IT''S THAT popular story of a frog where the frog feels that his well is the biggest in terms of size, shape, depth and quantity of water till he is put into a bigger pond and subsequently into a river. The encounter can be a sweet or vibrant and painful one depending upon the perspective of the concerned individual. Hamza, a software engineer worked with a mid size IT Company and gained tremendous amount of experience while working on various platforms like VB, .net, Oracle and started thinking he has nothing more to learn as he worked on various projects for different clients on many platforms. This was his feeling till he joined one giant in the IT services sector where he worked on various offshore and onshore projects on Java, and other front-end and back-end platforms, which made him realize there are many more challenges to be overcome, till he can consider self as a thorough IT professional. As they rightly say, a smart individual or a professional is a student throughout his life so that he can explore many of te yet to be unexplored situations and knowledge, leading to his overall maturity and growth.
My Sweet Shock
My recent experience after I joined my alma mater to teach BBA and MBA students were eye-openers in true sense. Till that point in time I was of the opinion that it's only the management students at the postgraduate level, who can stimulate and challenge your abilities as a management trainer. My first interactions with BBA part II students were amazing or should I say a bolt from the blue. Although not a formal session on my core area of marketing management, enlightened minds and receptive and curious onlookers like Harshavardan, Marcello, Tanvi and many others made me spellbound with their response and appetite to learn. Although I should admit that initially the students tried to corner me after I was introduced by Prof. Patnaik, Faculty, TIME, Nagpur my approach of putting the eager minds through the course made them realize we mean business and that is learning.
The students open heartedly accepted the challenge of going for the interactive mode of learning rather than the chalk and talk or what is popularly known as the monologue method of teaching. A practice which is adopted only by the super premium business schools which calls for lot of preparation by both the students and faculties were straightaway accepted by the teenagers (with a big head on their shoulders). The first response the students gave towards the group activity of business clipping and literature survey and the way they flocked around in the library would even put some of their postgraduate peer in a shameful situation. They were ready to take the challenge head on and started scrolling various journals, books, magazines, dailies in the library followed by the Goggle phenomena. The ones who were little off-track importantly joined the mainstream without much of pep talks as they understood their responsibilities and their deliverables. `My pond is the biggest' is perhaps a gigantic blunder one can commit. This proves the basic fundamental that the younger generations are smarter than their older ones is still sacrosanct. You only need to harness and channelise their resources and abilities as trainer.
If this standard of the undergraduates continues unabted and infects all the peer BBA students all across the country, then MBA students should better watch out. The so called magical wand called MBA would gradually fade in front of the less expensive, yet more effective bunch of management professionals. Organizations would gleefully absorb younger brains and groom them for a period of time, which in turn would give me them solutions to problems like employee attrition, prey to poaching by competitors, increased effectiveness of training and development not to mention the risk taking abilities of these entrepreneurs in the making. Even this bunch of BBA students can pose severe competition to their much fancied rivals like engineers and other graduates while knocking the door of all Ivy leagues of business school. They only need a dose on motivation, guidance and someone who can bring them back into the mainstream career highway once they get distracted owing to their tender age and lack of decision making abilities.
What I have realize in the last one months time is the fact that, if one is exposed to BBA students as I have been offered with, one can continue with the same tempo as one adopt at the MBA level, In fact the room for innovation while training can be more simply because these guys and gals are ready to taste anything as they know very well these are the recipes for their MBA. The added feature required for the trainer at this level of teaching the undergraduate is to act as a counselor, mentor, friend, big brother depending upon the situations as they are yet to reach that level of maturity. Perennial guidance is what is advised by psychologist Anupama Gadkari while conducting a three day workshop for all the TIME faculties so as to optimize their training capabilities while dealing with BBA. A mix and match of pressure and loose moments as applied while training MBA students can very well be implemented while dealing with the BBA students. One only needs to be little more empathetic and patient as at times the reaction time for these young jovial minds might be little more than their MBA rivals (definitely not big brother, looking into their capabilities).
Teaching both BBA and MBA students simultaneously once the session of the latter starts would definitely be thrilling as one size fits all approach would really wont work. Continuous observation, reinvention of approaches, cross learning from one class and customizing it for the other is what would hold the key to successful training. Innovation, research and homework would be essential for a trainer to be successful at all the levels as the trainees would be as different as that of chalk and cheese. Prof. Praveen Mastoor, faculty, TIME, Nagpur opines that a trainer training such a diverse set of students need to think, eat, drink, sleep and eat teaching as continuous involvement is an absolute must, otherwise one might satisfy on batch and dissatisfy the other. Does that mean that such institutes possess better trainers than any standalone business school? Are the students and parents aspiring for MBA, BBA and Diploma listening?
-by Manishankar Chakraborty
Author is Faculty Management at Tirpude Institute of Management Education- TIME, Nagpur.