Leadership and Governance practices at Indian B-Schools

  • Seema Bangia, HR Head- Mahindra Defence Systems Limited
  • Nov 7th, 2017
ms seema bangia

About Ms. Seema Bangia: Ms. Seema Bangia is currently Head HR at Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd. Her experience spans over areas of change management, HR policy making, L&D, compensation and benefit,etc.

Prior to Mahindra, she has already worked with Carlsberg India, ZTE Telecom, Canon India, Keane Inc. (Formally Metamor Inc.), Lucent Technologies, Motorola Information Systems, Arthur Andersen, Nestle India, Triangle Camera Inc., Chicago.

Seema Bangia Graduated from Delhi University in Economics and Business Studies, 1991 and Human Resource Management (2 years’) from First Business School, Chicago, USA in 1988. She has been actively involved as Advisory Council member for NHRDN B-School Ranking and hence been both a mentor and a critique.

Having seen both industry and academia from close quarters, in an exclusive interview with Career2NextOrbit, Ms Seema Bangia shares her take on B-School Rankings and Leadership and Governance practices at B-Schools.


Career2NextOrbit: A lot of stress and weight is given to the connect that a B-School has with industry. Why, according to you, an effective industry interface is no longer luxury but a necessity for any B-School?

Ms Bangia: I think it is a case of demand and supply, as in without understanding the requirement of Industry it is near to impossible for B-Schools to give an output that is relevant to current needs. And this gap in demand and supply can be bridged only through industry interface because it allows B-Schools to understand the skill set that industry demands and challenges that it faces.

To draw an analogy, it is easier to sell a product which has been customized to the needs of consumers as against making the product first and then looking for consumers for it.

Today, I think both companies and institutes are opening up. I can say that because we also get many requests to sometimes mentor students, or give guest lectures, or become part of advisory council for specific courses.

And I think that it had been already happening for vocational skills, like we have tie ups with ITIs to design curriculum based on our requirement and consequently impart relevant skills, but we now need to take it to next level, i.e., B-Schools. At the end of day it is win win for both the parties.


Career2NextOrbit: Lot of times senior corporate professionals shy away form engaging with B-Schools primarily because of one factor that this effort by B-Schools is a ploy to push for placements. Do you advise that these 2 things, interface for industry input and placements, should be kept separate as camouflaging it kills both of them.

Ms Bangia: I think that is what is actually happening in B-School space. Barring few institutes, I think rest connect with us for placements only, either via guest lectures or mentoring students.

However, I do think that when we talk about curriculum designing, a real change can be brought about. Though, as a professional with these many years of experience, I have had bitter experience there too, when B-Schools have basically mocked the process of curriculum design.

In the same line of thought, I believe that curriculum needs to be revamped more often.

Career2NextOrbit: What do you think is the importance of leadership in future of a B-School?

Ms Bangia: Leadership and Governance makes the whole basis for corporate to go to certain B-Schools.

At this point, I would like to mention about an institute in Pune, where students take admission because of value system and skill that they impart and that institute does not participate in rankings, does not rank high on visibility component, and does not guarantee 100% placements. But the way they groom kids keeping fundamentals in place, we appreciate that approach. I mentioned this case because the reason we go to this institute is because of the leadership under which these students are being nurtured. So that’s how important leadership of any institute is.

At the same time, there are leaders whose sole focus is networking, raising funds, etc, which makes us uncomfortable while hiring because we know everything is superficial.

So, yes the value system may not be governed but is definitely influenced by leaders.


Career2NextOrbit: You have been part of validation visit process of NHRDN B-School Ranking Survey, wherein, one member from Industry and one member from research team visits B-School, what difference do you see in governance standards and documentation processes of B-Schools these days?

Ms Bangia: Let me share with you the case of same Pune based B-School, and an instance that goes back at least 10 years. This school had the practice of opening the books of accounts to students, and showing them a clear picture of where their fees was being used. That’s the level of transparency. It was rare and still never heard of.

And it plays a major role. Earlier there were only handful institutes with focus on inculcating a strong value system, but now, with a B-School at every nook and corner, the whole focus has shifted, and money-making to be candid.

And when we talk about documentation, unfortunately a good number of them are fabricated. It is only during the validation visit, that when we ask for the supporting documents for the data that B-Schools share for the process of ranking, that I have noticed that the processes are not in place, often resulting in false data.

Of course, there are schools which have the processes in place, but definitely not to the extent required.


Career2NextOrbit: Again coming back to NHRDN B-School Ranking, in the many years now that you have been part of it, how do you think that NHRDN B-School ranking has evolved over time in its endeavor to provide actual value-add to both industry and aspirants while taking critical decisions w.r.t B-Schools?

Ms Bangia: One thing that I can definitely share is that NHRDN Ranking Survey has come a long way from being one of the rankings to ‘the’ ranking in B-School space.

During its unique process of validation visits to B-Schools, my perception of schools and their leaders have changed dramatically, for both good and worse.

Active industry involvement in process of research, sharing feedback, and incorporating the same on real time basis has kept the ranking up-to-date with changing needs of all stakeholders. It is heart warming to see that wherever possible, industry contributes to the whole ranking process.

However, like any process of its time, I do think, there is scope of improvement for us as well.


Career2nextorbit: What advice would you like to give aspirants going though the rankings?

Ms Bangia: From an aspirant’s perspective, I have only one but very important advice. I know that the intellectual capital matters less to them than the placement record. So, I urge them to not only look for employment but also for real-time value-add.

Coming from industry, young professionals that join us today have good packaging but lack content. Hence, I would suggest them to look at their career from a long-term perspective, and not from the focus of getting first break big.


PS: These views are completely personal of Ms Seema Bangia and don’t reflect the view-point of Mahindra & Mahindra/ Mahindra Defence in anyway whatsoever.

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