Forming a CDC to conduct placements at IIMs is a bad idea, and here’s the reason why.

This post is formally an entry for the InsideIIM B-school Debate

Institute: IIFT Delhi
Team name: Lords
Teammate: Snehil Garg

Link to article being refuted:

Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not reflect the personal opinions of the author, they are put forward solely for the purpose of the debate competition.

Student run placement committees have been the norm not just in IIMs, but across b-schools in India for many years now. The system has been working well for these institutes and the placements, irrespective of the industry-lull over the past 3-4 years, generally reflect the industry perception of that institute and the performance of its students in the selection procedures. Thus, saying that a CDC (career development center) can do a better job of it than the currently existing student run placement committees is debatable at best, and just plain absurd at worst.
Let’s analyze the main points made in the original article one-by-one:
1. Primary purpose at a B-School should be to learn and acquire knowledge and not woo companies:
I agree with the statement that the primary purpose of students at a B-school should be to learn and acquire knowledge. However, this should not be their only purpose. Developing practical skills and acquiring real world knowledge is an equally important part of the learning experience. The opportunity that a student-run placement committee gives to the students of a b-school to develop these skills is invaluable.

Pitching and convincing companies to visit and recruit from their campuses; identifying and developing the right contacts; looking for new industry opportunities in terms of new fields, sectors and companies to pitch; managing relations with and leveraging the institute alumni to bring back companies on campus; finding and convincing prominent industry leaders to give guest lectures at their campuses, etc. are just some of the activities that a placement committee is involved in. The learnings gained from all these experiences are immense, and outsourcing this work to a CDC would thus be hugely detrimental to the personal and professional development of students at these IIMs.

2. It may help in ending nepotism
While there is no doubt that the alumni of an institute do play a role in bringing the company to the campus, it is my opinion that the said role is hugely over played here. Companies always look to maximize their profits, and to that end, they need to hire the best talent from the best b-schools they can find. Without quoting reliable sources, it is wrong to claim that nepotism plays such a big role in a company’s decision on which students to hire and which campuses to hire from.

3. Transparency
The primary role of a placement committee is to get companies on campus. Once a company does get on campus for recruiting, it is its own prerogative on which student/s it wants to hire, and the role of the placement committee is generally relegated to facilitating communication between the company and the student body, and ensuring that the hiring process is conducted smoothly and efficiently. It doesn’t play a role in deciding which students the company will hire. While I can’t personally speak about what goes on on-campus in IIMs, being a part of another top rated b-school of the country, I or my batch mates have never faced or heard of such an issue here in my institute. In fact, the effort our fellow batch mates in placement committees put in, before and during the placement season, is deeply acknowledged on campus and generally serves in promoting the batch unity and goodwill for each other.
So, with no reliable sources quoted, to me the claims that placement committees in IIMs risk their own integrity by manipulating selections and shortlists, seem unreasonable and somewhat dubious.

4. Informed choice for jobseekers
It is my opinion that a CDC would not be the best source of information about the profile, work culture, etc. at a prospective company. In fact, student run placement committees can prove highly beneficial in providing the right and honest information to job seekers, because they can give the real low-down on the company to batch mates and friends they’ve lived and studied with for 2 years, as opposed to the CDC which wouldn’t have the personal connect to the process and would probably just want the highest placement numbers to show at the end of the process. What the campuses need right now is not a CDC to tell them about the visiting companies, but regular sessions with their own placement committee to tell them about these companies.

5. Complete information for companies
It is a hard fact of life that everyone has egos. Every company thinks it is the best in the industry, and thus wants to be the first one on campus, and given the best chance at recruiting the cream out of the campus. Turning them away by saying that other companies have already visited the campus would result in all students getting sub-optimal placements, and would be especially unfair to the unplaced students. This is not something these IIMs, especially the newer ones, can afford to do, in a job market that’s barely recovering after the years-long depression that had gripped the industry. After putting in years of hard work, and spending in excess of a million rupees, students get into these institutes, expecting to get the best possible jobs after the graduation and pay-off their loans. It is the job of the placement committee to ensure that these students aren’t robbed of this opportunity.
Keeping this in mind, if CDC does get implemented, it would either continue to keep following the same trajectory as the placement committees are following now, or take the high road and turn away companies. The former option is unlikely to happen, because as the author originally mentioned, they would have a reputation to protect. The latter option would result in companies going to other comparable campuses like FMS, XLRI, etc. who would then proceed do the exact same thing that the IIMs’ CDC refused, resulting in losses to both the IIMs and the companies.

Apart from these points, there are some reasons as to why the institutes should continue with the current arrangement:
1. As previously mentioned, participating in the placement committees of a b-school is immensely beneficial to a student in terms of his professional and personal development and learning. As part of a placement committee, a student gets networking opportunities, opportunities to hone his bargaining and convincing skills, etc.
2. Placement committees are formed by students. When pitching to companies, they can give a real feel and vibe of the campus, relate incidents, talk about their batch strengths and general life on campus, etc. which a dispassionate CDC just can’t. While this wouldn’t affect the older well established campuses which don’t have any dearth of companies much, it would be highly detrimental to the new IIMs.
As if all this was not enough, the implementation of a CDC itself would be a hugely daunting task, as it would be unfair to the older, and more influential IIMs. After all, why would they want to be clubbed with 3 year old IIMs and risk the dilution in their own brand values that it would bring? If at all, they might consider forming their own placement boards, but that is a separate issue.
All these reasons lead me to conclude that establishing a CDC to conduct placements at IIMs is not the best idea, and that IIMs should continue with the current arrangement.

-Harshit Garg