Gurgaon: Himanshu Kandoi and M. Lakshmi Kiranmayi—both pursuing a two-year master’s in management from the Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon—are dressed in business suits on a humid, monsoon-drenched morning. The freshmen explain they are posing for a photo shoot for the college brochure.
Kiranmayi, 22, is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, while Kandoi, 20, is a graduate of St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, and training to be a chartered accountant.
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Even away from the camera, the two remain poised and polished. They are evidence of MDI’s steady success and ability to draw talent from across the country.
“It is among the top 10 colleges in India, and I wanted to get in,” says Kiranmayi, who also made the initial cut at the sought-after Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), but did not ultimately receive an offer.
MDI admits students on the basis of Common Admission Test (CAT) scores, also administered by the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Its score cut-off for this year was in the 98th percentile. “I think we are at par with (the) IIMs,” says Kandoi, who turned down an offer from IIM Shillong, a new IIM that started admitting students this academic session.
Practical lessons: MDI associate professor Rohit Prasad uses a pack of cards to demonstrate how the advantage in business is with someone holding an essential resource, such as spectrum in telecom.
This pride of MDI pupils is for a business school that changed its identity in the mid-1990s from a government-funded institute to train bureaucrats to become better managers to an autonomous self-financing school that admits students of management. A feat, as the government is usually reluctant to let go of what it controls in Indian education.
“In 1994, under Abad Ahmed, MDI decided to diversify into business education,” says Subir Verma, a professor and chairman of MDI’s flagship programme in general management, which takes in 240 students.
MDI admits a total of 820 students every year to its various postgraduate programmes in management.
Following in the footsteps of the IIMs, the institute hiked fees for its flagship two-year programme from this year by 33% to Rs8 lakh, with extra hostel charges.
Director C.V. Baxi says the 40-acre institute meets the cost of its capital investment and working capital—such as faculty salaries—through its own resources, which include fees, besides borrowing from banks. “Our corpus funds are significant but not substantial,” Baxi says.
The school—run by a registered educational society headed by a board of governors—is not obliged to disclose its finances. It plans to invest Rs60-70 crore in the next three years for expansion of hostels and classrooms and to build an auditorium.
The school also aims to become a global one. It is not unusual to find students from different nationalities on its campus. MDI’s student exchange programme with foreign business schools is one of the most extensive on business school campuses.
“Nearly a hundred students from a batch take part in the exchange,” says Kandoi.
The school also offers a postgraduate programme in international management, wherein students spend an entire semester abroad, and students from global business schools descend on MDI. In August, the rush of foreign students had just started.
In the spacious students’ mess, Jessica Kumbier and a friend are lapping up rice and dal. Kumbier is from the Berlin campus of ESCP-EAP, a European business school with five campuses. She was still finding her feet, having spent less than a fortnight in India, but planned a semester at MDI.
“It is difficult to separate the Indian culture shock from MDI,” says Kumbier, 24, who will earn a double degree, a master’s in international management from MDI and a master’s in European business from her own school, after completing the programme. “Everything is student-run—they organize clubs, meetings, hostel. Everything is chaotic and nothing is ready on time. But people are extremely friendly.”
She gave the faculty high marks for pedagogy compared with her own campus, where teachers are more of scientists, but says she has trouble relating to the culture of addressing teachers as “sir” and “ma’am” in the classroom.
Kumbier also found the atmosphere inside the classrooms relaxed, and different from her own country.
A class on game theory began with Rohit Prasad, associate professor and alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, who has taught at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, pulling out a deck of cards and dealing them to students to demonstrate how the advantage in business is with someone holding an essential resource—such as spectrum in telecom.
Alumni say the school helped them prepare for the grind of the business world.
“The academic rigour helped me in the summer process itself,” says Karthik Subramanian, a 2008 batch student, referring to his summer job in the marketing division of Coca-Cola India in 2007. The internship led to a pre-placement job offer from the company, which Subramanian accepted. The highest domestic salary in Subramanian’s batch touched Rs20.2 lakh, including bonuses.
Shobhana Bhartia, vice-chairperson of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint, is a member of the board of governors of MDI.