Requests for short-term management programmes on rise, as India Inc prepares to beat slowdown blues.
In 2008, the big guns of India Inc were confident that they had seen it all. However, the recent slump in the US economy and the subsequent S&P downgrading, have prompted them to have a relook — to beat the slowdown blues staring at them, corporate houses are revisiting their strategies and sending their senior executives back to school to map out the road ahead.
B-schools have increasingly been receiving requests from corporate houses to hold short-term management development programmes (MDPs) on themes such as measuring risks, managing complexities, employee retention or cost cutting measures.
The move is also part of the lessons learnt during the 2008 meltdown, when companies sent mid- and senior-level executives to management schools for skill enhancement programmes in a bid to increase productivity and motivate employees. Corporates are increasingly looking at enhancing the skills of their personnel in several areas, including decision sciences and strategic management. This, even when India is relatively immune to a double-dip recession, said experts.
“Areas such as decision sciences or strategic management are seeing more demand from the corporates in the country. India is still immune to the double dip recession. Yet, questions like how do you measure risk or how do you manage complexities are being asked by corporates through MDPs. B-schools, on their part, are trying to directly or indirectly answer the questions raised by the current economic scenario,” said Chaitanya Kalipatnapu, director of Eruditus, which offers INSEAD's MDP in India.
Corporates have been thinking twice before going ahead with their training programmes for employees this year. “The number of participants tends to take a hit during these times. Instead of the usual 25-30 participants, the numbers drop to 15-20. Corporates are being conservative this year,” said Prafulla Agnihotri, director of Indian Institute of Management, Trichy, which has completed an MDP on ‘emerging leaders’ for TCS and is planning for more. In 2008, even the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), had introduced elective courses that specifically focused on handling financial crises to help students tackle the downturn in the economy. The institute had designed various courses that would equip its students to manage the economic meltdown both for MDP as well as for post graduate programmes (PGP). “This year, it is too early to take steps in that direction,” said an IIM-A faculty member.
According to experts, there are two kinds of MDPs — open programmes and custom programmes. “The custom programmes typically stem from a strategic business requirement of a company. Hence they are less elastic to recessionary growth. However, on their part, B-schools are taking up such topics related to recession under the open programmes,” said Kalipatnapu.
B-schools said the trend may not be as prominent as during 2008. “India has stood out as resilient and immune to much of the previous economic meltdown in the Western markets. Hence, the second spell of meltdown (as a probability) has deterred only a few. Most of us are still in the wait-and-watch mode since it is still a bit too early to take steps as far as executive education programmes are concerned,” said Jayaram Iyer, spokesperson, Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA).
The executive education segment is witnessing increased attention towards innovation to tackle issues raised by the present economic scenario. “Innovation as an area for training and development is getting more and more attention from corporates. Lots of companies in India are looking at it these days. Topics such as ‘how could you insulate innovation in your organisation's DNA’ or ‘staying ahead through innovation’ are making inroads into the campuses through MDPs as the subject innovation gives a sustainable competition advantage to the company,” said Kalipatnapu.