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‘We aren’t just bringing in content, but also best practices and ideas’

Friday, 9 July 2010 - 2:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Vinay Hebbar, managing director, Harvard Business Publishing (India) talks to DNA about HBP's plans for India.

About 18 months ago, Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard University, set up its India office, which incidentally, is its first international subsidiary. India was chosen due to its vibrant and fast growing market and being present here would help engage with corporates, business schools and individuals, says Vinay Hebbar, managing director, HBP (India). In a conversation with DNA he shares HBP’s plans for India. Excerpts:

What are HBP’s activities here?
HBP is excited about the Indian market, both, as one of the fastest growing markets, as well as a source of new management ideas and best practices. The market here has a real need for the latest management thinking in all segments that we serve, i.e., individual managers, corporate learning, and the higher education space. Not only do we bring in our global content into India, we also source some cutting edge management best practices and ideas from India to disseminate to our global audience in the form of books, Harvard Business Review (HBR) articles, videos, e-learning, etc.

How exactly is HBP working with business schools here?
We work with over 30 business schools here to provide them course materials for the MBA and executive education programmes, faculty development tools and curriculum planning support. The course materials include HBS (Harvard Business School) case studies, simulations, online courses and videos. We also distribute, on our platform, case studies from other reputed schools such as University of Virginia- Darden, Kellogg, Ivey and Hong Kong University.

How prevalent is the case study method in local business schools?
In several top-tier schools such as most of the IIMs, NMIMS, SP Jain and IMT, the case study method is a dominant pedagogy. In many other schools too, the use of cases and simulations is rapidly growing owing to student and faculty feedback. Historically, schools have faced a challenge of access to high quality cases on Indian organisations.

But that appears to be changing steadily, as reputed Indian schools invest in case research, creating incentives, infrastructure, and faculty development programmes. HBS itself has developed close to 100 cases on Indian subjects with the support of India Research Center in Mumbai. This includes cases on the Indian Railways, TeamLease, ITC, Tata Nano, the Dabbawala System, Dharavi slum development, NGO Pratham, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital and Arvind Eye Hospital.

What about your engagement with individual managers?
For them, we offer our entire range of books, which we now distribute directly in India at special Indian prices. They also have access to the latest ideas and tools on our website and our flagship magazine, HBR which is published locally in partnership with Living Media.

How exactly is HBP working with corporates?
We currently engage with a wide range of companies to help them address some of the challenges they face in developing their talent pipeline and capabilities at several levels of the organisations.

Indian companies face many unique challenges as a result of rapid economic and corporate growth, globalisation, urbanisation and other demographic trends. These challenges include building a leadership pipeline, new leadership skills needed due to business changes, talent acquisition and retention, developing required competencies in their teams that are more geographically dispersed than ever before, creating a strong management pipeline. Rapid growth and war for talent has resulted in managers getting promoted early and rising to middle-management levels while still very young-this creates pressure on organisations to ensure that the growth in these managers’ skills and competencies keep pace with career progression.

Then there are challenges such as on handling increasing diversity in the workforce — geographical, ethnic, gender and generational. We provide these corporates with tailored and scalable-blended learning solutions — typically a combination of various pedagogies such as self-directed learning, facilitated sessions, action-based learning and peer-to-peer learning. We also frequently provide them with best practices on leadership development through webinars, author visits and whitepapers.

When it comes to implementing new solutions, how do you help companies?
We do not rely on the quality of our content and brand alone for successful implementation of solutions. Our learning services team works closely with the clients to identify and develop the “right” solution that brings together the necessary combination of content, experts from our faculty and author pool, and technology. This team strongly supports the clients through various aspects of the implementation including customisation, internal marketing and communication, measuring program effectiveness, facilitation (where required) and conducting “leader as teacher” programs.

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