Prof. Varun Arya
Aravali Institute of Management

When we look at today's young generation, we find that management education is the most sought after higher education option for a majority of the brightest and most talented graduates. However, unfortunately, many of these students aspiring to go for management education do not seem to understand what actually this means and how should they go about choosing the right institution for it. After spending two years with a non-descript management institute or a department of management of a university, they suddenly realise that putting "M" before B.A. does not necessarily mean real management education. Many promises are broken, dreams are shattered and only frustration is what follows for the students as well as their parents.

When we talk about the management education, we are basically referring to the shaping up of the student to develop the competency and capability either as an intrapreneur (to join and help an organisation to grow) or as an entrepreneur (to establish and grow one's own organisation). In those cases where the student chooses to be an intrapreneur, the organisations recruit people based entirely on the capability as observed and perceived by them after the potential shortlisted applicants go through their custom-made selection process which generally consists of personal interviews but at times also of some written test, group discussion and exercises. When we talk about the capability of a manager vis--vis non-manager the difference is very simple : manager gives "results" while a non-manager carries out the "activities". Therefore, a person is recruited for a managerial career with any organisation based entirely on his capability to deliver results and retained only as long as he continues to have this capability. This capability does not necessarily always come from possessing a piece of paper whether called "degree" or "diploma" in Management. Of course, doing "diploma" or "degree" from a good management institute certain helps a lot in developing this capability.

How does one select a good management institute for acquiring this capability? The tendency in India has generally been to go for the "recognised" courses or management institutes. But recognised by whom? Here people forget the basic concept of a customer. While for a teacher the customer is the student, for a management institute the customer is the corporate world, other organisations and the society at large. Therefore, the management institute should be recognised by the corporate world, which is the largest recruiter of the management students. However, unfortunately the gullible students aspiring for a managerial career and their parents tend to generally look only for the governmental seal of recognition or approval.

In 1987 the Government of India had established a statutory body called "All India Council for Technical Education" (AICTE) with a mandate to ensure and regulate quality in management education in India. In a short period of its existence, AICTE has approved almost 1000 management institutions in the country. However, as per an Expert Committee Report submitted in May 2001 to the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, a large majority of these AICTE approved management institutions to the extent of shockingly high of 90% are sub-standard. Though these institutions have the "approval" or "recognition" by the AICTE but a large majority of these do not have the required faculty, facilities, courses and programmes. Therefore, as per this Report, while the students studying in these institutions end up having an MBA degree but do not land up in a managerial career. It is a well-known fact that the approvals or recognitions by the AICTE have generally been given on considerations other than merit. No wonder, the best of management institutions in India like IIM Ahmedabad and many others, like the Management Department of BITS Pilani, have decided to remain without seeking the AICTE approval.

If AICTE approval is no guarantee for quality management education then how does one choose a management institute, which would really lead a student to truly a managerial career? It is very simple! Just look at the following crucial aspects, which make a quality management institute :

Faculty :
The institute must have permanent or regular faculty in all the main areas of Management like Marketing, Human Resources, Economics, Information Technology, Accounting & Finance, Quantitative Methods and Production. Each of these faculty members must meet at least one of the three criteria - senior managerial experience with a leading organisation alongwith ability to relate the same to the management concepts, consultancy experience in the corporate world and research experience in management. If the faculty are simply graduates, post-graduates or PhDs without meeting this criteria then they would be just teaching the theories from the books which are not really relevant for a managerial career. Management career is about practice of management, which can be taught only by experience, expertise and exposure together-with the relevant concepts.

Facilities :
The infrastructure and facilities must include classrooms with multimedia and projection facilities, latest computers and peripherals and a good library with collection of books on all management subjects.

Courses and Programmes :
The courses and programmes must be in line with the requirements of the corporate world and other organisations. It means these must have regular inputs incorporated from these organisations and not based on some books authored by someone who never had any exposure to the management career, consultancy or research.

Networking :
The institute must have extensive networking with the corporate world and other organisations nationally and internationally. This networking, on the one hand, makes it possible for the regular interaction of their senior managerial personnel with the students while, on the other hand, provides these organisations a platform to assess the institute being equipped to develop the required capability in the students. This also enables these organisations to consider the students for placement when they complete the programme.

Having studied in a good management institute, acquiring a management qualification and joining an organisation is not enough for a continuing managerial career. One has to sustain and progress this career. This is possible only by continually developing and upgrading the management knowledge, attitude and skills to make these in line with the changing requirements so that one retains the ability to deliver results. I often meet people who are unhappy or frustrated with their organisations since they are not getting promotion, or increments or an assignment of their choice. In this context let me share, an important diagram.


For a person to continue to have the managerial career of his desire which we call an "opportunity", there must be three things simultaneously present : performance, preparation and business need. Performance in the current job, preparation for the next job which one aspires for and the business need by the organisation to have a person in the aspired position. We often find people who are not doing their current job effectively but say that they would do the higher job better. It will not convince anyone. Similarly there are people who are extremely good in their current assignment but when they are given a higher position, which is generally a leadership role, they are an utter failure. Of course, there are also some people who have done exceedingly well in their current job and are also fully prepared for the higher level job but at times there is no organizational need for a person in that higher level.

There used to be a time when people who joined an organisation left it only on retirement around 58-62 years of age. It was a lifetime employment. Not any more. For any person to join an organisation and remain with it depends on his constant ability to deliver results to the organisation. This requires the person to continually update and upgrade his managerial capabilities as per the constantly changing requirements and scenario. However, this does not always happen with all the people. I often meet people who are in 50-55 years age group and when I ask them to learn new management skills they say that with only few years left for their retirement what is the point of learning anything new now. Still others think and say that they have "so many" years of experience and they know "everything". All such people have started becoming victims of what is called as "golden handshake" phenomenon whereby people are forced to prematurely retire "voluntarily".  Those who were to retire few years down the line retire the very next day.

Why the organisations world over are laying off people. It is certainly downsizing but smart-sizing since it is not the stoppage of recruitment. These organisations are simply getting rid of the people who have stopped developing capabilities required to continually deliver results and instead taking new people who have the required capability.

The people face the career problems because of the following three reasons :

1.The changes bypasses them

2.They bypass the changes

3.Both can happen

"Experience" is no more the buzzword but it the "capability to deliver the results". No wonder, in today's organisations we are increasingly finding the CEOs or the superiors much younger than their subordinates. A very difficult situation indeed for the people who thought that the age and years of experience were the only criteria for going up the organizational ladder. Also no person can anymore ensure the guarantee of the employer but what is required is ability to ensure the employability. 

There is no dearth of managerial jobs in India as well as abroad for the people who can deliver. In fact if you have the capability to manage and deliver results, you need not seek the jobs and rather the jobs would seek you. Today's organisations need a manager who can change with the changed requirements, initiate changes in the organisation, lead the changes and manage the changes within and outside the organisation. After all, the only permanent thing in the today's world is the change!

* Aravali Institute of Management
(An institution of Marwar Education Foundation),
Marwar Bhawan, Polo No. 2, Paota, Jodhpur 342 006 (Rajasthan)
Tel. : 0291-550070, 542235, Fax : 0291-543600
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