Director: Professor Sriram
Flagship programme: PGPM (one-year)
Student Intake: 280
Fees: Rs. 946,000,
Board & Lodging Expenses: Rs. 180,000
Admissions Test cut-offs: GMAT 690; CAT 96.8 percentile; GREAT 2010 (to be declared)
Full-time faculty: 11
Faculty with industry experience (over 10 years): 4
Average Salary: Rs. 8.35 lakhs
Conferences: National HR conclave, International Entrepreneurship Conference
Student Activity: L’ Attitude 13°
Other programmes: PGXPM: 2-Year, part-time
“IT'S a miniature ISB.” Though said in jest by one of the faculty, this is an apt description of Great Lakes. Modelled on the same lines and founded by Dean Dr. Bala V Balachandran (who also co-created the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad), the comparison ends there. ISB is bigger, better and costlier by 200 percent. What it has in common is an enviable international faculty network, a star-studded board and a pedagogy led by Dr. Bala.
As of now, the novelty of being taught by star international faculty team holds, though the compressed module they offer is a minor issue. “It does take a lot of effort to imbibe the course content at such short notice,” murmurs a student. Another student asks: “Where else would you get to learn conjoint analysis from its founder, Cheenu Srinivasan?”
The challenge, of course, would be to grow beyond Dr. Bala’s circle. He too wholeheartedly agrees to the ‘moving beyond’ bit. “The institute is led by a fine team, which is passionate,” he says. But with only about 11 core faculty, they need to work hard to add more.
The model is a winner. Great Lakes picks up students with substantial experience (approximately 3.5 years), puts them through a rigourous course work spread over three terms, adds a dash of international experience and places them in good jobs. Students save a year, corporates get a job-ready executive and everybody goes to the bank, happy.
But it does come with a heavy price. “The work load is unimaginable to begin with, it just becomes impossible as we go along,” cribs a student. With six terms, an international visit, two projects, one research paper and conferences and events, life can get a bit hectic. “We party too,” reminds a chripy student. The Mahabalipuram beech being nearby does help a bit in unwinding.
Having recently moved to a new campus, the institution is bracing for larger involvement with corporates. Like many other good schools, many activities are student-led and they are quite proud of the campus. But there were some grouses: distance from the city and the lack of branding initiatives. Some students highlight the curriculum’s intensity and it being skewed towards quantitative. “We are great at quants, but our focus on soft skills must be more,” said a student.
The library is a pet place, so is the space around the attrium. Barring teething problems in a new campus, infrastructure seems adequate, student accommodation is comfortable, and cost of living, reasonably low in Chennai. Another interesting factor is that GL does not intend to become an “MBA factory”. Dr. Bala is clear that he will not increase the batch-size beyond 300-350 or bring in satellite campuses. So students can rest assured that brand dilution is not a problem that would affect Great Lakes.
Needle Dr. Bala about Great lakes being just another great training school, the professor in him asserts itself. “We are an academic institution.” Some of the faculty are equally vehement. They cite the ‘empirical study’ wherein a student does an in depth study along with a faculty as an example of the research focus of the school. It is an exponential increase in research and consulting that will differentiate Great Lakes, even while maintaining the good value proposition that its currently offers.