Executive Education In India - Current State And What Next?

Anindya Kumar Shee, Vice President - Organization Development, CiplaVP and Global Head- Organization Development, Cipla, Anindya has led HR transformation exercises across sectors for over 20 years.

As the rate of business transformation increases, the importance of keeping the workforce current and relevant has become paramount. It is almost foolhardy to expect someone to be at the cutting edge of their craft without having a strict regimen of continuous refresh and renewal.

Today in India, executive education is being used to address the following gaps as perceived by the individual/organization or both:

1. Campus to corporate gap: Finishing schools/boot camps from campus to corporate
2. Retention gap: Getting talent that will stay with you
3. Growth(renewal) gap: Addressing the renewal issues of the mid career executive
4. Skill Obsolescence Gap: Dealing with disruption-The workforce up-skilling issue
5. Technical training: To address the within organization current skill gap
6. Leadership education: To address leadership transitions and create a pipeline

1. Campus to corporate: It is well known that 80% of our campus graduates are unemployable in the absence of basic corporate skills both soft and hard that are required for the person to be effective in a corporate setting. Instead of struggling to get such training included in the curriculum of the universities, many organizations in the customer facing sectors of IT, Pharma, Retail have started their own finishing schools that equip these young minds with the necessary skills within a 6-12 weeks boot camp program. For example, in the IT sector with the demand of technology talent returning, most of the recruiters are hiring for potential even from non-related educational streams like humanities or mechanical engineering and then training them in software development, coding and digital skills. Similarly, in the pharmaceutical sector, the pharma sales representative is taken through a four to six weeks suite of behavioural and pharma domain programs to get them ready to face the physicians. In most cases, the organizations have an in house academy to train such resources or partner with an external service provider in the event they want to remain asset light.

2. Retention Gap: In most of the sectors in India, the entry level talent turnover is in the late twenties. This essentially leads to huge losses in productivity and pushes up the wage cost as companies fish for the same talent. To address this issue, many progressive organizations have changed their talent sourcing
paradigm. Instead of trying to hire from an urban pool of graduates who are spoilt for choice, these organizations go to the hinterland and look for people who have potential and the need for a job, but have lagged behind their urban counterparts due to their humble economic backgrounds. The Taj hotels are famed to use such resources who become ambassadors of the organization for life. Organizations like Wipro in IT and Dr Reddy's in pharma have leveraged this model to hire core talent. In this model, young talent from the hinterland is brought in and put on a graduation course while they work with for their graduate degree. Needless to say, that turnover during this period of education is near zero as the employee waits to complete the 3-4 years course before making his/her next move. As these courses are customized with the help of universities like BITS, their education is much more adapted to the needs of the organization.

3. Renewal Gap: In most cases, the executive hits a career plateau once s/he finishes a stint of 10-15 years in a functional career like Finance/Sales/IT/HR. The next roles are leadership roles which not only are few and far in between, but require a different skillset and mindset. Many executives, proactively scout for 6-12 month courses to get to the next level in their career trajectory. Virtual classes through technologies like zoom and online proctoring of tests using tools like Mettle have made it easy for mid-career executives to re-skill themselves without having to step out of the comfort of their rooms.

4. Dealing with disruption: One of the clear examples of disruptions is in the IT and outsourcing space in India where suddenly people who are lacking digital skills are faced with the prospect of getting redundant. Organizations like TCS, Wipro and Infosys have addressed this issue by reskilling large swathes of their population in emergent skills of digital, IOT, AI and Big Data. Each of these skills take 6-9 months to learn depending on the proficiency aimed at and availability of live projects and mentors to try their hands in. Various online platforms like IITB with UpGrad are offering programs on these emergent technology without having the need of the executive to go back to a class.

5. Technical Training: This is the most common form of training in most knowledge intenstive industries like automobile, pharma, IT etc which is done in most cases by internal virtual academies. The preferred mode is an internal certification in tie up with a service provider who is an expert in the concerned domain area.

6. Leadership education: Many mature organizations want bespoke programs designed in partnership with management consultants or ivy league schools like INSEAD/ISB/Duke CE. Most of these programs use a principle of 70:20:10 methodology where they have 10% of the program time in 2-3 days contact classes, 20% of the time mapped to an external coach or a mentor and the remaining 70% of the time on a stretch assignment linked to the area of their work and/or development.

These programs are strategically positioned for the top performers of an organization and are often used to feed the leadership pipeline and iron out leadership transition issues.

Theoretical construct
Kolbe (1984) realized that different people have different orientations to learn. While some people learn by active experimentation, others would like to learn the theory first and then do an abstract conceptualization before s/he practices the new learning. In the popular Bond movie series, we have Bond being presented the new wonder car by his assistant `Q' and then given a fat user manual to go through. To Q's chagrin, Bond blows up the user manual and learns the operations of the car by getting into its driver seat.

As executives are hard pressed for time and often have medium attention spans, it may be important for educators to have programs which use multiple learning models which caters to the unique learning orientation of the leader.

Analysis of Executive Offerings by leading institutions in India
An analysis of programs offered by leading B schools and other institutions reveal that the pedagogy.