Education is what is left after you’ve forgotten what you memorized.

Saturday morning we arrived at Welingkar’s Business School in Mumbai (WE) and entered a room filled with students at tables off to the side but empty tables in front of us (and no professors or deans in sight). Our delegation only hesitated a moment before China Gorman said it was all right to go sit with them and we did. Eventually the deans showed up but the casual style of engagement for the next several hours that we spent with the students was set.

The time spent here was a fabulous gift. Some random notes:

- Education is the oldest “trust” in the country. It is heavily controlled by central and state governments.

- The campus we are on runs full time and part time masters programs (about a 1000 in HR). The dean noted that the total complement of students in all programs is 15,000 (I believe in Mumbai alone). The dean ran quickly through a list of those programs and, more importantly, the rankings for Welingkar in each- all in the top 10-20 rankings. Clearly important.

- Describing the schools four values which drive WE, the dean repeatedly emphasizes a passion for improvement as well a innovative and critical thinking.

- China Gorman, our delgation leader, asks about the employment preparation. A student answers by referring to courses that include “wisdom practices”. This was an interesting discussion we're still thinking about.

- David Miles, another delegate, asks where the graduates are placed. Answer is that most go to “for profit” some not for profit and very few to PSU (public sector) like railways, utilities and insurance and “about 5%, go to organizations giving back to impact the ‘have nots’”.

- A point is made about the trend to look more closely at the public sector and its benefits and security during this economic slow-down despite the gap in salaries.

- Brian Glade points out that some of the B-schools are criticized for following the American model too closely and wonders if more elements are added at Wellenkar incorporating other models including those from India. The dean responds by detailing country after country and describing the blend of models used as well as reflecting that “we can learn much from our heritage – integrating body, mind and spirit but it is journey that requires a lot of work and time”.

- China Gorman reflects on our experiences then shares an overview of SHRM and its 250,000 members while commenting “I used to think 250,000 people was a large number.”

- During a tour stop at an Innovation design lab, several of our delegation were amazed to see the conceptual tools used to help students consider new ways to build and design business, flow chart processes and research mimetics in the business cultures.

- The students all had accounts on Linkedin, Facebook, Orkhut and at least 1 or 2 local social media sites. Most had 2-3 years of successful work experience in major firms ranging from E&Y, Microsoft, Infosys, etc. A few of them were formerly systems programmers who decided to get business or HR related masters.

- During, the last session before leaving, a professor shared a video being developed on sustainability in India. The term used in India is CSR but this school has looks at the Triple Bottom Line approach throughout all its projects for students. In the US that means finding the intersection of and optimizing Economic, Societal and Sustainability goals. At Wellenkar they’ve re-thought the phrasing as “Top Line, Bottom Line, Life Line”. The video is a mind blower. I've no doubt it would go viral in a minute on Youtube and will push to have that happen, share it when it does.

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Comment by Eric on December 16, 2009 at 12:26pm
Hi Gerry,
Good to know about the approach taken by b-Schools in teaching business specializations (particularly HR) these days in India. Informative post.
Did you also visit TISS (Tata Institute of Social Science) at suburban areas of Sion/Chembur near Homi Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, as it is one of the premier HR schools in India for decades?
Warm regards,
Comment by Gerry Crispin on December 16, 2009 at 1:33pm
Thanks Eric. Didn't visit. I'm sure there are a legion of schools and companies we did not get a chance to connect with. We really limited ourselves to Delhi and Mumbai for obvious reasons. I'll pass your note for future reference. btw- Tata sure is one big name in India.


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