By Omar Sofradzija
As the latest summer of bringing students from one of India’s top business schools to Michigan State University came to a recent close, leaders at the Eli Broad College of Business are now working on further building that relationship by bringing MSU to India — in a virtual way — starting this fall.
In October, the Broad College will launch a pilot program to offer non-degree online courses in India, an experiment that is using as a foundation MSU’s ongoing partnership with the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR). The latter, which has sent scores of students to East Lansing in recent summers to study here and immerse themselves in American life, will help provide local content for the courses.
“This one example, if the pilot proves successful, will lead to further MSU College of Business brand enhancement in India, a heightened awareness in India of SPJIMR’s capabilities and to provide a potential platform through the online presence to create blended learning opportunities to businesses and organizations in India for the partners to jointly design and deliver in the future,” said Keith Bezant Niblett, assistant director of customized and international programs for Broad College Executive Development Programs, who helped birth the collaboration and serves as program director for SPJIMR immersion programs at MSU.
The most recent immersion program in East Lansing, which ran July 15-Aug. 4 and involved 54 students from SPJIMR PGPM (Post Graduate Program in Management, equivalent of the Broad Executive MBA), focused on understanding MSU’s world-leading view of the integrated supply chain and the key drivers within the global supply chain. That program used a blended learning style, mixing online material with faculty keynote sessions, company visits, simulations and experiential learning.
An earlier program, which ran June 24-July 14 and involved 63 students from SPJIMR PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management, equivalent to the Broad full-time MBA), centered on innovation, analytics, and sustainability through a mix of classroom work, organizational visits, and project development and delivery by working with a group of senior mentors from a leading U.S. corporate staffing firm, Kelly Services.
Growing the Broad Spartan family
The relationship has been a win-win for the Broad College and SPJIMR.
“At an institutional level, it leads to a greater understanding of the strategic journeys that both SPJIMR and MSU’s College of Business are continuing to travel. India is at an exciting time of fast-paced development, embracing new technologies, new methods of working, new markets, and many new incoming multi-national businesses who are accelerating the rate of change,” Niblett said. “To maintain SPJIMR’s prestige, excellence and high rankings, their dean and faculty must stay ahead of this fast rate of change. By understanding this, MSU’s College of Business is engaged with SPJIMR in these continuous changes, which gives unique perspectives on one of the most important educational markets in the world, helping MSU’s College of Business to fashion strategies for their very different primary market related to rapid change, product launch and customer intimacy.”
For SPJIMR students, the experience is much more than a classroom event.
“At a pure relationship level, it is important to understand the deep ties that are developed within the three weeks by each and every SPJIMR student that lives, studies, works, eats and plays on the MSU campus,” Niblett said. “Most have not visited the U.S. before. All have no experience of what a large American university actually is. They now feel they belong to the Spartan family, and they will be a strong emissary and advocate for the MSU brand wherever they go in the future.”
The benefits of such an exchange are of great value to instructors, too.
“At a faculty level … this experience is rewarding,” Niblett said. “Most faculty have experience of teaching Indian students, but to get the best and brightest Indian masters students in one room to discuss a specific topic, idea, thought, theory or trend, listening to their point of view, and how it might all work in an Indian business environment is looked forward to every year.”
‘A very special relationship for us’
Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Broad College, said for Broad Spartans to understand the challenges and opportunities of the business world, they must engage with that world. The relationship with SPJIMR is one way to do that.
“I think a very important way for us to ask many in the Broad College to continuously grow, develop, evolve and be at the cutting edge of understanding and therefore trying to be a solution for business problems is if we are constantly aware of where these new business problems are, what is the nature of these new business problems, what is the environment in which these new business problems are actually emerging from,” Gupta said.
Regarding identifying problems and creating workable solutions, Gupta said “that context can often be different depending on geography and location, culture, environment, and so on. That part we have known and that’s why this emphasis around international business or globalization is helping our students develop global acumen and a worldview that is not just U.S.-centric. All of these things become relevant to what we do.”
Gupta said the Broad College community can “absolutely” expect more partnerships in the future: “There are lots of ways we can make that happen. One way is, we go overseas. The faculty and our students do a number of education abroad programs. Almost one-quarter of our students on the undergraduate side will participate in an education abroad program sometime during their program of study. Another way is for us to be able to welcome partner institutions to come to our campus and for our faculty and our students and our staff to be engaged with these people.”
In SPJIMR “we have found a very, very willing, cooperative and a very important partner. They are one of the top-ranked business schools in India. That institution is founded on some great values that we align with, and those values are that of service, business as a force of good, the importance of supporting family-owned businesses, and the role of business in society. All of these are really important value propositions that are very similar to what we have at Michigan State University as a land grant institution, and within the Broad College as well,” Gupta said.