Re-imagine, Re-invent, Re-boot – B-Schools in the post Corona world

Management education is one of the most sought after disciplines and the students making the cut are exposed to a range of diverse opportunities within and outside the country across sectors. However, in the post-corona era, we will all need to reinvent ourselves and the way we work. 

The B-Schools are no exception. Even they would need to re-align themselves to the ‘New Normal” since they cannot be teaching old rules of the old game. The game has changed and so have the rules. 

I keep telling trainees who we hired in the last couple of years from various B-Schools that now is the golden era to experience the unprecedented in their professional lives. Those who will weather this will have mastered skills that no book could ever teach, and such an experience would definitely enrich one’s CV.  Having said that, students who are currently undergoing their Bachelors or Masters in Management will need to be equipped with skills to deal with the ‘new normal ’to be successful.  

Here are some aspects that can further boost both confidence and performance of every B-School grad. This is not to say that B-Schools aren’t already doing all of this and more. However, these are skills that most companies would look for in graduates from B-Schools, to face the new future.

Study the Case Study

Ensuring that students get exposure to relevant real life case studies so that they can understand the real life challenges and issues that could crop up on projects and watch out for potential pitfalls. Take for example the impact of the current pandemic. Scoping out the right case studies is literally learning from others’ mistakes. Practical learning like this where industry leaders engage with students and walk them through their own professional journey and their learnings from each crisis/challenge they faced is invaluable. Applied research, classroom discussions, case studies, role-plays, special sessions, management games, trainings, industrial visits, etc. all contribute immensely to the learning and development of a student. With the blend of technology, real time data and complex problems solving can become part of course design.

It is also suggested that B-Schools create a programme that enables their faculty members to shadow practitioners in their field of research and teaching. This will increase collaborations and enable faculty members to curate unique experiences and applied learning. Having industry leaders frequently participate and augment classroom learning is something that cannot be ever found in books.

Development of soft skills

Often times B-schools students are great at their jobs, they are sharp and smart, but their EQ, or Emotional Quotient, is not honed. EQ can be that differentiator between a good leader and a brilliant leader, and B-Schools would be adding a huge skill by building the emotional quotient of students, teaching them resilience, and inculcating in them the challenger mindset that gives them the confidence to move beyond their comfort zone and think out of the box to tackle real business challenges. There is also an increasing demand for young leaders to be involved in sustainability, environmental, CSR, and ethical initiatives in an organization as they are expected to walk the talk and do their bit to change the world for the better. Therefore, business programs must take part onus of creating leaders who are ethical along with being environment and community conscious.  Today’s new normal requires leaders to keep teams motivated even while working remotely and being forced to stay within the confines of their homes.  

Incorporate blended learning 

Today is the day of the digital natives, and the students of today have grown up with technology that is readily available and affordable. All management programs need to offer a well curated mix of in-class and virtual classroom education that aids optimum learning as well as convenience and flexibility. This not only enables students to learn better, it also empowers them with the savviness needed to use innovative technology to their advantage in the real world.  Therefore B-Schools must adopt a new approach towards design of their classroom, teaching materials, technology platforms, and of course the course itself! 

Connecting the Dots

Fresh recruits at any organization, especially from B-Schools, are expected to have the ability to get the big picture vision and ensure that all they do dovetails into driving results therein. Practical project work, inter disciplinary exposure and design thinking in B-Schools enable students to find solutions that work, if the regular is not working, they need to be able to think from a different perspective to arrive at the results desired. They need to relate and connect the external with the internal, the industry and competition vis-à-vis their own organization and make their plans while keeping each aspect in mind for the best results. The need to be able to think lateral, circular, external, and internal to really keep focused on the bigger vision.

To put it succinctly the idea is to develop the ability of “Conceptualization to Execution” – or the capability to think end-to-end. 

Project Management Skills

In their hurry to impress and off-load all they have learnt, at times freshers forget that if they want to be true leaders, project management is the first test they need to clear. To be a great project manager skills that play a critical role include time and team management, attention to detail, creation and adherence to timelines, the ability to stay calm and implement strategic change, and cost management, among others, and these are skills that can make or break B-Schools’ reputations as each of their students is an ambassador for them.  

Increased emphasis on Experiential Learning

The experiential learnings inside the classroom will become more of threshold requirement going forward. The differential learning will come through a faculty guided projects with organizations for students to learn in the real time environment. This will provide then with the foundation of new skills required for a successful leader of future.

Looking Ahead

Whoever said that you can’t really move forward if you are always looking in the rear view mirror was absolutely right. One hears about really bright students suddenly falling prey to low esteem and losing confidence. Most times it is because they are wallowing in past failures and not been able to bounce back. It’s critical that students learn the art and science of letting go of what has not worked and focus on what has worked and embrace failures as stepping stones to learning and moving forward. This will help them embrace ambiguity, build agility, resilience and a willingness to make change as the situation demands.

B-Schools today need to realize the responsibility they shoulder – that of shaping future leaders. It is imperative that these leaders are equipped with global technical, digital, and emotional skills for them to lead and grow the economy. Ethics play a huge role in how businesses are done today and I can’t emphasize enough when I say that ethical behavior needs to be a huge focus of education.  The sooner all of this gets implemented the sooner we will have new batches of Leaders who can walk the talk.

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