Winning B-School Competitions & Getting the Most out of your MBA

Add Review

Updated on February 19, 2024
Our Award-Winning Academic Innovations Stem from Strong Industry Relationships; We focus on Student Success in Major B-School Competitions from Day 1: Great Lakes, Gurgaon Director Dr Debashis Sanyal tells
Great Lakes, Gurgaon Director Dr Debashis Sanyal

Established in 2004 in Chennai by Padmashree awardee and Professor Emeritus at Kellogg School of Management late Dr Bala V Balachandran, Great Lakes Institute of Management is recognized among India’s leading Business Schools today. After just six years, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon was established in 2010 in the corporate hub of Gurgaon in Delhi NCR. It has earned a reputation of consistent curriculum and pedagogical innovations, and deep industry engagement.

Well known management academic and leader, Dr Debashis Sanyal is the Director at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon. Prior to this, he was Vice Provost-Management of NMIMS University Mumbai and Dean of School of Business Management. Dr Sanyal has also served as the Dean at MDI Gurgaon.

To understand how Great Lakes Gurgaon consistently innovates its curriculum and pedagogy, decided to interview Dr. Debashis Sanyal. Edited excepts from the interview follow:

Q: Let’s start with founding objectives of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon. What were they, and how has it evolved since establishment in 2010?
As we all know, Gurgaon and Delhi NCR, in general, are home to major Fortune 500 companies, MNCs, and numerous startups, some of which have become unicorns. Given the robust industrial presence in the region, it became imperative for Great Lakes to establish its footprint here. Consequently, Great Lakes Gurgaon was established in 2010 as the second campus of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, with the aim of capitalizing on the industry connect that the National Capital Region provides.

Great Lakes is renowned for its innovative approach to management education, introducing subjects and specializations that ensure our students continually adapt to the dynamic changes in the industry. All our innovations stem from the strong relationships we have cultivated with the industry over the years. These connections enable us to identify key industry growth drivers and translate them into course material and pedagogy, maximizing the value of the Great Lakes MBA programs.

Q: So, what sets Great Lakes Gurgaon apart from other B-schools, particularly in North India? What are the key distinguishing factors?
The distinguishing factor for Great Lakes Gurgaon lies in its unwavering commitment to constant innovation. Over the past decade, we've witnessed the rapid evolution and integration of new, advanced technologies, rendering older ones obsolete. Recognizing the significant value these changes bring to businesses, we consider it imperative for our graduates to be well-prepared to harness these technological advancements.

Q: Can you share some specific examples?
A: Certainly! In 2013, we took the lead as the first B-school in the country to identify Analytics as a major growth factor for the industry, seamlessly integrating it into our MBA curriculum. Subsequently, in 2018, we introduced specialized courses in AI and Machine Learning, followed by Digital Strategy in 2021. Presently, we are in the process of establishing an Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) lab. Additionally, we are incorporating Generative AI into our curriculum, underscoring our commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements, given their increasing prevalence across industries.

Q: What role does Faculty play in these curriculum innovations?
A: A crucial differentiator for Great Lakes is the exceptional quality of our faculty. We have been recognized for our Best Practices in Attracting & Retaining Quality Faculty at the Indian Management Conclave.

Let me give you some specific examples of exceptional faculty at Great Lakes Gurgaon:

  • Dr. Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay, Analytics and AI faculty is identified as one of the top 5 data science faculty in India and among the top 10 academic data leaders internationally.
  • Dr. Jayatu Sen, specializing in Financial Analytics, has an illustrious career, serving as a board member and lead for the Analytical Centre of Excellence at American Express in India. He also established the Big Data lab for Amex, developing AI products and holds 5 patents.
  • Dr. Sanghamitra Bhattacharyya, the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, brings rich experience as a former Director at KPMG India.
  • Dr. Jones Mathew, PGPM Program Director & Chairperson - Research, Rankings, and Accreditation has a background as the Brand Manager for Reebok India.

The research publications of Great Lakes, Gurgaon faculty members include papers in top-rated journals included in FT50. The mentorship and learning experience our faculty provide, with their wealth of experience, is highly valued by our students, evident in their consistently high ratings of 4.8-4.9 out of 5 in term-end feedback sessions.

Q: How has location of Great Lakes Gurgaon in the corporate hub of Gurgaon influenced the outcomes?
 Indeed, the strategic location of Great Lakes Gurgaon in the corporate hub of Gurgaon plays a pivotal role in fostering valuable engagements with a diverse spectrum of businesses, ranging from startups to large MNCs. This proximity has facilitated numerous insights and robust support from the industry, leading to regular revisions of our curriculum.

Additionally, our students, particularly in the 1-year PGPM, actively participate in Live Consulting Projects with companies in the region. These projects, undertaken after developing a foundational understanding of management, involve addressing real-life business problems faced by companies and developing innovative solutions. This applied learning is bolstered by the guidance of a corporate mentor, often a founder, CXO, or top executive of the company, along with a faculty mentor.

Campus events further enhance industry engagement. Sapience is our 2-day conclave with panel discussions covering various management areas like Marketing, Finance, Analytics, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship. Our flagship inter-college event, Crest, and the Winter Business School Conference, feature CXOs and Senior Executives from the industry as Keynote Speakers, Panelists, Judges, etc.

Q: Can you share names of prominent corporate leaders who have interacted with faculty and students at Great Lakes Gurgaon recently?
A: Surely. Some of the corporate leaders are:

  1. Dr. Suresh Narayanan, Chairman & Managing Director, Nestlé India
  2. Rakesh Makkar, CEO, Bajaj Auto Consumer Finance Ltd
  3. Lakshmi Narayanan, Co-Founder & Emeritus Vice Chairman, Cognizant
  4. CK Ranganathan, Founder Chairman, CavinKare
  5. Shobana Rajagopal, Group Finance Manager, Microsoft
  6. Ashish Maheshwari, Chief Financial Officer, Apollo Health and Lifestyle
  7. Ramkumar Sundaram, Director, Strategic Planning & Analytics, Adobe
  8. Jayati Dwivedy, Global Leader, Talent Acquisition, Philips

Q: How does the institution adapt to industry trends and incorporate them in innovative teaching methods or programs?
Great Lakes Gurgaon remains at the forefront of adapting to industry trends by employing innovative teaching methods and programs. Our faculty is dedicated to exploring novel ways to engage students and ensure optimal comprehension of class materials. Many pedagogical approaches adopted by our faculty focus on the practical application of learnings through simulations, gamification, and research data.

Q: Can you give some examples of pedagogical innovations…
A: Yes. Here are some noteworthy examples:

  • Primary Research-Based Group Projects: Students are tasked with conducting surveys online or through in-person interviews to gather insights for their final projects in each subject.
  • Video Case Projects: Students create brand-specific documentaries showcasing demonstrations of key services marketing concepts and frameworks recommended for selected brands.
  • Theory to Practice: Emphasizing the application of theoretical knowledge to real-world business problems, students formulate solutions based on data, analytics, Generative AI, etc.
  • Gamification: In HR & OB sessions, competence, autonomy, and leadership are simulated through gamified activities using points, badges, leaderboards, etc.
  • Collaborative Teaching: Great Lakes, Gurgaon takes pride in blending two different but related subjects into one course knowledge for example Finance and Marketing or Marketing and Analytics. These courses are jointly developed and delivered by two or more faculty members.

These dynamic teaching methods not only align with industry trends but also cultivate a hands-on, experiential learning environment, ensuring that our students are well-prepared to navigate the challenges of the ever-evolving business landscape.

Q: Great Lakes Gurgaon has earned a reputation for its students consistently achieving success in various national competitions. Could you please highlight some recent notable victories?
: Our students constitute our greatest strength. Each year, we attract highly promising individuals to our 1-year PGPM & 2-year PGDM cohorts. These students leverage their learnings to achieve success in numerous b-school and corporate competitions at the national level. Each year, our students distinguish themselves by securing top positions in nearly 100 competitions organized by prestigious institutions such as IIMs, IITs, SP Jain, MDI, NMIMS, and corporate entities including Adani, Infosys, and Indian Oil, among others.

Some of the significant accomplishments from the previous year include:

  • 1st Prize – Be The CXO Competition – IIM Lucknow
  • 1st Prize – National Business Challenge – Adani Wilmar
  • National Winner – Article Writing Competition – IIT Kharagpur
  • 2nd Prize – Case Study Competition – IIM Sambalpur
  • 2nd Prize – Ideation Challenge – IIM Bangalore
  • 2nd Prize – Case Study Competition – MDI Gurgaon
  • 1st Prize – Call for Articles – IIM Rohtak
  • 2nd Prize – Supply Chain Case – IIM Calcutta
  • Top 5 Finalists – Article Writing Competition – IIM Calcutta
  • National Finalists – Pitching Competition – IIM Bangalore

Q: How does Great Lakes foster this winning culture? How does the institution encourage and support students, and what role do faculty and institution play?
 From the moment our students step onto campus, we instil in them the encouragement to engage in various b-school and corporate competitions. We firmly believe that competitions serve as an additional platform for students to showcase their acquired knowledge, and their return with accolades after competing against the finest b-school students in the country reflects the quality of the learning they receive.

Our faculty members are consistently enthusiastic about mentoring students for competitions. Some dedicate hours beyond regular class time, either on campus or remotely, to guide participating teams, especially in competitions related to strategy, ideation, case studies, valuation, and more. Additionally, we have an Unstop Ignitors Club, closely collaborating with the online competition platform Unstop. This collaboration ensures that an increasing number of students not only participate but also receive the necessary support to excel.

As part of our winning culture, students receive substantial support from their peers. This includes selecting the right team members for different competitions, sharing competition experiences and learnings, and motivating each other to persevere even when facing seemingly challenging competitions.

Q:  How is Great Lakes adapting to the world of Augmented Reality, VR and Artificial Intelligence?
We are in the process of establishing our Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) lab at the Gurgaon campus. Recognizing the increasing digitization and virtualization of businesses, it's imperative that our future managers are equipped to leverage these technologies effectively to drive business success. In line with this, we have already integrated Generative AI into our teaching pedagogy, and further plans include introducing courses that will empower our students to adeptly use Generative AI tools in business decision-making.

Q: There is also a lot of emphasis on sustainability in business today? How are you aligning with this trend?
A: Yes, there is a significant focus on sustainability, aligning with the global emphasis on responsible practices. Great Lakes Gurgaon has established a Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development. Under its umbrella, we recently concluded our 2nd Winter Business School conference. This conference specifically centred around research papers and presentations on the theme 'Managing Businesses for a Sustainable Future – G20 and Beyond,' showcased our commitment to fostering sustainable practices and contributing to the discourse on responsible business management.

Q: Finally, what is your message for MBA aspirants? How should they plan their MBA journey?
To all future MBA aspirants and upcoming managers, I offer the following advice:

Read: Cultivate a habit of reading extensively. Stay informed about global business trends, political landscapes, government policies, technological advancements, and their adoption. Understand the impact of various factors like wars, pandemics, elections, etc., on people's lives. Reading complete news articles, rather than just headlines, is crucial. Many business decisions hinge on macro-economic conditions, technological innovations, and policies. Being well-informed is essential for making future businesses profitable.

Don't Stick to the Books: Real-life management goes beyond textbooks and classroom learning. You will encounter uncertainties that may not have been covered in your exam preparations. Actively participate in extracurricular activities, b-school competitions, contribute to different clubs and committees, and engage in discussions with peers. This involvement will prepare you to handle uncertainties, think on your feet, and make more informed decisions. Such experiential learning stays with you throughout your career.

Don't Shy Away from Technology: Regardless of your academic background, as a manager, embracing technology is paramount. While you don't necessarily need to become a coder, understanding the significance of technology in processing vast amounts of customer data is crucial. Businesses leverage advanced technologies like AI and Analytics to formulate strategies. A great manager is one who knows which tools or technologies would be beneficial for processing and presenting insights and can use these insights effectively to solve business problems. Embrace technology as an integral part of your managerial skill set. 

Great Lakes PGDM and PGPM Admission Open: Apply Now

With these final comments from Dr Sanyal, closed an exhaustive interview. We hope you liked reading it…!

Also Read
Great Lakes Alumni Inspiring Journeys of CXOs - Read the Success Stories of 10 Super Achievers!

Great Lakes Admission 2024 Update