I finally made it to IIM Ahmedabad. Obviously I mean a short visit to the campus. What did you think ? Anyway I always thought the campus was tucked away in some quiet corner, away from the city. I guess it must have been at one time. Now, the town of Ahmedabad has pretty much wrapped itself around the institution, honking cars, dusty roads et al. Similar to IIT Bombay.
The Louis Kahn brick structure has stature and exudes the quiet grandeur, despite the scores of cracks in the walls and arches that look like they are going to give way any moment. Looking at the arches, I am reminded this is a Government institution. I understand the IIM Calcutta buildings are in worse shape so..
I realize there are actually two campuses, the old brick one whose photographs we see all the time and a new one built in `exposed concrete’ whose photographs we do not see. Not surprisingly because the exposed concrete (the result of thought out architectural strategy and not an accident) will take some time getting used to. After all your first thought is, hey, when are they painting these walls ? A busy road that separates the two campuses but an underground tunnel with a permanent and insightful exhibition of IIM’s history connects the two.
Its A New Course
My colleagues and I are being given the tour by Prashant, a PGPX student and former TCS guy – the one-year MBA programme, which despite whatever else anyone at IIM might say, is pitched directly against the Indian School of Business (ISB). I mean the 1-year-duration part, not necessarily the cut-off age or other factors. Be that as it may, the fact that IIM has responded is worthy. Given its parentage ie.
The one-year course has much higher cut-offs, you have to be at least 27 years old, or roughly seven years of work experience. All this was told to me by Prashant as well by professor of marketing Arvind Sahay who is one of the faculty members overseeing this course. It’s a bit of a pet project for Sahay and I would wish the team all the best.
Sahay is one of the many boyish looking professors who dot the IIM landscape. I met another IIM A professor T T Rammohan Rao (TTR as he is called) in Mumbai recently. My first words to him were, "Oh, I thought you were much older." "I am sorry to dissapoint you," he said with a twinkle in his eye and in a tone that must be trademark sarcasm. Incidentally, a study of Sahay's bio (IIT, IIM, PhD from Austin, U Texas in marketing, Assistant Prof at London Business School) can inspire or depress, depending on where you are in life. I guess I tilt towards the latter !
Job Market Will Set The Tone
Now the big question. How will IIM A’s new course stack up against the Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad ? It’s a tough one. Sahay admits they are a late entrant in this format - the first batch passes out in March 2007 – and there is a while to go. Placements were on as we were walking around the campus and presumably in a month, things will be clearer. Sahay did say a couple of big placement offers had already come in.
From a course perspective, I did get the sense that IIM has tried hard to distinguish itself from ISB– notably its focus on a higher percentage of resident faculty. I also got a sense that the one-year is pretty exhaustive. The students point out that they are working all the time. That is not a comparison with ISB of course, just an observation. I also felt that IIM might have responded better and faster, if only it could.
My gut tells me that ISB might lead in the job market for a year or two more before it becomes a neck n neck battle. If the job market continues to boom, you might see equilibrium achieved even more quickly. I am basing this on the fact that the input in both cases is more or less similar and of a high quality. I have met ISB students and I met some IIM PGPX students – I see no structural differences ! Would be interesting though to hear what everyone else thinks !
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