Professor Bhattacharyya

Rendezvous with Professor Asish K Bhattacharyya, Former Director IMT Ghaziabad

His Vision and Views for Future Managers with Leadership Skills

It is always an enriching experience interacting with learned faculty members of various management institutes who are not only dream shapers but commendable leaders as well in their field of expertise. Recently the team at MBA Rendezvous got a chance to speak with the Former Director of Institute of Management Technology Ghaziabad, Professor Asish K Bhattacharyya.

Professor Bhattacharyya has spent 20 years of his career in industry and 25 years in academia. He has research interest in the area of corporate financial reporting, management accounting and corporate governance.

Prof Bhattacharyya’s last job in industry was as Financial Controller of GEC AlstomLimited. He worked as Professor in Indian Institute of Corporate affairs, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, and, S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research Mumbai. He has also worked as the Director of the International Management Institute (IMI), Kolkata and as the Technical Director in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Professor Bhattacharyya earned doctorate degree from the University of Allahabad. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, and a Fellow of the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. He is an Associate Member of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA, UK). Currently, he is a Member of Technical Committee- R & D Division, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Accounting Standards Board of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Professor Bhattacharyya gave us an insight on what he thinks makes an institute standout from the rest, the building blocks of a dependable management school, his thoughts on current employability scenario and message to the various stakeholders in management education. It was an interesting conversation full of his wits and sense of humor. Read on to find out more.

Team MBA Rendezvous : Both Accreditation and Research play crucial roles and work as catalyst to achieve leadership in management education, so how do you see that this role is sailing at IMT?
Professor Bhattacharyya : Yes, you are absolutely right. Accreditation and research play an important role in an academic institution. Accreditation is a certification that the quality of education, teaching and research is up to an acceptable standard. And when you say research, it is also considered by the accreditation bodies while reviewing their accreditation. The AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and NBA (National Board of Accreditation) accreditation of IMT Ghaziabad is like a health check for IMT which helps us to improve the quality of research and teaching- learning experience. It not only improves the student’s performance in the first job but subsequent jobs as well.

Coming to research in Business Schools, the good news is that, we are coming away from previous perception that a good researcher cannot or may not be a good teacher and/or vice versa. Usually people research in a very narrow area of specialization and when you teach, perhaps you teach in a broader area of a particular subject. But now with changing times, the research is becoming more and more relevant. The simple reason being that you can get your research output and understanding in your teaching area. Research specialization might be a narrow area but during research you need to look at what is really happening in the industry and in the science in which you have specialized. Therefore that is helpful in teaching in classroom also. We should be clear that we are not only talking about research in a scientific subject but we are also talking about research in the pedagogy. Thus it is playing a very crucial role in IMT in improving the learning-teaching experience. If the faculty is happy, students are happy and industry connect also gets strengthened.

Team MBA Rendezvous : How do you see role of Management schools in Producing Future Leaders ?

Professor Bhattacharyya :I would say this is a debatable question. The topic of debate for years is that – ‘Can you really produce leaders? Can you really inculcate the skills that are needed by the leaders?’ Reason being that there is no one way to lead and every leader has his/her unique way. Only one thing that is common to a leader is he provides a vision and mission to take the organization and its stakeholders in a particular direction. This is what leadership is all about. Therefore whether a management school can produce a leader is actually a debatable question.

When we induct students in our management school, there is only a limited time to evaluate students during admission process. But in those 15-20 minutes of personal interview we do try to evaluate the leadership potential of the students. Based on the potential tapped, we provide certain courses on leadership, as part of our curriculum, using the modern technique which helps produce future leaders. But it is important to understand, that industry not only looks at leaders but also needs managers. Everyone cannot be a leader. So the aim should be to produce good managers who are will be able to lead their team. Also, we should not be thinking about leaders like Mahatma Gandhi or Swami Vivekananda. We are not talking about those kinds of leaders here in Business Schools. We are trying to look at a manager with leadership qualities rather than thinking about a model leader, whom we think about day in and day out.

Team MBA Rendezvous : Could it be enough to be an MBA in VUCA scenario? What more can be enunciated to take on economic turbulence ?

Professor Bhattacharyya : When we talk from the perspective of a Business School like IMT, there are two parts to look at it – one is the focus on specific functional area and second is to look at the bigger picture of things.

To elaborate, we aim to provide skill in a particular functional area like say Marketing, Accounting, Logistics or Operations. That helps in specialization in a specific area. Apart from that, we must also enable our students to look at the bigger picture. For e.g. we must help the students to understand what is happening in a global geo-political scenario or what mega events are occurring that disrupt the business. This implies that the skills we are talking about are not permanent. The skills taught in Business Schools become obsolete after sometime because the kind of evolution that is happening in every business, technological and demographical environment. We need to talk about the trade relations and trade wars that are occurring. This can help our students to have the ability to see the bigger picture.

Our job is not just to provide fish on the dish, but teach students to go and do fishing. This is how we focus on helping students to survive in a VUCA environment and understand the economic scenario or turbulence.

Team MBA Rendezvous : In general, employability factor is not matching with the expectation of Industry and job scenario is getting murkier so what can be the future action plan for management Institutes? What are your views on this ?

Professor Bhattacharyya : To simply answer you, some management schools should be closed. The reason being, if you don’t get the right faculty and you are not able to build sound teaching - learning experience then survival of managers in the industry is going to be a problem. And thus the employability will be a problem.

There are three aspects about employability from a Management school’s perspective- vocational training, self employability and a promise for a decent life. Vocational training sounds a little less glamorous, like for e.g. the various Government initiatives for skill building and to what extent they help? Secondly, they should provide the right education to make students employed on their own. Today entrepreneurship is not only within the organization but outside it as well. Lastly, employability not just means that you should get the first job which will pay you a high salary, but one which can help you lead a decent life. It should not matter, whether you earn through a small entrepreneurship or you succeed in an organization. Thus the question is, are the schools able to increase a student’s happiness quotient. If a school is unable to understand and create an expectation and say that MBA is your passport to heaven, then perhaps it is creating a disservice to its students. Thus the management institutes that are providing false expectations should be closed down, unless they enhance their standard of education and promise to provide the bigger picture matching with their mission and vision which they have on their website or talk about in the seminars and conferences.

Team MBA Rendezvous : What would be your action packed advice to the students in context of the ever changing economic scenario ?

Professor Bhattacharyya : The most important aspect as I have mentioned before also is you should be able to look at the bigger picture. When we talk in the classroom we talk about attendance, grade, evaluation- they are all important. But as a teacher for quite long time and as a manager, I find that we cannot test everything in the in-term tests and the quizzes. It is simply not possible. Therefore what is important is that you should have learning outside the class as well through your peers. If you look at an institute like IMT, you are in a place where diversity exists. People come from various ethnic, income and educational backgrounds and therefore this diversity provides a huge learning outside the classroom. And secondly, you should have competing sources of learning. For e.g. if you go to internet, you get a lot of things to learn. Therefore you not only depend on your classroom and faculty but also the outside sources. This not only keeps the faculty on toes but also helps them to learn more and the teaching – learning experience is not just restricted to text book teaching only. If you look at current scenario, the textbooks always lag behind on contemporary scenario and research and therefore teaching from book is not enough. I encourage my students to always go back and work in groups. Group learning in my opinion is much better, faster and effective and helpful rather than individual study. Therefore work with your faculty and peers and make them work and learn more.

Team MBA Rendezvous : What is it you would like to convey to stakeholders of Management Education ?

Professor Bhattacharyya : When you say stakeholders, it is a very broad term. I would list the primary stakeholders as – Students, Industry, Faculty and those who are at the helm of the management education.

First thing I would say to the management officials are to provide autonomy to those who understand education. They are just entrepreneurs and had an aspiration to come to the education field, but may not have the requisite knowledge. For e.g. an entrepreneur when he starts a business, he hires professionals to run the set up. Although it is his vision and mission and he founded an institution, but he (or they) should leave it to professionals who understand it. Tinkering is not good.

Secondly to the faculty, I would say to work like you are working in a corporate firm. Either perform or perish. So if someone is not performing well or is not able to deliver well, they must accept the management’s decision and leave gracefully. Also one needs to do continuous up gradation of their skills. In an academic institution there is no chance of getting stuck in the middle, either you grow or you decline.

To the students I would say that you must be serious about MBA and look at your career goal. Don’t just think about it as a passport to a good job. Understand how this education can help you get a better life. Placement is important, but don’t think you should run after the first job you get. Learn to learn and understand. That in my opinion is your biggest achievement from a management school.

To the beneficiaries i.e. the industry, I would say that please collaborate with the academic institutes. This will benefit all parties. Aim to build a relationship with a management school just like a medical college and hospital has. To enable a Business School to do a good job, please allow them to use your organization as a hospital so that the students can learn right from the grass root level and have a broader picture of things.

Team MBA Rendezvous : May we request you to Share your Dream for rejuvenated vision and mission at IMT ?

Professor Bhattacharyya : When you say dream, what kind of dream are you referring to. A late night dream or a morning dream or a day-dream. Late night dreams often do not come true, day dreams will never come true and only the morning dreams come true. I would say, let us go faster in terms of academic excellence. Everything else will fall in line.

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