Our Rebranding Aims to Demonstrate Why We are Globally Ranked says Sanjay Padode, JAGSOM Chairman

Sanjay Padode,Chairman, Jagdish Sheth School of Management discussed the institute’s rebranding, how it aligns with future goals and the achievements during their 25-year journey.

IFIM Business School, Bangalore has been rebranded as Jagdish Sheth School of Management, after the living legend and Padma Bhushan awardee Prof Jagdish Sheth.

In an interview with Sanjay Padode, President, Vijaybhoomi University and Chairman, JAGSOM (erstwhile IFIM Business School, Bangalore), he discussed the milestone development and also shared with us the motivation behind the rebranding, how it aligns with the institution’s goals and aspirations for the future, as well as JAGSOM’s various achievements as it celebrates 25 years this year.

1) What was the motivation behind the rebranding of the institution?

We have completed our 25-year journey; our entire journey is divided into various versions. IFIM 1.0 was between 1995 and 2010. At this time IFIM was run like any other management institution, under the aegis of the curriculum created and curated by the Indian Institute of Management.

When I joined IFIM in 2010, we began making radical changes to the curriculum to align it to the needs of the industry and some of the changes we made were very out-of-the-box, such as wellness, research incubation and social immersion, which a lot of people in the management space felt were not part of a management curriculum because that was not something the rest of the institutions followed. But we felt it was required to make the student more employable and we also adopted a mission that says ‘Nurture, holistic, socially responsible and continuously employable professionals’. We had to demonstrate employability and therefore we made those changes.

After doing this and having being looked at by those from the management education space as people who are different, we had to demonstrate our credibility of the choice we have made.

We took on all the quality processes; we got our ISO 9000 for governance, then our SAQS (South Asian Quality Standards), which was the first international accreditation, and then finally AACBS in 2018. We became the sixth school in the country to get AACSB. We went after SAQS and AACSB firstly because we wanted ratification for the choices we had made for our curriculum and secondly, we wanted to start our journey towards global ranking.

From 2010 to 2018, we call it our 2.0 journey. In 2018 when we got our AACSB certification, we augmented our leadership team and our faculty; Prof Atish Chattopadhyay took over the Directorship and he strengthened the faculty, and so in 2018 we began our journey towards global ranking. Therefore, to sustain and grow in global rankings becomes a new challenge. So we decided to go for a rebrand.

To use rebranding just for the sake of a name change or a logo change is shallow and would not demonstrate why we are globally ranked. We decided that we needed someone who can lead us upwards in the ranking, so we thought why not go to the best man in management education space who can do that.

We first approached Prof Sheth to be the Chairman of the governing board and then we asked him to have the school named after him, and I promised Prof Sheth that it will be his direction, his mind and guidance and we will work hard to make it happen.

2) How does the rebranding align with the institution’s goals and aspirations for the future?

We had always wanted to be a global school; one not backed by the government or by a large group and we wanted to set the example that professionals such as us can do it. To get to and remain in the global rankings, a lot has to be done. Firstly, you have to get in by proving your credentials and secondly, you have to demonstrate that you are internationally accepted. So we intend to open a campus outside of India, most likely in Singapore to attract international students and we will offer our two globally ranked programmes in that campus to create an international diversity within our student base. Once we create the diversity within our international student and faculty base, we will become a truly international school.

3) IFIM Business School has celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, can you share some of the achievements and milestones you are particularly proud of?

The biggest achievement that we have is a very successful alumni base. We are very proud that the average students have done well and are in good positions in companies. The second big achievement is the recognition of all the curricular interventions that we have done, and the recognition in the global space such as AACSB, SAQS and others, so we have ensured we have tick marked everything. We are one of the typical schools that have the blessing of the Indian government and the international body; we have a completely Indian model in a global space.

Our faculty is another great achievement. I can proudly claim that our faculty is as good as any IIM in the country. We also have a great international advisory board and very good governing board members and now we have Prof Jagdish Sheth.

4) How has your institution dealt with the COVID-19 crisis?

At the AACSB Asia Pacific Annual Conference, along with Prof Yuan Ding, Vice-President and Dean, Cathay Capital Chair in Accounting, CIEBS, China, I presented on sharing the experience of risk mitigation during COVID-19. With regards to IFIM Business School’s performance during the pandemic we have had 2743 online classes, 171 online examinations, 280 collaborative super specialisation sessions, 290 virtual wellness classes, 46 guest lectures and 23 internships viva voce, and all of the credit goes to our faculty who have worked very hard.

The first thing we decided was that this was not going away and then we worked on what we needed to do. We made our corrective measures; whatever equipment and training we will need to provide to the faculty, we’ll provide. We also spoke to the corporates to have work from home internships, and everything worked well for us simply because of one thought – What if COVID-19 does not go away? That changed the entire dynamics of our faculty. For one month we went into our crisis analysis and crisis management mode, rather than waiting for the situation to change.

5) How should Indian management schools set standards to meet or exceed global benchmarks?

To get into the global space, the minimum eligibility is to get globally accredited. Once you go through those standards, you know the rules of the global game. So to play in the global arena, you need to understand their accreditation standards. In the international arena, there is more focus on quality rather than quantity, so their criteria are slightly different.

6) Tell us more about the new initiatives related to an employability-oriented curriculum and industry interface in your institution.

Two years ago we had done a joint exercise with NHRDN (National HRD Network) for creating our curriculum 4.0 where we conducted a survey with more than 800 senior executives including CXOs, COOs, etc. We also did 3 qualitative discussions in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and based on their insights we created a curriculum which was for “beyond tomorrow” – companies’ requirements beyond tomorrow.

The basis of the questionnaire was the World Economic Forum’s essential skills of tomorrow where they identified ten skills, and we customised those skills, put it in a survey, collected the data to see whether these are relevant to India, then we had a qualitative discussion to identify what relevance means in terms of a curriculum and then we created a curriculum. We also presented it in the annual conference of the AACSB.

We also review our curriculum architecture after every 3 years and we review the course syllabus every year. We have a very powerful board of studies which consists of IIM directors and international experts who review each course outline and give their inputs. So that’s a continuous process that goes on in the system. We also have long tenure internships and mentoring programmes, as well a social immersion programme which all enhance the employability contingency. Even during the pandemic, we have had 80 confirmed placement offers. It is the entire faculty’s effort along with the overall experience of learning which enhances the employability.