July 05--BANGALORE -- The newly appointed director of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore and Boston University veteran Sushil Vachani has three clear priorities: Increase the use of technology in courses, push for social impact through more entrepreneurship and help increase the institute's international exposure. By recruiting Vachani, IIM-Bangalore has become the second IIM after IIM-Ahmedabad to recruit a director from a foreign higher education institution. Like Ashish Nanda at IIM-Ahmedabad, the former Boston Consulting Group executive also graduated from Harvard and IIM-Ahmedabad. Both Nanda and Vachani, who are friends, have also worked at the Tata Administrative Service. Vachani spoke about his priorities, the lack of diversity in Indian management schools and the push for massive open online courses (MOOCs) at IIM-Bangalore. Edited excerpts:
You've been at Harvard Business School and IIM-A. How do these two worlds compare?
In some ways the worlds are similar. At least the top institutions. Places like Stanford, Yale, Harvard -- they've got very smart students as do the IIMs. But there is a difference. The difference is that...at IIM-A or at IIM B, the average student would probably have stronger academic credentials and a higher GMAT score. So they're really smart students. But in terms of the mix between background and experience a Boston University (BU) class would be much more diverse. In the Indian situation, over 90% would be engineers. In BU there would be not more than 20-30% engineers... So the richness of the discussion and the experience of students there was very high on account of two things -- diversity in backgrounds and diversity in international origins. There is a classic case study I would teach on
Since the time you were a student at IIM, has the ratio of engineering students per class changed? Do you get applications from non-engineers?
I think on that diversity front, it has gone up and down. But if I compare from my time to now, it's actually worse now. In my class at IIM-A, we had lots of engineers, but I don't think it was anywhere close to 90%. We had many students who were from the social sciences, especially economics and they were very smart students. We actually had more diversity on that front. I think it's time to bring it back up. We need more students from social sciences. There's no reason why we shouldn't be going out and getting smart youngsters with a background in journalism or law to join us.
Is that something you will attempt to push for at IIM-B?
Absolutely. The way I look at that area is that we have to go and seek out these people.
See, one of the weaknesses in all the IIMs is that because of their reputation they have no problem filling their classroom with smart people. Which means they haven't had to market themselves. But because of our admission criteria or because we don't reach out to certain categories, some people don't line up. Or they line up and we don't take them. One part is the criteria, the other part is that some of them may not try. Which is a tragedy. So we have to take a look at the criteria. And secondly, we have to market ourselves. Like any healthy organization, we need to have a marketing function. I want to be actively involved in getting that marketing function up and running.
What are your other priorities? What's your vision?
So, if you look ahead, the education sector is at an inflection point. There are some obvious things -- there is an increasing demand for education. But the big change that has occu