The Story of IFIM Business School
20 Glorious Years of Transformation
Centre for Developmental Education (CDE) was a society established in 1983 by philanthropists who endeavoured to bring a positive change in the society through education. Prof N S Ramaswamy, one of the doyens of management education and the founding Director of IIM Bangalore, initiated the journey offering courses in management affiliated to the Bangalore University. This period was well before the era of liberalization, the and Dalal Street (the street which houses one of the world’s oldest stock exchanges viz Bombay Stock Exchange) itself was only known to the speculators and businessmen who dabbled in trading to manage their wealth or usurp well established companies through hostile acquisition bids.
Soon after, in 1986, an officer of the Indian Revenue Service, Mr Vijaysingh Balchandji Padode, quit the service and ventured on his own to set up a journal that made the capital market accessible to the common man. He was an ardent believer that the development of our economy and removal of poverty could be achieved only by permitting free market forces to prevail, and provide equal opportunities to access and leverage private capital raised through the stock exchange system. In parallel, Mr Dhirubhai Ambani had begun developing Reliance as an empire by raising capital from the Dalal Street and demonstrating to the entire nation that all citizens of this country have an equal opportunity to aspire to be wealthy and can make it,if they learn fast, dream big and work hard. A few years later, in 1993, the government dismantled the license regime and opened the economy under the leadership of our then Prime Minister Mr PV Narshimha Rao and the then finance Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
The country embraced free-market capitalism, the Dalal Street started to transform from “Dhotiwallahs” (a term used to denote the stock broker in India based on their traditional attire) to “Suit wallahs” (the novo stockbrokers, English speaking and attired in western clothing). The demand for trained manpower, which could manage scale, innovate, collaborate and acquire business, grew exponentially.
During this time, the journal promoted by Mr V B Padode—The Dalal Street Investment Journal—was taking shape of India’s leading business and investment magazine. As a keen observes and a visionary thinker, Mr. V B Padode intuitively recognisedthe challenge that India faced: the lack of a robust education infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the industry. Proactively, he began expressing his interest in supporting educational institutions, which would help fill in this rising demand for managers.
In the year 1994, Mr V B Padodeintroduced—by his good friend Mr Y S hedge, who was then the Managing Director of Canbank’s Housing venture—to the promoters of CDE. Mr. Padode immediately sensed the potential of CDE in bringing about positive change, and invested in establishing theInstitute of Finance and International Management(IFIM), an autonomous institution approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
Mr Padode identified Dr Anil Rawat as the first Director to establish this institution in a rented premise at Banashankari in Bangalore. The institution quietly gained momentum by hiring some great faculty including a Dean Prof Vijaysarathy who voluntarily retired from IIM Bangalore. This duo of Dr Rawat and Prof Vijaysarathy laid a very strong foundation of academic rigor and the spirit of uncompromising focus on quality of faculty and academic delivery. Since the pedigree of the founders was associated with the capital markets, it was natural that the curriculum of this institution aligned itself with the needs of the financial services industry and this institute gained a reputation that remains till date in this industry.
The strong foundation spun around the core of “Quality,” led the institution to expand into other areas of management and soon IFIM was offering HR, Marketing, Finance, International Business, Operations and Information Technology programmes, transforming this institution from being finance focused institution to a full-fledged business school.
Right from the get-go, this institution believed and practiced that students must be given opportunities to learn and develop knowledge and skills in as many areas of management as possible. Inspite of being a small school, it offered the largest spread of electives; one among the first to introduce the concept of dual specialization in the late nineties.
As both hard and fast infrastructure was gaining foot, the regulator, AICTE, insisted that institutions in India own their campus.In 1999, the management approached the KIADB for allocating land in Electronic City,a budding technology corridor. The, then Commissioner of KIADB Mr Shankarlinge Gowda, was impressed with IFIM’s business case that he amended the provisions to accommodate educational institutions in Electronic City. He also expedited the allocation of land of 1.50 acres to the institute in the year 2000.
The first phase of the campus construction began in 2001 and the institute moved from its rented premises in the year 2003 to its present location and permanent campus. Starting from 2003 the campus infrastructure at IFIM Business School has been growing year on year. Starting with a small building of 17000 square feet, the campus has now grown to include a 2.2 acre of residential campus with 270 single seater,wifi enabled hostel with a well equipped gym, mess facilities and a nice playground. Besides the addition of the residential campus the institutional campus of 1.5 acres has seen its built up area grow to more that 110,000 square feet. The governance mechanics at IFIM Business School had to be transformed by introducing a robust quality management system (QMS) to handle the growing number of students without impacting the quality and rigor adversely. This QMS was certified as ISO 9000 compliant by BVQi in the year 2011 and continues to maintain this status.
IFIM Business School got its first international accreditation (SAQs) from AMDISA. IFIM Business School has been the member of AACSB since 2012 and its application for eligibility for AACSB accreditation was accepted in the year 2013. The process of AACSB accreditation is being pursued with lot of zeal and enthusiasm by the IFIM family.
The new campus was, and continues to be, surrounded by the likes of Infosys and Wipro who were busy making a mark in the global information technology arena. The new economic environment surrounding the new campus had its influence in transforming the Institute of Finance and International Management into IFIM Business School. By this time Dr Anil Rawat had moved on to pursue his ambition of building his own institution and Prof Vijaysarathy had become the Director.
The growth of IFIM Business School continued as it was now being recognized as one of the top fifty business schools of the country. The school’s diploma program was granted equivalence to degree program by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) in 2002, and was awarded its accreditation by the National Board of Accreditation in the year 2007.
The IFIM Business School was keen on supporting the developing local ecosystem of information technology companies, which was making global impact by supporting foreign multinationals. In response, IFIM became one of the few schools to offer an AICTE approved full time program in International Business in 2007. The school was the first to establish a corporate sponsored financial laboratory with a live ticker tape from the leading stock exchanges of the country. It was also the first to offer a program on Business Analytics in collaboration with IBM to working executives. This program is one-of-its-kind as it permits the students to attend classes virtually and participate in all class activity virtually. Another first by IFIM Business School is the introduction of Work Integrated Learning Programs (WILP), which allow the student to gain two year work experience whilst studying a curriculum that is equivalent to a full time program.
IFIM Business School by this time had also grown to be a renowned executive development centre. Its faculty regularly developed and delivered management and executive development programs for the working professionals. It also launched a certificate 1-year weekend program for working professionals.The Ministry of Finance, Bhutan sent officers to the executive development centre of the business school to be trained for three years in a row.
The faculty of IFIM Business School always believed that teaching without research is like a vehicle without tires. Research was the process of keeping the curriculum and knowledge up to date. Thus, IFIM Business School became one of the first few private business schools to create a position of a Director dedicated for Research and Conferences. Prof M R Gopalan who had just retired from IIM Bangalore took on this role and developed IFIM Business School’s research journal “Focus” in the year 2005. He also went on to institute “Convergence” an annual academic conference to be held in our campus for providing opportunity to the international academia to discuss their research propositions not only with each other but also with the corporate world. The first such conference was held in the year 2007 and has now become a sought after event in the country. The last conference had participation from more than 15 countries and witnessed more than 150 paper presentations. Under the leadership of Prof Gopalan our faculties produced many respected research publications, case studies and authored many books that are currently being used in curriculum offered by other reputed institutions in the country.
The quest for IFIM Business School to internationalize led it to collaborate with many reputed universities in the world. IFIM Business School was able to introduce the MBA program offered by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in the year 2006. This was one of the first courses offered in the country wherein the faculty of AUT and IFIM Business School did the delivery jointly. The Minister of Education from New Zealand launched this program in India and this gained a lot of popularity and publicity. However, it could not last due to the stringent regulations laid out by the AICTE for delivering collaborative programs. These regulations did not deter the enthusiasm of the faculty of IFIM Business School and they continued to find ways and means of collaborating with institutions to provide international exposure to its faculty and students through student and faculty exchange programs.
IFIM Business School has been fortunate to attract faculties from leading business schools to address students and even take full courses, which are part of the program. So also its faculty has had the privilege to teach full courses in universities in Europe, New Zealand and USA. IFIM Business School students are privileged to share their classroom and residential space with exchange students who are on campus from countries such as Germany, France and Italy. Our students regularly visit campuses of our collaborating institutions to learn courses being offered by them and also to intern in a foreign environment. Such exchange programs have been happening regularly starting from 2006 and are continuing to become an integral part of the academic delivery at IFIM Business School.
Academically, IFIM Business School has always been at the forefront for innovating new courses and delivery methods. It is the first business school in the country to introduce a 4.5 months internship program (Industry Internship Program) as an integral part of its curriculum with academic credits assigned to it.This program has been appreciated and awarded by many leading management forums and is extremely well appreciated by the corporate world. The innovative Personality Enhancement Program (PEP) creates confident, positive managers who have the ability to handle complex business situations.
The transforming world, transforming India and the ability of IFIM Business School to transform aspiring young minds to be responsible business leaders of tomorrow must go on and will go on. The last 20 years of this transformational journey has just created a solid foundation for this institution to grow and emerge as a leading University in the area of management in the future.
– Sanjay Padode
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