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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

July 29, 2008

Admissions Officer Q&A: Indian School of Business

While my blog is basically focused on American and European schools, I am pleased to offer my first post on one of Asia's rising stars, the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. Given the long-term growth potential of India and the incredible talent of its entrepreneurs, I expect that interest in studying at ISB on the part of both the world's best Indian and non-Indian applicants will only increase with time.

The ISB's Ch. Hima Bindu, Assistant Director - Admissions and Financial Aid, was kind enough to answer my questions regarding the Post Graduate Program in Management (PGPM). The PGPM, equivalent to and recognized as an MBA is an intensive one-year program that begins in April. In addition to the interview below, those interested in learning more about the PGPM should visit the program's very informative website.
ADAM: To be honest, I first became aware of ISB when one of my former clients, a Kellogg student, told me that he had an amazing time as an exchange student at ISB. Earlier this year, when I started looking at MBA starting salaries provided by FT, I realized that ISB had one of the best ROI's of any program worldwide. How has ISB become so good at placing its students in such a short time?

HIMA: We can attribute our success to three factors:

- The quality of education and highly skilled students at the ISB. The students at ISB are high achieving professionals with high caliber academic backgrounds and work experience that, recruiters vie to hire them after a year at the ISB.

- The extensive corporate network we have through our Board.
- A dedicated placement team which works all year round. From getting the best companies on campus to helping a student in resume-writing and presentation skills. Also, this department looks into any specific requirement that a students may have. This year, we have a separate cell to place students with high work experience.

ADAM: ISB'S Post Graduate Program in Management (PGM) is presently ranked 20th in FT's ranking of MBA Program's Worldwide. Considering that the PGPM only started in 2001, what do you think explains ISB's ranking?

HIMA: There are quite a few factors which collectively contributed to this some of which are
- Career progression of alumni
- The quality of ISB faculty
- Research credentials of ISB
- Strong industry and institute interaction
-The strong class profile over the years strong not only on academic achievements but also on diversity

ADAM: For many readers of this blog, who are mostly thinking about attending schools in Europe and the US, their most likely point of contact with ISB will be either on exchange programs to ISB or by meeting ISB exchange students at their schools. Could you explain a little bit about how ISB exchange programs work? More specifically: (1) Why would someone want to do an exchange program at ISB? (2) How important is the exchange program for students at ISB?

HIMA: Students from foreign countries and universities who come to ISB for an exchange programme, get to have a first-hand knowledge of the Indian business scenario. They can apply the management principles that they learn in class to the Indian context. The Indian economy is gradually becoming strong and buoyant and any corporation worth its salt is clamouring for a slice of the Indian market. So, this is just the right time for a neophyte in business practices to hone his skills right here in India.

ADAM: A number of my readers are from India, but generally find me because they are applying to American and/or European schools. Why would you encourage them to consider ISB?

HIMA: Again, the answer to this Q. is pretty much the same as above. For precisely the same reason that India is gradually becoming the hub of the global economies and there's is nothing like learning
the ropes of the trade in India itself. A happening economy with a potential for large markets of the future. The ISB offers global faculty from Wharton, Kellogg and London Business School. They should consider ISB for a chance to learn from faculty which is world class and curriculum which is contemporary.

ADAM: While I understand why ISB has to issue a PGPM instead of an MBA, for readers not familiar with the way the Indian government regulates educational institutions, can you explain it?

HIMA: Government regulations ISB believes merit is the only criteria on which students should be selected. ISB has always emphasized on selecting the highest quality of students irrespective of gender, caste or economic background and wishes to maintain this independence in selection. In India you need to be a university or deemed university to issue a masters degree but this will involve coming under the purview of Government regulations.

ADAM: How important are the application essays in determining who to admit?

HIMA: Application essays give us an insight into a students, leadership potential, maturity of thinking, analytical ability, diversity to the class, etc,. They help us in gaining a holistic perspective of the student, so are very crucial. Many times good essays, validated by interview have been responsible for admission keeping aside other scores.

ADAM: How important are recommendations? What constitutes a great recommendation?

HIMA: Very important. A potential students quality of work, career progression, initiative, crisis management skills are garnered from his Recommendations. Recommendations need to be honest, straight forward information on a student not glorified endorsements. A recommendation which gives a balanced view of the student strengths and weaknesses, throws light on his achievements and failures, shows his skill set is good.

ADAM: How important is the interview?

HIMA: Again very important and the deciding factor as only 40% of students get the offer after an interview.

ADAM: How important are campus visits? Do you keep track of who visits? Does it impact their chances for admission?

HIMA: Campus visits help a prospective applicant to see the institute and make up his mind. We do keep track of who visits but our decisions are not influenced by these visits.

ADAM: Can you provide my readers with some idea of how difficult it is to get into ISB?

HIMA: The competition varies from year to year. So, it is very difficult to give any concrete answer to this question. But a guesstimate would be 1:10.

ADAM: What changes to do you expect to see at ISB in the coming years?

HIMA: There are quite a few things on the anvil, in the near future we hope to
- Establish the next Research Centre of Excellence in Strategic Marketing
- Begin a new campus at Mohali in the northern part of India
- Start a pre-doctoral and Ph.D. programmes

ADAM: Can applicants get in touch with alums and current students? How?

HIMA: Yes. The applicant just needs to send an e-mail to the admissions office at pgpadmissions@isb.edu and they will put him in touch with a current student or alum.

ADAM: Can applicants get in touch with faculty members who they have a strong desire to work with?

HIMA: This can be handled on a case by case basis, where students request to meet with faculty prior to admission can be forwarded to faculty for their permission.

ADAM: Is there anything else you would like us to know about ISB?

HIMA: ISB is a young not for profit organization set up to develop research for India and the emerging economies the Post Graduate Programme at ISB is just the flagship programme. We are the largest in Asia in Executive Education and we have six centres of excellence focused on generating research for the new economies. The research centres are excellent exposure for students to gain a glimpse into the latest concepts in emerging markets – The Bottom of the Pyramid laboratory on campus is an example.

I want to thank Hima for taking the time to answer my questions.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to.
-Adam Markus
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