Im pretty sure these headlines are unintentional. I saw one this evening which said, "ISB declines to reveal boy's identity." Another one, "ISB is not revealing boy's identity, yet."
Im sure you had the same thoughts I would have had. Some heinous crime has been committed and an organisation that goes by the initials of ISB is refusing to give up the accused.
The Indian School of Business is in the news. A graduate student has bagged a $233,800 (Rs 1.04 crore) job. That beats the previous record set by the IIMs.
Recently, IIM Bangalore kicked up a fuss saying they didn't want to turn their placement season into a circus and their students into animals in a temporary zoo. Makes sense I guess. ISB has picked up from there. And refuses to part with the lucky chap's identity. That makes him lucky twice over. He earns the money and gets to keep it, since the Bhais won't find him easily.
For various, totally biased reasons, I would like to state that I always thought ISB would score in the longer term. Now, one does give educational institutions a little time to grow and mature, maybe a few decades, if not centuries. But this is the era of instant karma. So, even management schools are in the reckoning within 2,000 days of launch. Long term is only a year more now.
I am not an expert on B-Schools. I couldn't have made it to them or through them. I would like to say Ive found the IIMs pompous in their demeanour. Or ineffective. But that would not be fair. I've never dealt with them. But Ive met with IIM A alumni who've toured Harvard Business School as case studies. And yet they've never been considered as good enough for similar exercises by their own alma mater. And have made it a point to point it out.
I have `dealt' with the ISB though. And visited their campus at least on two occasions. Once to be part of a panel discussion. I may not exactly be a big catch but this guy who visited the ISB two months later surely was. His name was George Bush and he is the President of the United States of America.
Why It Will Pull Ahead
As an aside, the ISB, as I noted in the latest issue of ISB Insight, is understandably thrilled about Bush's visit, the first of its kind. And yet, they didn't devote a whole edition to it. Like many people would have been tempted to. So they score reasonably well on modesty.
Ive met with some of the ISB faculty as well. They seem lively and vibrant. Maybe its because they are a new team, who've just got together. Both the dean and the deputy dean are warm and friendly. And so are a whole lot of other people in the sprawling campus, a little outside Hyderabad. So, the cockles of my heart warm at the thought of an ISB graduate taking home a crore, in dollars. And yes, its possible Ive encountered him.
Why do I think the ISB will pull ahead ? For one, its not because some lucky sod got a Rs 1 crore job. Not at all. Nor is it because they were kind enough to remember me. Its simply because they work extremely hard at being what they are. Maybe because they are number two or five or whatever, the faculty and students are extremely competitive. They know they've got a while to go before they are truly in the reckoning in the hall of fame of Indian B-Schools.
But they seem to be doing a few right things. Like creating a truly international atmosphere. At the panel discussion I was part of, exchange students from Wharton (if I remember correctly) were firing questions in the classroom. They also have a Chinese B-School exchange program, among others. Students are thus exposed to a global, multi-cultural environment, in Hyderabad. ISB has affiliations with Wharton and Kellogs School of Business. This, in my mind, is a very critical requirement in the shaping of a global manager.
The other point that I can touch upon quickly is interaction and research. The ISB is trying hard to ensure its students get a well-rounded exposure to leadership, issues, academia, public policy, politicians et al. Im sure institutes like IIM Bangalore are doing well in this race. But the ISB is pretty much there too.
And then there are case studies. The ISB is yet to reach somewhere but the IIMs, who've been around for so long, have not. Their output often reads like a series of droll Planning Commission like papers. At least from what Ive seen. And heard. Totally unreadable. Having recently walked through a Harvard Business School case study in some detail and sat through a couple of classes after that, I have some idea of what it could be.
These two or three ingredients may not be sufficient for success, so to speak. And a Rs 1 crore salary slip does not mean you hoist the victory flag. Particularly since the student in question may have dollops of experience, particularly the right kind. And someone found the right fit. Oh yes, Ive met a lot of IIM grads who are mostly neutral to indifferent to their institutes. A few have gone out and thrashed them. And there must be others who absolutely adore these institutions. I've yet to meet them though. The ISB grads on the other hand seem more connected with their instutition. And even look at the ISBs shortcomings as temporary glitches rather than as a sign of decline or decay.
There must be many reasons for all of this but its interesting. Note that only four or five years have passed. Am sure the ISBians won't rest. From where they come, they would work harder. Or so I would think. In my biased way of course.