Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Home-bred Ph.D.s power smaller IIMs

Harshal Lowalekar is only 27 years old and has joined the faculty at the Indian Institute of Management-Indore. Harshal, a fresh doctoral student from IIM-Ahmedabad (IIMA), is just one example from a growing tribe of young and dynamic Ph.D. students, who have recently passed out of the top IIMs and IITs and have chosen to power the pedagogy in some of the smaller IIMs in the country. The incentives seem to be an opportunity to associate with brand IIM and to be an integral part of the growth story of these budding institutes.

A few years ago, the number of Ph.D.s choosing to join academics was hardly 50%. There were significant numbers of students who used to opt for an opening in the industry. However, after the recession and implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission (which saw faculty salaries rise by 60%), academics has suddenly become more attractive. The numbers of students opting to take up teaching as a career has now risen to 80%, says Abraham Koshy, a senior faculty at IIM-A.

The trend is very evident in the recent faculty recruitment at some of the smaller IIMs. While IIM-Indore has recruited around 20 fresh Ph.D.s from the top three IIMs in the last one year, IIM-Shillong has opted to recruit fresh passouts from IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology). Similarly, others like IIM-Lucknow (IIM-L) and IIM-Kozhikode too have recruited Ph.D.s from the IIM talent pool.

"In the last one year, we have recruited about 22 faculty. About three-four of them are from the U.S., while the rest are from the top IIMs. All of them are young and energetic", says N. Ravichandran, Director, IIM-Indore. Similar is the case of IIM-Shillong. "We have recruited fresh Ph.D.s from IIT-Delhi and one faculty is in the process of completing his Ph.D. from IIT-Kanpur", says an official from the institute. This fresh crop of doctoral students passing out of the top IIMs and IITs are proving to be ideal panacea for some of these B-schools that are battling faculty crunch and are more inclined to tap home-bred talent.

When asked why fresh doctoral students were being tapped by the institute, Ravichandran quips, "Who else is available. Moreover, there is a talented crop of young fellows who pass out every year from the top IIMs".
The Director's comment seems to be an extension of what Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal told the Lok Sabha last month.In his reply to the House. Sibal said that about 25% of faculty positions within the IIMs were lying vacant and the government had initiated various long-term measures to attract young people to take up teaching as a career option.

While brand IIM is proving to be an obvious attraction for the doctoral students, the IIMs, in turn, have preferred to bank on their own progeny, as grooming home-bred talent becomes a lot easier for the institutes. The IIM brand is an obvious attraction. But this attraction is more at a basic level. As far as IIM-Indore is concerned, there is a lot of opportunity for inclusive growth. "It is a very young institution, about 10 years old, and the opportunity to grow and be a part of the success story is tremendous", adds Ravichandran while talking about the opportunities that IIM-Indore has to offer to the new recruits.

Similarly, IIM-L,which recently recruited a doctoral student from IIM-Bangalore as faculty, says, "We will prefer taking more of IIM students if we have a chance...." Prof. A. Vinay Kumar, Chairman of the Fellowship Programme at IIM-L, says, "In the recent past, our graduating students took jobs in other IIMs including IIM-Kozhikode and IIM-Indore. Perhaps, the students prefer the IIM work environment to start their careers.

There are a number of vacancies in these new IIMs. However, the rigour of getting into one of the newer IIMs will almost be the same as that of (getting into) some of the older IIMs like IIM-A. I doubt if there is any lowering of guard as far recruiting quality faculty is concerned, says Prof. Koshy of IIM-A.

When asked how the fresh doctoral candidates were making up for their lack of academic experience, Vaibhav Bhamoriya, another fresh doctoral student from IIM-A, who has been recruited by one of the smaller IIMs, says, "The time we have spent in the IIM system gives us confidence to handle MBA students. Moreover, as researchers, we come with sharp, analytical skills which are a tad above the students. Our knowledge about our individual subjects gives us the required edge in the class".

Harshal, who takes classes for PGP (postgraduate programme) students at IIM-Indore feels, "The training and rigour imparted during the doctoral programme has ensured that I am able to handle students,some of whom are much older and experienced than me".

Source: The Economic Times, September 8, 2010

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