Opinion

The doyen of management education in India

B Muthuraman | Updated on August 13, 2020

Prof. Joe Philip - A mentor and institution builder   -  Sudhakara Jain

More than five decades in the field, Prof Joe Philip, Chairman of XIME, isn’t resting on his many laurels even at the age of 84

He is 84 years old, with the energy, enthusiasm and “something yet to do” spirit of a 30-year-old. His name is synonymous with the evolution and journey of management education in India over the last more than five decades. He was there at the start, in 1968, when he was involved in co-founding the PGDBM programme at XLRI, Jamshedpur. He is there, today, 52 years later, as the chairman of the Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (XIME) having founded it in 1991 and nurtured it to its current size of three campuses in Bengaluru, Kochi and Chennai with a total capacity of 420 PGDBM students a year going through high quality management education.

He has his sights on more, including establishing an overseas unit of XIME. He has ambitions of taking Indian management education to greater heights. He often says that Indian management education is “business as usual” and “very inward looking” and that “India is least globalised when it comes to management education”. He firmly believes that, given a free and liberalised scenario, Indian management education can become second only to the US, in quality and calibre. His vision seems to be coming true with the announcement of the New Education Policy 2020, which contains far reaching reforms that can propel education in India to the best in class in the world.

Meet Prof. Joe Philip, the ever-green veteran of management education in India, whom I have had the privilege and good fortune to know for nearly 50 years.

The key facet of Philip’s personality is that even after more than 50 years of leading and nurturing management education in India, he does not rest on his laurels, of which he has plenty, but chooses to constantly think of tomorrow. Whenever one meets him, he will talk of his “next “programme — another national seminar at XIME or the next phase of XIME’s expansion or some other project. He is always in the current and in the future and seldom in the past. Like a true leader, he is a visionary and at the same time an architect.

It is his vision that saw him co-create the PGDBM programme at XLRI, Jamshedpur way back in 1968. It is his vision that led him, along with a group of academics, to establish XIME in 1991. As a visionary, he energises his people, enthuses them to deliver superior performance and makes them envision their future and the future of the organisation along with him. He is, simultaneously, an architect as well creating structures, systems and processes that can help vision turn into reality. Over a long period of time, Philip has successfully managed to maintain a fine balance between his visionary dimension and his architectural dimension — a true hallmark of a leader.

A person of Philip’s calibre and experience will, naturally, have several achievements and accolades to his credit. To mention only a few: he was the Dean of XLRI, Jamshedpur during its initial formative years, Director of IIM Bangalore during its troubled times, founded the Association of Indian Management Schools and was the initiator and founder of the Association of BRICS Business Schools [ABBS] covering BRICS countries.

Philip, expectedly, is a recipient of several awards including the Life Time Achievement Award from XLRI and AIMA. He has authored several books and articles on management and leadership.

Somewhat unusual for an academic, Philip worked in the industry for 13 years, at SAIL and at the Oberoi Hotels Group in senior positions. As a result, he possesses the rare combination of conceptual knowledge from his academic experience and contextual knowledge from his industry exposure. No wonder, his students considered themselves fortunate.

The crowning glory of all his achievements, so far, is undoubtedly, the conceptualisation and creation of XIME in Bengaluru. Very few, if any, academicians deviate from their comfort zone and venture into entrepreneurship. Philip has been a singular exception.

The story of XIME Bangalore is worth narrating here since it is a unique story calling for vision, conviction, courage and entrepreneurial spirit from an academician. Philip led a group of like-minded academics to found XIME in 1991, with a meagre capital of ₹60,000. It had a small and humble beginning, starting to function from an asbestos shed at St Martha’s compound. They were years of struggle, calling for tenacity, perseverance and single-minded devotion which is what Philip and his co-founders displayed. Today, it has an excellent campus in the heart of Electronic City, Bangalore. Over time, two more campuses, one at Kochi and another at Chennai were created. The three campuses, together, have a capacity of 420 PGDBM students a year making XIME one of the largest management institutions in South India. More than the size and the numbers, XIME has come to be known for its high quality management education. Philip has been the prime factor in the resounding success of XIME.

As he completes 50 years in leading and nurturing management education in India, we salute Prof. Philip for his vision, prescience and leadership. His best is yet to come.

The writer is a former Vice-Chairman of Tata Steel

Published on August 13, 2020

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