Dr. Asit K Barma, An IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Madras alumnus joined as the Director of BIM Trichy in February 2021. He is well poised to transform the institution into a multi-campus, multi-program institution, leveraging his 30+ years of experience in academia and industry.
Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM), Tiruchirappalli is one of the highly ranked B-schools in NIRF Rankings 2022 but few know about the origin of one of this oldest PGDM B-schools in India. In 1984, the then Union Finance Minister, Bharat Ratna Shri. C. Subramaniam, along with leading Academicians and Industrialists of that era, decided to create an institution that would be grounded in theory but have proactive partnership with large organizations. With this vision, a partnership was signed with BHEL to create the country’s first ever B-school housed inside a large corporate facility. Thus, was born Bharathidasan Institute of Management. Over the last four decades, BIM Trichy silently continued to produce MBAs who become CXOs of leading Global and Indian companies. Dr. Asit K Barma, who joined as the Director of BIM Trichy two years ago, is transforming the institution into a multi-campus, multi-program institution.
An IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Madras alumnus, Dr. Asit K Barma is well poised to lead this transformation leveraging his 30+ years of experience in academia and industry. He held senior leadership role in CMC (formerly IBM & now TCS); Tech Mahindra; Hinduja Tech and Value Labs. He has taught at IMT Ghaziabad, IIM Kashipur and JAGSOM/IFIM.
MBAUniverse.com interviewed Dr. Barma to understand more about BIM’s legacy and his transformation plan. Edited excerpts follow:
Q: BIM Trichy has a legacy of almost four decades. You were appointed as the Director in Feb 2021. What were your early priorities?
A: Repositioning the institute in the new business order was my key priority. Any old legacy institute or organization must ensure this to avoid going the Nokia or Kodak way, given the present B School landscape in the country today. Looking back, I am happy with the way we have progressed. We are regarded as a boutique B School specializing in new technology applications and sustainability. The Tamil Nadu Government has chosen us to be the Academic Partner for the prestigious CM’s two-year Fellowship Program, which only the top IIMs are privy to for running similar programs for other states.
Q: What has been the progress and key achievements so far?
A: We are the only institute in Tamil Nadu to set up a Financial Trading and Analytics Centre with Bloomberg and NSE Smart Trading Simulation software. Apart from cross-discipline research and project works, this center also helps students prepare for CMT and BMC certification. We have set up a Real-time Contextual Marketing Lab packed with open-source software tools, including Salesforce Social Studio, that only a few B Schools in India can claim to have. Our Centre for Operational Excellence is equipped with O-Nine solutions and InChainge software applications for simulations in supply chain 4.0. We are now trying to work on Drone integrated supply chain and Metaverse Labs. Our faculty and students are also working on building IP in interdisciplinary applications. We are one of the first B Schools to offer a PG Certificate in ERP Technology (SAP). We have set up a Centre for Sustainable Development and are building competency in public policy and capacity building, leveraging our association with the CM’s fellowship program. These are the pieces of evidence of our repositioning and a new start. I see BIM as an institute with the advantage of solid governance of a legacy institute with the agility of a new-age start-up. We have been ranked in NIRF's top 100 B Schools this year and aspire to be in the top 40 in the next three years.
Q: How do you see management education in India today? Collectively, what are key strengths and areas of improvement?
A: Mushrooming of B Schools is diluting the standard. The lack of availability of quality faculty in management science is a challenge. That’s why the relevance of an MBA is being questioned today. So many MBAs are not employable in the industry, and people ask about the RoI. The number of CAT aspirants is not increasing significantly over the years. Most B Schools are not public authorities and are not covered under RTI. There is a lack of public disclosures of admission and placement data. Most of the self-financed B Schools have high faculty attrition. Look at the size of the industry, the business of B Schools, and the number of stakeholders involved. Going by the impact, all B Schools must be bound by mandatory public disclosures of critical information and brought under the RTI coverage. As we advance, I see a significant consolidation of the industry. B Schools funded by the Government, like IIMs, and those with solid focus areas like MICA (in the communication area) and XLRI (in Human Relations) will thrive in the upcoming shake-up. Foreign Universities are allowed to directly set up their campuses in India or invest in India. So, it is interesting to watch the development of management education in India, considering an almost stagnant catchment area. We could recognize this trend and opted to move the XLRI/ MICA way to focus on building strong competency in new technology applications and sustainable development spaces where we can play at the same level as the top IIMs. Interest from our recruiters and the type of job roles on offer vindicates our positioning.
Q: BIM is a unique B-school founded by luminaries. For our new readers, please share the origin of BIM Trichy and the critical milestones in its journey.
A: Established in 1984, Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirappalli, is an ISO 21001:2018 certified autonomous institution managed by an independent society, led by a Governing Board comprising outstanding luminaries from industry, government, and academia. Mr. T Kannan, the MD of Thiagarajar Mills, Madurai, and a renowned industrialist and institution builder is the board's current chairman. Mr. Ramadorai, former Chairman of TCS is the EX Chairman. The first BoG of BIM had personalities like Late Shri Dhirubhai Ambani and Dr I G Patel, former RBI Governor and Director of IIM A and the London School of Economics.
BIM offers two years residential MBA program approved by AICTE with specialization in Marketing Management; Finance and Economics; Operations and Supply Chain Management; Human Resources Management; Digital Business, and Analytics. It also conducts TN CM’s Fellowship Program, besides Management Development /Faculty Development Programs. More than 4500 BIM Alumni spread around the globe are significantly contributing to corporates, academics, and society today. Former Union Minister Bharat Ratna, Late Shri C Subramaniam was instrumental in setting up this B School. He was motivated by the idea of starting a School of Excellence in Management that would be organically linked with an industrial complex. He believed that just as a medical school needed to be attached to a hospital to be effective as a teaching institution, a Management School had to be linked with industry. Accordingly, the institute was set up in collaboration with BHEL within its sprawling Tiruchirappalli campus. In addition to its graduate program, BIM has a strong research profile and established multiple centres of excellence, including the Operations Excellence Centre, Financial Trading and Analytics Center (FINTRAC), Real-Time Contextual Marketing Labs, and Center for Sustainable Development to advance contemporary management practices. To sum up, the uniqueness of BIM lies in its Governance structure (not owned by a family, individual, or Government) and strong legacy.
Q: BIM was one of the first B Schools in the country to have adopted industry-designed and industry-delivered programs. What steps are being taken today to strengthen this legacy?
A: BIM was adjudged the Best B-School for Industry-Academia relations at the World Education Summit 2022 in Hyderabad. We are one of the pioneers in introducing industry-designed and industry-delivered programs in new-age areas like Fintech, RPA, Blockchain, AI/ML, Derivative analytics, Supply Chain 4.0, and so on. We are committed to contributing to developing the local ecosystem and integrating this with our pedagogy to hone our application skills. We have signed an MoU with TN Irrigation Management and Training Institute of the Ministry of Public Works Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu to bring management insights into water management. A few of our students have worked with International Centre for Clean Water at IIT Madras Research Park to construct a model in the water management area. BIM also signed MOU with the Institute of Design Thinking, Chennai, to promote design thinking at the grassroots level to develop better products and improve service delivery, thereby contributing to the local ecosystem's overall competitiveness. We are working with a few regional dairy and hatchery firms; conducting MDPs for BHEL and L&T; performing CSR impact analysis for City Union Bank; and supporting several B Schools in the region through guest lectures and thought leadership input. We have signed an MOU with Chartered Market Technician Association to facilitate the CMT certification course. The course will help students be equipped with technical aspects of the financial market & investments, a part of new age market analysis.
Q: In our previous interview, you shared a vision for BIM to be ranked amongst the top B-schools with global accreditations. As things stand today, what are the aspirations for the next 3-4 years?
A: BIM will be known for its focus on new-age technology applications across domains and sustainable development. This will be the place for the students, researchers, faculty, and recruiters seeking specialization in these areas. BIM may not be at par with the top IIMs in Marketing or Finance, but when it comes to FinTech, Block Chain, MarTech, BIM will match any institute globally.
BIM has rich access to localized data on various SDGs where Universities abroad would be interested in collaborating. BIM will offer dual degree programs in the next three years with tier-1 global institutes. we have already partnered with the Rennes School of Business, France, an FT-ranked and triple-crowned B School. There are a few more on the cards. We are actively participating in the local area development in SME segments and would seek to be known as the MBB for the SME in the local ecosystem to consult for improving products, operations, or service delivery. Local ecosystems can be the growth drivers for exponential growth in the state economy. TN incidentally has set itself a target of being the Trillion dollar economy by 2030, and we would like to do our bit towards that.
We have received ISO21001:2018 certification and are in the advanced stage of receiving the NBA accreditation. We aim simultaneously for AACSB and AMBA accreditation in the next three years. We aspire to be in the country's top 40 NIRF-ranked B Schools in the next three years.
Q: What are the initiatives to achieve these ambitious goals?
A: Being an old legacy institute, we already have systems and processes in place, and with ISO and NBA, institute-level and program-level processes are pretty streamlined. This process at BIM is completely faculty-led, and we are confident of receiving the accreditation in the next three years.
AMBA requires considerable faculty experience in Industry Consulting. We are encouraging our faculty on this. In 2021-22 we earned a significant revenue in faculty-led consultancy. In line with AACSB preparations, we need to have the right mix of Scholastic Academic faculty, and we brought in a new Research Policy to encourage a research environment on campus. Our research output has significantly improved in the last year. Our faculty-led teams are leading the documentation initiatives. We have become an AACSB Business Education Alliance member.
Similarly, we are working on AMBA. Our preparations for ISO 21001:2018 and NBA help us take the next leap. Incidentally, we have partnered with the Rennes School of Business, France, an FT-ranked and triple-crowned B School. Our faculty and students will gain significantly from various exchange programs, ultimately fine-tuning our preparations for the international accreditations and standards we are looking at.
Q: Are there plans to introduce new programs like Executive MBA and Ph.D.?
A: From now on, Executive MBA will be central to our actions, given the widely distributed workforce in the region across multiple domains. We have introduced Post Graduate Certificate in ERP technologies (SAP). We have a facility at Anna Administrative staff College to conduct classes for executives in Chennai. We plan to offer exclusive modules for Government Executives who are highly talented and now seek to earn an MBA degree in areas like Public Policy and Management. We will shortly launch Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management for the Tamil Nadu CM’s Fellowship program participants.
Q: How is the plan to develop the new Second Campus? Please share some details.
A: A renowned award-winning architect has designed the new campus drawing inspiration from the temple architecture on the Cauvery belt. The Board has approved the plan, and we are getting all mandatory clearances from various departments. We plan to float tenders for construction very soon and hope to complete the campus by 2024. This will be wholly self-funded without any grant from outside. I am overwhelmed by the support from the alumni on this.
Q: What changes are you planning to align your Curriculum and Pedagogy with the massive changes in Business World?
A: Several studies on the future of works suggest a shift towards Social Enterprise or Society 5.0. To explain this briefly, our Pi-shaped program architecture with unique industry and society ed curriculum and pedagogy makes our students more humane, believe in sustainable living, and adept in new technology applications. We have several interventions like the Offsite Outbound leadership Lab, Personality Growth Lab, Courses like Universal Human Values, and practice courses like Research Incubation, Social Immersion Program, Personality Enhancement through Sports, and Learning Execution through Clubs and Committees. Besides, our curriculum is highly contemporary, with a three-stage review process guided by the best minds from industry and academia.
Q: You recently collaborated with Govt of Tamil Nadu. Please share details of this engagement and how BIM will benefit from this.
A: The objectives of the TN CM’s Fellowship program are the following:
- Create a pool of knowledgeable and action-oriented resources for the Government to work on policy efficacy, identify gaps, and build internationally referred benchmarks for policy and program outcomes.
- Evolve a ‘program structure’ with a combination of academic rigor drawn from international best practices of policy and governance for various sectors of Tamil Nadu.
- Conceive and implement a framework of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to measure, monitor, and improve the government's service delivery across different departments and sectors in Tamil Nadu.
- Develop the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for service delivery and compare them against the global best practices./li>
- Develop and implement the measuring system for each KPI across various sectors and create a magic quadrant of service delivery processes regarding their maturity and impact.
- Create a learning process for the Fellows and the Government to measure and evaluate policy outcomes, gaps, and course corrections.
- Enable the Fellowship resources to identify impact creation and scale up best practices.
- The understanding state economy, linkage of policy and economic activities, and financial planning for higher value chain activities.
Q: What is the role of BIM Trichy in the Fellowship Programme? Which are the key areas of Fellowship programme?
A: The selection of the candidates for the Fellowship program, program architecture, course curriculum, pedagogy, faculty and research resources, and evaluation is carried out by Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM) Tiruchirappalli. During the two-year program, BIM monitors the performance and growth of the Fellows. One faculty and two students in MBA first year are assigned to each fellow to support their research. The Fellows are working on the following 12 thematic areas around SDGs:
- Augmentation of water resources
- Agricultural production, Productivity, and creation of Marketing Linkages
- Hou Augmentation of water resources
- Agricultural production, Productivity, and creation of Marketing Linkages
- Housing for All
- Improving Educational Standards
- Improving Health Indicators
- Social Inclusion
- Infrastructural and Industrial Development
- Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Development
- Institutional Credit
- Heritage and Culture
- Ecological Balance
- Data Governance
BIM is committed to supporting these initiatives by making the Fellowship Program a lifelong experience to cherish by the Fellows. BIM will issue a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Policy and Management to each successful candidate at the end of the two years. Fellows desiring to do a Ph.D. can leverage the credits earned in the two years and enroll for the same under BIM’s supervision.
Q. How have been the Placements in 2022 at BIM Trichy? We understand that you get your report audited?
A: We get our placement data audited by CRISIL as per the Indian Placement Reporting Standard-2. We believe in voluntary public disclosure of critical information to help aspirants make informed decisions. Placement 2022 saw the highest CTC of INR 16.5 Lakhs (INR 20.50L for the 2023 batch) and an average CTC of 10.54 Lakhs (audited data by CRISIL, INR 12.12 L for the 2023 batch). Unfortunately, most B Schools have yet to publish audited placement records per the IPRS2.
Q. How are Placements 2023 progressing?
A: Placement 2023 is progressing well with our consistent 100% placement record since inception. We placed 95% of the batch in a month, with the highest CTC being INR 20.50 Lakhs and the average being INR 12.12 Lakhs. With a small cohort of 120 students, our students can accept multiple offers and make a choice. Most of the offers are in the consulting domain. BIM has been the first port of call for many marquee recruiters. And remember, BIM has not been printing any placement brochures since I took charge here.
Q. Who is the Ideal Candidate that BIM Trichy looks for?
A: We look at the value fit of the candidate. As machines get more intelligent, we want human beings to be more humane, which is what we want to see in our candidates. Our Pi-shaped program architecture is an excellent enabler of this idea. Since we have a small cohort, we are highly selective, and CAT/XAT/GMAT scores are just one of our many criteria for selection. Our program is very rigorous and demanding. We want candidates who can take the pressure, are hungry for more and are ready to take advantage of all the learning infrastructure.
Q. Finally, what is your message for MBA aspirants seeking MBA/PGDM admission?
A: Don’t look at the RoI of doing an MBA; instead, look at the Cost of not doing it. It does not help to look at the Highest or average CTC, and don’t believe in the unaudited placement data; instead, find an institute that can help you to grow holistically. Don’t get carried away by what the institute website says. Try to talk to the alumni and the students in the current batch. Always keep an open and seeking mind to learn and interact with your peers. What ultimately matters is the value you bring to the system.
Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more updates on BIM Tiruchirappalli