‘B-schoolers need to be creative, connected, conscientious’

VINAY KAMATH Chennai | Updated on January 12, 2018

Jean-Pierre Helfer, former Dean, Paris-Sorbonne Business School, speaks at the inauguration of XIME, Chennai. Seated are: Hema Mani, a student of the first batch of XIME; J Alexander, Chairman, XIME, Kochi; B Santhanam, President, Saint Gobain; PC Cyriac, Chairman, XIME, Chennai; and Prof J Philip, Founder Dean, XIME

Saint Gobain MD B Santhanam says this is an era of conscious capitalism

The world of work has changed and today’s business school students need to be collaborative, creative, connected and driven by conscience, said B Santhanam, President & MD, South Asia, Saint Gobain Glass, delivering the inaugural address at the launch of the new Chennai campus of the Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepeneurship (XIME) in the manufacturing hub of Oragadam, about 30 km from the city.

Santhanam said that today, businesses can no longer operate on the age-old adage espoused by economist Milton Friedman, that the only social responsibility of businesses is to make profits for their stakeholders. “If you asked someone a few years ago, what is the most important characteristic that you must possess, in order to succeed in business, most would have said that to be competitive is at the heart of being successful,” he said. However, being narrowly competitive no longer guarantees success. The ability to collaborate is now an absolute necessity. The last and the most important dimension of change is that the world is suddenly beginning to wake up to its conscience. Capitalism is now focused on building trust, compassion, collaboration and value creation. “The era of conscious capitalism has just begun,” he added.

Santhanam proposed a framework to the students and faculty, which he called ‘i10 Leadership Traits’, drawn from success stories of many leaders, and if inculcated, will lead to increased impact.

The framework, he explained, has 10 interrelated traits that contribute to effective leadership: intelligence, not analytical but emotional and social; information through knowledge, framework, linkages; insight into markets, customer and industry trends; imagination in envisioning the future and being unconstrained by resources; intensity through passion, drive and involvement; inspiration to be a visionary, role model and get others to commit; influence through persuasion, consensus, team-work and collaboration; impact through clarity of communication, personality and connect with people; and independence by being autonomous, self-motivated, possessing edge and power balance.

Prof Jean-Pierre Helfer, former Dean, Paris-Sorbonne Business School, talked of three revolutions that are changing the face of business and will impact today’s management students. The first is the absolute necessity for companies to integrate CSR into their approach. Companies have also to be very agile. “The victorious companies are the ones that adapt, those who know how to innovate, how to change markets and those who know how to reinvent business models that lead them to blue oceans instead of staying in wild competition spaces,” he explained.

The second revolution, explained the professor, is that teachers of pure management are less important today. The managers of tomorrow, he says, need an openness towards the world, openness towards philosophy, art, geography. “Marketing remains useful, but sociology and psychology are essential. Finance cannot be ignored but the philosophy to better understand whom finance is serving is a priority. Our students want theatre classes to learn how to behave on the business scene; they want courses on art and culture,” he elaborated.

Lastly, referring to the third revolution, Prof Helfer said today, schools and universities can no longer live in a closed space of students and their families. The ecosystem is large and there are a multitude of stakeholders to satisfy today, from international accreditation bodies that come to audit schools, to journalists who want to rank and compare B-schools.

Prof J Philip, Founder and President, XIME, said the opening of the Chennai B-school, the third after Bengaluru and Kochi, is a dream come true for him. The first batch had commenced in Bengaluru in 1995. Philip said that since Oragadam is a manufacturing hub, the focus will be on manufacturing analytics, HR, supply chain management. “We hope to make a significant contribution to the ‘Make in India’ movement,” he said. Around 60 students make up the first batch of XIME in Chennai.

Others who spoke at the inaugural were PC Cyriac, Chairman, XIME, Chennai, and J Alexander, Chairman, XIME, Kochi, both senior, retired IAS officers.

Published on June 26, 2017

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