While a lot has been written about the history of IIMs & ISB, few know about the origin of one of the oldest PGDM B-schools in India – BIM Trichy. 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 silently continued to produce MBAs who will go on to become CXOs of leading Global and Indian companies. Now Dr. Asit K Barma, who joined as the Director of BIM Trichy last year, 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: Congratulations on your appointment as the Director of BIM Tiruchirappalli. What are your early priorities, and how has the experience been so far?
A: Given its 38 years of legacy and 4000+ highly dynamic alumni network, the institute holds great promise. It has an excellent brand recall in the industry, and an extremely supportive, committed, and independent Board comprising accomplished leaders from Industry and Government.
I am now adding the agility of a start-up, adding more scale, speed, and scope. We are shaping a new age program architecture and pedagogy, mandating impactful research, improving diversity in faculty and students.
We are also planning to introduce Executive MBA and Ph.D. We are getting our new second campus in place by 2023-24. We are also working on several accreditations as well.
Q: As IIM A & IIT M alumnus and former CXO, how do you see management education in India today? Are we well-positioned for the age of Industry 4.0?
A: During the boom of the post-war economy in the early twentieth century, most of the B Schools globally got oriented towards scientific, academic underpinning following the Ford and Carnegie Foundation report. They forgot that B Schools need to be professional schools, just like Law or Medicine.
I see a B-School conundrum today- to adopt a scientific model of physicists and economists or a professional model of Doctors and Lawyers. B- Schools must balance these two with a relevant program architecture and pedagogy, more so in today’s new business order. The pandemic-led uncertainty and Industry 4.0 mandate balance this to advance professional education with scientific scholastic underpinning.
Remember, India is becoming a hub for Unicorns. We added 44 unicorns in 2021, replacing the UK with the third-highest rank in terms of the number of Unicorns added in a year. More than 70% of the Unicorns are platform economy companies. Our graduates must be ready to have a pie of this Unicorn opportunity.
Q: Coming to BIM, we understand that BIM was established in 1984 by Luminaries. Please tell us more about the origin of BIM Trichy and the key milestones in its journey.
A: Yes, Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Trichy, was established in 1984, as a School of Excellence of Bharathidasan University, due to the efforts of then Union Finance Minister, Bharat Ratna Shri C Subramaniam. His idea was to have a management school linked with an enterprise like a medical school attached to a hospital. And this led to the setting up of one of the oldest and premier B schools, BIM, within the complex of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Tiruchirappalli.
Shri C Subramaniam was the founding Chairman. BIM has been a self-funded autonomous institute managed by an independently run society within a University System, with the HE Governor of Tamil Nadu being its Patron. The present Chairman of the Governing Board is the noted business leader Mr. T Kannan, Group CEO of Thiagarajar Mills Ltd, Madurai. The immediate past Chairman was Mr. Ramadorai, former Chairman of TCS.
In its 38 years of journey, BIM successfully maintained its values and legacy, withered the disruptive changes in the B School landscape. It emerged as a very successful B School with consistently 100% admission and placement year on year, contributing to industry and society through its 4000+ alumni and faculty. BIM perhaps is one of the first B Schools in the country to have adopted industry-designed and industry-delivered learning programs.
Q. So, what makes BIM Trichy distinct from other good B-schools…
A: BIM has all the robustness and stability of a top Government Institution in terms of systems, processes, and the flexibility of a leading private B School in its autonomy and ability to quickly respond to changing business environments. Its unique constitution makes it so. Unlike many self-financed institutions controlled by individuals or families, BIM is managed by an independently run society. BIM thereby could steadfastly maintain its 38 years of legacy and values-doing the right thing, always.
BIM alumni is another strength for us. They have amazing passion for their alma mater. BIM curriculum and pedagogy are unique, with all courses integrated with new technology applications and SDG/ESG focus. Our current Industry-designed and industry-delivered new age-courses in Derivative analytics, Blockchain, Fintech, AI/ML, Digital HR make BIM truly industry-integrated B School.
Q: You have various Centres of Excellence. How are they helpful for students?
A: BIM has created Centres of Excellence like Financial Trading and Analytics Centre (FINTRAC equipped with Bloomberg and NSE Smart trading simulator), Real-Time Contextual Marketing Lab (RTCML equipped with Salesforce Social Studio and a host of other proprietary and open-source tools), Centre for Operations Excellence (with Fresh Connection simulation tools), and Centre for SDG. Students are doing certifications on CMT, BMC, and NSE Smart trading simulation, Salesforce dot com, Supply chain 4.0 simulations through these centers of excellence.
Students with faculty mentors are encouraged to undertake interdisciplinary research to develop proof of concepts and create patents. Students are currently working on areas like text mining and consumer sentiment analysis, algorithmic trading, predicting valuation from social sentiments. Students thereby develop a good insight into the subject by blending theory with practice.
Q: BIM nurtures (Pi) shaped professionals ready for tomorrow's business. Can you please elaborate more on pi shaped professionals?
A: There are many well-established skilling models. We are perhaps one of the first few B Schools globally to adopt this concept in a B School to help our graduates build a foundation for life while building a foundation for knowledge.
Through a well-crafted program architecture, BIM nurtures pi shaped professionals who are future-ready. The top horizontal bar in Pi denotes the core and elective courses to provide a spread of subject knowledge across core and elective subjects to make them strong generalists. The first vertical bar represents the new technology applications across five areas of specialization. For example, Martech, Text mining, Marketing Analytics in Marketing; Fintech, Blockchain in Finance; Supply chain 4.0 in Operations, HR Analytics, Digital HR in Human Relations, and AI/ML and other tools in Digital Business & Analytics, equip our students to be specialists in applying new technology applications in a specific specialization. All BIM students learn Python, R, KNIME, SPSS, AMOS, NVivo, and other tool-based applications. The second vertical bar denotes courses that help our students imbibe human values, build character, personality and confidence to take on the uncertain world, and be sensitive to SDG/ESG priorities. Our practice courses like participation in club activities, personality building through sports, outbound leadership program, personal growth lab, and courses like universal human values aim to achieve this.
Q: While BIM has a great legacy, let’s talk about the future. What is your Vision for BIM? Where do you see it in the next few years?
A: BIM would be a preferred destination for the students, researchers, faculty, and corporates for academic pursuits, research, teaching, sourcing resources, or solving industry problems when it comes to applying new technology across domains and advancing SDG/ESG initiatives.
In the next 4-5 years, BIM will be globally known for its work in new technology applications and SDG/ESG space. We are targeting AACSB and AMBA accreditations by then. We also aspire to be in the top twenty NIRF rank in the next 4-5 years.
Q: What are the key initiatives that you are planning to take towards achieving these ambitious goals?
A: We are expanding our activities through Executive MBA, Executive Ph.D., MDP/FDP in new-age areas, appointing full-time research fellows, and increasing the student intake for our flagship MBA programs. We will have our new second campus on a 19-acre land next to IIM Trichy by 2023-24 to support this growth.
We like to leave a strong footprint in developing the local ecosystem by bringing management and new technology insights into the traditional practices. For example, we signed MoU with RoundSqr, a Hyderabad-based AI/ML solutions company, and TN Irrigation Management Training Institute, Trichy. With this, we intend to use analytics and AI/ML to improve rural entrepreneurship, direct market access for the farmers and their informed decision-making, water management, etc. We are taking space at IIT Madras Research Park to augment our new-age solution-building efforts. Some patenting efforts are on. We have introduced a research policy to make impactful research a part of the institute DNA.
Q. How have been the Placements at BIM Trichy?
A: We achieve 100% placements consistently over the years. From 2021 onwards, we started getting our placement data audited by CRISIL as per IPRS. We are possibly one of those very few campuses where not a single offer was revoked during 2020 and 2021.
Q. How are Placements 2022 progressing?
A: Placements 2022 are making great progress. The highest salary in 2022 is INR 17.5 Lakhs, with INR 10.50 Lakhs as the average CTC. It is fascinating to see our students opting for new-age roles this year. This validates the impact of changes we brought to our program architecture this year.
Q. How are BIM Trichy Alumni progressing in their Corporate and Entrepreneurial journey? Please share key BIM alumni.
A: One key strength of BIM is its strong alumni network. Our 4000+ alumni, many of them being CXOs, are making a significant contribution to industry and society across the globe. A few of our noted alumni include:
- Mr. T R Ramchandran – Group Country Manager, India, and South Asia, VISA
- Mr. Sidd R Siddharthan – MD, Accenture, Singapore
- Mr. Roni Chacko – MD, Godrej Consumer Products Limited, Ghana
- Mr. Prakash Mallya – MD, Intel India
- Mr. Sanjay Manohar – MD, McAfee India
- Mr. Vijaykrishnan Venkatesan – MD India and APAC, Kennametal India Limited
- Ms. Manashi Guha – Consumer Division Head, L’Oreal SAPMENA (South Asia Pacific Middle East and North Africa)
- Mr. K Ramakrishnan – MD, South Asia Kantar Panel, Kantar
- Ms. Keerthana Ramakrishan – Marketing Head, NIKE India
- Ms. Kavitha Singh – CHRO, United Breweries India
- Mr. Kesavan Narayanan – Executive Director, JP Morgan India
- Ms. Ramya Balakrishnan – Director, Future of Work – Sunlife, Ontario
Besides, we also have several alumni who are successful entrepreneurs in India and abroad. We have a strong alumni relations team. Our alumni plays a major role in number of institutional activities including participating in the Board of Studies and Academic Council. We also receive endowments from the alumni.
Q. So, who is the Ideal Candidate that BIM Trichy looks for?
A: Our ideal candidate should be a consistent performer from the 10th standard to the UG level. We accept only CAT/XAT and GMAT scores as qualifying examinations to ensure candidates with the right aptitude walk in. Through Group Discussion and a rigorous Personal Interview, we ensure our candidates have the right attitude, confidence, risk-taking ability, and value fit.
Q. Finally, what is your message for MBA aspirants seeking MBA/PGDM admission…
A: My message to student community is as follows: Ensure you have the clarity on fundamentals of the subject and articulate it well. Be honest and demonstrate the right attitude and aptitude. With the fast-changing future of work, you need to choose a B School based on its curriculum, pedagogy, infrastructure to learn new applications, and an enabling environment to develop into a well-rounded personality. Don’t look at the RoI, look at the ‘Cost of not doing it’!
Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more updates on BIM Tiruchirappalli