Redesigning the MBA Curriculum: The Vanguard Experience

By | November 5, 2018

Before we get into a discussion on what should or should not form a part of the MBA curriculum, we should first understand what an MBA is?

MBA is meant to teach the principles and practices of management

The principles are such that they can be applied to all industries with required customization based on practical knowledge. If you look at the IIMs or any top International BSchool, they never offer narrow sectoral programs – like Healthcare management, Oil and Natural gas management etc. If you teach basic management well enough, then the students would be able to apply them in all business sectors.

Two, an MBA should teach the practice of management or how these principles are applied in various industries.  This can be done using real examples in class, case studies, live projects, Industry seminars etc.

Keeping all these mind, I would like to explain how we at Vanguard came up a curriculum design for the PGPM + MBA program. The essential curriculum consists of three distinct areas

Management concepts

Here we have done a wide-ranging consultation with Academic experts and corporate managers with the idea of understanding what concepts are critical and what is not. We are asking two simple questions? What are the concepts required by frontline managers in the first five years of their career? What are the concepts required to understand key industry sectors where students are likely to be placed?

For example, we have reduced the focus on cost accounting and added Financial Markets as a first-year compulsory course

Practical exposure

For every class, care has to be taken to relate the topics taught to actual business practices. One way is through industry lectures. However, we do not plan to call very senior leaders who will give motivational talks, but young managers who are applying the same business concepts on a daily basis. So a class on pricing strategies may be followed by a product or brand manager explain how he or she takes pricing decisions

At the same time faculty will take the lead in procuring live projects for student groups. They will also actively monitor the project so that quality work is done.

Essential skills and Attitude

Many a time when we spoke to Corporate Managers and HR professionals, the chief concern regarding fresh MBA’s has been lack of essential skills and poor attitude. Essential skills are skills, which are cross-functional and applicable in all industries. These skills include understanding technology as well as communication and team skills. The importance given to this area can be seen from the fact there are 6 courses in the first year alone which focus on essential skills and personality development. These courses are a part of the curriculum and will be graded, unlike some B-schools where these are taught as special classes where both teacher and student interest is low.


One of the chief problems with University education in India has been the evaluation system. The system of annual or semester exams loads all the pressure at the end and is primarily based on memorization of course.

Any good MBA program should have a continuous evaluation system which also measures the work done by students in terms of case studies, projects etc. While the actual evaluation system is dependent on Subject/Course, at Vanguard, the evaluation system would be

  1. Quizzes
  2. Assignments
  3. Projects
  4. Mid Term and
  5. End Term exams

The Mid and End Term exams would never exceed a maximum of 50% of the available marks for a course.

Use of Technology

Technology is an important component of management in a corporate. At Vanguard we will use technology to enable better quality education and at the same time make students comfortable with the use of technology.

All students will have Wi-Fi enabled notebooks. The BSchool has a leased line connection which will ensure high-quality uninterrupted Broadband Internet for all students. All students will log onto an online Learning Management System where they can access Class schedules, Case studies, Assignments, Presentations etc. At the same time, all assignments have to be submitted online or by email. This will also ensure that experts may evaluate student assignments across the country and the world.

Also, many additional features like blogs, chat etc will be enabled through the LMS. Podcasts from top B-schools worldwide as well as Webinars from Industry experts would also be done through the LMS