Time to get down to business
Amitava Chattopadhyay, the L'Oréal chaired professor of marketing - innovation and creativity for INSEAD, tells Rayana Pandey it is time there is more collaboration between the industry and academia.
The oft-discussed topics of skills and talent gap in the industry led me to invite an academic expert out to lunch to gauge the effort educational institutes, primarily business schools (B-schools), are making to bridge the divide.
I sit down across the table from Amitava Chattopadhyay, the L'Oréal chaired professor of marketing - innovation and creativity for INSEAD.
We caught up at Spruce, a well-known brunch place (the brunch hours extend all the way to lunch so no complaints there) talking about how B-schools are innovating to keep up with the demands of the industry.
The tranquil, laid back atmosphere with greenery all around made Spruce, which sits nicely at the top of Phoenix Park in Tanglin, a perfect venue for our chat, starting over Spruce lemonade with fresh mint leaves.
"On the whole, if I look at the top 50 B-schools, there has been lots of innovation in the curriculum. MBA studies have moved from being almost exclusively classroom-based to include a significant field-based component," Chattopadhyay says.
INSEAD provides the opportunity for students to visit India or Africa, for example, accompanied by a faculty member with the goal of understanding the local market. Aside from visiting various companies and observing the environment, they receive practical inputs from experts across fields such as legal, supply chain, the economy, and so on.
"The whole idea (of field-based approach) is to highlight the importance of integrated thinking."
Integrated thinking is not only a challenge among students looking to do MBA, but also for brands and their agency partners; the conversation takes a turn as we dig into Spruce's signature salad consisting of avocado, corn, dates, goat cheese and almonds with champagne vinaigrette dressing.
Brands still view sales and marketing as being separate as though in watertight compartments.
Illustrating his point, Chattopadhyay says INSEAD conducts training courses for companies and the class tends to be dominated by participants from the marketing department. This, despite repeatedly asking companies to also bring in sales folks.
"The KPIs sales and marketing have are very different," he goes on to explain, adding that in his view, every employee should have a brand KPI as part of their job scope. "While it may rate higher for a marketing person and lower for finance or HR, nonetheless, it should be a part of everyone's responsibility."
It's the same for agencies. "They are still operating in silos. The need is to offer holistic solutions to business issues of clients," he says, as we savour the Kurobuta meatballs and fries.
So have B-schools played their part fully in terms of skilling up the future industry players?
"No. There is nothing to say we have arrived," Chattopadhyay says. "Has the industry done enough? No. It's an evolution and we (both industry and academia) are figuring out the best means to bridge the gap, as we move along."
He says while B-schools are innovating to meet the demands of the industry, what would help is more collaboration between the industry and academia.
"Educational institutes don't have the same kind of resources the companies have and if they were to share more, both of them would benefit."
He is making a clear reference to the wealth of data brands own.
"Of course some (companies) are more collaborative than others, but overall, all of them could be a bit more."