Published On: Mon, May 18th, 2015

An ‘Industrious’ MBA




School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL), Gurgaon, New Delhi, works on a model of industry consortium. Industry players have come together to set up this school, which is not affiliated to any educational body. Edex in a chat with Anil Sachdev, Founder, SOIL, to understand more.


How does an industry consortium enabled school work?

The industry consortium’s involvement is what makes us who we are. They have been part of our visioning and have helped us through each stage of growth in the past seven years. When we began as a one-year MBA programme in the Indian context, the recognition was limited among parents and students. However, thanks to years of our consulting work prior to the business school, leading companies lent their name to this institution of excellence. They joined hands with us to literally ‘co-create’ a business school that addresses the needs of corporate India. While the MoU was signed by the MDs or HR Heads, the real partnership extended all the way to middle management as well. Even before we began the school, we had several rounds of discussion with this group of senior leaders to formulate our curriculum and admission process. They lent their wholehearted support to our interview process in selecting every batch of SOIL students and mentored them throughout the year as well to ensure their leadership learning is of the highest quality. We believe that their faith in us and their experience has enriched our very existence.


What experience does the association with industry leaders bring to students?

Experienced senior leaders from each of these organisations are appointed at various points in the student lifecycle to be part of various processes. For example, before a student joins, he is interviewed by a senior leader from one of the consortium companies: this interaction has often been highlighted as a turning point for many applicants. Once the student joins our programme, he is assigned an industry mentor — who meets him at least once a month, if not more, to discuss learning goals and ways to achieve them. We have seen this relationship progress even beyond the campus days in several instances. All students get to meet senior leaders regularly during industry interaction talks/projects and finally may see himself joining one of these companies on completion of the programme. SOIL believes that having a consortium of organisations from across industries including FMCG, IT, Banking and Manufacturing has made our curriculum more balanced, our learning interventions more realistic and our faculty more inspiring. The support of these 32 organisations is critical to student learning and because of their involvement, students are happy with their programme design and experiences.


How is a consortium different from a school board?

The school board looks at our overall performance — the executive programmes, staffing, financial management and such. The industry consortium on the other hand is solely focused on student development and learning. Some of our board members are investors in the school, whereas the industry consortium has no financial engagement either.


There is no dearth of Business Schools in the country.

Considering the competition involved, what does SOIL bring to the table?

SOIL was born out of the belief that there is a strong need for inspired leaders. Inspired leaders are those who live a life driven by core human principles and ensure greater good while carrying out their responsibilities. In today’s fast paced interconnected work spaces, it is even more important to ensure that our students have a strong grounding in their value system. SOIL faculty play a crucial role in the student development process — they invest a lot of time beyond the classroom hours to maximise the learning for each student in the batch. This kind of one-on-one focus is rare — but is much needed to truly inspire a young person.


How is the Indian student’s mindset about education changing?

Students today are looking for schools that can give them global exposure and experiential learning. They are also looking for job-oriented learning experiences. They are keen to upgrade their skills so that they can lead teams and take up positions of higher responsibility. Many of them are considering business schools as the extra edge that they need for rising in their careers. The good part is that they are willing to work hard and take on the challenges that a one-year programme holds. They see faculty as partners and are ready to have discussions inside and outside the classroom. They evaluate the programme offerings from a real world perspective rather than academic alone.