Garth Saloner, dean, Stanford Graduate School of Business, discusses importance of management education for experienced professionals and more with Karishma Venkiteswaran.
Q. Why is Stanford Sloan Master’s program overhauled into the Master of Science in Management for Experienced Leaders (MSx)?
A. The MSx aims at professionals with 11-12 years of work experience. We usually expect students with four to five years of experience to apply for the typical MBA course. However, this condensed, one-year course is for those who have completed their education but missed the step of management learning since they thought that they would not need it. Once they rise to significant higher levels in their careers and find the need for management skills, this course helps them.
Q. Why is management education important for such experienced professionals?
A. Management education is important for leaders who have a rapid career trajectory and have done well. Such professionals would require management education to accelerate their careers and take themselves to the next level of leadership role in the company.
Q. What is leadership according to you and what is the importance of a good leader vis-a-vis the group dynamics and organisational structure?
A. The most important aspect of a leader is his followers. We have concluded through experience that leadership and thus inspiration comes from the way in which the leader interacts interpersonally, how self-aware he or she is and the overall style of their leadership. Hence, even at Stanford, we teach leadership through small group exercises instead of the entire classroom. Through video sessions, we observe various personalities, their strengths and behaviour etc and mentor students accordingly.
Q. Management education has commercialised gradually. How do you see it shaping up in future?
A. What we see is a very interesting trend of new entrants in the market offering various specialisations and specific skill sets. This increase in competition is due to the variety of courses which students are exposed to. However, these courses should be deep and transformative in a way that they make a long-lasting impact. Stanford is not in favour of merely transactional, short-term programs. Students who choose such programs should make a prudent and well-informed choice.
Q. What do you think is the significance of the financial assistance programmes offered by large companies like Reliance to students?
A. Ours is a very selective system of admission where only 400 out of over 7000 applicants qualify. However, we wish to ensure that the best of the talents is able to access this program.
For many Indian students, especially with the rupee going weak, the cost of such programmes is significantly high. So, our main aim through such scholarships is to ensure that financial shortcomings do not come in the way of extraordinary talent.
The Stanford Reliance Fellowship Program offers scholarships to five students, covering all academic costs. We look forward to a large number of applications for this fellowship programme.
Q. Distance education is often considered to not match up to the standards of a full-fledged course. What is your opinion on this?
A. Management education needs to be extremely immersive, experiential and interactive. We would have successfully provided management training through a distance course only if these parameters were met. Unless we can provide this kind of engagement, distance education would be a matter of concern.
So far, we are pleased with the kind of distance education modules we are providing through the Ignite programme. This is because of two reasons: the first is that apart from the immediate faculty for this program, a full-time, on-ground faculty is also available for the participants to have their queries addressed. That helps to provide a local physical presence which is otherwise lacking in remote teaching sessions.
The second reason for good quality distance education is the availability of cutting edge technology we have invested in to ensure seamlessness in communication.