A Bird’s eye view of SPJIMR’s latest innovation : The Global Fast Track (GFT) Programme

In March 2014, SPJIMR announced that the entire incoming batch (2014-2016) of PGDM students will go for an international immersion. In this interview, Prof. Malay Krishna, Chairperson of SPJIMR’s International Relations, talks about this unique initiative.


Q. What is the “international immersion” for PGDM all about?

The international immersion enables PGDM participants to travel to a globally top-ranked B-School, in order to gain cutting-edge inputs in their area of specialisation. The batch of 2014-2016 will be the first PGDM batch in which all participants will go for an international immersion, which is now formally called the Global Fast Track (GFT).

We have devised an intense, three week cluster in the fourth semester before the autumn internship so that participants are better prepared with cutting edge knowledge when they go for an internship and can make an impact. Students are delivered advanced inputs not only through advanced coursework, but also through a series of industry visits aligned to classroom learning. Pedagogy is an interesting mix of case studies, simulations and/or role-plays.


Q. Which Universities will PGDM be going to for the Global Fast Track programme?

An exciting mix of top B-schools is in the pipeline. The list of schools may change from year to year. SPJIMR has developed deep relationships with top international B-Schools where participants are taken undertaken advanced courses in the past. These names include (but are not restricted to): Purdue University (Krannert School of Management), Cornell University (Johnson School of Management), Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business) and Darden University. The list is being expanded.


Q. Since the Global Fast Track programme is going to happen during the second year, will students belonging to different specialisations go to different universities?

Yes, different specialisations will go to different B-Schools depending upon the area in which that particular school is noted for.


Q. Is the GFT mandatory and is it a part of the curriculum?

For the PGDM participants, GFT is a required three week long programme carrying three credits similar to autumn internship or DOCC social projects. The cost for GFT programme is included in the overall fee structure. The participant will be required to bear the cost of the cost of travel, visa, insurance, and boarding as per actuals. The Institute will arrange for travel, boarding and lodging. Participants are not required to make any separate arrangements for the same.


Q. How is the GFT different from the exchange programme?

The GFT will be a customised three week long offering of advanced courses of specialisation fine-tuned to the needs of SPJIMR participants. The objective is to provide for such specialised knowledge and skills which will lead to higher level career opportunities. The GFT is compulsory for each of the PGDM participants.

International exchange programmes is limited to a section of the SPJIMR participants. The participant spends a semester or a part thereof (08-15 weeks) in a partnering international school. In general, international exchange programmes are not fine-tuned for SPJIMR. The courses that are on offer at a particular school in the fall semester will be what the exchange students get. The number of such opportunities are limited and the courses are not customised.


Q. What is the rationale of having an international GFT when students already have the option of an international exchange programme?

As mentioned earlier, the international exchange is a different experience compared to the GFT, which is more focused and inclusive (all participants will travel). The international exchange can be considered as an additional benefit that enables a limited number of participants to take elective courses in a partnering B-school along with an international peer group for an extended period of time. Exchange opportunities are generally limited to top performing participants of SPJIMR and this opportunity is provided through a selection process.

SPJIMR has already announced a scholarship of INR 200 000 for each of its top performing participants for the incoming 2014-2016 batch for international exchange. The idea is to provide the top performers (at least 20, going up to a maximum of 30) the opportunity to undertake elective courses in a top B School, which is expected to provide better career opportunities.


Q. How effective would the GFT be, considering that students would be spending only three weeks in the foreign university?

There are three reasons to believe that the duration of the programme will be adequate for our purposes.

First, we believe that the GFT timing post the third semester will allow students to absorb advanced inputs more rapidly, as they would have by then already covered core courses of the first year and specialisation courses of the third semester. Also, students will undertake pre course work before proceeding for the GFT.

Second, the selection of partner schools is such that they are very effective in delivering advanced and rigorous courses in an intense, “workshop” mode coupled with industry exposure.

Finally, based on SPJIMR’s prior experience with batch-wide three week international immersion in the one-year PGPM (Post Graduate Programme in Management) programme, we are now in a position to fine tune our offering so that PGDM participants can derive the maximum benefit.


Q. When does the visa and documentation process start? What happens in case my visa application is rejected?

The visa process will start several months in advance of travel. SPJIMR has worked closely with the U.S. and other consulates in the past, with very high success rates. In the past two years, more than 300 SPJIMR participants have travelled abroad with little or no difficulty.

There are always exceptions, however, and we will inform students if they need to invest special efforts to ensure smooth visa processing. For instance, if passports are expiring or prior employers include military services, we would need to work spend more time and effort to ensure smooth processing.


Q. Will the GFT help with placements?

It is the core belief of SPJIMR management that the Global Fast Track programme will provide specialised, added value to PGDM participants and their employers. SPJIMR’s placement cell shall be working closely with recruiters, both national and international, to ensure that our partners are aware of this programme, and the choice of curriculum is aligned to industry needs.