Fans of Charles Handy will recall that his "Gods of Management" are Apollo, Athena, Dionysius and Zeus. To most management aspirants, however, Kellog, Wharton and the LBS would fit the tag even better. So when the three come together with backing from a veritable pantheon of Indian Business, backed by a media-savvy political clout, you don't get a cigar for guessing that the outcome will be a thoroughbred.
Handy also talks of the "1/2 x 2 x 3 = P" productivity formula. The fact that ISB has adopted what seems to be an adaptation of this half the time, twice the cost, thrice the pressure could yet prove to be the colt's weak fetlock.
Started a few years ago on a rolling campus generously provided by a Government eager to propel Andhra to the front rank of visibility, ISB pioneered 1-year MBA programs in India. Regular let-me-crack-the-CAT types are discouraged in theory, and largely in practice too. Admission to the Post Graduate Programme gives weightage to work experience, among other criteria (which include things like GRE/GMAT/CAT scores, and a Bachelor's Degree in any discipline).
The f-word dominates. The pace is frenetic. The pressure is ferocious. The competition is fierce. The facilities are first-class. The financial requirements are formidable.
While the student body does boast of a diversity that's rare in other leading MBA programs in India, it tends to have more than its fair share of IIT-graduates. Veterans of the relative-grading system, these blokes have a definite edge over their classmates. But on the brighter side, the grades you gather are not the main reason you come here. Several students have over a decade of work experience, and some even already possess MBA degrees. If the grading system prevents you from focusing on making the most of a remarkable learning experience, you have only yourself to blame.
The exposure you get case-studies, course-contents, colleagues are all intensely leading-edge. And you build a network that you will want to harvest in the coming decades. Reflecting the current pendulum swing, students also tend to be drawn mainly from the IT industry, though there are also several scions of family-businesses from all walks of industry.
All this comes, obviously, at a cost. The degree is likely to cost you about Rs. 15 lakhs. And that's not counting the opportunity cost one year of missed wages.
The Institute, though, does its best to reduce physical costs. Students are cosseted. Remarkably well laid out accommodation is provided to the student body, several of whom are parents. An excellent cafteria pampers your taste buds. All courses are captured on camera, so you can play them back later if you wish. And if you can find the time. Recreation and sports is right up there too. If, you finally begin to recognize, you can find the time.
Strangely enough, the Post Graduate degree is not "recognized" by the AICTE. It seems to be recognized well enough by recruiters, though, who waste no time in snapping up graduates. Unlike regular 2-year MBA programs (read the IIMs, in the main) whose allure is the additional zeroes that the degree tags onto your paycheck, the attraction of the ISB degree is the lateral shift you become eligible for. Work experience, coupled with a sound theoretical framework, is an irresistible combination.
While it draws the most eyeballs, the PGP is not the only course offered by the ISB. A post-doctoral program is offered, though its too early to evaluate the success. Regular short-term, high-cost programs for working individuals / corporates are also offered, though these have won mixed reviews.
Graduates of the PG Program have few reservations about the course. It helps their confidence immensely, allowing them to trade arguments with felicity even if the other side consists of the Harvard Business School. Recruitment by international firms has still not picked up, but doubtless will, as alumni work their way up the ranks and the network spreads.
This is a leading school, make no mistake about that. You will certainly be exposed to absolutely contemporary, if not future-proof, techniques. The degree is valued by the market, and if you can afford the money, you could do worse.
Yes, Toto, you're not in Kansas anymore.