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Sign up for the oldest executive plan

Nivedita Mookerji

This is an executive programme with a difference. Firstly, it's an education programme, and not a training programme. Secondly, it's one of the longest running programmes in the world, and certainly the longest in India. The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, is inviting applications for its 23rd Management Education Programme (MEP). An annual affair, the programme will be on from November 22, 1998, till April 3, 1999. The last date for receiving nominations is October 22, 1998.

MEP coordinator Prof. Abraham Koshy explains the nuances of this programme. He says: ``IIMA's MEP was started in 1976 with the purpose of imparting management education for middle level executives in organisations who are in the process of `graduating' from specialised functional executives to higher level general management functions.''

As MEP is viewed as a mid-career programme for those who have not had formal management education, it is an important initiative by the institute to influence the professional managementthinking and practice of organisations, says Koshy.

Meant for executives with at least five years of experience, who show a high potential to grow faster in organisations, the thrust of MEP is on general management. Therefore, this programme aims to prepare participants to shoulder multifunctional general management responsibilities.

And the approach? Replies Koshy: ``The approach of the programme is to focus on problem identification and problem solving, involving decision on situations ranging from simple to complex. We view all the inputs such as accounting, long-term and short-term financing decisions, marketing, manufacturing, etc, as essential inputs to address the decision situations in an integrated manner. This approach stems from the philosophy that the decision problems faced by organisations need integrated solutions.''

Elaborating on the thrust of the programme, Koshy points out that unlike most executive programmes, this in an `education' programme as opposed to a `training' programme.``The programme aims to sharpen analytical and decision making skills with a strong emphasis on the knowledge component necessary for this purpose. Therefore, we provide great emphasis on basic understanding of the concepts and theories necessary to solve organisational problems.''

Another significant aspect of MEP, according to Koshy, is that it uses case methodology to achieve the programme objective. ``Therefore, with a focus on decision problems, we explore relevant concepts and frameworks that may be useful in addressing decision issues with the result that these are internalised better,'' he adds.

MEP has been running non-stop for the past 22 years, unlike most other executive programmes. States Koshy: ``One of the longest duration executive programmes in the world and certainly the longest executive programme in India, the programme was conceived in 1976.'' At that time, the faculty committee consisted of Prof. C K Prahlad (convenor), Prof. V L Mote, Prof. S K Bhattacharya and Prof. Minakshi Malya.Prahlad was the first coordinator (at that time called chairman) of the programme followed by Mote and then the late Prof. Labdhi Bhandari.

What changes have the programme undergone over the years? Replies Koshy: ``The basic thrust and focus of the programme -- a general management focus and an integrated problem solving approach -- has remained constant. However, as time progressed, we delete some modules and add new modules to reflect the current thinking in management, constantly upgrade the content, and contemporarise the materials. Therefore, the approach is change with continuity.'' The teaching methods are also varied. The emphasis is on developing the capability to integrate and weave diverse views into a plan of action. The class discussions, therefore, attempt to establish interconnections between seemingly unrelated areas -- concepts and their applicability to resolving concrete problems, and analyses and action. The discussions also sharpen the skills to present persuasively one's own views,listen to and appreciate viewpoints expressed by others, and work towards the best possible solution to a given problem in a given situation.

Many group assignments form part of the programme where participants will work in small groups on specific problems and present their analyses and recommendations to the class. These assignments enhance the aptitude for group work -- a quality so essential in positions of responsibility.

But has the programme actually been useful to participants? ``The answer is an emphatic yes,'' stresses Koshy. ``From the feedback we collect and the reflections of MEP alumni, we know that the programme has helped immensely people in their career growth and organisations in professionalising management,'' he adds.

Koshy reveals that in some organisations, completing MEP is mandatory for getting a promotion to the next level. Also, this programme has helped several individuals in making the transition from functional specialists to general managers.

``Many medium sizedcompanies started professionalising their organisations after some of their key people attended this programme,'' Koshy says. For many large companies -- whether in the private sector, public sector or with MNCs -- MEP is one of the routes to strengthen the professional competence of their managerial personnel. Koshy sums up: ``MEP addresses a felt need of organisations to improve their managerial competence.''

And the programme is not limited to Indian companies alone. Says Koshy: ``We have had participants from countries such as Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya and Nepal.'' Companies do look at the programme as an essential investment, particularly as the fee is quite steep at Rs 1,80,000 for Indians (Rs 1,70,000 for IIMA Society members), and $10,000 for participants from other countries.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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