Interview by Yash Panchal
Prof. G.V Muralidhara is currently working as the Dean and Campus Head at IBS Bangalore. He is a Mechanical Engineer, PGDM and Gold Medalist from IIM Bangalore and a Chartered Financial Analyst. He has held several senior positions in reputed public sector and private sector organizations. Prior to his stint at IBS Bangalore, he was the Dean – Case Research Center at IBS Hyderabad. In this position, he led a team of talented case writers at the globally renowned center of excellence which won several international awards and accomplishments.He has been a jury for a number of competitions and a reviewer for many international conferences. He has conducted a number of faculty development workshops as well as Management Development Programs. Prof. Muralidhara’s passion is coaching and mentoring young people and enabling them achieve excellence in their careers.
Prof. Muralidhara’s experience in the education industry
I’ve had a corporate experience of more than 28 years and I’ve been in the education industry for the last 10 years, particularly in the field of Management Education. This gives me the unique opportunity to combine the experience that I have in my corporate career and then see how I can help the students learn the practical knowledge I gained during my corporate career. In addition to that, the most important thing that I value about the management education industry is that you get an opportunity to shape the career and personality of individuals.
We get students who have done graduation in different fields. They are coming to us with an aspiration to further improve their career. At the same time, they also come with a lot of expectations in terms of placements they want to get, the careers they want to build. They also come with a lot of areas where they need inputs and mentoring from good institutions and faculty members.
The most important aspect that I like about the education industry is that I have the opportunity every year to see hundreds of students and to help them in shaping their careers, personality and shaping the way they’re going to move forward in their career. So, that is one of the most important things that I’m helping them to develop. That is unique and you don’t get it anywhere else. In addition to that, I have the unique kind of background and added advantage that I bring in of industry experience as well as academic experience. Additionally, I personally have a specific experience in terms of leading the case research center before going to IBS Bangalore. I’ve developed more than 100 case studies across disciplines and various subjects. So, case studies give you a lot of exposure and this is one area where we (ICFAI) are very uniquely placed. We also want to develop IBS Bangalore as a center for case research.
Major challenges faced by Prof. Muralidhara as the Dean & Campus head of IBS Bangalore
We have a very good strength of the combination of the industry as well as the academicians who are in our faculty team. We have a very strong support infrastructure available in the campus. We also have our own campus and what is unique in the ecosystem and IBS’ campus is that we have very well-developed processes and systems. So, everything runs smoothly as we have excellent resources and support given to us. We are able to manage things as per requirements for the sake of students.
Curriculum in IBS Bangalore
We have a very strong interface with the industry. We have a very good placement team who are continuously in touch with the industry people, both in terms of placing our students as well as in other ways. In addition to that, our faculty members are also in touch with the industry. They are involved in both training activities for the industry people and we also have a summer internship program where our faculty members are guides to our students. They visit the industries and they are able to interact with the people of industry and we are able to get inputs from them in terms of what are the things happening in the market.
Most important thing through which we’re able to get these inputs is that we have contacts with the industry, so we invite them to give us inputs in terms of areas in which we can improve our curriculum, what are the subjects that we have to introduce. We call industry experts for delivering guest lectures to our students. Through that, we are able to provide exposure to students and they also share the best practices of the industry and we try to incorporate that in our curriculum in the best possible manner. One more thing, we have a very good alumni network. So, we invite our alumni to participate and help us in many processes within the campus. They come and give lectures to students, mentor them and evaluate them in mock group discussions and personal interviews. They evaluate them for some of the awards. For example, we give SAP awards. They come and sit as a panel and tell us that this is how you can make some changes. They give us a feedback about our students.
When the placement is taking place, the people from the industry come and interact with the students, give them a lot of inputs in terms of the expectations. These are the areas where we are able to get inputs. We also have the alumni coming and talking to our students in terms of industry expectations. This is another area where we are able to get the inputs. We are also developing new programs like Machine Learning and we have experts coming from the industry giving lectures on them. Similarly, for a subject like Big Data Analytics and related fields, we invite industry experts for lectures and they also interact with our faculty members. That is how they keep the curriculum updated. We also are planning to develop a lot of case studies by getting topics from the industry. That gives us the opportunity to go and meet people from the industry and share what is happening in terms of the latest developments.
Goals for ICFAI Business School, Bangalore
IBS Bangalore is uniquely positioned in terms of excellent infrastructure. We have our own campus and a building with a lot of area for expansion. There is a lot of greenery which provides a very good environment for the students. So, we plan to expand in terms of the strength of students. We have currently a strength of about 700 students and we are expecting this number to grow substantially in the coming years.
We have a very good infrastructure in place to accommodate the growing number of students. For example, the batch of students which is passing out just now, we have around 300 students. The students in the 1st year who are doing their summer internship program are 400 in numbers. There has almost been a 30% growth and we are expecting a similar kind of growth in the future also. That is as far as the numbers are concerned, and in terms of providing the latest inputs to our students, we want to be in touch with the industry in terms of revising the curriculum and then involving the industry in giving inputs to our students. Maintaining the quality is also our priority in terms of academics and case methodologies. So, we want to continue to maintain our quality and become the number 1 institution in Bangalore. We are working towards that and I’m sure we’ll definitely reach the goal within a few years.
Prof. Muralidhara’s tactics to ensure quality education in IBS Bangalore
Firstly, you have seen the selection process, the students go through a very systematic selection process and we test them for their potential, their ability to utilize the inputs that we provide and become better. At the same time, right from the beginning, we provide them with the right kind of environment. It starts with providing them the right kind of environment to make them understand what the industry expects. We follow a Knowledge, Skills & Attitude approach for the students.
We give them both classroom inputs, in addition to that, they also have the opportunity to develop themselves outside the classroom in terms of knowledge, skills and social skills. For example, they participate in a number of clubs. We have more than 30 clubs where they can conduct activities, organize activities as well as participate in activities. We have a very active sports club where they participate in a number of sports activities. At the same, academic rigor is maintained in our campus on a continuous basis. Our faculty members ensure that improvement is always there. We also have a lot of inputs provided to the students in the area of communication and soft skills so they become a good personality. They become a wholesome person who has got the kind of requirements of what the corporates are looking for.
Maintenance of positive school culture at IBS Bangalore
First and foremost thing to build a positive school culture is that the leader has to project positivity in whatever we do. You need to have a trust in your team and the ability of the team to deliver. So that way, we have a very good team at IBS Bangalore in terms of both faculty team as well as the staff who provide the infrastructural support. All these people are oriented towards helping the students in every way possible. In this way, the students develop well and they also feel happy with the kind of experience they go through during these 2 years that they spend in the campus. We want to particularly inculcate a positive attitude in the students, as I mentioned about the Knowledge, Skills and Attitude approach. The companies look for a positive attitude in students and that is what we try to inculcate in our students through all these soft skills and training.
Prof. Muralidhara’s relation with the students
One is in terms of my own relationship with the students, I have an open-door policy and any student can walk in anytime and interact with me. If they have any issue or they want to give any inputs or they want to discuss organizing any event, I’m always available to guide them. In addition to that, all the events that these clubs organize or the students organize, I participate actively and I’m available to them in terms of encouraging them. One is what you teach them, and you also speak about creating a positive school culture. This is one more thing where you go, encourage and motivate them and tell that you are capable of doing things. If you put in the right efforts, you develop yourself well and achieve the things that you want to achieve. Recently, we introduced a competition among clubs, so we give the best competition award. We had a very good participation from the students. I also give them inputs to a core committee of students, who come with ideas. We have continuous interaction with the students that way, and all our faculty members are highly accessible to all students.
Growth of students through placement opportunities at IBS Bangalore
First of all, we have an understanding of what the industry expects. So, we groom the students right from Day 1 in terms of preparing them for a career in the industry. They get various inputs both in the classroom as well as specific inputs that prepare them for the placement. For example, we have preparatory sessions for them for placements both in terms of participating in group discussion and interviews, how to present yourself well, grooming yourself. In addition to that, there are specific skills like Advanced Excel for example which some companies look for. We have a very strong placement team which has a very strong linkage with the industry. They bring in the best companies to the campus and provide an opportunity for the students to apply for these companies and get selected. We have been able to place more than 80% of the students already this year and hoping to place the remaining also shortly.
Prof. Muralidhara’s philosophy of leadership and leadership style
My philosophy of leadership is to see in what areas I can contribute to developing people. Since I’m in the academic field, there are two sets of people that I can influence. One is the faculty members who help me in running the campus and providing inputs to the students and secondly, the students whom we are trying to mold and create a career of themselves. So, my style of leadership is highly participative kind of leadership where I first delegate to them, at the same time, I allow them to take my guidance wherever they require. It all depends on how you’re able to trust your team and then give them the backup support that I’m always here to help. I have a kind of a passion for developing people. So, that is where I help faculty members and students in terms of improving themselves in whatever areas that they can.
Prof. Muralidhara’s suggestions to the youth and aspiring students
As you are aware, the current generation is called as the millennial generation where they have a lot of exposure to technology and they have huge aspirations. They want to achieve better in life. At the span time, their span of attention is slightly reduced. One is because of the exposure to technology. Otherwise, also, their span of attention what used to be earlier is considerably less. That is one area where if they focus on, the purpose for which they have come to the institution and put in their energy and efforts in utilizing all the inputs that we provide, then the 2 years that they spend will definitely make them better people and this is going to become a foundation for their entire career.
If they understand that and put in the right kind of hard work, I think the institution is there to support them. They have to utilize the opportunities provided because they are getting many more opportunities than what we got in our generation. At the same time, we are also trying to use technology wherever possible, so that we meet the kind of expectations students have in terms of using technology. If they work hard, stay focused, be clear in terms of what they want to achieve in life and utilize these 2 years of time that they spend here, then it will definitely help them in their future.