What They Don’t Teach You At Business School
Rapid change in every sphere has left the curriculum lagging and inadequate.
The one word to define the age we live in could well be ‘unpredictable’. Technology is changing almost as fast as it took to type that; politics at every level seems to be full of surprises (and not all of them pleasant, though that’s a story for another day); economies around the globe are in a state of flux; the very environment is changing as we live in it.
Through all this, we expect some things to stay constant: the daily delivery of newspapers, milk, bread, and other essentials; the shop around the corner stocking our favourite brands of chewing gum or cigarettes; telephone bills to come in regularly; and our favourite serials to play on television. Now think of the companies behind these products. Yes, many of them are high-tech manufacturing units, manned by the brightest and best in the field. But their top managers say it is only a matter of time before their organisations will be torn apart either by new technologies, new business models, innovative marketing tools, or even fancier products.
Yes, but if a company has strong management, it can weather all this, I say confidently. Most of the CEOs I say this to look at me pityingly and send me off to the top management schools where they seem to think I’ll learn the truth. “The current curriculum is defunct and needs significant changes to stay relevant in the present environment,” says Pramath Raj Sinha, founding dean of Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, one of the premier management schools today. He goes on to explain that B-schools are woefully unprepared to churn out managers who can deal with the new unpredictable world.
“How many B-schools in India today teach the impact or the transformational role of blockchain technology on small and medium-size enterprises, the new growth engines of India Inc.?’’ asks Tushaar Shah, senior fellow at the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute and former director of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) in Gujarat, an institution dedicated to the cause of rural poverty.
As I speak to more and more people in academia and corporate India, I realise that I’m looking at one of the biggest problems India Inc. has to face: educating future generations of managers who can easily deal with change and who look at Black Swan events not as catastrophes but as business problems to be resolved.
“The ability to deal with rapid change will be vital. While some education institutions bring this into the classroom, it may or may not happen automatically in other places. So there needs to be a conscious effort to develop this ability in students and business managers,” says Anjali Bansal, investor and board member of companies such as Tata Power, GSK, Voltas, and Bata.
I am at a conference in Mumbai organised by Silicon Valley think tank Singularity University in association with Bengaluru-based INK, which organises inspirational talks. Speakers include Bill Briggs, U.S. and global chief technology officer (CTO), Deloitte Consulting; Brock Pierce, managing partner of venture capital firm Blockchain Capital; George Kembel, co-founder of Stanford University’s iconic design school; Larry Keeley, president and co-founder of innovation consultant Doblin Group; and Matthieu Riou, CTO and founder of blockchain infrastructure company BlockCypher. One of the primary aims of this conference is to understand how individuals and organisations can deal with the disruptions caused by emerging technologies.
I meet Joe Paradiso, director, responsive group, MIT Media Lab, and ask him where he thinks education is headed and what it needs to do to arm students to tackle an uncertain world. “The most important thing about education is flexibility and being adaptive in this ever-changing world,” says Paradiso. “Education is not going to be formal anymore—you have to learn to roll with it and stay ahead; it is about working with groups and looking at things that will change the world. You cannot have fixed curricula either—it needs to change yearly.”
“Business schools in India today rarely teach about different forms of disruptions and their impact, new business models, public policy, regulatory environment, or how to successfully run social enterprises,” says ISB’s Sinha, who has a sound knowledge of the corporate sector as well, having spent close to two decades at McKinsey. The biggest challenge today for the auto industry, for example, is meeting ever-evolving emission norms. “And if you are not teaching students these things, how can they run the companies of tomorrow?” asks Sinha.
But that’s the academic view, I tell myself. Someone who is doing the hiring may think differently. Contrarian thinking, adapting to diverse viewpoints, learning to live with ambiguity and unstructured data, collaborating with others, and an ability to think out of the box are some of the “must-haves’’ in this age of creative disruption. That’s something that B-schools don’t seem to be producing, says Ronesh Puri, managing director of Executive Access, a talent search firm. “Students who graduate from the top B-schools continue to have a chip on their shoulder, believe that they know everything, while the outside world has completely changed. Self-awareness or knowing one’s limitations is absolutely critical for being a successful leader today,” he says.
Industry, clearly, is on the same page. “Unless you start disrupting your talent mix, you can’t address your disruptive agenda,” says Prabir Jha, president and global chief people officer, Cipla. Jha has been driving this exact conversation with his top team within the group. He believes that talent sourcing has to move away from conventional ways to bring in a more eclectic, more contrarian, and more cross-disciplinary set of skills. “In addition to traditional skill sets, executives need to have good creative skills and high emotional intelligence. These are also the hardest to find,” says Satyavati Berera, chief operating officer, PwC India.
Listening to Sinha, Jha, and Berera, I wonder about the future of organisations. If the new breed of managers is so ill-equipped to deal with this new world, how will companies survive? I turn to the New Economy to see if it holds any hope. And indeed it does. In Bengaluru, 30-year-old Akshay Kothari, heads LinkedIn India. A dyed-in-the-wool techie, Kothari could have spent all his time writing code. But a stint at Stanford University’s D-school changed the way he looked at technology forever, he says. It became more about the user than about the idea, and that changed the way he thought and behaved. The techie then became an entrepreneur, and the entrepreneur soon became a manager.
The way ahead for business schools to stay relevant in today’s dynamic and uncertain world is to have many management courses, and not just a single two-year postgraduate degree in management. “Only when you have a variety of programmes like mid-career executive programmes or a course for returning women, can you bring the necessary diversity of thinking in management education in the faculty,” says Ranjan Banerjee, dean at Mumbai-based SPJIMR (S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research). “We have to move from being just a business management school to a school of management.” In other words, use management tools to do far more than providing entry-level managers.
At the Singularity conference, I meet Kembel, the Stanford D-school co-founder, and ask him what he thinks of traditional management. It’s no longer the case that a small group of top managers set the direction for a company to follow. “Today, at best, the CEO can give a rough-cut context of a plan or a goal and let the teams work on it, set the direction, identify the needs, and figure out how to achieve the goal,” says Kembel.
More important, Kembel says that the traditional division of roles is fast disappearing. Problem-solving, and understanding public-policy issues and their impact, global environment, changing consumer tastes, etc. can no longer be the business of an individual or the leadership team, but of the organisation as a whole. “Such a change will not only require a shift in the way companies are run, but also how they evolve in the future,” says Kembel. It is, therefore, imperative that organisations enable their people, and not just leadership, to manage change better, and be more resilient and agile to handle such situations, adds Berera.
And, of course, this means a drastic change in the standard curriculum of a B-school. Theories and concepts that were once considered core disciplines are increasingly becoming irrelevant. “What is the point of teaching at length subjects like accounting and data, which can easily be automated, while ignoring more current issues such as diversity, gender, and political environment?” says Amir Ullah Khan, who teaches at ISB and NALSAR University of Law, as well as at Maulana Azad National University.
“What is missing in the curricula is a deep understanding of the frequent global crises—the East Asian crisis, Eurozone, the Chinese slowdown and the impact of geopolitics of Syria, the South China Sea, Tibet, and NAFTA—on business,” adds Khan, who is also a senior policy advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is regularly consulted by the central and state governments on matters of economy and policy.
Bansal adds that B-schools need to move way beyond just subject expertise. They need to “teach ethics,” she says. “Not just about fraud or wrongful activity, but ethical implications of business decisions. For example, in a less private, data-connected world, how do you decide where to draw the line when it comes to accessing, utilising, and selling that data?”
Why are today’s B-schools so far behind the curve? The reason is simple. There are just not enough textbooks or published papers or ground-breaking research for faculty members to fall back upon. “The new mediums of study are newspapers, Google, and YouTube, because most of the students who join us are tech savvy. And we are using more and more software tools to teach our students,” says Vijay Mahajan, who holds the John P. Harbin Centennial Chair in Business at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas and was also a dean at ISB between 2002 and 2004.
Today, teaching financial and marketing analytics using structured and unstructured data, such as visual and textual data gleaned from Facebook and LinkedIn, has become an integral part of the curricula to bring students up to speed with the ever-changing world.
“So while fundamental courses in finance, marketing, and organisational behaviour will continue to be taught, management schools will need to explore flexible courses and tie up with colleges with different specialisations so that they are in sync with what’s happening around the world,” says Mahajan.
Khan believes that one of the differentiators between B-schools will be the number of original papers submitted by these schools. It will be a rarity to find finance professors in any of the B-schools who can teach with a certain degree of authority on how to exactly value startups still steeped in losses or how crowdfunding could impact lending strategies or how international finance is panning out after the financial crisis of 2007-08.
Puri of Executive Access believes that finding the right faculty or top thought leaders to teach in these B-schools will always remain a challenge unless the teachers are adequately compensated, which is not happening today. But, more important, it is time for business schools to move from just theoretical discussions in the class to more experiential learning—teaching students to use their knowledge for enhancing the efficiency and efficacy of an organisation—because knowledge per se is available at the click of a button today.
The problem stems from the fact that while traditional Ph.D.-trained faculty members are slow to change or embrace new technologies and concepts, it is equally difficult to find highly qualified teachers in these new areas. “And even when you do, the existing teachers do not want to give up their classes because they do not want to rush through their courses,” says Sinha, who is a founding member of Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, an 18-month course designed to “prepare women with potential to achieve fulfilling careers”.
Banerjee of SPJIMR believes it is time for business schools to set up their own research labs and develop in-house talent for teaching these new technologies. Today, he is dependent on the retired top honchos of the corporate world, although he is categorical that “the institute can only teach them the application of this technology to business while the technology itself will have to be taught in the technical institutes”.
So what does the future of business schools look like? “It will be about unbundling of education, about allowing students to take any courses and from anywhere in the world, allowing them to mix-and-match courses and institution. But that can only happen once three things are taken care of: accreditation, placement, and peer learning,” says Banerjee.
Then there are some fundamental flaws in the system itself—the biggest one being the complete or near-complete absence of liberal arts students in these management institutes. “How can you teach concepts like design thinking in a class where almost 90% of the students come from an engineering background?” asks Puri of Executive Access. “There is no scope for diverse thinking or contrarian opinions when most of them have similar ideas.”
Sourav Mukherji, dean (programmes) at IIM-Bangalore, admits there is lack of diversity, but adds that the institute has refrained from having a quota for liberal arts students. “We have courses in design thinking, product design, etc. to make up for the lack of diversity. The solution lies in collaborating with industry practitioners,” he says. The bottom line, as he sees, it is to maintain flexibility in courses to keep them as current and relevant as possible.
True design thinking, says Kembel, is about “evolvability, not repeatability”; it’s not just about products, processes, or business models but virtually everything in life. It means unlocking the creativity of everyone in the organisation so that people from different disciplines provide inputs for the final product.
So, how are top business schools preparing students and teachers today for the challenges of tomorrow? Banerjee says his institute tries to create a culture of openness to learning and “learnability’’—a life-long learning process—to ensure that its students “are grounded in reality, socially conscious, have the right value system and are innovative”. It’s something that Stanford’s D-school does to good effect, encouraging techies and liberal arts students alike to have a bias towards action and also understand the importance of empathy.
The other dimension of this problem, says Banerjee, is to have “application-oriented research and consulting”—doing research that actually tackles the needs and challenges of the corporate sector at the present juncture—which again means a far deeper partnership between academia and the corporate world. “Throw in projects of the corporate world and make them a part of the curricula and you will remain relevant,” says Banerjee.
Also, management schools are only now beginning to use the digital medium effectively, ensuring that a single teacher can virtually teach 1,000 students, taking a leaf out of the experience of online education providers such as Coursera or Khan Academy. The silver lining, says Bansal, is that some schools are beginning to focus on developing the ability to learn rather than just forcing the syllabus down the throats of students.
Of course, it’s not just the schools that are changing today. Companies are also being forced to deal with all sorts of disruptions, chiefly in technology. “If today’s business leaders want to keep up with the pace of advancements, they will need to use artificial intelligence as ‘associates’ to process information and accomplish work in totally new ways. But, more important, corporate leaders are not really discussing the potential job losses emanating from these new technologies,” says Neil Jacobstein, chair, artificial intelligence and robotics, Singularity University.
PWC India has increasingly been recruiting talent from diverse backgrounds, including designers, data scientists, communications experts, and technologists, to bring about transformational change and enhance value for our clients. “We are revisiting our policies to make them more aligned with the expectations of our people,” says Berera.
Cipla’s Prabir Jha, who has been a thought leader in the human resources domain, believes that most companies still struggle to change their traditional mindset of looking for cookie-cutter skills. “In a lot of companies, leadership teams are products of their own experience,” he says. “They continue to look at their future by looking at their past. The fact is that if you don’t disrupt classical talent thinking, you’ll not be able to manage realities.”
Which is why, says PWC’s Berera, a candidate’s experience and ability to deal with “VUCA”—volatility, uncertainty, change, and ambiguity—along with role-model leadership behaviour, is a sought-after attribute for leadership roles. After all, in this age of hyper-connectedness, any unforeseen economic, political, social or other event can create havoc for businesses and organisations, if not managed properly, says Berera.
Along with functional expertise, Jha says that some of the softer skills that have become critical to deal with the constantly changing world are: comfort with ambiguity; learning agility—the ability to unlearn and learn quickly and from anyone; taking a collaborative approach; and a willingness to fail, persevere, and build again.
Sanjeev Kumar, senior vice president, HR at Lalitpur Power Generation, the energy division of Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar, believes that the Indian corporate sector continues to be risk-averse and slow to respond to the changing times, and is always waiting for others to take the plunge first. That is especially true of promoter-driven companies, but he maintains that the trend is changing, especially in high-tech sectors.
“I do not look just at technical competence while recruiting managers today but at leadership qualities like the ability to tolerate dissent, respecting and working with teams, experimenting with ideas and accepting the fact that many of them may ultimately fail,’’ says Kumar of his recruiting mantra.
The last word comes from MIT’s Paradiso, when I ask what he does to prepare his students for an uncertain future. “I tell my students to do what you want, take the red pill as in the movie Matrix, go for the wild adventure, take the path that is a little different and more challenging, because it could well be the safest thing to do in such an uncertain world. They will be at least better prepared for the uncertainties of life.”
Additional reporting by Mansi Kapur.
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Cipla Announces Q4 & FY18 Results
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Cipla Limited (BSE: 500087, NSE: CIPLA) today announced its audited consolidated financial results for the full year and quarter ended March 31, 2018.
The Company reported full year revenues of Rs 15,219 crores, growing 6%# y-o-y. EBITDA margins, before exceptional items, increased by over 160bps to 18.6%. For the quarter ended March 31, the Company reported revenues of Rs 3,698 crores, growing 5%# y-o-y. The R&D investments in the quarter ramped up to ~7.6% of revenues. Key markets including India and South Africa continued to deliver strong growth.
“This financial year, our focus remained on strengthening our portfolio and deepening our presence in priority markets. We are happy that our efforts on cost and efficiency improvement helped us deliver the full year margin ahead of our guidance range. Our focus for next year will be to continue our growth trajectory in key markets and investments in portfolio for sustainable growth. We continue to strive to make a difference to patients through meeting unmet needs and our continuing focus on quality & innovation”
– Umang Vohra MD and Global CEO, Cipla Ltd.
Overall P&L (in INR Cr)
- FY18 EBITDA, before exceptional items, grew by 14.2% on a year on year basis with PAT growing by 40% .
- Strong momentum continues across key markets with India business delivering a strong quarter with growth at ~21% (GST Adjusted) y-o-y. South Africa, API, Europe and Sub-Saharan markets continued strong momentum. The US business saw launches of key products.
- South Africa business delivered yet another record quarter of R1bn+ sales (adjusted for one-offs) recording 18% growth for Q4 vs last year in US$ terms.
- Strong pipeline maintained during the year with 24 new filings during the year.
- Focused efforts towards building a strong Specialty portfolio for US. Steady progress in development of Tizanidine patch.
- R&D investment for this quarter stood at ~7.6% of revenues. Increase was driven by clinical trial charges related to Advair among others.
How Cipla’s Self-Learning And Continuous Learning Approach Is A Game-Changer
Learnability is the biggest skill one can possess in the hyper-dynamic times that we exist in. There is a need for people to quickly learn and unlearn, and re-invent themselves if they seek to survive in the professional arena. At the same time, owing to how automation and technology are changing the nature of jobs, even organisations need to focus on continuously adding to the knowledge and skills of their people to stop them from becoming redundant. Gone are the days when learning and development were seen as a cost burden. It has now become essential for businesses that seek to sustain and grow in the existing volatile business scenario.
Cipla has been transforming its approach towards learning through focused efforts by its learning and development arm, Cipla University. In line with its philosophy of continuous learning, Cipla University believes in offering best-in-class training while promoting continuous learning that would enable all its associates as well as the organization on the whole Learn-Excel-Grow in a regular manner. This would not just lead to performance excellence in the present, but more importantly make individuals and the organization, future ready as well.
Hemalakshmi Raju, head- learning and development, Cipla says, “It’s not knowledge but a continuous learning approach that provides a competitive advantage.”
Raju shares that the organisation observed that there was a hunger for learning, and people needed guidance to be more efficient at what they do. More so, as the sales representatives in the pharmaceutical industry are mostly on the field and spend a significant amount of time, on-the-go. In addition, they have to deal with people who are way more qualified than them — the doctors. Even more challenging is the fact that their interaction window is limited to a few minutes versus the wait time that may be an hour or more.
It’s not knowledge but a continuous learning approach that provides a competitive advantage.
“Keeping all these challenges in mind, we realised that the field force required learning on the go such that they have anytime, anywhere access to relevant content. We launched mobile learning for the field force, a year ago. It allows them to utilise their wait time for learning, along with constant self-assessment on the same,” Raju explains.
The Company follows the 70:20:10 principle for its learning initiatives, and focuses majorly on continuous learning and self-learning. It has a unique programme called ‘Keep educating yourself’, under which it has provided its people access to a set of curated MOOCs. ‘My learning challenge’ is another unique initiative, that was organized sometime back, wherein employees could enroll themselves, pick a topic of their choice and spend at least half an hour every day, for ten days, learning the same.
Raju shares that over 250 people had enrolled for this programme across the globe, of which the best 10 were selected as learning champions. “The idea behind all these initiatives has been to inculcate in our people a habit of learning on their own,” Raju opines.
Cipla recently organised a learning expo at its office in Mumbai, with an aim to encourage self-learning and learning on the go. The event attempted to sensitise people and orient them to utilise various tools for self-learning through gamification.
Raju shares that the buy-in from the top management towards these digital learning efforts is extremely high and Cipla’s CEO, Umang Vohra and group chief people officer, Prabir Jha are strong proponents and ambassadors of the same
Looking ahead, Cipla is planning to organise social-learning drives, through digital platforms. It will include strong peer-to-peer learning through ‘tag and learn’ initiatives.
“Learning is not just about individual capability building but organisational capacity building” is a strong perspective held by Jha and Raju feels that Learning On the Go will be a key lever in bringing this alive.
This article originally appeared in HR Katha.
5 Ways To Create A Positive Image At Work
Employees who exhibit positive behaviour at work not only tend to be more productive than others but also encourage others to push themselves harder.
Here are tips from experts on how to wear just the right attitude at work.
1. Organisational Culture
Every organisation has its individual work culture. “As an employee, do your best to understand the values behind it and try actively to be part of it,” says Sashi Kumar, managing director, Indeed India. “You must demonstrate willingness to work towards the company’s goals and its larger vision.
2. Be Vibrant & Lively
Don’t be dull at the workplace. “Show energy, initiative and enthusiasm. This strength is infectious and attracts people. Conversely, cynicism, cribbing and endless moaning destroy your image,” says Prabir Jha, global chief people officer, Cipla.
3. Company Counts
Never forget that the people you hang out with define you in a way. It is very important to keep the right company. “Be seen as one who attracts good talent and works with high-performers. You do get a positive rub-off from this,” says Jha.
4. Be Meticulous
“Staying on top of your assignments will not only help create a stress-free environment for yourself and others working with you but also allow leeway for you to explore new avenues of work,” says Kumar. “Everyone loves a person who consistently over-delivers,” says Jha.
5. Go the Extra Mile
“Positive thinking, even in difficult situations, can help showcase your professional maturity to supervisors and garner trust from your colleagues. Having an approachable manner can encourage peers and subordinates to seek advice,” says Kumar.
This article originally appeared in the Economic Times.
Cipla Partners With Mannkind For Exclusive Marketing, Distribution Of Afrezza®, Innovative Inhaled Insulin
Cipla Limited today announced that it has entered into an exclusive marketing and distribution agreement with US-based MannKind Corporation for Afrezza® in India. Afrezza® is the only USFDA approved inhaled insulin available for patients suffering from diabetes. “Cipla is committed to providing access to innovative medicines and newer drug delivery systems to the patients. Afrezza, an inhaled insulin, is a cutting-edge product which will increase patient convenience,” said Umang Vohra, MD & Global CEO, Cipla Ltd. “The innovative drug delivery system will revolutionize the diabetic care in India. This partnership with MannKind is another step from Cipla to cater to the unmet needs of the patients.”
“Our agreement with Cipla for Afrezza provides us with a long-term partner with a wealth of knowledge and experience in diabetes. Cipla is a leader across therapies in India with an established sales, marketing and distribution network. With this partnership, Cipla will leverage its strength in inhalation and extend it to diabetes therapy, stated Michael Castagna, Chief Executive Officer of MannKind. “The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 425 million people are currently living with diabetes worldwide, including 73 million in India. This agreement with Cipla, our second international partnership agreement for Afrezza, extends the potential opportunity for approximately 1 out of 4 people of the worldwide population with diabetes to manage their disease with our novel mealtime insulin, when combined with our earlier agreement in Brazil and our own efforts in the United States.” Under the agreement, Cipla will be responsible for obtaining regulatory approvals to distribute Afrezza® in India, including approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Cipla will also be responsible for all marketing and sales activities of Afrezza in India. MannKind is responsible for supplying Afrezza to Cipla.
Available by prescription, Afrezza® (insulin human) Inhalation Powder is a rapid-acting inhaled insulin indicated to improve glycemic control in adult patients with diabetes mellitus. Afrezza consists of a dry powder formulation of human insulin delivered from a small and portable inhaler.
Administered at the beginning of a meal, Afrezza dissolves rapidly upon inhalation to the lung and passes quickly into the bloodstream (in less than one minute). This rapid absorption allows Afrezza to begin reducing blood sugar levels within about 12 minutes of administration. Afrezza is available in 4-unit, 8-unit and 12-unit single-dose cartridges of insulin powder that can be used, as prescribed by a health care professional, in combination with other diabetes medications to achieve target blood sugar levels. For Afrezza doses exceeding 12 units, patients may use a combination of existing cartridge strengths. For more information on Afrezza, please visit www.afrezza.com