Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Mr. Anil Somani’s currently working as Executive Chairman in FOSTIIMA Group of Institutions. His academic qualification includes PGDBA, Business Administration and Management, General from Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in the year 1973. Bachelor of Engineering - BE, Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and Senior Secondary from The Scindia School.
He has worked as an independent business owner for 18 years where he handled the Distribution of Automobile Accessories and Industrial products and grew, that by more than 100 times. He has founded Cardinal Drugs Ltd. a pharmaceutical company and astutely guided the unit through the economic slowdown of the late nineties via a strategic alliance with the drug major Ranbaxy. He has also worked as the Commercial Manager Export for three years.
Mr. Anil Somani’s experience in the education industry
I along with my colleagues- actually “Friends” – came into the field of education with the objective to impart good quality management education to the current generation of students, each of us after fulfilling our corporate appetite. We started FOSTIIMA (by Friends of Seventy Three IIMA) Business School in the year 2007; partly motivated by our desire to give back to Indian society at large and vision of which is to turn out the young novices into value-oriented and energetic future citizens.
I believe that regular interaction with the students, solving their problems, guiding them on the right path is something which satisfies the inner soul. That’s the primary reason which drives me to keep going.
Mr. Anil Somani’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style
My philosophy is - Choices of victory – Where the vision is for one year, cultivate flowers; where the vision is ten years, cultivate trees; where the vision is eternity, cultivate PEOPLE.
I don’t attribute any specific leadership style to myself. But I believe in collective leadership where the decision emerges from below instead of being imposed from the top.
Significant challenges faced as the Executive Chairman of IFBS (IMM-FOSTIIMA Business School)
Our biggest challenge has been to provide the total IIM experience and excellent career opportunities to those who have not made it to the IIMs. We have the quality to extract the best from the best and It is our endeavour to continuously provide the most advanced course curriculum to IFBS students. We achieved this by providing and maintaining a faculty of the highest caliber, almost all of whom are from IIT or IIM and also through an enriched and corporate relevant curriculum.
IFBS retains a contemporary edge in its curriculum through the regular interaction of its students with corporate leaders. Amongst the various personalities who have delivered guest lectures shared their experience and provided valuable inputs at FOSTIIMA are Mr. Ravi Uppal, Managing Director & Group CEO, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. Dr. V. Kasturirangan, Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing – Harvard Business School; Mr. Sanjeev Bhikchandani, Founder CEO Naukri, Dr. Natesa Prasad, USA; Mr. Navendu Vasavada, Financial Advisor-USA; to name a few.
At IFBS, we take great pains in mentoring our students. The sole objective of this exercise is to groom them to their peak potential so that they can make a positive contribution to the social business as well as industry.
Curriculum at IFBS (IMM-FOSTIIMA Business School)
IFBS (IMM-FOSTIIMA Business School) is a unique B-School that aims to identify talent and develop leadership skills to create a pool of managers for the new emerging India. To achieve this goal, we continuously review and upgrade our course curriculum as per corporate needs. We also take inputs from eminent academicians and Industry experts and leading B-schools. The new courses identified and introduced/being introduced at IFBS are Six Sigma Green Belt, Big Data Analytics, Predictive Analytics, Business Analytics, Digital Marketing, ERP Software, Neuroscience & Consumer Behaviour, Strategic Bank Planning, Advanced Excel, Personality development skills, etc. Through all these, we create a pool of students who are job-ready from Day-1 and understand industry needs.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at IMM-FOSTIIMA Business School
We at IFBS, use our pan IIM/IIT alumni network for the placement of its students in various companies across different sectors at attractive packages commensurate with their talent. Placements at IFBS are not only 100% but are of exceptional quality at highly attractive pay scales in a suitable field and in reputed organizations.
The placement season begins in November and continues through March. Our Summer Placements are generally stipend-paid.
Mr. Anil Somani’s relationship with the students
We have an open doors policy. Students don’t have to take an appointment to meet me. They can walk into my room anytime. I available to them 24X7.
We have several committees in our college which are managed mostly by student bodies. I personally do a regular meeting with all these committees on their activities and supervise them. I make sure, I take out time to meet the entire student bodies in a group regularly.
Committees such as Mentor & Mentee, News & Media committee, sports committee, I personally conduct “Aapas ki Baat” interaction directly with the students wherein we, discuss all their issues & provide them the solution upfront.
Ideal school environment according to Mr. Somani
The ideal school environment should be where students organize different activities on the campus so that they learn the art of management. It should be somewhat like “Experiential Learning”. The mark of higher education is not – the knowledge you accumulate in your head; it’s the skills you gain about how to learn. The ideal environment would be to provide an IIM atmosphere and excellent career opportunities to those who have not made it to the IIMs
We provide that kind of culture by giving the students platform to manage all the college activities on their own and enhance the skills of management.
Mr. Anil Somani on growth of B-Schools in India
The recent trends reflect a maturing market where aspiring students, as well as industry, have started learning the tactics used by not-so-good B-schools in securing admissions and placements. The market (both students and recruiters) has clearly shown the door to poor-quality institutes that did not add value in the past. So good quality management institutes will definitely thrive to go for excellence.
Goals in mind for IFBS (IMM-FOSTIIMA Business School) for the next few years
We want to increase our intake from current 240 to 400 students with no compromise on the quality of education to the students. We would also like to open up several colleges in other cities such as Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai etc.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
Today the B-School aspirant is spoilt for choice. An MBA aspirant has several admission offers. Therefore my message and advice to them pick and choose your Business School with care –one that builds the requisite skills in you to do well and excel in the corporate world.
IFBS provides world-class Business School ambience, a model where young people can acquire the best traditions of IIMA and get access to robust management education.