And now a Wharton education, just steps away from your desk

And now a Wharton education, just steps away from your desk

Mumbai: As in a lot of workplaces these days, human resources chief K. Ramkumar at ICICI Group needed to turn senior managers into great leaders—and quickly.

He wanted only the best so he began his search at the top—Harvard Business School and the Wharton School in the US and, Insead in France.

“We were clear that we wanted to get the finest faculty, wherever it was," says Ramkumar. So ICICI paid $300,000 (Rs1.19 crore) for eight faculty members from Wharton to design and conduct—in India—a nine-day programme for 60 executives.

Management education and training initiatives have been booming for some time, but many companies now are contracting top business schools around the world for coaching and customized programmes. The price they’re willing to pay per employee—ranging from $5,000 to $50,000—are often higher than the cost of a two-year MBA course.

Promoting their executive education, the deans of elite, overseas business schools have been arriving one after another in India in recent months. For the schools, India represents a big revenue boost, as well as a chance to understand the concerns of a developing economy. Executive education through universities usually works on a revenue-sharing model between the school and faculty, with the percentage varying. Top business schools believe they have a lot to gain from engaging with Indian companies.

“India is such an exciting place at the moment, that we are all eager to be here," says Anant Sundaram, faculty director of executive education at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, a member of elite Ivy League in the US.

The Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development, or IMD, reports an “amazing breakthrough" in revenue from India this year, though the school would not divulge how much the country contributed to its income. Larger Indian corporations that IMD is working with are looking for solutions to address managing businesses that may have been acquired, while smaller companies that are expanding into overseas markets need help facilitating growth, says Hischam El-Agamy, IMD’s director of corporate development.

Insead, in Fontainebleau outside Paris with another campus in Singapore, has noted more and more Indian executives participating in its programmes in recent years.

“This is due to the increasing percentage of managers in India getting responsibilities with global aspects. For this, executives don’t just need content knowledge, they also need context knowledge," says Narayan Pant, Insead dean of executive education.

Open enrolment programmes at Insead could cost more than $10,000 per employee. Beyond this, the school has also developed customized programmes for larger Indian conglomerates, including Tata Sons Ltd, some financial institutions and telecommunications companies. With more business being done across borders, companies say they feel the international schools have an edge over the leading domestic ones, such as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), for example.

“With executive education a much more established practice abroad, there are many more faculty actively consulting to the corporate sector," says Ian Gore, head of human resources for Citi India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. “Therefore the curricula offered by international B-schools has greater opportunity to be more mainstream."

Of course, in these times of attrition and a shift to a candidates’ market, managers concede that interacting with elite schools adds a certain cache for participating employees.

The Indian arm of Citigroup has been working with the Tuck School. Tuck also is attempting to use technology to train executives in India at a fraction of the cost it takes to bring faculty to India. It also wants to create a consortium of major Indian companies whose top management will be clubbed with similar executives from other global companies; the team would travel to the US, China and other countries in an effort “to understand the context in which they are doing business," says Tuck’s Sundaram.

To be sure, Indian institutes are also cashing in on the demand for international executive education—and looking beyond their own campus. Last year, IIM Ahmedabad tied up with Fuqua School of Business at Duke University to offer a global leaders programme, with a price tag of $19,000. IIM Bangalore, too offers an advanced master’s programme, in collaboration with the City University of Hong Kong, SDA Bocconi-School of Management in Italy and Anderson School of Business Los Angeles, USA. Its international master’s partners with five other leading business schools, including Insead.

For Wharton, ICICI was not the first such programme conducted in India; over a year ago, it held one for ITC Ltd, the diverse consumer products company. Employees, some jaded on workplace bonding initiatives and training sessions before, say they see a marked difference.

“The combination of Indian and expat faculty was a critical success factor," says Krishna Prasad T., group business head of micro banking at ICICI Bank, and one of the participants of the recent programme conducted by Wharton. He was impressed with the faculty’s competence and the way they answered questions as well as married the conceptual and practical with simulation exercises. ICICI now is exploring a similar alliance with the London School of Business. “Their manpower have similar training requirements and we are keen to offer this to some of our select clients," says Ramkumar of ICICI.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has partnered with Yale to send a group of Indian CEOs for a summit early next year, which typically includes about 100 CEOs from the world. This is the first time India will send a contingent.