This B-School is preparing young managers to be future-ready with experiential learning

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As businesses re-invent their strategies and operations after being upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, budding managers are learning an important lesson: one cannot be prepared enough for the future and not all lessons are learnt in classrooms. Given the popularity of MBA degrees, 2021 will also see a new wave of talent as hundreds of young managers start their professional journeys. A skill that can give them an edge in the field is practical experience.

One of the leading B-schools in the country, Acharya Bangalore B-School (ABBS) offers a unique postgraduate programme in business management that focuses more on experiential learning. Such an approach enables students to be future-ready and be more adept by having experience at finding innovative solutions to problems.

Established in 2008, the institute offers a postgraduate programme with specialisations like marketing, human resources, finance, healthcare management and SMEs. Affiliated to Bangalore University, the institute has tied up with US-based Virginia Tech for a completely online business analytics and AI certification from experts in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Consisting of hands-on sessions, a project and a review, the programme is ideal for those wanting to pursue a career in analytics.

Reimagining classroom lessons

The institute espouses an outcome-based education and 70 percent of the curriculum involves learning on the field. The postgraduate course attributes just 30 percent weightage to classroom lessons. During the course, ABBS students are roped in for socially relevant projects, which is one of the USPs of the programme. As part of the project, students are sent to various NGOs where they study the problems being faced by the organisations. The students suggest solutions for those problems in a report they file after two months of working with an NGO.

ABBS faculty member Dr Rajesh says, “The projects sensitise students about social problems. It makes them more humane and helps the student in keeping his or her feet firm on the ground, while making them understand about corporate social responsibility. The projects give students an edge while working in the corporate world.” Moreover, these projects and their solutions can be turned into great business opportunities and students can come up with innovative ways to solve societal problems like garbage management and lack of hygiene, say the institute’s faculty members.

In tandem with its objective of ensuring an academic environment that stresses on experiential learning, ABBS’ Supply Chain Innovation Centre helps students stay ahead of developments and equips them with a skill base that's needed for success in the fiercely competitive world of business. The Indian Institute of Materials Management's research arm CRIMM has joined hands with ABBS for an industry-institute collaboration in supply chain management. As part of the agreement, ABBS students conduct advanced research, design a platform for the dissemination of advanced knowledge, carry out consulting for industries and promote academic research in the field of supply chain management and innovation.

The institute tries to help students develop a multi-faceted personality through various clubs and activities. For starters, there is the ABBS Toastmaster Club International that was initiated in 2014 with an objective to improve students’ leadership and communication skills. Dr Jayanthi, Coordinator, Toastmasters Club says, “Toastmasters is an efficient, supportive, enjoyable way of gaining great communication and organising skills, which are essential for corporate leaders. The club offers experience like leadership, an interactive learning environment, and mentoring to students to bring in holistic development.”

Grooming future managers

Apart from a book review club where students read and review books on management, ABBS hosts marketing, finance and human resources student clubs for its future managers. Its reality show ‘Armageddon’ prepares students for the tough realities of the corporate world. It’s an annual event that spans across months. ABBS faculty member Prof Ravi Aditya, who heads the show, says “By participating in Armageddon, students learn about endurance and the mental strength required to face adverse situations confidently.” Its mutual fund club is another student-driven activity where students voluntarily invest in the stock market.

A student-driven initiative that is reaping rich rewards at the ABBS campus is TEDxABBS. The institute started with the TEDx sessions three years ago to help its students along a journey of accomplishment, happiness and self-fulfillment. It has gone on to host TEDxABBS, TEDxABBSWomen, TEDxABBSGlobalDay, TEDxABBSAdventure and TEDxABBSLive sessions since then.

Students also get to participate in ‘TED Circles’ which are hosted each month to start a global conversation around a particular theme. Dr Geevarathna, organiser of TEDxABBS, says, “Organising a global event like TEDxABBS transforms students’ personalities as they get an opportunity to present ideas worth spreading and inculcate leadership and organisational qualities. The students plan activities that bring the community together by brainstorming and debating solutions. In the process, students are sensitised towards social, environmental, economic, governance, global and community issues and they become ‘doers’, ‘leaders’ and ‘action-oriented’.”

The institute has also been publishing its bi-annual journal ‘AMBER’ for over a decade. It’s a theme-based journal in which students get to write research papers. ABBS takes care to maintain a cosmopolitan student and faculty profile, which is why it welcomes people from various states to its campus.

ABBS has been pioneering the cause of experiential learning for years and has been making strides by helping its students get a hands-on studying experience by way of different measures. In line with this objective, the institute has recommended Bangalore University to add special courses like investment management and infrastructure management to the curriculum of its postgraduate programmes.


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