MICA – An evolving dream


Convocation is always a heady time on campus. A palpable sense of energy and expectation permeates the air. And for some of us who have been participating in the cycle for some years now, it’s a time for nostalgia and introspection. There is no doubt that MICA has seen the turn of tides, the ups and downs and the growing pangs of a young organization. But it never ceases to amaze me, as to how much growth has been achieved in the last 18 years. Aside from a rock solid reputation, MICA’s campus infrastructure is quite possibly the best among management schools in India today. And it is certainly of international standards. From a mere 42 in the first batch, the campus now comfortably manages over 350 students on its grounds. Whenever we have played the sectoral rankings game, we have popped up among the top 10 B-Schools in India. Average placement salaries slot us with the best in India and the alumni list is starting to reflect significant industry clout and influence. Most interesting is how the range and number of companies coming to campus has evolved. It is no mean task to place over 150 demanding students, and the presence of some of the most exciting global brands on campus, is a heartening sign.

All this is the good news. But as I reflect over what has changed and what remains unchanged, I realize that the enduring quality of MICA is its unique culture.  MICAN’s are constantly debating and arguing over every facet of MICA’s being and its future roadmap.  This is a reflection of the questioning, liberal and open mind set that permeates everyone who gets associated with MICA.  It signifies a campus culture where the mind is free, and every individual’s perspective has space for itself.  The other narrative that regularly grabs public discourse, is the question of whether we are clear about our positioning, and the industries we serve.  Here I am perhaps more comfortable than others, with the new generation idea that everything exists in “real time” today.  And the idea of a fixed positioning is passé.  Yes, we need to know which direction we are heading in. And our ethos is that everything is built on the foundation of communications. But beyond that, it is quite natural that the industries we serve, our curriculum, students, faculty, everything evolves constantly to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

To elaborate, I would say that MICA’s positioning is based on the core idea that everything in our lives is driven by relationships. The relationship between a consumer and a product, relationships between people, bosses and employees, the state and its citizens, entrepreneurs and financial institutions, the relationship between yourself and your soul; one could go on and on. But human lives are defined by relationships, and relationships are born in the crucible of communication. This is why MICA believes that the focus of our management school should also be around the field of communications.  Then we adapt this to the various specializations we offer, and the industries we would like to serve. These industries, roles and profiles evolve constantly, but the bedrock of communications remains constant. When we started, MICA was primarily serving the advertising, market research and media planning industries. It provided competent managers and leaders, who understood the nature of these businesses and knew how to grow and run them effectively. That has today grown and spread to include FMCG companies, consumer analytics firms, digital media giants, NGO’s and many traditional manufacturing industries as well. But all these organizations continue to come to MICA because they value the strengths that MICAns bring to specific roles, as strong communications and management professionals. MICAns typically tend to collaborate, rather than blindly compete. They have free thinking, creative personalities mixed with sound business management training at the same time. They know how to define, design and deploy messages in the most competent manner possible. They know how to forge long term relationships. They are inculcated with a value system that is ethical and fair. Companies value these skill sets, as demonstrated by the growing list of recruiters on campus. 

What does this mean for prospective students? It means that certain companies will seek you out for specific roles. It also means that some companies will prefer traditional MBA’s for some other roles. And it’s quite likely that some lucrative, high paying roles fall in the traditional MBA bracket. Prospective candidates to MICA need to be clear in their minds that some of these jobs may not be available to them, if they come to MICA. For e.g. hard core sales operations roles in manufacturing industries, financial offerings management etc. etc.  On the other hand, many new and exciting opportunities open up in spaces such as digital media, sports marketing, developmental communications, consumer insights and so on. It’s exciting, but it’s a different kettle of fish. And the decision on choosing MICA vs a traditional MBA needs to be based on clear self-assessment for aptitude and the desire to do a certain kind of work, which is rooted in communications. If one is purely looking for commercial returns or ROI, I would still suggest that he or she should choose an IIM or an ISB, as that will present them with a broader palette of options at the end. This is a fact.

In terms of curriculum, MICANs learn most of what traditional MBA’s learn. They study financial management, econometrics, supply chain management etc. But they also learn film appreciation, cultural and social contexts to human communication, media consumption patterns, semiotics and so on. The difference is that the depth and proportions of topics vary.

In summary, if one was to represent a MICAn’s “world of work” as a Venn diagram, people and communications would be the two circles. And the intersection point would be relationships. This is enclosed in an environment of sound business skills and management skills.  This outlook produces an efficient, unique and somewhat quirky product from the traditional MBA. Some companies love this profile for just about any job. Some want us for specific roles. And some others… well, they are just plain boring and want to remain that way! 🙂

Disclaimer : The author is an interested party as he sits on the Governing Council of MICA and is an alumnus of the first batch of PGDM(C).

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