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Enter The Dragon

In 2012, the Centre for Marketing in Emerging Economies (CMEE) was set up at IIM Lucknow for those keen to pursue research in BRICSIT (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey) nations. This was in line with the shifting centre of gravity of global business to emerging markets.

The world now wants business case studies from countries such as China, Russia and India. CMEE hopes to address this gap. A founding member of CMEE, Mrutyunjay Mishra, who is also co-founder of digital marketing agency Juxt, says leading institutes in BRICSIT countries are forging partnerships to learn about new management practices. There is, in fact, a healthy exchange of ideas through conferences as well as original research.

That’s at the research level. At the entry level — among MBA aspirants — there’s a noticeable inclination towards emerging markets. The savvy management candidate knows that the coolest jobs are in these markets where western models may not apply. Which is why B-schools outside the traditional markets — the US, the UK, Canada and Australia — are the new flavour.

The shift is evident at the QS World MBA Tour — organised every November in India — where B-schools from across the world pitch their institutes to students. At the fair, the stalls of management institutes from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, Italy, Norway and Denmark draw more crowds compared to the Big Four of education — the US, the UK, Canada and Australia.

The number of students queueing up to get a prospectus of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai shows just how interested Indians are in studying there. According to Rama Velamuri, academic director, Centre for Entrepreneurship, CEIBS, every year, at least 10-15 Indian students join the MBA programme at the Chinese B-school.

 
IT’S TIME TO LOOK EAST
A truly global professor, Velamuri urges students to take the road less travelled
Q: How many Indian students does CEIBS have?
A: India is a very important market for our full-time MBA programme. Over the past five years, Indian applicants have represented approximately 25 per cent of our international applicants and 10 per cent of total applicants. We admit between 10 and 15 Indian students every year. Currently, there are approximately 25 Indian students in the MBA programme.
Q: Is there a trend of ‘looking east’ for MBA programmes among Indian students?
A: I have seen increasing interest in non-US schools. The first region to be considered was Europe (in particular, Britain) and then others such as Spain (mainly because of the ranking of the schools). After Europe, and especially after Europe’s economic problems after 2008, the focus has shifted East — to East Asia, South-
east Asia and Australia.

The combination that Indian students are looking for when they consider foreign business schools is (a) high ranking and (b) good job prospects outside India, in order to earn a salary higher than what MBA graduates from India get. For example, our median compensation converted to dollars is roughly 77,000, which is significantly higher than that of Indian B-schools.
Q: For an Indian student, what are the good MBA destinations to look at, other than Asian schools?

A: I believe studying in Germany will be a career-enhancing move, especially if you can work there for a few years after your MBA. I taught as a visiting professor at the University of Saarland for 10 years and it has several Indian students. By spending a few years in a country like Germany, which has a huge economy and a large number of world-class companies, you can differentiate yourself in the job market. I would encourage students with a spirit of adventure to explore countries like Mexico, which has IPADE (Panamerican University), or Peru, which has PAD (University of Piura), or Nigeria, which has Lagos Business School (Pan Atlantic University). If Indian students go to Latin America, they can learn Spanish and act as a bridge between India and Latin America, whereas if they go to Nigeria, they are investing in learning about a country and region that will be the next high-
growth region after Asia.

Overseas education consultant Ashish Sachde, who sends around 50 students from India to B-schools around the world every year, agrees that the US has lost its charm.

“Earlier, a chunk of Indian students used to go to the US. Now, the cake has gotten bigger, and students are discovering that the US is not the be-all and end-all of management education,” he says.

Sachde indicates that while Singapore and China are the most preferred education havens, it’s European countries such as Italy, France and Germany that are aggressively wooing Indians. They are going all out — from holding education fairs and seminars to stationing their representatives in the country. Other emerging hotspots for management education are east European and Scandinavian countries.

He believes the change in visa policy by the UK played a crucial role in changing the preferences of Indian students regarding their place of study. After the country discontinued the post-study work visa permit three years ago, “students started looking away to countries like Ireland, which offers a one-year stay (to students) after (completion of) studies to look for jobs and, subsequently, a 3-4 year work permit,” says Sachde.

 “Indian students are value-seekers. They seek low-cost education and higher job potential. Destinations that offer this will be more successful in attracting Indian students,” says Rahul Choudaha, chief knowledge officer and senior director, Strategic Development, at New York-based World Education Services.

“For instance, Germany, which offers low-cost options, and Ireland, which offers work opportunities, are good stops,” says Choudaha. He is, however, quick to point out that “while these destinations are becoming attractive, they are growing on a small base. The US still remains the leading destination and attracts nearly half of all globally mobile Indian students”.

Choudaha segments globally mobile students into four categories — high-fliers, explorers, strivers and strugglers. Typically, Indian students, he says, are most likely to be strivers, who take loans to study abroad. But he forecasts that 2015 onwards, there will be a big change in the profile of Indian students aspiring for global education. That’s when we will see a lot of ‘high-flier’ students in India.

He defines ‘high-fliers’ as children born in the late 1990s to parents working in new-age industries such as IT, financial services and telecommunications, many of whom can afford as well as aspire to send their children to study abroad.

The fight for the best brains from India is only going to get more intense in the coming days.

Charting A New Course
Even as the global MBA map is changing, with emerging hotspots, within institutes too, the curricula is undergoing a sea change.

The marketplace is evolving and so MBA course material needs to change as well. Says H. Chaturvedi, director, BIMTECH, “Apart from the conventional focus on marketing, finance, operations and HR, other fields of specialisation like e-commerce, digitisation of services, application of Big Data, modelling, creative design and thinking in diverse areas, sustainability, good governance, etc., are assuming greater importance in the industry.”

Even the method of teaching is witnessing a radical change. Says Chaturvedi, “Besides, the time-honoured pedagogic methods such as lectures, case studies, workshops, there is greater emphasis on experiential learning and greater industry immersion to prepare students to hit the ground running.”

After decades of status quo, seismic shifts are happening on campus. Students are exploring new directions, new avenues and new courses. But then given these times of rapid flux, changes were inevitable.  

chitra@businessworld.in
Twitter: @ndcnn

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 01-12-2014)




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