Inside BITSoM, The Indian B-School Developing ‘Self-Aware’ MBAs

BITSoM students in Mumbai, the financial capital of India

WINNING IN THE WORKPLACE: DEVELOPING SOFT SKILLS

BITSoM also emphasizes the development of soft skills, which are integrated across the entire curriculum through the ‘Winning in the Workplace’ programming. “When we spoke to industry leaders, we realized that what they’re increasingly looking for are presentation, communication, and critical thinking skills,” Dean Ranjan Banerjee says. “In a regular MBA program, soft skills are relegated to a course or two. But here, soft skills run through the backbone of the entire program.”

So far, many students who have returned from internships say that the “Winning in the Workplace” classes helped them to develop their soft skills, such as listening, communication, and navigating organizational dynamics. “When you ask schools how they’re developing these abilities in students, they will typically tell you they have a course with an exam for that course,” he says. “We believe that it has to include more than that. You can’t just do one course on communication. You have to follow up with another course, integrate it into exercises, or build it into workshops. We cannot build one skill in one course, it has to be integrated across the entire program.”

THE BLOCK TEACHING MODEL

BITSoM features a block teaching model, meaning that students only take two courses at a time and are only in the classroom for four and a half hours per day. “Because of this, their coursework is far more focused and the quality of the exercises and engagement is very good,” Banerjee says.

Plus, being in class for only half of the day allows the school to incorporate more industry experience. “For instance, our students take part in a project in the social sector, where they manage problems with NGOs,” he continues. “We want students to get the experience of making a difference to the communities that they live in.”

The block model also allows space for a deeper focus on personal development; Each student in the program sits with a faculty member who helps them determine their strengths and weaknesses and develop a tailored personal development plan. In this way, Banerjee says that the learning journey is personalized and helps students to become more balanced individuals. “This personalized element is important, because otherwise an MBA becomes a factory model.”

Plus, BITSoM has a partnership at London Business School, and students can participate in an optional immersion there in their second year. Not only does this experience provide course credit, it also helps them to sharpen their skills and gain invaluable global experience, helping them to become more aware students and professionals.

THE FUTURE: A 60-ACRE CAMPUS

While the current campus is in the city, the plan is to build a full-fledged 60-acre campus around an hour from the city in a Mumbai suburb.

“No other Indian engineering school has started a business school,” Banerjee says.

“Once we move to the new campus, we have a large incubation center planned,” he adds. “If we can get MBA students to collaborate with BITS engineers on startup ideas, that’s a potentially very exciting model.”

Plus, the school plans on creating law and design schools, too. “More and more existing universities are being encouraged to become what we call ‘full service universities,’” he says. “Students want the flexibility to take courses from multiple disciplines.”

Learn more about BITSoM here.

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