“JAGSOM aims to be a global B-school; we have the mindset, resources and strategy, ” Dr Jagdish Sheth, Chairman, JAGSOM

Last year, in a first of its kind development, Global Thinker & Padma Bhushan Awardee Prof Jagdish Sheth accepted to rename IFIM Business School Bangalore in his name as the ‘Jagdish Sheth School of Management’. Last week, MBAUniverse.com spoke to Dr Jagdish Sheth for more than an hour to understand how he agreed to rechristen IFIM to JAGSOM, and his vision and plans for JAGSOM. We also sought his views on Indian management education and how Indian B-schools can become truly global.

On October 21, 2020, in an unprecedented development, Global Thinker & Padma Bhushan Awardee Prof Jagdish Sheth accepted to rename IFIM Business School Bangalore in his name as the ‘Jagdish Sheth School of Management’. This was one of the rare instances where an institution is being named to honor a globally renowned Indian academic – and is not based on any endowment or grant. This is also a unique case where Promoter Mr Sanjay Padode selflessly relinquished Chairmanship to push a B-school further on its professionalization journey.

Prof Jagdish Sheth is a globally known management thinker and scholar for his scholarly contributions in marketing, competitive strategy, and geopolitical analysis. Prof Sheth has over 50 years of combined experience in teaching and research at leading US Universities including University of Southern California, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Columbia University, MIT, and Emory University. Prof Sheth has been an advisor to numerous companies including Whirlpool, Motorola, AT&T, WIPRO, Aditya Birla Group, E&Y and many others. He has published numerous books and award-winning articles. Prof Sheth has been an advisor to the Government of Singapore and a policy advisor to the US Government as well. Recognizing his achievements, Government of India conferred Prof Sheth with the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award in 2020.

IFIM was set up in 1995 in Bangalore and had a modest beginning. It came into prominence when Mr Padode took over the leadership about a decade back and drove several initiatives that resulted IFIM becoming the sixth B-school in India to receive the prestigious AACSB Accreditation in 2018. Recently, IFIM PGDM Marketing program was ranked by QS Masters in Marketing Ranking 2021 amongst the Top 100 such programs (in 51-100 band) in the World. In early January, JAGSoM announced 100% completion of Placements 2021 with healthy Average Salary of Rs 10.21 lpa.

So, while JAGSOM/IFIM has clearly done well in last decade, where is it headed to? What is the vision and plan for next decade? On February 11, MBAUniverse.com spoke to Dr Jagdish Sheth for more than an hour to understand his vision and plans for JAGSOM. We also sought his views on Indian management education and how B-schools can become global. Edited excerpts from a fascinating conversation follows.

Q. On October 21, IFIM Business School was renamed as JAGSOM. While you have been associated with many institutions like SMU and ISB in past, how did this deep association come about…It must have been a considered decision.
AYou are right that lending my name to an existing B-School wasn’t an easy decision. I deliberated for over a month before I agreed! I spoke to my former students and well-wishers, and they agreed that renaming an institution in my name, and making it a global institution, will be a befitting tribute to my legacy.

There were many factors that helped me take this decision. First was Sanjay Padode, who wants to continue the legacy of his father Shri VB Padode of giving back to the society. He wanted to truly professionalize and institutionalize IFIM. Second was Atish Chattopadhyay who is a change agent. I have known him from his MICA and IMT days, and he always likes to push the boundaries. Third reason was that IFIM had a very strong next-generation faculty resource pool. No academic institution can do well without a committed faculty group.

Another big reason was my own agenda to change India’s perception. While Indians abroad like Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella do very well in leadership position, why can’t Indian CXOs, who study and live in India, become global names. JAGSOM has the potential to play a role in this journey. We shall be a hotbed of top managerial talent for India and the region.

Q. So, what is your Vision for JAGSOM?
A:As India becomes a global powerhouse, it will become increasingly necessary for management schools to meet or exceed global benchmarks, global accreditations and global recognitions. In that context, our vision is that we want JAGSOM to be a globally admired and recognized Business School. At JAGSOM, we have a global mindset with global perspective. We will be taking many initiatives like the mandatory global immersion for Faculty.

Eventually, JAGSOM will look to create international presence and campuses.

JAGSOM wants to be a truly global B-school and we have the mindset, resources and strategy to do it.

Q. But isn’t that a tall order, Sir. Even the top IIMs are not truly global…There are hardly any international students, and none of managerial theories/frameworks/research developed at IIMs is seen in global text books?
A: I partly agree. Even top Indian B-schools have some distance to travel before they can be called global B-schools. But to become global, they must think differently. They cannot just walk on the beaten path and hope to be global.

Q. Can you please elaborate…
A:I think building a global B-school from India is doable, but the approach should be different. For instance, our target market for student needs be different. There are great students in Africa, South Asia, Middle East and other emerging economies…We should engage with them, rather than only think of US and Europe.

Students from emerging economies can be attracted to India as we are a growing economy and have done well in IT and many other industries. Our education and living are also affordable.

Coming to MBA Curriculum, yes most of the books are written by American Authors who do not have global perspective.

Indian MBA can also make an impact if we broad base of target group to non-business sectors. For instance, all Diplomats need understanding of business, economics, technology before they can represent their countries. Can top Indian B-schools train public servants, NGOs, and social leaders from not just India but the world. Understanding policymaking from the Indian context can be relevant for most of the countries in the world.

So, Indian B-schools must innovate and think differently to become global.

Q: What about influencing Management Thinking – can Indian B-schools make their presence felt in research, theory building and content?
A: I think so. Let us not forget that India was the home to World Class Universities like Nalanda and Taxila – the World came to India to learn! Off course, the context is different now, but we must not give up self-belief.

With initiatives like mandatory CSR spending, AADHAR, Direct Benefit Transfer etc, Indian government is playing a positive and proactive role in reshaping the social and business landscape. This is much different from the American model where government action is reserved for crisis management. Indian Governance Model is much more beneficial to the emerging markets than the American Model.

We Indian B-schools should research and conceptualize these areas which can benefit the world. Indian B-schools and researchers must build frameworks on understanding ‘Reverse Innovation’.

If we only copy what US B-schools do, we will not get much further.

Q: So how does COVID 19 impact management education? And how can India leverage the changing context…
A: I believe the disruption caused by COVID 19 has a potential to make a big long-term impact on management education. As online education becomes mainstream, stage is set for a much wider adoption of Hybrid MBA that combines both online and offline education. This Hybrid MBA will free up capacity and help B-schools scale up and reach larger market. Peripheral has become mainstream! There has been a marked shift in the mindset at all levels. Postgraduate programs like MBA/PGDM will take most benefit.

Given that India is a major force in technology and data analysis, Indian management education can leverage this strength for global reach and impact.

Q: Can you please elaborate…
A: Brick and mortar B-schools were designed to facilitate learning in physical spaces. So, the lecture halls were tiered and U-shaped. There were meeting rooms and social spaces for interactions. But now half of MBA will be taught online. So how do you adapt online technology platforms to facilitate management education and training. A lot of innovations will come out in this area, and India can play a big role!

Q: Finally, from your vantage point, how do you see Indian economy coming out of pandemic? What are your comments on the political leadership…
A: I believe that political leadership in India has changed significantly today. The present government thinks about enabling enterprises and people, and not just tie them down in compliance. The policy measures taken in recent years by the government are in right direction. The way India handled Covid 19, and the vaccination process, is a global case study.

India is leveraging technology and mobile revolution to leapfrog, and we must be proud. It is a great time to be an Indian!