"In many ways ISB is arguably the most interesting business school in the world"
Poets and Quants in a one-on-one with Dean Rajendra Srivastava
It’s a business school with extensive links in both East and West, and one of the youngest elite schools in the world. In many ways, the Indian School of Business is arguably the most interesting business school in the world.
Founded in 2001 with help from Northwestern Kellogg, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, London Business School, and MIT Sloan, ISB offers the equivalent of an MBA, a part-time MBA, and an executive MBA — though for regulatory reasons their programs have different names: the PGP (post-graduate program in management), the PGP for working professionals, and the PGP Max. ISB has other courses in family business and various advanced and exec ed options. The flagship PGP admits around 900 students a year.
ISB has two campuses, a 600-acre site in the south of the Subcontinent at Hyderabad and a 275-acre one in the north in Mohali. Many students live on campus, a practice that the school encourages for the purposes of building team spirit. They are certainly doing something right: This year ISB reached 28th in the Financial Times global MBA rankings.
Other numbers are also impressive. The average ISB alumnus sees a salary increase of 164%, putting ISB fifth in the world on that metric, behind four Chinese schools. ISB also ranked 26th on the FT’s list of the best MBAs for women, of which its student population comprises between 31% and 35%, a level in line with most European business schools. ISB has a phenomenal 97% rate of employment three months after graduation, and its students have the startup bug, too, having launched nearly 500 companies. However, not all is perfect in Hyderabad: in a problem keenly felt by B-schools across the Subcontinent, just 3% of ISB students are international.
That’s a problem the school is actively confronting, says Dean Rajendra Srivastava, who joined ISB as dean and professor of marketing strategy and innovation in 2015. Before that he spent 25 years at the University of Texas-Austin, five years at Emory University in Atlanta, and seven years as provost and deputy president of academic affairs at Singapore Management University. He has taught at LBS and Wharton, among other leading B-schools.
Poets&Quants caught up with Srivastava to get the lowdown on ISB. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.