Most IIM and reputed B-School graduates are opting for a career in product management according to Sujit Kumar, founding director of HSB, JK Lakshmipat University.
R. Radhika | November 13, 2023 | 03:49 PM IST
NEW DELHI: JK Lakshmipat University launched the Hari Shankar Singhania School of Business (HSB) with a two-year MBA in product management. Focussing on an application-based education, the HSB will commence classes in June 2024. Its founding director Sujit Kumar told Careers360 what to expect. Edited excerpts below.
Q. What is your priority as the founding director?
A. Since the planning part has been taken care of, my priority now lies in the execution of this programme. You have to make sure that all the grand plans become reality. I want to ensure that the students are not just learning but also applying themselves every day. For instance, we are going to have theory lessons for only three hours a day. The students will be expected to spend another six hours to prepare, reflect and do their assignments.
Q. Why did you choose to launch with an MBA in project management as the first programme?
A. Product management is a huge specialisation. Almost 30% of the cohorts from [Indian Institute of Management] Bangalore, IIM Lucknow and other reputed B-schools have gone into it. There is a lot of work happening within companies which requires a combination of technology, design and business and that is where product management is a must. The product manager is supervising all three of these aspects. A product manager, a mini-CEO, has to be capable of integrating marketing, finance, human resources and supply chain management. It is now said that the fastest way to the corner office is product management. Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai and many other leaders started as product managers. In the US, product management was big 20 years ago but in India, it has emerged as a big sector in the last six years. When I was teaching in IIM Ahmedabad, very few joined this field. This year, almost 30% of the students opted for it.
Q. What other programmes do you plan to offer in the near future?
A. We are still in the planning stage for other programmes. Fundamentally, we want to offer new specialisations every three years. We will take stock of what is an emerging area or a cutting-edge field at the time and add to the list of offered programmes. We do not see any of the programmes with huge cohorts and will keep it light and tight so that we can add more programmes. Things are changing so rapidly that you need to keep adding new specialisations. For example, we want to introduce specialties in environment sustainability and artificial intelligence among others.
Q. Since disruptive technologies are becoming an essential part of businesses, how do you plan to incorporate them in your MBA curriculum?
A. One of the courses in the MBA in product management programme is ‘Product Management and Deep Tech’. The product manager is someone who must understand the integration of new disruptive technologies at work. In the digital transformation era, it is the full-stack managers who leverage technology to develop solutions and products which improve customer experience — for instance, DigiYatra — or improve internal processes like in the case of HUL’s [Hindustan Unilever] Shikhar online platform.
Q. JKL University’s engineering school has a student exchange programme with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jammu. Do you have plans for such collaborations in India or abroad?
A. We are primarily interested in foreign collaborations and not with institutions in India. The reason is that we don’t need partnerships for the management part of the programme. Ultimately, it is about the faculty and when you have the stars of the management firmament teaching at HSB, then the quality of education automatically goes up. The specialisation that we will offer is not offered anywhere else in the country. So, the institutes that we wish to collaborate with are actually outside India, that too, very few. We have plans to collaborate with US-based institutions.
Q. In what ways is the programme different from others?
A. Our teaching method will be very application-oriented. That’s the reason we have allocated six months of non-classroom learning. No other B-school in the country does that. At the most, they dedicate two-months for summer internships. We will do summer internships at large enterprises and in addition, our students will do live projects with start-ups. They will roll up their sleeves, dive into the deep end and become a part of the team to work on existing projects. We already have 16 start-ups onboard for live projects.
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