The Future of Executive Education in India

Executive Education (Exec Ed) programs in India have been essentially of two types: Management school approaches and In-company equivalents. Management school programs focus on functional areas such as marketing or finance and also on policy related topics that deal with the regulatory environment within which business is carried out. Corporates and consultancy firms have used in-house courses to train executives in subjects that are more confined to technical business issues, such as a specific investment practice the company executes. In the past, mature corporate organizations used job rotation to endow managers with familiarity about different operations and prepare them for senior level positions. As the pace of change has quickened, there is an increasing emphasis away from experience as a way of inculcating managerial skills and towards formal training that provides the basis for firms to re-create their businesses on an ongoing basis.

In-house corporate training programs are usually more tailored to the present requirements of the company and allow participants to network with managers from other divisions. This enlarges the managers’ understanding of the place of other divisions in the company, and provides an opportunity to imbibe the pronounced culture of the corporation and the business issues it faces. At management schools, Exec Ed programs tend to be broader and emphasize strong functional competence with the aim of developing managers who would further organizational goals. The schools have the advantage of providing opportunities for networking with managers of other corporations who participate in such programs and at institutions such as IIM Ahmedabad to an exposure to cuttingedge managerial material by extremely well qualified faculty.

In the last few years, customized Exec Ed has been growing rapidly in India where tailor-made considerations, which meet specific corporate needs, are being tied up with the broader focus and wider experience of the management schools. Functional topics are being fashioned for the company’s specific needs and are developing practices that improve its performance. This has allowed corporates to exploit the expertise available at business schools that have the experience of working with multiple organizations. However, it has had a varied impact at the organization level depending on whether the involvement of company managers with their other colleagues at the firm is structured so as to enable absorption of the learning with regards to solving real company problems. For business schools a consideration has been the pressure on faculty resources as they associate with a small number of firms through such programs rather than to a variety of businesses.

Increasing global competition means more requests by firms to focus Exec Ed on how to invest in opportunities in foreign markets as well as to train executives to work in cross cultural environments. There has also been a greater emphasis on understanding the customer and what methods to adopt so as to provide increasing value to them. The volatility and uncertainty that permeates markets has resulted in an increased trend of requests by corporates towards experiential or action learning for managers. This requires interactions with customers, employees, and other stakeholders and coming up with recommendations for implementation. The role of faculty at the management school is not to solve the problem but to provide a forum that facilitates the solution. Here the crucial difference is the design of course content that provides the framework that enables the context from the field to interact with the conceptualization available in the business school so as to come up with a plan that re-creates the business and firmly etches its presence in the minds of its customers.