IIM-Calcutta gets a gift of knowledge from alumniSeptember 1st, 2011 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS
Chennai, Sep 1 (IANS) Shekhar Chaudhuri, director of the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C), realised in 2003 that he was facing some critical gaps in his marketing department. He was not able to fill these up in-house and wanted some support.
During one of his visits here, Chaudhuri met members of the IIM-C Alumni Association’s Chennai Chapter and presented his problem to them over dinner.
“At that time, we had just four faculty members to teach marketing. Further there was an insufficient supply of doctorate degree holders for us to recruit and fill the gap. Hence I sought the help of our alumni here,” Chaudhuri told IANS.
The alumni chapter members saw an opportunity to give back their knowledge to the students at the same institute where they had learnt the rudiments of management by holding two-day strategic marketing workshops.
“These workshops based on case studies of Indian companies complement the theoretical knowledge of the students with real life inputs. The case studies taught in management schools are all American and are not only old but also largely irrelevant for Indian students,” Ashok Jayaram, CEO of Executive and Business Coaching Foundation India Ltd told IANS.
“We decided to present three/four case studies at each workshop. What is unique is that the case study sessions get anchored by the person who actually handled them in real life. Two of our members will also be present at the workshop,” said Jayaram, president of the Chennai Chapter of the IIM-C Alumni Association.
Ravi Santhanam, former managing director of Hindustan Motors Ltd and IIM-C alumni, told IANS: “There are many things in a corporate that are not glamorous but essential for the success of the business. We give such insights to the students.”
Citing a case, he said: “An Indian fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company’s head office will come to know within three days if any one of the 600,000 outlets is logging lower sales on any of its brand. That is the power of market knowledge which will normally be gained by managers after roughing it out for three years on the ground.”
Naturally, the IIM-C management took to the idea enthusiastically.
“Our set-up is very informal and loose. The workshop activity is looked after by a core team of around 10 members,” Jayaram said.
Once the team is satisfied that there is an interesting case within a company, the CEO/business head is requested to give the case in writing. In order to build the IIM-C brand and boost student morale, only cases of companies headed by IIM-C alumni are taken up.
“If needed, the case is polished by our members. Then the problem in the case study is sent to IIM-C to be shared with the students. The students, formed into groups, would have to present their solutions to the institute. The best four solutions will be presented at the workshop,” Jayaram said.
Since 2003, around 30 case studies on varied sectors like television, automobile, retail finance, infrastructure, advertising, retail banking and others were discussed at IIM-C.
“None of the case studies presented earlier got repeated. Every year we provide around three fresh cases,” Jayaram said.
“The biggest challenge lies in putting the case together and presenting it appropriately. This involves great effort by our team members,” K. Mahalingam, partner at T.S. Mahalingam and Sons, told IANS.
While the alumni CEOs find it interesting to interact with young blood, they also manage to build brand equity amongst the future managers. In addition, the workshop also provides these CEOs some business tips/ideas.
“I got an insight as to how youth think and their online activities. So I decided to offer some products online,” Mahalingam said.
With the word spreading, the IIM-C Alumni Association’s Chennai Chapter is now conducting similar programmes for other management schools.
“We are now doing workshops at Great Lakes Institute of Management and Loyola Institute of Business Administration (both in Chennai), Thiagarajar School of Management in Madurai and Bharathidasan Institute of Management in Tiruchirapalli,” Jayaram said.
Requests have also come from the IIMs in Shillong, Ranchi and Tiruchirapalli to conduct such workshops, he added.
Meanwhile the alumni team is gearing up for this year’s workshop at their alma mater slated for Sep 24-25.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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