There could be no need to go abroad to grab a top business school degree as Indian Institute of Management (IIM) could be coming to Dubai.

India's top-ranked management school is currently in talks with various stakeholders in the UAE to internationalize the premium management brand with the Indian influence growing on the world stage.

“We see Dubai as a place for experimentation and business innovations. So, if you embed a school here our faculty will also get exposed to the global stage. Therefore, it makes sense for IIM to be here. On many counts, one of which is Dubai is a cosmopolitan place from all over. We recognise that the number one foundation for Innovation is diversity. Uniformity is a killer,” says Prof. Debashish Chatterjee, Director, Indian Institute of Management (IIMK) Kozhikode.

“I think in the future, it looks quite possible that with most of the hybrid technologies coming into place you don't need to physically move everything. Digitally, you can move part of your essence here. So, the models that are emerging in the education space and the tech space, makes it even more feasible for being Dubai based.”

Various luminous representatives of the esteemed education brand have reiterated that for an institute with a global footprint of alumni, it is important to have a physical presence beyond the national borders.

But there are practical challenges that require governments’ engagement.

He adds, “The quality of life is pretty good here and so is the standard of living. I don't see why our faculty would not come here, but there has to be a culture shift in terms of accommodating the political and public policy level. It's a policy decision at the end of the day. IIMs and IITs are government of India public institutions. For a public institution to lend itself purely to commercial considerations will be tough. We must preserve our public face. We have affirmative actions, and we have to accommodate people from underprivileged categories.”

“But if any IIM has the legitimacy to come to Dubai it is IIM Kozikhode (he says lightly). The foundational aspects of the economy (in the UAE) are being run by the state of Kerala. We have toyed with the idea in the past. The reason I am here is precisely this. I am having a conversation with several CEOs and CXOs to see how we can create greater engagement between IIM Kozikhode and the UAE,” he says.

Innovation hub

Elucidating on the nexus between India's intellectual capability and the country becoming an innovation capital, where the world of the future will belong to creative conceptualisers, rather than people working inside their own silos, he adds:

“We are a bunch of schools that compete with the best in the world. So, we want our executive education to take roots here. We are already present here in some way. We want the schools of Dubai to engage with Indian schools to see how the education system of India has altered the fortunes of India, limited not just to higher education."

"I would like Dubai to look at India as the number one innovation capital in the world. The force of innovation has just been unleashed by the government. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India a startup hub is yielding fruits. India will become a global hub.”

IIM alumni base in the UAE

Making it to leadership roles across the UAE, Chatterjee underlines IIM alumni have time and again proved their mettle in the globe.

“The CEO and CXOs, most of them would have an IIM pedigree. So they're already here. I'm meeting 100 alumni in Dubai alone from IIM Kozhikode. There are other IIMs too. So, if you take into consideration the top six IIMs, there would be an alumni base of a couple of thousands here. They have created wealth in multiple places.”

Opining on how diversity is at the very heart of innovation, and how the growth models will be determined not by the quantity of consumption but by the quality of innovation, he avers,

“This year itself, we have announced 50 supernumerary seats for excellent foreign students. Currently, there are people from 30 countries on IIM Kozhikode campus… mid-career bureaucrats and diplomats of 30 different countries under the Ministry of External Affairs undergoing training in Kozhikode to look at how India creates innovation and social capital. This is gaining momentum as India increasingly becomes an aspirational space for many countries. They look to us to guide them as to how to take their country forward.”

Dubai’s far sight

Chatterjee highlights how with the information revolution, cash flow has shifted from what one might call legacy companies, transforming societies.

“Dubai has very cleverly created what we call a knowledge hub or knowledge city. But there has to be a cultural shift in acquiring knowledge and being aware of the world as well... the innate curiosity that drives knowledge."

"But these things will also change here (for the better) because fundamentally businesses will be driven by knowledge more than ever before. It will not be driven by capital or legacy. When that happens, then knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination, knowledge accreditation and knowledge monetization become the drivers of wealth. These are the functions of the IIMs today. Once that happens, then you will see fundamentally all businesses will be based on this framework. Innovation will be the driver, not legacy.”

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