IIM Indore Confronting Challenges Establishing Unique Identity – BW Businessworld

In the rapidly changing education ecosystem, IIM Indore eyes to be a contextually relevant business school with global academic standards that develop socially conscious managers, leaders and entrepreneurs
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In the current times, India’s B-schools are confronted with a series of formidable challenges that necessitate innovative solutions for their sustained success. One of the paramount challenges is the heightened global competition and maintaining a reputation in the field of management education. 
The globalisation of B-schools has led to many contemporary issues and challenges affecting the quality of management education in India. To tackle such challenges, B-schools are required to establish their unique identity and global presence. 
Experts say that this can be achieved by the development of distinct programmes, international collaborations and a robust online presence. Notably, investing in research and innovation can further augment the global reputation of these institutions. So what Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Indore is doing differentlyto confront such hurdles and establish a unique identity? 
At IIM Indore, the Rural Engagement Programme and Executive Programme (REP) and the Himalaya Outbound Programme are providing students with hands-on experiences and leadership development opportunities. Through such initiatives, the institute is aiming for a holistic education at grassroots levels. Moreover, the institute’s collaboration with the government and various administrative bodies through several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) is another step towards enhancing its engagement with policymaking and governance. 
“We at IIM Indore have collaborations with 45 foreign institutions in 18 nations and are among the 100 business schools with a Triple Crown Accreditation from EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA,” says Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM Indore.
Notably, IIM Indore which was ranked 4th among the IIMs in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2023 dropped one rank down in this year’s rankings. But it maintained its position in the top 5 IIMs and top 10 business schools in India.
Changing landscape
The landscape of business schools, including IIM Indore, has witnessed notable shifts in the profiles of students over the past decade. These changes reflect the evolving expectations, aspirations and dynamics within the realm of management education. As the demands and demographics of students continue to transform, B-schools have adapted to these shifts to ensure they provide an education that meets the needs of a new generation of learners and also the industries. 
At IIM Indore, one notable change has been the increase in the number of students applying for the five-year Integrated Programme in Management (IPM). This programme, which offers an integrated pathway from undergraduate to postgraduate management education, has garnered substantial attention from young aspirants. 
Starting with 3,000 applicants in the first batch in 2011, this year it had more than 24,000 candidates appearing for the IPM admission test for 150 seats. It reflects the changing aspirations of students who are now keen to commence their management journey early in their academic careers.
In addition, the Post Graduate Programme in Human Resource Management (PGP-HRM) at IIM Indore has displayed a transformation in its student composition, the Director says. Interestingly, a significant majority of female candidates have joined the programme, highlighting the increasing representation of women in traditionally male-dominated fields. This year, the institute has 91 per cent female students in the programme.
The Director tells BW Businessworld that the field of executive education, including the Post Graduate Programme for Working Executives in Mumbai (PGPMX), has experienced growing interest. Working professionals now recognise the value of pursuing advanced degrees while continuing their careers.
“Our commitment to providing diverse and tailored educational opportunities extends to over 180 executive education programmes, including specialised courses designed to cater to the specific needs of working professionals in the UAE and GCC nations. These programmes have not only enriched the skills and knowledge of participants but have also witnessed a notable shift in the student profile over the years,” he asserts.
Previously, such courses catering to the needs of working professionals in these regions were limited, if not non-existent. However, recognising the evolving demands of the workforce and the need for career transitions, IIM Indore has introduced specialised offerings. These include general management programmes for senior leaders, strategic financial management programmes for executives and more. 
Cruel, Cruel Tech
Maintaining the reputation and quality of education at IIMs involves ongoing adaptation to the challenges presented by the increasing role of technology, especially the growing prominence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and GenAI. With a rise in advanced e-learning platforms and tools, offering unprecedented flexibility and accessibility, students can now access lectures, study materials and interactive resources from virtually anywhere, enabling more personalised and self-paced learning.
Furthermore, AI and data analytics have become integral components of management education, teaching students to analyse and leverage data for informed decision-making. This aligns with the growing demand for data-driven skills in the corporate world.
“We at IIM Indore have also included electives on Cyber Security, Cryptos, etc. to keep our students updated. We also include simulations in our curriculum to help students enhance their skills. This integration of virtual and augmented reality enhances the learning process by creating immersive experiences, the Director informs.  
He adds that leveraging technology for data analytics and personalised learning can ensure a more tailored education experience, keeping B-schools relevant in the digital age. Meanwhile, in India’s B-schools, attracting and retaining top-notch faculty is also a challenge and IIM Indore addresses this by facilitating faculty development through exchange programmes with foreign universities. 
“Faculty should focus on research that has tangible implications for businesses and society, and the dissemination of their findings should be prioritised to benefit the broader community. Collaborative industry partnerships and advisory boards can help align the curriculum with evolving industry expectations,” asserts Rai.
Educate And Equip: Youth And Industry 5.0
Every year, a flux of IIM pass-outs enter the industry with major hopes to contribute to the nation’s growth and earn massive money. However, industries now look for graduates who not only possess technical expertise in their specialised fields but also are also well-equipped with essential people skills. Industry 5.0 emphasises the convergence of human skills with management and technology, making the ability to handle complex human interactions and collaboration even more crucial, especially in the post-pandemic and hybrid work-culture era.
To educate students on the latest industry requirements, IIM Indore has aligned its curriculum and educational approach with the changing demands of the corporate world. Taking into account the holistic development of students from various programmes, the institute has designed its curriculum in a way that not only imparts technical knowledge but also focuses on the development of essential soft skills, claims Rai
In line with the industry requirements, IIM Indore has revised its electives that help students gain skills in the evolving fields. Its 2023-24 electives include media and gender, cryptos, central bank and inflation targeting, Indian business history, labour economics, understanding power, metaverse and business applications, entrepreneurial marketing, technology management and innovation in organisations, cyber security etc.
Rai comments, “IIM Indore forges strategic partnerships and collaborations with industry leaders, providing valuable insights into current industry expectations and trends. These partnerships often lead to guest lectures, internships, and live projects for students, further enhancing their understanding of complex human interactions and real-world business challenges.”
He adds that this multifaceted approach reinforces the institute’s commitment to delivering a comprehensive and industry-relevant education, ensuring that students are prepared for the dynamic landscape of Industry 5.0. 
Meanwhile, with the pressing concerns of the day, including on environment, diversity, and other fronts, management institutions have a pivotal role to play in providing solutions and leadership in these areas. The institutions are expected to lead by example by integrating sustainable practices into their own operations and curriculum. This involves promoting eco-friendly business strategies, fostering resource efficiency, reducing waste, and adopting green technologies. They could also champion diversity and inclusion both within their institutions and in the broader business world.
“One way IIM Indore is actively contributing to these efforts is through the establishment of ANVESHAN, IIM Indore’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) for waste management and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). ANVESHAN is making a tangible impact by training senior officers from 4800 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and municipal bodies across India,” he asserts. 
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