Thoughts on the Indian School of Business [October 2007]

Note: This post was originally set to be published in October 2007.

This past October I had the pleasure of attending a course on Venture Capital at the Indian School of Business (ISB). The six day course served as much as a refresher in finance for me as an opportunity to expand my understanding of the current business environment in India – of course, the networking opportunity was also exceptional.

A World Class Facility

HyderabadI’ve been on several college campuses in India, but none quite compares to the ‘island’ that is ISB. Built about seven years ago, and with as little government intervention as is possible in India, the 260 acre campus is walled off from the rest of Greater Hyderabad. Inside these walls is a fully contained academic campus, including student, faculty, and staff residences. The place has a resort like quality, but it is clearly a temple to modern management as well. Those of us who were students of executive education classes were provided with excellent accommodations at the hotel located inside the gates of the campus. We also had superb dining at the executive cafe. The classrooms, at least those for executive education, are on par with the best amphitheater style classrooms that I’ve seen at the leading American institutions. We had very long days, nights during the class [which was surprisingly rigorous] and we always felt attended to. Even the smallest of requests were fulfilled quickly. For that, the staff at ISB should be commended. [Above picture is from the entrance of the library].

A World Class EducationHyderabad

The VC course was taught by to professors from the London School of Business [LSB], John Mullins and Antony Ross. Both were exceptional, and employed the classic case study method that is the hallmark of many western business schools. ISB was founded on the premise of becoming a globally recognized leader in management education and research. This is reflected in the schools affiliations with LSB, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School. [UPDATE: It looks like that global focus is paying dividends, as ISB has just received a Top 20 ranking by the Financial Times :link to Rashmi Bansal’s story]. While I didn’t get a chance to sit in on the regular courses at ISB, I did have an opportunity to meet with a professor friend who left the United States to join the faculty at ISB. He reiterated the deep focus on establishing the standard bearer for management education in India.

A great experience

The last thing that most people think of when planning a vacation is adding long nights and long days of financial case study into the mix. After spending time at ISB back in October, having the chance to meet some fascinating people, and getting polished on the fundamentals of structured finance, I’m convinced it was the best part of my month in India!

Off to India…

It’s been nearly two years since I last visited India [an unusually long gap for me], and seven years since I last spent an entire month there. That is what I plan to do this time, spend the entire month of October in India. My calendar is already filling up with more meetings and travel than a typical work month in the US. Besides for the obligatory visits with relatives, I’ll be attending a course on Venture Capital at the Indian School of Business. Hyderabad based ISB has emerged as India’s world class business school, on par with the top management institutes in the United States and Europe. I know most people would never think of taking a class at a business school while on vacation, but I’m really looking forward to this. It should be fun.

I’ll also be visiting as many startups and early stage companies as possible during this trip. A lot of people would argue that India is in the middle of an economic bubble on the magnitude of the American internet bubble of a decade ago. While that may be true on a certain level, there is a fundamental change underway, led by the rise of the entrepreneurial sprit amongst India’s youngest citizens. These are the people who see the possibilities of the future, and aren’t beholden by the caustic Nehruvian Socialism that plagued India for half a century [Could anyone have imagined taking a course on Venture Capital in India a decade ago?!]. India is changing at an elemental level, and the best way to see that is to observe the real elements of change first hand.

We are also exploring the possibility of moving to India. It has been a long term plan for us, and the timing seems right to seriously consider a move. This will certainly add an additional wrinkle to the trip.

I’ll be blogging extensively throughout the trip, and if I get gallery module to work correctly on WordPress, uploading tons of pictures of the adventure.

…stay tuned…