TAMAL DATTA CHAUDHURI
PROFESSOR, CALCUTTA BUSINESS SCHOOL
Principal & Professor, Finance and Economics
According to Peter Drucker, Management as an area of study is a liberal art. It is liberal because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom and leadership and it is an art as it involves practice and application. A management student is supposed to be able to read, write, express and be modest. Any person with basic education can read and write. But what I mean by ability to read is to understand the meaning of the subject being read and critically analyze the underlying theme. By ability to write I mean to put down in simple words the essence of what is to be conveyed. By express I mean the power to verbally explain in simple and cogent terms any idea, however complicated. By modesty I mean the power to listen patiently to anyone and then provide any input, whether in support or in opposition, in as simple terms as possible. There is no point in taking a position that “I am always right!” Management students should develop the ability to keep their ears and eyes open to new concepts, alternative viewpoints, different ideas, contrasting styles etc. They should be continuously studying various subjects as in earlier times when liberal arts used to be studied. Management students need to grasp many things, need to develop a holistic approach, need to develop a macro view, push boundaries of thought, recognize talent and skill and put them to optimal use.
I am told that companies recruit management graduates because of three things. First management graduates are exposed to a wide variety of subjects like marketing, HR, finance, business ethics, operations, leadership, quality management, information technology etc. This is the “liberal” part of management training. They need to study many things to be intellectually mature. Second, management graduates are exposed to case study based teaching. They are exposed to various real life situations and are expected to develop insight and analytical power. Third, management graduates are good at making presentations. This is what I meant by the ability to express and also be modest and a good listener.
The additional thing that I feel management students should develop is the interest and inclination to read Annual Reports of companies, and not only the balance sheet. I recently read three books namely “In Search of Excellence” by Thomas J Peters and Robert H Waterman Jr., “Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W Chan Ki and Rene’e Mauborgne. The basic methodology of the three books has been to first read about various companies from their annual reports. This is the starting point. Company interviews came later. Any management graduate has to find out from the annual report of a company its “Mission” “Vision” statement, its core values, its various strategies, the change in focus over time, areas of emphasis etc. The purpose of a management graduate is not to focus solely on the financials of a company.