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Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Educating executives


IN the words of Jack Welch, one of business history's most famous managers, "An organisation's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." As companies widen their business portfolios and as they scale for global aspirations, the resource size and skill requirement is going to go up. In such a scenario, it makes good business sense to train senior executives and managers in specific skills to take on more responsibilities within the company.

Gone are the days when joining a job meant bidding adieu to academics. With the advent of executive education individuals can enhance their professional skills while climbing up the corporate ladder. While executive education in the US is approximately a $800 million per-year business (according to Business Week), in India too, the sector has been witnessing much action. With India's economic growth creating a need for skilled human capital, leading B-schools such as the Indian Institutes of Management and the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad are focussing on corporate education. Foreign institutions such as Harvard Business School and Oxford University are also making a beeline for this market.

Traditionally, there are two kinds of executive education programmes - management development programmes (MDPs) and executive MBAs (EMBAs). MDPs are short-term programmes, lasting between a day and a fortnight. MDPs can either be customised (to suit an individual company's needs) or open enrolment. EMBAs, on the other hand, are of a longer duration ranging between six to 36 months.

Says Sushil Khanna, chairman (consultancy and management development programmes), Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta: "Executive education programmes are the main source of revenue to IIM-C. We have at least 75 short duration management development programmes, and about 15-20 long duration programmes for working executives. In addition, we conduct nearly 30 corporate programmes designed for specific companies."

Explains Deepak Chandra, associate dean, Centre for Executive Education (CEE), Indian School of Business (ISB)- Hyderabad: "Learning and development is becoming a very important part of corporate strategy. Learning is an excellent tool for attracting, developing and retaining people.

Organisations require the right kind of capability development to deal with strategic challenges presented by the growing economy."

Harvard Business School recently completed a five-day executive education programme in Hyderabad. Programme participants included senior executives and managers of growing Indian companies across sectors, as well as executives of foreignbased firms and private investors with substantial current or contemplated exposure to India. Another executive-level seminar on real estate has been planned for June this year.

Says Professor David Yoffie, senior associate dean and chair of Harvard Business School Executive Education programmes: "The rapid economic expansion in India in recent years has created unique and varied challenges for companies. Through our research we found that there were some core issues facing companies as they sought to manage and sustain that growth in a global marketplace and our executive education programme provide businesses with an opportunity to address those specific and critical areas. Executive education programmes provide more experienced managers and executive teams the opportunity to enhance their skills without leaving rewarding and demanding jobs."

Adds Khanna, "The executive education market in India is booming. Companies who do not nurture their staff or train them have higher attrition rates. IIMs have used the earning from this training market to subsidise their MBA programmes and to offer freeships and scholarships to poor students."

The Oxford University India Business Centre will now be developing a range of custom and open executive education programmes to be delivered at a new facility located in Lavasa, near Pune. Explains Paul Chapman of University of Oxford's Said Business School, currently in India for a scoping study: "Executive education is key to developing the current and next generation of Indian business leaders as they shoulder the ambitions of shareholders, employees and the public to accelerate economic progress.

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group

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