Q&A: Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman-Co-founder, CL Educate Ltd

22 Sep

With several changes introduced in the pattern of conducting the CAT 2011, students across India are wondering whether the examination would get easier or tougher. In an interview with Vinit Koneru, Vice Chairman & Co-founder of CL Educate Ltd (formerly Career Launcher) Gautam Puri says what students could expect. Edited excerpts:

What should candidates expect this year?
As compared to the challenge of an examination in an undefined environment, CAT 2011 will be relatively easy. CAT in its earlier versions had a number of unpredictables, including the number of questions and undefined sectional time limits. Now, the paper is far more structured, and hence, easier. While preparing for CAT 2011 keep these essentials in mind: Firstly, cover all topics and prepare across the length and breadth of subjects.

With just 60 questions you will not have much to choose from. Secondly, focus on accuracy, when in doubt leave the question; resist the temptation to attempt when you are unsure. With just 60 questions, every incorrect answer is criminal. Also, go back to the papers of the early 1990s as the questions today are very similar to what we had seen in them. There is merit in going through them and practicing on those papers.


With the new IIMs, has the competition increased?
The new IIMs add to the number of quality MBA seats available to aspiring candidates. Thus it’s good news for students sitting for the exam. The competition is as tough as the aspirant sitting next to you, so a student must remember to put his best foot forward.

Given the current global slowdown, do you expect the number of applicants to rise or fall? 
With around 1.8 lakh applicants writing the CAT in 2010, the number is expected to remain the same or go up marginally. This is a result of the fact that this year the JMET and FMS entrance have been scrapped and are now aligned with the CAT. Thus, students wanting to join FMS or the management courses at the IITs would be required to compulsorily sit for the CAT. While there is a global slowdown, India and China are coming to the forefront and are least affected by the same. With the focus of the world on these economies, job opportunities and demand for MBA are expected to increase in India.

How can India’s management education be compared to that of foreign universities?
At the top end of management, Indian institutes are as good or even better. However, the real difference kicks in as we move down the ladder. In India we see a steep drop in quality of management education as we move down below the top 50 or 60 institutes or at best top 100 institutes. This steep drop in quality is not seen internationally. Among the top universities, Indian institutes differ from international institutes on three aspects: Reflection of batch diversity where most Indian institutes have primarily male population and a dominant presence of engineering graduates. While internationally, the gender mix is far better and MBA students come from a variety of academic fields. Institutes in India have 99.9 per cent Indian students, while internationally in an MBA programme you would find people from diverse backgrounds and nationalities thus lending an added international flavor to the programme.

Is the current structure of management institutions good for the country and the students?
The structure of management institutes in India has produced corporate leaders of note, who have achieved recognition internationally. Today the IIM alumni are spread across the globe leading the world’s largest organisations across a multitude of sectors. Thus, without doubt these institutions serve the country well.we need to see a significant change in the remaining institutes.


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