The team was very small and Mr. Behl along with his team decided to run the institute as an entrepreneurial venture.
This was back in 2011 when entrepreneurship in education was not spoken about. Hence, the question before them was to either run the institutes just like others or run it differently.
Ramesh told his team to start taking risks and gave them the confidence to do so. He asked them to come up with new, crazy, workable, and even non-workable ideas. He considers this brainstorming of ideas an important factor when it comes to starting a new campus.
He adds that even today, the team comes up with new and innovative ideas, and does not simply stick to traditional means.
There are two ways in which one can make an institute successful. The first is to increase the number of students, increase revenue, and not talk about the quality of education. This is a short term strategy.
The second and long term approach would be only to talk about the quality of the institution and education. This may require an initial investment, but it gets recovered over the years.
They were associated with the same brand as IMI Delhi, thus they did not want to dilute that brand value with low-quality education.
Mr. Behl told us that their first batch consisted of only 12 students! The 16 acres well-furnished campus of IMI Bhubaneshwar only had 12 students. Even for such a small batch, he had 7-8 faculty members. This ratio was astounding.
In the initial 4 years, their focus was not on growing numbers. Their goal was to bring up the right set of candidates and groom them as per the industrial needs. They adopted this focus so that when the student would pass out, she/he would be completely ready to be picked up by any employer.
They were able to achieve this, and all the 12 students of the first batch were placed. This is the approach they continued with year after year, and all the students every year got placed. To achieve this output, Mr. Behl and his team had to work a lot internally.
They had several tie-ups with the industries and they involved industrial experts in their activities to understand the requirement of the industry. Mr. Ramesh Behl three-step philosophy was based on the creation of knowledge.
The first thing to consider is what knowledge is to be provided. The answer to this was to provide knowledge that enhanced the skills of the students as per the industrial demands.
The second thing to consider was the application of knowledge. The factor kept in mind was to be able to apply the knowledge created.
The third factor was the dissemination of knowledge.
Expansion And Governance Of Institutions
Our next question to him was about why he chose Bhubaneswar as the location for the university when they were trying to expanding the institute. We also asked him about the system of governance across all the three IMI campuses.
Ramesh explained to us that there were very few private management institutes in the eastern part of India.
He further informed us that though all the IMI institutes, be it Delhi, Kolkata or Bhubaneswar have common governance but the operational teams of each campus are independent.
Mr. Behl believes that the entire governance system is very supportive and if he needs any faculty support, he will always get it from the Delhi or Kolkata campus. Hence, there is a very strong synergy between the three campuses.
He informed us that they have a common admission portal too. So, the students can apply, to either all the three or any 2 or any 1 of the campus via the same portal.
Due to their national and international leverage, they receive students from across the country. Thus, they also try to place their students pan India, rather than simply in East India.
Other Programs And Online Learning
We asked him about the special programs they conduct, especially in the Bhubaneshwar campus.
He told us, that they were conducting part-time PGDM programs, which consist of a work-integrated learning process. Mr. Behl explained to us how students don’t have to leave their jobs for this and they simply need to spend the weekend at the university.
He added that this program is primarily meant for executives who have not been able to complete their post-graduation and those people that wish to scale up their education and professional degrees
Apart from this, they also conduct several management development programs, which are sponsored by corporate. In this, either the person from the corporation comes to the campus to train the students, or the university takes the students over to the corporate premises.
Other than these, they are also adopting a blended learning program, in which both online and offline modes of education are used.
We also asked Mr. Ramesh Behl about distance learning, and why IMI Bhubaneswar hasn’t adopted this system.
He told us that he believes distance education is not able to provide one on one mentoring by the faculty members. Hence, they aren’t adopting this system.
Even in this COVID-19 situation, they are trying to reach out to every student, to address their concerns and queries. Hence, this cannot be regarded as distance learning.
Mr. Ramesh Behl believes that creating good human beings is much more important than simply creating managers. Therefore, proper mentoring of the students becomes necessary.
We brought a report from ASSOCHAM to his attention, which stated that only 7% of the MBA students were employable in 2016. Hence, we asked Mr. Ramesh Behl why he thinks this might be the case, and what is IMI Bhubaneshwar doing to solve this.
He explained to us that the samples considered in the report were not specifically of IMIs or such premier institutes. He said that if only such institutes would be considered, the percentage of employability would have been much higher, and this fact itself is a testimony to the difference in the quality of institutions.
He addresses that a lot of institutes fail to cater to the needs of the industry and fail in teaching students according to this need. The institutes need to stay updated on the needs of the industry, as these demands are constantly changing. This gap between what is taught and what the industry requires accounts for the low employability rate.
The faculty in the Institutes should also be evaluated and then selected. The teachers should possess the relevant skills so that they can pass them to the students.
The senate members of the Universities and B-Schools also need to be proactive. Such a change demands the right set of people governing it.
Mr. Behl says that
“We need to be open to change. If one is not open to change, then they will have a thousand reasons not to do so.”
If we don’t genuinely wish to change, we are playing with the careers of young students. Thus we need to adopt such reforms.
He added that no one had anticipated the widespread of COVID 19. Yet, we have made changes and adopted ourselves to continue working efficiently. Thus, changes are possible if one is willing to make them.
This session with Mr. Behl certainly inspired us to focus on improving the quality of institutions with the right emphasis on bridging the gap between the industry’s requirement and what is taught to the students. He inspired us to be willing to change and improve.
Moderated By: Rishabh Mehta
Edited By: Jayesh Pawar
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