By M Saraswathy
When Ravi Jain, a 26-year-old vice-president of his family-owned textile materials company, wanted to scale up his business to reach out to customers from neighbourhood countries, he faced a unique problem. Till then, he was dealing with customers mainly from his own community and some from other Indian cultures, so, he knew how to handle them. But, internationalisation of his company seemed to be a challenge. “I felt that i needed some guidance from experts. This is when I enrolled into a management programme for family business at a Mumbai-based institute,” he says.
Jain, who passed out this year, has not only been able to get tips from experts, but is now confident that he could attract international clients. Jain is not alone. Several individuals from family-owned businesses are thronging management institutes to gain expertise to develop their businesses.
Institutes are cashing in on this opportunity. Several of them, including S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) and Indian School of Business (ISB), offer such programmes. Players like International Management Institute (IMI) are planning to offer post-graduate diploma course in family business management to cater to small and medium family-owned enterprises.
NMIMS, which had been one of the first institutes to launch courses for family businesses, has also seen a shift in the kind of students coming into these programmes. Seema Mahajan, director, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Business Management, says: “One change we are seeing is that students in our batches now are more serious about going back to their businesses and scaling it up. Earlier, they were not clear about what to do after completing the course. They have a definite business growth perspective in mind.”
Mahajan added that through the international visits organised by NMIMS for the course, students were interested in knowing more about the global practices from foreign companies.
At SPJIMR, the post-graduation programme in family-managed business (FMB) is an 18-month programme conceived with the objective of training and developing the incumbents of family-owned businesses. The programme requires the participant to learn at the institute for one week per month and gain hands-on business experience for the remaining three weeks of the month.The programme has an alumni base of over 1,000 participants from diverse industries across India, Dubai and Nepal.
Institutes say the demand for management programmes in family-owned business has seen a rise by 30 to 40 per cent in the last two years. This trend is attributed to the growth of such companies and the small medium enterprises sector. It is due to this reason that institutes like SPJIMR have an array of FMB programmes like owner management programme, business management programme and women management programme to choose from.
Kavil Ramachandran, professor at ISB, explains a typical MBA programme does not cater to the needs of family-managed businesses in terms of growth strategy and family dimensions.
New Delhi-based IM is planning to launch a post-graduate diploma by the middle of next year. Vijay Vancheswar, senior faculty, marketing at the institute says the programme would be of 18 months duration. Of this, eight months would be formal education. During the next four months, a student would spend time in an institute abroad, studying an institute abroad, with which IMI would have a tie-up. In the last six months, Vancheswar said each student of the total 40 students (proposed student strength) would do a live project related to their family business.
ISB recently launched a Management Programme for Family Business. The programme has been designed to groom the younger generation of family-owned businesses for leadership. It is a part-time course spread over 15 months and will be delivered in modules of seven days, every sixth week at the ISB campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali.
Deepak Chandra, deputy dean at ISB, explains they had done market research and found out that FMB programmes were the need of the hour. “Their course would bring together the best practices in this segment globally, to the classroom,” he adds. ISB students pursuing this course will have an opportunity to pursue a part of this course at Kellogg School of Management in Chicago.
The programme will provide an opportunity for international immersions in the US, Africa and China. The admissions for the programme will begin on January 1, 2013. To be a part of this course, prior work experience of four years is recommended, though it’s not the prerequisite.
International immersions are also a crucial part of these courses. This is where students are taken on a three-to-four month visit to institutes and companies abroad to understand the new trends in family-managed businesses. "The focus now is to translate global know-how in this field to match the local needs of small and medium enterprises, through management courses," Vancheswar further added.