An eminent academician and leader, Dr. Vishal Talwar is the Director at IMT Ghaziabad. He has recently joined IMT Ghaziabad in August 2021. Prior to this, Dr. Talwar was Dean for the School of Management as well as Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the BML Munjal University.
In the past, Dr Talwar has also served as the Assistant Dean for the EMBA and BBA program as well as Head of Campus at the SP Jain School of Global Management in Mumbai. Earlier he was based in the UK and was working at the Henley Business School (University of Reading). Dr. Talwar was also the Faculty in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics (LSE). He has also served as the faculty at Manchester Metropolitan Business School. Dr Talwar is a Ph.D. from Alliance Manchester Business School
MBAUniverse.com interviewed Dr Talwar recently. He believes that the B-schools are well positioned to offer MBA but emphasizes that Content and Delivery model in MBA education require changes.
Edited excerpts follow:
Q: Congratulations for your recent appointment as the Director of IMT Ghaziabad. What are your first priorities…
A: Thank you very much for your wishes, it’s a pleasure to be here at IMT Ghaziabad. My first few priorities have been to meet the various stakeholders – faculty, non-faculty, students, alumni, recruiters etc. It’s great to see so much energy, potential and achievement. One of my major priorities would be to channelize all this towards further strengthening our position as a contemporary place of learning with an interdisciplinary approach and the ability to create business as well as social impact.
Q: Powered by Technology and Start-ups, last few years have seen a tectonic shift in the Business landscape. What are the implications for future of work and managerial skills?
A: Contrary to popular belief, I believe the future of work is bright for those happy to submit to developing a dynamic skill base. Automation and tech proliferation will push managers and business leaders to move up the value chain and sustain their relevance through a continuous learning regimen and greater focus on higher order skills. The art and science of management will both become increasingly relevant. Going forward, we will see more meaningful inclusion of technology as well as liberal arts subjects within management education.
Q: So, how should business and management education evolve to keep up with these changes? How does MBA 4.0 look like? Please share your thoughts.
A: Business schools are perfectly positioned to lead the way in enabling learning and career transformation as a lifelong process. For MBA 4.0 to be a success, what content we deliver and how we deliver it will require change. There will be greater focus on our ability to make learning more personalised, being more effective in using technology to deliver a better pedagogical experience and incorporate more meaningful ways to bring industry into the classroom. MBA 4.0 will also need to be more interdisciplinary which will require collaboration and widening of the delivery network.
Q: Coming to IMT Ghaziabad, as things stand today, what are its key strengths?
A: IMT Ghaziabad has been providing practical management education for the last 40 years and has been at the forefront of grooming leadership through innovation, execution and social responsibility. We have some of the best faculty from India and abroad who have not only been inspiring scores of students every year but have also been publishing cutting edge research at the highest levels. Our large base of alumni serves with distinction in senior business positions across the world and helps us co-create future endeavours and programs. Our programs and courses are benchmarked internationally and we have fantastic international business schools/universities as our partners.
Q: What makes IMT distinct from other Top B-schools that include older IIMs, XLRI, MDI…
A: There are some key areas in which we have benchmarked ourselves at the international level and have not limited ourselves to the Indian business schools. Our student rate of transformation is high and this is attributable to the level of engagement we have with our students both inside and outside the classroom. Our industry-academia integration too is benchmarked with some of the best schools internationally. This is one major avenue where you will see much further development in the days to come. Industry-Academia partnerships within Indian business schools have been largely viewed as a mechanism to ensure successful placement cycles and we would like to change this on the ground reality.
Q: What is your Vision for the institution? Where do you see it in next 2-3 years?
A: IMT Ghaziabad has been a pioneering business school for the last 40 years and has been instrumental in shaping careers of many thousands of graduates. As our Vision states - To be a leading management institution that contributes to the development of business and society through excellence in grooming leadership, entrepreneurial talent and research. We would like to continue delivering on this, however, the educational context has changed immensely and this gives IMT Ghaziabad an opportunity to further differentiate itself on many parameters. The next 2-3 years will see a greater focus on the learning experience, outcomes, pedagogies, varied nature/duration of programs and greater impetus on solving industry as well as social problems. Resurgent India requires a lot more focus on entrepreneurship and innovation and we at IMT Ghaziabad are committed to contributing to this ecosystem.
Q: What are the Key Initiatives that you are planning to take towards achieving this vision?
A: We have recently set up a Centre for Faculty Development where young faculty are being mentored and groomed for research, teaching and leadership roles. The Centre for Enterprise and Business Improvement at IMT Ghaziabad is an industry-academia interface wherein groups of students aim to use Innovative and Entrepreneurial thinking to solve business problems. Students participate in a ‘Short Term Project’ (STP) or ‘Consultancy Project’ and service is offered to all companies ranging from SME’s, multi-nationals, Family Businesses, Start-ups and non-profit organisations. Our fledgling research-led Centre for Sustainability which will be officially launched early in the new year will work on sustainability related issues across sectors. The Incubator Centre at IMT Ghaziabad will be one of the most active areas for development and we will be working with our partners and alumni to make the region a hub for innovation and startups.
Q: Coming to Admissions, Who is the Ideal Candidate that IMT Ghaziabad looks for? What is his/her profile…
A: IMT Ghaziabad selects candidates from a competitive and large pool of applications received. We are happy to choose candidates who have good communication skills, strong academic background, have business acumen, willing to learn, are socially sensitive, ready to accept challenges and come out with solutions. It goes without saying that the candidate should have logical reasoning and knowledge of current affairs. We consider a candidate to be ideal if he/she has an excellent academic background, has some distinctive achievements such as has participated in sports at the national level, been a debate or singing champion at the highest level, or has won National level Olympiad contests or Science Talent contests etc. So an ideal candidate to us would mean some exceptional contribution apart from general qualities that we expect from the students. We would strongly encourage students with relevant work experience to apply to us at IMT Ghaziabad, for example those with experience in Big 4 consulting firms or in well-known Indian/MNCs.
Q: While there is a standard admissions template that revolves around CAT Scores and Interview etc, how does IMT Ghaziabad plan to assess students for the desired skills and mind-set?
A: We at IMT Ghaziabad have designed a critical thinking test of 30 min duration. Through this test we will assess critical thinking, written communication, creativity and innovativeness of the candidate.
Apart from this, all our shortlisted candidates will have to write a statement of purpose (SOP) of around 300 words. Thus, candidates are selected based on their performance in the interview, critical thinking test and the SOP.
Q: Many IMT Ghaziabad Alumni are well known business leaders in marketing and related areas. Have your alumni done equally well in other business functions too. Can you please share some specific examples?
A: IMT Ghaziabad Alumni have been making their impact across functions and sectors – Rakesh Singh (Batch of 1992) is Group Head for Investment Banking and Private Banking at HDFC Bank. Sairee Chahal (Batch of 2001) is the Founder of SHEROES. Harpreet Datta (Batch of 1995) is the Head –COE, Talent Acquisition and Management at GMR Group. Mamta Saikia (Batch of 1995) is CEO for Bharti Foundation. Also, Dharmil Sheth (Batch of 2013) was Co-founder of Pharmeasy and is now working on creating a tech based healthcare ecosystem.
These are just some of the examples of our Alumni who are trail blazing across varied domains and have also been giving back to IMT Ghaziabad in their own unique ways.
Q: IMT Ghaziabad has traditionally been strong on Industry Engagement dimension. How are you planning to take this forward…
A: As business schools plan for a different future, our strong framework for industry partnerships will prove to be a game changer for us. This will be our thrust area as we move forward. The Centre for Enterprise & Business Improvement as mentioned above will work closely with the industry to solve real world problems. Many areas for industry integration currently exist, whether within the classroom or outside. We need to work together on real-time data to design cases and simulations that are more appropriate and useful for discussion and decision making. Going forward, you will see some interesting collaborations between IMT Ghaziabad and the wider network – corporates, other educational establishments, the entrepreneurship ecosystem etc. This will enable a multi-disciplinary approach and create a more meaningful industry-academia integration.
Q: Life Long Learning is a much talked about area. Is IMT Ghaziabad planning to engage with its Alumni on this dimension?
A: A business school’s alumni can play a transformational role in creating a strong industry focus through guidance, mentoring and network support. IMT Ghaziabad alumni are an innate part of our legacy and future. They have helped us keep learning as an organisation and as continuous learning becomes an imperative, they are also helping us design crucial courses and programs for the future. Regular feedback and outreach sessions are being planned with the alumni in a bid to keep enhancing our lifelong learning commitments.
Q: What changes are you planning to align your Curriculum and Pedagogy to the massive changes in Business World?
A: IMT Ghaziabad has been dynamically moving with the times and kept pace with the changes in the business world. Our curriculum and course offerings have been contemporary and benchmarked with the best internationally. Over the last 2 odd years, online learning has been the norm and going forward blended learning is here to stay even if campuses move to the physical mode. We are increasingly applying technology to all components of learning – delivery, assessments and engagement. The Centre for Faculty Development at IMT Ghaziabad will be instrumental in bringing in the correct knowhow through workshops, seminars, one-to-one mentoring etc.
Q: Are there some new courses in PGDM program that are being planned…
A: 2022 will be an exciting year for us with respect to our varied program offerings. The PGDM Banking and Financial Services (BFS) specialised program is a relatively new offering that is delivered in collaboration with Vlerick Business School, Belgium.
Q: Why is Experiential Learning so important in management education? Post Covid, how do B-schools leverage this? What are key initiatives planned at IMT Ghaziabad in this area?
A: Experiential learning is one of the most powerful forms of learning and well-suited for practice oriented subjects such as management. It is a continuous cyclical process of experiencing, reflecting, conceptualising and experimenting that can be deftly integrated into the curriculum. IMT Ghaziabad with its practical approach to learning is already weaving this learning approach through strong industry linkages, role-plays, varied case formats, simulations, gaming etc. Our next step would be to ensure greater levels of experiential input in every taught course.
Q: How will you rate this year’s placements at IMT Ghaziabad over your peers?
A: Placements at IMT Ghaziabad saw a resurgence, coming out of the shadow of the pandemic. We successfully culminated the Final Placement Season for the outgoing class of 2020-22 by placing the whole batch of students in just over 2 weeks, with an average salary of Rs 15.28 lakh per annum and participation from 136 companies. More than 30% of the recruiters were first time recruiters.
The average salary for the top 25% of the batch stands at Rs 20.77 lakh per annum. The highest international package received this year is Rs. 62.0 lakh per annum, and highest domestic package received is Rs 29.5 lakh per annum. More than 50 students have received offers above Rs 20.0 lakh per annum.
We saw participation from companies spanning across various sectors BFSI, Consulting, IT/ITES, Internet Business, FMCG and Consumer Goods, Logistics and Supply Chain, Automobile, Pharmaceutical amongst others. Students have been offered roles in functions such as Consulting, Finance, Strategy, Sales and Marketing, Operations and HR.
Some of the notable recruiters this year include Morgan Stanley, BCG, Accenture Consulting, Goldman Sachs, Google, Infosys Consulting, Emami International, TATA Consumer Products, Tolaram, Whirlpool, WIPRO CCL, American Express, Arcesium, Bajaj Auto, BNY Mellon, Tech Mahindra, Cisco, Credit Suisse, Indus Valley Partners, Piramal Enterprises, PayU, PhonePe to name a few.
Q: MBA/PGDM Fees have increased significantly in last decade. What will you say to students who are questioning the value? Why does an MBA continue to be valuable?
A: The MBA/PGDM continues to be one of the strongest contributors to corporate careers and growth. Being a business leader requires domain knowledge, technological knowhow and holistic development. In that sense, an MBA/PGDM degree is the quintessential multi-disciplinary qualification that provides all round capability to manage processes and people (even in fast paced start-up environments), something that the future world of work requires strongly.
Q: What is your message for MBA aspirants? How should they plan their MBA journey?
A: My message to all MBA aspirants is to prepare and apply with confidence. Progressive courses such as those that are offered by IMT Ghaziabad are able to build 21st Century skill-sets in students and make them ready for the future of work. While preparing for a good MBA/PGDM program, do focus on the competitive examinations but also build up a strong multi-faceted profile that demonstrates achievement, aspiration and capabilities.