V K Menon, Director, Career Advancement Services, Indian School of Business, shares his insights on how international students at ISB bring diversity to the classroom. Q. Diversity has always been an objective at ISB. How does it affect learning?A. When a student joins ISB, on Day 1 he or she is put into a team of five students. The teams work on all case studies and assignments together and are graded together for half the year i.e., four terms. They come from different streams like technology, armed forces or fashion, and experience levels vary between two and 20 years. Then there’s gender and global diversity i.e., students coming from global markets. We try to bring in all these ingredients, as each have strong, differing views and there will be conflicts. But this mirrors what happens in real life where different people need to learn to work together. We encourage this mindset. Q. What draws international students to India, and to ISB in particular?A. They get to study and understand the entire mindset of an emerging market - the way we drive, eat and talk. Take an FMCG working in Singapore versus India. In Singapore, it’s such a controlled, small market. Here, we have to push toothpaste across so many square kilometers of space! All this in an environment, where the learning is similar to what’s happening in the advanced B-Schools around the world. So, without sacrificing hygiene factors, they get to understand this part of the world. Q. Does the admission criteria differ for international nationals?A. There’s no differentiation as far as qualitative and quantitative assessment is concerned. But international students can apply till January while domestic closes by November. At ISB, we have three categories of international students – foreign nationals, Indian origin students who have working abroad for 10-15 years, and third, exchange students. Q. Do they have higher expectations during placements?A. About five years back, around five to 10 global companies with no presence in India, would come to recruit at ISB. Today, over 100 such companies pick and place students wherever they have operations. Why do they come here? Because globally there’s a massive war for talent. Since ISB started getting ranked in Financial Times, got the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation etc, global hiring teams have started putting ISB on the radar. And our international salaries are high. For instance, salaries for US and Europe are around 120,000 US dollars, available at the best B-Schools abroad. So, a person who comes here does not lose out on salary, he gains in experience and has a better chance of making it than others, because if say I have a US passport, I can practically work in any market. Q. How does global diversity impact Indian students?A. Post an MBA at ISB, students are necessarily going to work in a globalised environment - either abroad in some markets or in India dealing with external marketplaces. You might join in technology, work from Bangalore or Hyderabad but your markets will lie in San Francisco or Panama. Whether in US, Asia-Pacific or China, environments have their own styles. So, if you have international students or those who have worked in foreign markets in your own team (at ISB), this core group becomes very strong as an influencer to your learning experience.
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