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Dean Tapan K. Panda wants to use new business models to solve problems at the bottom of the pyramid

07 August 2017
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It’s induction day at the OP Jindal Global University and the massive, lush and green campus in Sonepat, Haryana, is teeming with new students streaming in to join the varsity’s various schools. It’s a busy day for Prof Tapan K. Panda, Dean of the Jindal Global Business School, but he finds time for a quick interview. Prof Panda, who has spent over 25 years as a Professor of Marketing in various business schools such as BML Munjal University, Great Lakes School of Management and IIM Indore, moved to Jindal last year. In this interview Prof Panda talks about the differentiators of the JGBS.

What are the key differentiators for JGBS?

The focus of the programme is global in character. We expose our students to how the world is changing; being a multi-disciplinary university we get the opportunity to invite faculty from the disciplines to talk to the students. Our key differentiator is analytics. We are big on big data analytics. IBM has set up a lab in our school. With the focus by Haryana and Punjab on SMEs, we have set up an SME network so that any student who wants to start an SME can gain experience through this course.

Can you please explain more about the IBM analytics programme

We have created a domain area of business analytics. A student has to take eight courses during his MBA programme. Next year it will be a full course on IBM business analytics. IBM is training our entire faculty on analytic methods. I have created a domain group inside the school which is working on analytics; since I come from the quantitative analytics stream, I have contributed to the course as well. We also partner with large corporates, dating sites, banks, and so on, so the original database of transactions are brought to the school and faculty and students work on analysing all that data. IBM is also responsible for creating and delivering the course; it handles four of the eight courses that are taught here now.

How closely do you work with industry to create your courses?

We don’t make a course on our own; we work with industry practitioners. It’s easy for me because of the Jindal connection as we get a lot of industry people on campus. We learn from industry what their requirements are and we don’t launch a course overnight. We process the inputs, take sufficient time to build the course, have a two-three day programme with industry people to see if the course matches expectations. We get a lot of visiting professors from industry as, every Wednesday, we have an industry interaction.

What are you doing beyond the pedagogy of the case-based system of teaching?

We have moved ahead of the case-based method of teaching. When I was with the IIMs, that was the key word. But if you look at two recent books on how management education should evolve, The Golden Passport and Rethinking the MBA, they talk about experiential learning. So we are moving beyond a case-based system and do a lot of business simulation, as well as experiential learning programmes. Our idea is to blend inside- and outside-the-classroom learning. We do have case-based pedagogy, but a case puts you in a particular period of time, while a simulation changes the environment frequently; it is more dynamic as it’s a series of cases from the same company.

How are you faring on gender and academic diversity and placements?

As far is gender diversity is concerned, it’s 35:65. We are better than most IIMs, which have ratios of 15:85! But if you look at our under-graduate programmes, we have more girls there than in our MBA programme. As far as recruitment is concerned, we compare with the top 15 to 20 business schools; all the top companies come to recruit from here EY, KPMG, Deloitte, Hero Motor Corp and many more… so students get good placements. Our target is to send students mainly to the business analytics domain and we have identified the top 10-20 companies in analytics and see if we can send our students there.

What are your vision and agenda for JGBS?

Since the school’s vision is to be a global one, with more number of partnerships abroad and mobility to schools outside, I want to see that every student who comes here gets to travel abroad. Currently, 35 per cent is non-Indian faculty; I want to get that up to 50:50, with 50 per cent non-Asian faculty. We have a Chinese faculty member here as well. We want European and American faculty to come and teach here for the exposure. I am into the AASCB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) process and would like to complete the process as fast as we can because, once we have that global accreditation, the school’s globalisation will be easier.

Our vision is for JGBS to be the number one knowledge resource centre on management practices at the grassroots level in south Asia. There are many schools that focus on the corporate sector to solve their business problems but it is possible for countries like us to use new business models to solve problems at the bottom of the pyramid; try to use technology and different business models to bring prosperity to them. In those domains we want to be the leading school in South Asia.

Watch the interview here: https://youtu.be/PJs-AcY3Ayo