Interview by Yash Panchal
Fr. Manoj D’Souza is presently the Executive Director, SJIM Bangalore. His qualifications include Ph.D. from Anna University, M.Sc from University of London and MCA. Prior to this, he has been a Faculty at St Joseph’s College, Bangalore, and St Aloysius Institute of Management and Information Technology, Mangalore.
Fr. Manoj’s research publications have been published in national and international journals. He is the editor of a book titled ‘Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Emerging Trends’. His teaching and research interests Business Analytics, Higher Education, Business Ethics.
Fr. Manoj’s experience in the business education industry and changes noticed in the industry over the years
There has been tremendous consolidation in the business education industry. The MBA/PGDM field was financially very lucrative some 15-20 years ago. So, many players jumped on the bandwagon, albeit with a short-term mindset and today, they are exiting the business school space. In 2017-18 alone, some 100 business schools have closed down.
On the other hand, business schools such as SJIM, which made long-term investments in quality, continue to be able to attract students, faculty and recruiting companies.
Challenge of producing valuable business graduates
We cannot deny that there has been a job crunch for MBA and PGDM students. Salaries are not as skyrocketing high as they were in the post-liberalization, pre-2008 levels. Our challenge is to produce business graduates who create greater value for their organizations than, say, just B.Com. or BE graduates. We only have 2 quick years to do this. But I must say, SJIM has got excellent feedback from the corporates regarding our alumni’s industry-readiness.
The cutting-edge curriculum of SJIM
The continuous institute-industry interface is built into our mission
We have several domain-specific conclaves and round-tables in which knowledge is co-created with industry leaders. We also experiment with cutting-edge business practices by offering them as elective courses. Also, 25% weightage in every elective is allotted for a live project in an organization, and our faculty sets the project topics based on best industry practices.
A diverse leadership philosophy
We teach our management students that the best leaders never have one fixed style in all situations. In some situations, I am a participative leader, taking everyone’s opinions. For some other decisions, especially those that are critical to SJIM, I might consult with a core group of individuals – selected from the management, faculty, staff, students, etc. – who are qualified to weigh in on that particular decision.
I believe this helps me make higher quality policy decisions, which we then communicate to the wider SJIM community. Of course, as a rule,
I have an open-door policy and students, faculty and staff can meet me, one-to-one, any time they wish to
I listen to them and bring their needs and opinions to the decision-making table.
Pushing the envelope of placement opportunities further
So far, our placements have been consistent, averaging around 97% every year. The median salary offered to our graduates has been steadily increasing, and currently stands at 5.5. lakh per annum. Now, we are trying to break through the consulting and strategy space, and also international placements and internships. We are doing this through MoUs with professional organizations and international universities.
This year, two of our students interned in Oklahoma, USA. One student was interviewed in Copenhagen for a global HR consulting position at Novo Nordisk. So, we are constantly pushing the envelope further.
Availability for the students being the Executive Director
As a Jesuit priest, I see my position not just as an administrator, but also as an empathetic mentor. Like I said before, I have an open-door policy and my students know they can approach me directly for any matter that concerns them. Many students do come in, not just to talk about academics, but also personal matters that might be affecting them. I also make it a point to attend almost all student-run events, and address or interact with the students to create a rapport with them.
Views on an ideal school environment
As a Jesuit priest drawing on an education legacy of almost 500 years old, I believe in a certain kind of school environment. I think a Jesuit business school always strives for excellence, never mediocrity. You can see this in the investments we have made at SJIM in higher quality infrastructure, faculty, and resources. We never compromise on ethics: this is reflected in our rules and procedures. We are an inclusive and tolerant institute, and there is tremendous demographic diversity. We also teach our students to reach out to society and have concern for the environment – you can see it both in the curriculum and in our extracurricular activities.
Qualities that an aspiring manager must possess
I believe an aspiring manager should have a passion for excellence, creativity and integrity, and ethical conduct. In addition, as a Jesuit business school, I would like my graduates to have the Jesuit spirit of Magis – which is a striving for the greater – and a sense of service to society.
Goals to achieve in the next few years
We are trying to engage with the entrepreneurship space, and perhaps, an incubation center at SJIM may soon be a reality
We are also consolidating our international collaborations, and bringing out higher quality research. We are trying to improve our industry engagement, through management development programs and consulting. Reaching sustained excellence in these areas will take time, of course, but SJIM has seen tangible movements in all these directions.
Suggestions for the current youth
In an age of instant gratification, it can sometimes feel difficult for youth to thoughtfully commit themselves to their education. But the most successful managers and businessmen are those that have committed time and effort right from when they were in business school. So my advice to students is this: carefully choose an established school. Once in business school, make maximum use of all the opportunities – classes, industry interfaces, international visits etc. – that the school offers. Additionally, focus on getting the right certifications that will raise your standing in the recruitment space. And of course, remember to enjoy your college days – it is these memories you will recollect fondly in the years to come!