The International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi, was established in 1981 in collaboration with IMI Geneva (now IMD Lausanne). It is India’s first corporate-sponsored business school, with backing from RPG Enterprises, Nestle, ITC, SAIL, Tata Chemicals, Williamson Magor, etc. IMI New Delhi is also one of the empanelled institutes of the ministry of external affairs for the special Commonwealth Assistance Programme, under which it gets MBA students from Afro-Asian countries for its 15-month Executive Post Graduate Programme in Management. Recently, it was ranked the topmost private business school in the country, and seventh overall, by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). Bakul Dholakia, director general, IMI New Delhi, says that students and faculty members are proud of having achieved this rank. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, Dholakia—who is a former director of IIM Ahmedabad—adds that learning at IMI New Delhi is a combination of lectures, case discussions, presentations, assignments, project work and much more. Excerpts:
IMI New Delhi was ranked the best private business school in the country, and seventh overall, by the NIRF. Did the result come as a surprise?
We are proud of having achieved this rank, and that too by a credible source—the ministry of HRD. We weren’t surprised but delighted to be ranked ahead of many new IIMs. The rankings reflect our efforts towards achieving excellence in terms of academics, faculty research, intake quality of students, placements, international linkages and consulting. In fact, we’ve also been getting good rankings in surveys conducted by various reputed agencies and magazines over the years.
What specific steps have you taken to excel in academics?
Faculty plays a vital role in providing quality education to students. At IMI New Delhi, the pool of faculty is widely recognised and experienced in academics as well as industry. Faculty members constantly upgrade themselves in terms of using latest contemporary pedagogical tools and techniques. All our faculty have been trained in case study method by the Richard Ivey Business School. There is also a clear focus on making research a topmost priority—there has been fourfold increase in case study writing, increase in the number of chapters being taught, and increase in the number of papers published and presented at international conferences. Our systems and processes have been strengthened over time. The delivery of the curriculum is constantly monitored to ensure outcome-based learning. We are accredited by AMBA (for five years) and NBA (for five years). We are in the re-accreditation process from SAQS (for five years). We are also in the final process of achieving AACSB accreditation.
Can a business school grow just by focusing on academics?
We’ve initiated a multi-pronged process of change, focusing on innovative methodologies towards enhancing students’ academic intake. Significant emphasis has been placed on research and introduction of formal systems and norms in many fields based on best practices followed by business schools globally. We encourage students to take self-driven academic or professional initiatives to complement their classroom learning with practical aspects of the real business world. Our another focus is reinforcing a fruitful industry-academia cooperation. Senior alumni visit the campus from time to time to share their experiences and also lend support to activities like guest lectures, admissions, placements, etc.
Which all are IMI New Delhi’s strong areas?
We are a faculty-driven institute. Our large faculty body ensures that all functional areas are well represented and the basket of courses offered by these areas is fairly exhaustive. The primary emphasis is on interactive and participative methods of learning. Learning at IMI New Delhi is a combination of lectures, case discussions, presentations, assignments and project work. We’ve been constantly upgrading our curriculum and provide excellent industry interface in terms of CxO level resource personal from industry being invited to offer guest lectures to expose students to the current business environment and practices. A large pool of alumni being placed at senior decision-making positions has also helped IMI New Delhi to obtain an industry focus to its various programmes. Placements have been 100% for last many years with attractive salary packages. We also have a full-fledged resource centre—the Williamson Magor Library. The 5,256 periodical titles subscribed (online plus hardcopy versions) are vital sources for academic research and up-to-date business information. It is a mandatory residential complex for students.
Coming back to NIRF rankings, these did not include some schools such as the Indian School of Business (ISB). Do you think including all such schools which have a physical campus in India would have been a better idea?
We live in a competitive world and welcome more number of schools to participate. However, inclusion or exclusion is the prerogative of the administrators of NIRF—the HRD ministry.
How do you plan to leverage the NIRF achievement?
With our one-year executive programme successfully running and having students with five years and above work experience, we are now aiming at international rankings. The standards are rigorous, relevant and benchmark of quality. Institutes that hold international accreditations are committed to high quality and continuous improvement in curriculum, practices, outcome and learning.
In which all ways global accreditations help a business school in India?
Such accreditations give an advantage of international recognition, status and exposure. The internationally-accredited institutions are more acceptable and promising to global students, faculty and even recruiters.
Do you also have dual-degree programmes?
We are interested in entering into dual-degree programmes with reputed overseas business schools. However, at this juncture, our discussions are at preliminary stages.
Online education is growing. A school in London has even launched a smartphone MBA. What is your opinion on online education? Is it the way ahead for business studies?
We have joined hands with Tech Mahindra to deliver online executive education programmes, and we already offer two such programmes. The response is overwhelming. Encouraged by this, we have plans to target online education in a big way. Our online endeavour intends to serve the needs of such professionals who are hard pressed for time but have a strong desire for value addition.
Do you plan to open more campuses?
Apart from New Delhi, we have campuses in Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. We are in the process of consolidating and strengthening our reach at both these centres. As of now, these are no plans to expand geographically.
Do you still have strong links with IMD Lausanne?
Yes, but our earlier tie-up is no more existent.