Mumbai: In a rapidly changing world and increasingly competitive environment,  many new challenges are set to rise. The challenge of building a transformational and positive leadership, global and systemic decision-making, managing innovation and change, managing and capitalizing upon multi-cultural dynamics are just to name a few. Globalization of markets and competition, expansion of the service-based economy, impact of deregulation and privatization have become driving forces for companies to fundamentally rethink their business models and radically transform their organizational capabilities. This has, in turn, given way for an experiential learning, more specifically defined as "learning through reflection on doing". Joint Executive MBA program (EMBA) of IIT Bombay and Washington University in St. Louis is one such course which aims at training the new generation of leaders to develop global outlook and understanding of global dynamics. The course helps develop a professional you want to become. 

Speaking about it is Richa (Antara) Gangopadhyay. A model, actor, marketing professional and MBA student, Richa (Antara) Gangopadhyay is all this and much more. She was crowned Miss India USA 2007 at the 26th annual pageant held at Royal Albert's Palace in New Jersey. After completing a diploma course in acting and appearing in commercials, she made her film debut in the international blockbuster, Telugu political drama, Leader (2010) before working on several commercially successful Telugu films including Nagavalli (2010), Mirapakaay (2011) and Mirch (2013). In 2011, she starred in her first Tamil film Mayakkam Enna earning 6 ‘Best Actress’ awards for her performance. Interestingly, her acting experience made her more fascinated with all the magic behind the camera. After being successful in 9 films in 4 years, she was intrigued by the business side of the entertainment industry, and felt that a formal MBA degree would help augment her business, leadership and collaboration skills in addition to her rich “on the job” experience as an actress. In October 2013, Gangopadhyay moved back to the USA to pursue a full-time MBA at the Washington University in St. Louis | Olin Business School. 

“The MBA program has exposed me to a unique experiential learning experience to tackle complex management challenges. The eclectic mix of students is what makes the WashU community special. The course format is comprehensive, with 8 to 10 classes per semester, and a wide array of electives to choose from, to align with your personal and professional goals. The classroom experience prepares you well for real-life situations. It is indeed an invaluable experience,” she said. 

The course also offers the option of taking courses in foreign universities. Richa will be at the University of Paris this summer and is thrilled about it. She is actively involved in extra-curricular activities and serves as the VP-Social of the Graduate Business Student Association and president of the Olin Sports, Media & Entertainment Club in her program. “It is like one, big family. The faculty help students overcome the huge learning curve everyone naturally has from the beginning, coming from different professional backgrounds, and facilitate the exchange of ideas.”

Talking about the top 3 takeaways from the MBA program, Richa further adds:  “The MBA program provides you with diverse perspectives through practical learning opportunities, while tackling different case studies. Second, there is a lot of collaboration involved in everything we do here, from group projects in class to club activities, which teaches us the duality of roles- being a leader as well as a team player. Third, there are innumerable networking opportunities, which help in developing interpersonal communication skills needed to be a successful business leader. The EMBA program allows you to continue working while attending classes a few times a month, in the evenings, and is essentially made to fit executive schedules”.

It is the first such Indo-US program. “In the global world we live in today, it is critical to adapt your approach when it comes to working with people from different cultures, especially business practices and communication style. There is a huge opportunity for Indian business professionals to learn from and work together with their U.S. peers. The U.S. is one country that heartily welcomes and integrates diverse perspectives. The biggest benefits I personally see for Indian leaders are in the areas of communication skills, including authenticity and empathy, and practising innovative and entrepreneurial thinking. These are two critical aspects are for success in today’s corporate world, and can be maker breakers of business deals and professional growth”.

“At WashU, not only are the course offerings extraordinarily rich, but we boast of some of the best faculty in the country. We have world-class professors who are known for their teaching and management expertise, and from my personal experience, people who truly care about your growth. One of the things that makes the WashU MBA program stand out is that our curriculum is rooted in innovation and leadership, and students really get a chance to deploy the critical thinking skills they learn through numerous practical opportunities.”

Joint Executive MBA program (EMBA) of IIT Bombay with Washington University in St. Louis is modeled after Washington University's internationally recognized sister programs in the U.S. and China. The 18-month program is for working professionals who can continue working while attending courses four days per month, from Thursday morning through Sunday evening, in Mumbai. The program ends with a two-week capstone experience at Washington University in St. Louis. The program is being taught by world-class professors. 

Elaborating further, Kiran Shesh, CEO of IITB-WUStL Research and Educational Academy said, “The program in India is aimed at preparing India's high-potential executives for global leadership positions by senior faculty from Olin Business School (part of Washington University in St. Louis - WUStL) and IIT Bombay. The selected class of students will learn in high achieving cohorts with years of collective work experience. The rich partnership history facilitates the collaborative delivery of the program. These students will become a part of our robust international EMBA network in India, The US and China. In addition, the graduating class automatically becomes alumni of both the Universities - WUStl and IIT Bombay.”

The enrollment for July 2016 batch has started. The last three modules will be held in St. Louis, US and will provide an opportunity to students to get a first-hand experience of top class industry interactions.