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B schools ---factory mode or a mini-CoE?



If you go to a B School, it is largely it's reputation/brand name that you want to get tagged to. Obviously they are great so they have enviable and unique pedagogy and inspiring intellectuals to teach. But all boils down to the first placement that you get on campus. I have seen in 2008, after Lehman disaster, ISB Hyderabad students who had worked with me earlier calling me desperately to secure a job on campus. What worried them as fear #1 was, the 35K monthly education loan EMI.
I have got some hiring experinecs for tech, engineering and management consulting firms at B and T schools in India, some top 5 IITs, top 5 NITs, many other emerging T and also B schools, including ISB, Le High, U-Penn, Duke (in US)
Once, a corporate relations head of an new IIM in Rajasthan called me to ask, what he should adopt as practice to get this new IIM into the recon of the recruiters. I had given him some glimpse of my experiences of being a University Relations and Hiring Manager and here are the bullets for you.
1. Placements are the biggest truths! Everyone at college seeks placements and that seeking defines a lot on the matrix of success for any B School.
2. Companies look for bright students or not so bright at times and they may know which college to go for or may not know what kind of students work best for them. They may keep wandering and going to one set of colleges a year and next bunch the other year, to learn and explore and sometimes to oblige colleges, senior Alumni of their company, who influence them to go to their college. Happens! For new colleges, this alumni thing does not arise.
3. Placement team works through volunteering students many a times, and they keep making merry go round and visit targeted companies and make presentations. That also works like cold-calls. I had guys coming from Great Lakes Chennai for presentations when I worked for ZS Associates.
4. Companies play a local favorite and so companies in Mumbai will have favor for IIT Bombay and likewise. Also, for admin convenience of travel, cost time etc. Starting to build influence on local companies or local offices of companies really help.
5. People like you, who are brilliant orators build great relations and even get inroads into companies who are not open to new IIMs for reasons, you would know as you know sales.
6. Showcase best students to corporate connects and rest of the flock ride on that wave! Meeting corporates helps rather than inviting them to one busy conference on a generic topic, though special conclaves help if you get the best speakers form the corporate who can influence intern and final placements. Top level hedging always helps. Juniors in companies who run the road show can be aligned. Though relationships at all levels work.
7. Use best breed HR folks, (who can hire form your college) and other business folks from companies for 'mock interviews'. They carry lot of message back to the company. Use lean months for 'Mock interviews'.
8. Run some focused COEs for market research, latest trends, start-ups and tech collaborations, etc. at your IIM. Many companies have run out of ideas and have started enjoying one wave of success for longer than it runs! Tech change speed makes them obsolete and even their platforms of products, services or consulting becomes jarred and there a backward integration with IIMs and other top schools helps. They are good validation and critique grounds.
9. You need to showcase stellar professors to lead those COEs and make them run like projects. Let them run not on subsidy but as Business Consulting model of top 5 consulting. MBAs are made to run businesses not just join a sales and marketing team and keep getting coached and paid. At college they must be tested if they can bring a billable project to college. Lost of IIMs and other T schools have incubation centers and they attract attention of 'investors'.
10. Run industry research, win sponsors, publish like McKinsey Quarterly.
11. Run management course departments like businesses and let them compete with each other.
12. Run IIM like Facebook, Google, Amazon, why not? Look for their values and how to see opportunities and build their own niche! Students must be picking one company and do a deep dive analysis of that in the overall macro-economic space to their unseen future! Ask students to build 5 solid industry connects in one company that they choose and get their impression made! Establish dialogue and make them look back at you!
13. People at colleges like IIMs have to create their own brands and demands! If they cannot sell them, what can a company trust them for?
14. Apply all marketing gimmicks. You can approach companies to place folks for internship and finals by segmentation.
15. Connect with global HQ folks and influence them to hire from you in India for their India offices.
16. You have to place everyone!
17. Large companies like Reliance, Aditya Birla, Cognizant etc, I saw at ISB, hire in hoards. They were interviewing in 28 rooms at the same time.
18. Like sales cycle , larger companies may take longer to buy you but they help cover a large chunk of placements. PSUs are also good targets.
19. Students can collect their undergrad college alumni who are doing best in industry today and reach out to them for a symbiotic relationship that may help finally in placements.
I can think of more but do not forget to connect with Angel Investors and independent investors and therefore the start-ups with good products and services and they getting investor attention. Many starters are becoming game changers. Grab them early. Provide them students at internships who can help them and since in internships students so do insider and critical work, they get PPO.

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