Rajul Garg, Director, Sunstone Business School

“The needs of working professionals in IT/ITES industry are very unique. They are strong usually on certain things like cross-border awareness, using technology and process orientation.”

May 17, 2013 11:25 IST | India Infoline News Service

Rajul Garg, Director, Sunstone Business School is a Computer Science Graduate from IIT Delhi. Rajul is directly responsible for our corporate tie-ups. He also brings in his passion and experience in entrepreneurship, business building and venture funding to the curriculum of Sunstone. Rajul is also the visionary behind the launch of free open online courses by Sunstone. Rajul was a co-founder of GlobalLogic, a global leader in R&D outsourcingwith offices in 8 countries and over 6,000 employees and >Rs 1,000 Cr revenue. He built the operation ground up in India and later helped GlobalLogic expand exponentially through global acquisitions. Earlier, he was also a founder of Pine Labs, a leader in point of sales transactions in India. Rajul has consulted with leading venture capital firms like Sequoia and Battery Capital for their portfolio companies in India. Rajul also consulted with Aavishkaar, a micro equity fund, where he focused on exploring education ideas for mass market.

Sunstone Business School launched its first batch in July 2011 in Delhi region with 25 students. Today, it operates in Delhi and Pune region and has launched its third batch. Sunstone’s one year Post Graduate Program in Management has gained recognition as a premier MBA program accepted by the industry. The pedagogy at Sunstone relies on three important pillars: redefining faculty as a consultant and coach rather than a lecturer, use of workplace for instantly experimenting with the learning, and use of technology for repository and collaboration.

Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Dinesh Singh says, “The needs of working professionals in IT/ITES industry are very unique. They are strong usually on certain things like cross-border awareness, using technology and process orientation.”

What are the opportunities for a Management School for working professionals in the IT/ITES industry?  What would be the major challenges?

The needs of working professionals in IT/ITES industry are very unique. They are strong usually on certain things like cross-border awareness, using technology and process orientation. However, they can benefit from broader business awareness, critical thinking and problem solving skills. These are the focus areas of our school. The major challenge and the opportunity is to be able to use a pedagogy that delivers the curriculum in a light weight yet rigorous fashion.

Do you offer placements? What is the salary range one can expect in India and abroad after successfully completing your course?

We offer career support to those students seeking opportunities outside their companies. Our placement process resembles more of lateral hiring than campus since every student is unique in terms of his or her experience and aspirations. The most important thing usually for students is to be able to get business centric roles and we have seen students getting 50% increase in their salaries when they change roles in India.

Give us brief idea about the course structure and fees.

We charge Rs. 2.6 lakhs as fees. It’s a 1-year program that you do along with work. The course is delivered using our unique problem-driven pedagogy with heavy use of technology for collaboration. We have 3 terms – Operations, Growth and Profit resembling the key needs of the industry and all the courses are in that context. The course is offered through a blend of online program and contact days.

You mentioned about a Growing need for education for learning rather than mere certification. Yet, what is the kind of certification you offer?

We offer an autonomous PGP certificate in management. We chose to remain autonomous since it gives us a lot of flexibility around curriculum and delivery, which is core for us. We focus a lot on industry from a brand awareness perspective.

What are the other aspects which are vital for a successful career?

We focus a lot through the curriculum on very basic professionals skills like problem solving, communications etc. The things that we see in the industry most are that industry is looking for are high energy, positive people who can get things done.

What is the infrastructure you have in place for the same? To what extent does it contribute to the costs of running operations?

We have staff offices in Noida, Gurgaon, Pune and Bangalore. We do not have a campus. We conduct our contact program in hotels rented for the day.

What would be the growth drivers for Sunstone BSchool?

The key growth drivers for are firstly, the growing cost of high quality MBA and two, the growing need for business skills in all professionals.

What are your capex plans? How would you fund the same?

Our main capex investments are in curriculum and technology. We have funded that through equity from Omnia Education Fund, part of Spice group.

Brief us on your financials.

We are enrolling 200 students this year at Rs. 2.6 L /student. This is our revenue. Our costs comprise of investments in curriculum, technology, faculty, student experience etc. We are at this point investing into the school.

What kind of partnerships are you seeking to expand your student base?

We are constantly seeking partnerships to enhance student learning. For example, we have partnerships with Harvard Business Review and Syalor around state-of-the-art content. We are seeking partnerships with similar top tier content agencies as well as industry.

Comment on your geographical spread? What are your plans for pan-India expansion?

We now have students from Delhi NCR, Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore. We will be expanding to Chennai and Hyderabad within this year.

Comment on the ownership pattern of Sunstone Bschool.

The school is privately held between Omnia Education Fund and the promoters of the school.

What is the experiential learning in management education all about?

If you think of say, CA or CFA, the learning is assessed using tests since its more quantitative. Management learning is all in the process itself, i.e. experiencing management decision making and solving problems. That is the focus of the school.

The roles of faculty in education has been changing. What are your views on the same?.

Certainly for us, faculty takes the role of a coach than a lecturer. In the experiential learning realm, students take on difficult problems and faculty role is towards problem creation and guiding students in the right direction.

The general feeling is the B-School students are not job-ready. Are you seeing this change?

Not fast enough. The traditional curriculum is not keeping pace with the industry change fast enough at a mass level. Our program, being an autonomous program and the fact that we are heavily industry oriented is closer to job readiness than most.

Is there relevant management education for IT/ITES professionals in India today?

Well, not enough. Technology industry has some unique attributes to it in terms of pace of change, global scenario and innovation needs. Our program uniquely caters to these needs. I don’t see other programs catering to these in ways specific to technology sector.

Changing career path for Tech professionals is something which is hardly being addressed. Is your institute doing anything on the same?

Lot of out students are able to divert their career into business centric roles. They migrate to entrepreneurship, general management, consulting, product management etc. both within their companies and outside. We have a career cell which helps students with these transitions.

Entrepreneurship is a bug which most youngsters would like to get bitten by. Earlier, it was funding which was an issue. Now entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to scale their idea and lack mentoring. How do you see this ecosystem develop in India? What are your suggestions for improving the same?

Well, the good thing is that there is a lot of entrepreneurial buzz. And as you said, funding is easier than before, even though it needs to still develop more and more. There are some success entrepreneurs out there which are ever-willing to mentor companies. I was recently at a NASSCOM event where they are trying to come up with mentoring forums.

I think the eco-system is developing. My suggestion is for entrepreneurs to develop themselves more and go out more. Entrepreneurs are still too product focused vs. market focused. Entrepreneurs needs to invest in themselves to seek out mentoring and help wherever they can.

To what extent can online education fill the quality gap in education? Do you think free quality education can be provided to the needy? How?

Online education offers 2 main things – access to different parts and consistency in quality. The key is pedagogy; if your pedagogy is to deliver high quality, then technology will deliver that consistently. If your pedagogy delivers poor quality, online will deliver that too!

I do think lot can be done with free online curses. We started free open courses about a year back and we have thousands of registrant every month. We only expect it to grow.

Anything else you would like to add? 

I think there is a twin problem. On one hand there is a growing need of business skills. A specialist such as an engineer, analyst or a doctor even can do their job better if they understand the bigger picture since they are working in a commercial framework. However, the cost of high quality MBA is very high. So this need gap keeps on increasing.

Our attempt is to bridge this gap with a high quality affordable program. I feel we have had a tremendous last couple of years and have taken giant strides.

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