Learning business management is a complicated enough exercise with experts divided on whether management is science or art, or both. In the current era, the complications are compounded by the pace of change. Theories and frameworks are getting outdated rapidly, and textbooks can be obsolete by the time they reach the student’s desk from the printer. In this scenario, how does a student ensure that the business studies course is keeping him or her future-ready? The answer is not easy given the situation, but there are 5 universal aspects that few would dispute.
1. Practical experience
Many business studies courses are geared towards freshers with limited to no work experience. If the class itself offers no avenues for practical experience, then the student graduates with a skill handicap. Look for courses that provide hands-on business experience during studies. This can be in the form of industrial projects from real companies, internships, assistance on faculty research projects for companies, or even simple opportunities for interaction with the real business world. Being in actual situations, facing real problems of real people shapes your world view and the sooner you can gain this experience the better. For this, look for institutions that have tie-ups for such opportunities with their recruiters and other corporates.
2. Soft skills
Multiple surveys of companies show that one of the most significant handicaps campuses hire suffer from is poorly developed soft skills. This includes presentation skills, workplace etiquette, grooming, and general communication. All of these are essential requirements for workplace success and for moving into leadership roles. Some institutes have begun to focus on soft skills and developing the behavioural aspects of students. Conducting exercises and workshops on etiquette, grooming, communication, art, and team exercises are some of the means. Innovatively, some of this is being achieved through training in theatre or focus on the liberal arts.
3. People matter
In a networked and ever-changing business world, no one can function in a silo. Effective teamwork is essential in an era where multiple perspectives are needed to solve complex problems. And this means people need to be effective at working together. Empathy, accommodation, appreciating diversity, understanding and working with differences, and sensitivity are the critical skills that need to be developed for success and these are timeless. Institutes that build in teamwork and people dependencies into course work will help groom managers who can work effectively and efficiently with any group of co-workers. This is why many courses involve a large volume of team assignments, presentations, and projects.
4. Global perspective
Globalisation is a reality that no business, big or small, can ignore and this will only compound in the future as trade and people mobility go up in future. Even an entry-level business manager needs to be mindful, aware and prepared to work in a complex and interlinked world. How do you achieve this when many entry-level managers have not even stepped out of their city of birth? Developing the ability to work with different nationalities, being comfortable in foreign environments, and being able to blend into the unfamiliar is going to be must-have skills for the future and preparation needs to begin early. Courses that offer foreign language courses, cross-cultural collaboration opportunities, international exchange programs, diverse pool of international students, and opportunities to learn from visiting foreign faculty are one way to prepare for this business reality.
5. An entrepreneurial approach
Some theoretical concepts are timeless, while others whither away. However, new approaches to solving old problems and developing abilities to deal with new issues are always evolving. After all, many of the challenges and opportunities are seen today did not exist even 5 years ago. How would a graduate from then cope today and how will he/she deal tomorrow? The dynamism needed to face unique situations and problems come from developing an entrepreneurial mindset in students from an early stage. This mindset can be developed through a pedagogy that focuses on doing, experimenting, failing, learning, unlearning, and taking responsibility for one’s efforts. Courses that spoon-feed will soon disappear into the sands of time, as will the students who learned with such approaches.
Bear in mind that there is no course which will teach you all the skills you will need in the future. A course can provide you with timeless skills, some of which are listed above, and it can provide you with a mindset of flexibility, entrepreneurship, ownership, responsibility, and risk-taking. If you have these, then your skillset is indeed timeless.
At SRM University, AP the curriculum structure and pedagogy is designed to incorporate all of the above aspects. In addition to this, regular feedback from industry and recruiters is obtained to keep education relevant. Moreover, campus life, extracurricular activities, and the work involved in running the students clubs and societies provide students with exposure in all of these must-haves.