Club Culture at B Schools

Management EducationManagement Education is a western world concept and Indians borrowed it about three decades ago. It started with mere management of a company’s board and has developed into a science of numbers, people and psychology put together. Gradually, this knowledge trickled down from a company’s board to college classrooms.

This knowledge is imparted right from colleges to the post graduation level in some form or the other. Business schools have pioneered in promoting this education and Clubs have acted as a catalyst adding fuel to the learning with an element of fun.  Choosing a Business School is an important decision of one’s career that can be equated to choosing a life partner – the right ones creating heaven and other ensuring a hell. There is hardly anyone who thinks of clubs as an important parameter when choosing a B School. Aspiring students check out rankings in magazines or newspapers and get confused with the same.

 Secondly they would look at the highest placement packages and ponder over other less relevant information while choosing a B-school such as the ratio of students to professors. They tend to overlook important things like the network of Alumnus or Professors’ expertise on subjects. Clubs also form an important parameter which one should look for. Although enough information is unavailable on official websites, one could get more details through online public forums.

So what really are ‘Clubs’? A club is a group of students, sharing a common interest or passion, coming together to further hone their interests, learn something from one another and create something meaningful.  College’s faculty members act as guides and consultants, though the clubs are completely managed by the students. It encourages them to enjoy similar passions while setting conducive environment in forming strong bonds with their peers.

Clubs help in carving the niche interests in students. World’s best business schools encourage club culture. Some common clubs running across global campuses include those of Marketing, advertising, finance, entrepreneurship, alumni, sports and so on.

Kellogg School of Management which is considered as one of the top B schools is known for its student-led culture. It offers a variety of clubs for students to participate in, right from professional clubs where students build relationships with world-leading external companies with the likes of consulting or investment banking, media and entertainment, and marketing.  It has carved a niche for its own in the same.

Another talked-about business school for its clubs is Harvard Business School. This reputed University became the birth place of Facebook when a young boy decided to create a portal for students and clubs from the important business schools across America and connect them to create one of the most powerful club communities. Today Facebook is public and amongst the most renowned social networking sites. The school likes to add three to four clubs every year in its kitty and is believed to have more than 70 clubs running across the university. Some clubs are niche and very few B-schools offer clubs like “Bit Coin Club” that deals in digital currency, which many economists says will take over the plastic and paper currencies in near future. Another unique club is “Wine & Cuisine” Club to promote a sense of good living through the enjoyment of fine wine and cuisine for future managers.

Indian business schools are steadily catching up the westerners. Although general club formations are a normal practice, hardly any innovation comes out of the same. Unfortunately, clubs are considered just as the part of students’ extra-curriculum which diminishes its importance. Alumnus networking is absent except a few who make an effort to connect with their Alma mater. Additionally, clubs are strictly monitored with rigid rules which kill creativity and freedom of expression. It even puts a roadblock on any kind of innovation.

Management EducationEminent Indian B-Schools like IIMs has been successful in developing a sustainable and favourable environment for ideas to develop in any domain. They are encouraged and even funded to help them grow. Alumni play a big role in the development of these clubs. Some even go a step further to take sustainable ideas and provide a suitable business platform for them. IIM Ahmadabad has one of the best incubation for entrepreneurial ideas and has been in creating many success stories. IIM Calcutta has one of the powerful Finance clubs called “Fin Club” that creates a mark in its domain.

Most B-Schools are quite aloof with their engineering or commerce modules. The reasons range from low strength of the club or the lack of any noticeable impact. Western B Schools have common clubs across the University addressing all curriculum and education fields including the technical ones. Once these clubs gain traction, more students would sharing similar interests would want to join the club. Eventually such clubs become sustainable and provide invaluable lessons to its members.

Another B-School that has placed great emphasis on its club culture is IBS Hyderabad. The campus has more than 20+ innovative clubs each creating a niche of its own. They are managed and run entirely by senior students who then pass on the torch to their juniors once they graduate. Every weekend 3-4 clubs indulge themselves in creating activities for other students to participate in which would entertain them while imparting some learning at the same time. Apart from mainstream clubs like marketing, advertising, finance or economic clubs, an online Club called “Stu-Z” is a unique online portal that connects the students and brings campus news, entertainment quotients as well as educational information. Another unique club is the photography club which was started a few years ago by a single student who was passionate enough to make its presence felt all around the campus.

These clubs work as a small ecosystem of corporate where a definite hierarchy, whether flat or vertical, prevails. Every person has a role to play and run the show, creating events and marketing them so that sizable audience participate in it and make it a success. Being in these clubs teaches numerous lessons such as handling peer pressure, working in teams, respecting each other agreements and disagreements, putting forward ideas, handling criticism to implementing them and working passionately to make it a success.

Sooner or later all B schools will focus and encourage club-culture more and won’t regard them as mere extracurricular activities. Until then, every aspiring student should consider the club culture while applying to different universities.

Contributed By : Apurva Singhi, Class of 2009-11, IBS Hyderabad

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