In July 2020, Mahindra Group launched Mahindra University (MU) in Hyderabad. Spread across 130-acre campus, MUoffers undergraduate, post graduate and PhD courses in many disciplines including Engineering and Management. Charismatic leader Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group is the Chancellor of Mahindra University. School of Management at Mahindra University is led by well-known global management education leader Prof Rama Velamuri. In 2021, MU launched a UG (BBA) program, and has launched Executive MBA (EMBA) program in 2022. While globally EMBA Program are positioned as the most prestigious and often the most expensive program in the program portfolio, EMBA programs are yet to establish themselves in India. To understand how Mahindra University Executive MBA program is formulated, and it is planning to fill the need-gap, MBAUniverse.com conducted a detailed interview with Dean Velamuri on various aspects of Mahindra University Executive MBA.
Prof Velamuri is a well-respected global authority on Entrepreneurship and Management Education. Prof Velamuri previously taught for more than a decade at CEIBS Shanghai, and for four years at IESE Business School, Barcelona. He received his PhD from the Darden School at the University of Virginia, and MBA from IESE Business School. He has conducted executive training for senior managers of Henkel, Michelin, Bosch, Tencent, China Development Bank, SASAC (the holding company of all central PSUs in China), and for many other companies. Prof Velamuri’s research has been published in Harvard Business Review Online, California Management Review, Journal of Management Studies among others.
Edited excerpts from the interview with Prof Velamuri follow:
Q: You joined SOM as the Dean in March 2021, and SOM was formally launched in April 2021? How is the progress so far…What other programmes are being offered?
A: We started in the middle of the pandemic which brought all its challenges. We are pretty happy with our progress so far. Last year we had launched our undergraduate programs which are doing very well. We are already seeing an increased interest in our undergraduate programs. This year we have launched the EMBA and the Ph.D. and we will continue to add more programs in the future.
Q: Your EMBA program is aimed at Executives with 5 to 15 years of work experience. What are the pain-points of these Executives that this program aims to address?
A: Typically, professionals rise in their functional domains, such as Marketing, Finance, Operations, etc, for some years. As they occupy positions of greater seniority, the corporate pyramid becomes narrower and functional roles cease to exist. At these levels, they need general managerial skills to succeed. As an example, R&D scientists will do very well in their research roles. However, if they were to be made General Managers of a division or of a business unit, they would no longer be doing research but managing all functions in the organisation like finance, sales, marketing, HR, budgeting, and being responsible for the operational and financial performance of the organisation. This is where they feel the need for exposure to and knowledge of these areas which will make them more effective in such roles.
So, while many functional managers see the need to acquire a post-graduate degree in business, what holds them back is the prospect of leaving their high-paying jobs to study for two years. We give them the opportunity to acquire a world class EMBA while continuing to work full time.
Beyond the ability to make decisions as a general manager, which requires an ability to integrate criteria and evidence across functions, an EMBA degree broadens the vision of the participants. In our experience, participants come out as better-rounded individuals, with a deeper understanding of how different sectors of an economy function and complement each other and with a deeper appreciation of the central role business needs to play to ensure the welfare and prosperity of billions of people who sadly continue to live in abject poverty.
Q: Specifically, how will your EMBA offer solutions to these pain-points?
A: The Mahindra EMBA offers a general management curriculum that will impart learning in all functional areas of a business, preparing our students to take on general management roles in the future. Further, sharing the classroom with experienced professors and with peers who are equally intelligent, capable and ambitious but from different sectors and from different types of organizations will contribute towards broadening the perspectives of the participants.
Q: Are you offering an MBA or EMBA degree. What are its benefits over Executive PGDM or PGDBA?
A: We will offer an Executive MBA degree signifying the rich experiential background of our students. Being a master’s degree, it will be more valuable than a PGDM as those only offer certificates and may not be seen as equivalent to a degree. In fact, many countries don’t recognize them for immigration purpose whereas an MBA or EMBA is widely known and recognized in all countries.
Q: How is the program structured? Like international EMBA programs, is it modular and offers hybrid learning?
A: The program is at par with International EMBA programs. Yes, it is modular in nature so students will have to come for classes every two months leaving them to concentrate on their work with minimal disruption. This is one of the strongest USPs of the program, i.e., that you can get a world class EMBA without giving up your job. The classes will be in-person allowing for rich classroom discussions and case discussions in the evenings. Each residency will have whole day of teaching followed by group and individual study and projects. Each residency will also have extra-curricular components like interaction with business leaders and career workshops etc.
Q: As technology disrupts every industry, what is the thrust of the EMBA program course content? How has it been developed?
A: This is a great question. Mahindra University is poised to handle this aspect very well. As far as we know, we are the only private university to operate a high-performance computing centre with an NVIDIA DGX-1 computer and 40 work stations. This is important because all businesses, irrespective of sector, will have a heavy backbone of technology. This is integrated in each course and we also have special courses taught by international experts on technological disruptions and how leaders should deal with them.
Q: So, how is the EMBA curriculum different from regular MBA?
A: Managers at different stages of their careers have different learning needs. A regular MBA prepares students for entry level or junior managerial positions, where technical skills are the determinants of success. On the other hand, an EMBA prepares students to transition from middle to senior management roles, and to do this they need to develop i) a general management perspective and ii) political skills (to build consensus and overcome situations of conflict). The faculty know they are teaching students who have rich experience and hence the pedagogy is tailored to that. We will have more case discussions and explore real business situations which will not happen as much in a regular MBA.
Q: Who will be teaching at the EMBA program?
A: Distinguished professors who have taught at leading Global and Indian B-schools will be teaching at our EMBA program. They include Dr. Jeff Sampler, Dr. Nilanjan Banik, Dr.Thorbjørn Knudsen, Dr. Sabrinathan G, Dr. Michael H. Grote, Dr. Pradeep Racherla and Dr. Markus Maedler.
Prof Thorbjørn Knudsen is Professor of Strategic Organization at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. Prof. Markus Maedler has been working at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management as the Executive Director of MBA programs since 2016. From 2008 to 2015 he was Academic Director for International Executive Education Programs at IESE Business School. Jeffrey L. Sampler is a Professor of Management Practice in Strategy at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Previously he was a faculty member of London Business School and the University of Oxford for over 20 years. G. Sabarinathan is an Associate Professor in the Finance and Control area at IIM Bangalore. He has a PhD from the National Law School of India University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore.
So, we will have the best faculty teaching at our EMBA Program.
Further, the Leadership Team of the EMBA has personally led EMBA programs that are currently in the 5th (CEIBS), 7th (IESE), 30th (NUS-UCLA) and 36th (NUS) ranks of the FT Global EMBA rankings. We also have one faculty member who personally launched two of the most successful EMBA programs in India.
The industry leaders will definitely be invited either to teach full courses or for guest lectures. We are also planning for CEO days during the residencies where we will invite eminent CEOs and VPs to come and speak to our EMBA students.
Q: You are collaborating with Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. The Program includes international immersion in Europe. How the participants will benefit from this association?
A: Today, all business is global and hence it becomes imperative that future leaders are sensitised to global situations and circumstances. The international residency aims to do that. Frankfurt is fast becoming the financial capital of Europe (a process accelerated by Brexit). Germany is also home to a couple of thousand Mittelstand companies, which are mid-sized, mostly private organizations that are leaders in their respective fields. The Frankfurt module will therefore complement the emerging market context of India.
Q: Agreed that you have a good faculty and leadership team, But executives have many choices. How will your EMBA compare with IIMs Full Time 1 Year Program? Almost all IIMs are offering such a program now.
A: The academic rigour of our EMBA program will be similar to those of full-time programs. Cost is also quite competitive especially because our fee has accommodation, food and course material built in, and more importantly, our students will continue to earn their salaries, which they cannot do in a full-time program. Therefore, the total cost of an EMBA turns out be significantly lower than that of a full-time MBA. Since EMBAs attract students who are confident and have a lot of self-drive, they are not dependent on campus placements for career growth. They know that with this new learning they will define their career paths themselves. Graduates of EMBAs globally see significant growth professionally after completing their studies.
Q: What about Online MBA programs offered by Warwick, IE, Imperial College... How does EMBA compare?
A: While online MBAs offer flexibility of learning at your own pace they do suffer from two big drawbacks; high dropouts due to low engagement and lack of peer-learning that is critical to learning for executives. Additionally, they don’t allow for development of a great network that an in-person program allows.
Q: So what is Mahindra University Executive MBA Fees? How does it compare with similar programs?
A: The fee at Mahindra University is ₹ 24 lakhs which we feel offers great value. This includes teaching, accommodation, food and course material - even for international residencies. Similar programs in India cost upwards of ₹ 35 lakhs and international ones could range from ₹1 - ₹1.5 crores.
Q: Will EMBA participants get some Placement support…
A: There is no placement support as it does not work for senior set of students anywhere in the world. However, we do have career development workshops that will prepare our students to plan their future careers and prepare them to pitch for their candidature appropriately. Should they transition out of their jobs during or after the program, we will help them find alternative positions.
Q: How does the program benefit from University being part of Mahindra group?
A: The Mahindra Group’s backing is a terrific advantage. For one, the Mahindra Rise philosophy makes us strive for constant improvement and for giving our best. As an example, we are getting highly experienced international faculty to teach in the EMBA and the School of Management has top global collaborations with institutions like Cornell University and Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.
Q: Let’s talk a bit about Mahindra University Executive MBA Admission 2022 process – who is the ideal candidate?
A: The ideal candidate is a self-driven achiever who has the hunger for growth who does not want to quit the job for an MBA. She/he would need to have minimum of 5 years of work experience and a Bachelor’s Degree.
Q: How is the Mahindra University Executive MBA Admission 2022 process designed, and what are the timelines?
A: The admissions process consists of two-stages; first, a written application that includes the basics like past education history, resume, one written and one video essay and a reference from a current or previous supervisor. Candidates shortlisted based on the written application will be invited for a personal interview after which the final decision will be made. The applications are open and will close in end of June 2022. Program will begin in September 2022.
Mahindra University Executive MBA seats are limited and the Mahindra University EMBA program curriculum is designed as per global standard. The Mahindra University EMBA is a 2 year program and since it is not a full time program, it should not be confused as full time Mahindra University One year MBA, which may be launched a bit later. However, the rigor of Mahindra University EMBA program is at par with one year full time program.
Hope you found this interview of Prof Velamuri on Mahindra University Executive MBA program very useful. Admission process for Mahindra University EMBA Programme is open for next few days.