What to look for in a B-school

What to look for in a B-school

The institutions that confer degrees in Business and Management are referred to as Business schools or B-schools because they help students gain a foothold in the world of business. Hence, it is important that a B-school invests in necessary training tools to ensure that students find success in the workplace.

Here are some aspects that B-schools have to focus on to deliver lessons more effectively:

Mentoring cell

The primary role of management education is to prepare students to meet the challenges of a workplace. It is here that mentorship can help. A student should be mentored on personal and professional grounds. Hence, it is important that every B-school has a mentoring cell. To ensure that students use them optimally, mentoring cells have to consider the following aspects:

As the room's ambience matters a lot, it will be helpful if inspirational quotes and posters of best business leaders are placed on the walls.

A single teacher cannot concentrate on all the students. So, it is always better to split them into different groups, with a mentor for each group.

The mentor should consult the students and understand the interests, capabilities, core values and skills set of each student. This should be documented and updated on a regular basis.

Mentors should help students set goals and these should be documented. He or she should meet the students frequently to check if the students are actually following the goals that have been set.

Meeting the mentees on the weekends is a must for mentors to assess their performance.

Case study room

In this room, different business situations should be simulated and presented to the students so that they find the best possible solution for a given set of circumstances. Students should be given useful as well as least useful data so that they can learn how to collect, organise and analyse relevant data and form different perspectives. The faculty should emphasise more on lateral thinking, decision-making and the learning process of the students.

B-school teachers should encourage the students to look at case studies as an effective method of learning business situations in different countries. Doing so will expose students to global perspectives of real-time business situations. For instance, students at Harvard University read around 500 case studies, of which 33% are international.

Industry-institution interface

One of the most effective ways to help students meet the challenges of the ever-changing competitive world is for academia to have a healthy interaction with industry professionals. Though scores of B-school graduates enter the workforce every year, the skills demanded by the industry and the ones possessed by students are different and as a result, the freshers struggle in the workplace.

This is because there is no continuous feedback from the industry to the institutions. Such a feedback would help teachers train students keeping in mind the industry needs. In this light, it is imperative that B-schools interact with industry professionals on a regular basis and build a strong industry-institute interface. It is also essential to update the curriculum regularly so that students can be in tune with the ever-changing business environment. Students can benefit immensely if industry leaders are invited by the institutions for special talks.

Placement cell

The role of a placement cell is to place the students in good companies by assessing their knowledge, skills, attitude, and help them polish their resume. Furthermore, placement cell officials have to identify areas that students need to be trained in and execute a sequence of activities that can help them bag a placement offer.

Hence, it is important that the profiles of students are prepared based on their skills. For instance, split students into 'Students with exceptional skill set', 'Students with good skill set' and 'Students with average skill set'. This makes it easy to understand the abilities of students and the placements can be done based on their strengths. Students with average skill set should be given ample training in order to boost their performance.

Campus recruitment training sessions should focus on developing students' aptitude, skills and attitude, and prepare them for the interviews. Inviting experts for special talks on recruitment can help motivate students to participate in the process with a positive mindset.

Reading club

Teachers should encourage students to participate in reading activities. Having a reading club can help students cultivate the habit of reading. The club should possess some of the best books and magazines in the spheres of management, commerce, and economics, among others. The youngsters of today seem to have lost interest in books. Teachers can encourage students to read one book a week and ask them to review the book and share what they have learnt from it. Some of the books that management students can consider reading are On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis, and The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D Watkins.

These resource centres, when conceptualised and implemented effectively, can enrich the B-school experience of students. This will, in turn, enhance their learning and make them better prepared to enter the workforce.

(The author is with Oxford College of Business Management, Bengaluru)

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