Graduate Management News

July 2014

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Integrating Self-Development Skills into Your Graduate Management Program

Employers want leaders. They want to know how you interact and react in stressful environments, how you perform in a team, and how well you understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Learn how one school prepares students for today's recruiters.


Are today’s business schools arming students with the self-awareness and self-development skills they need to become effective leaders? This question and others that focus on preparing students to lead in today’s global business climate, are top of mind for many. 

Content MarketingDr. Atish Chattopadhyay, deputy director, PGDM Programme, S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), has addressed this question by creating a learning experience that balances knowledge competencies with a focus on self-awareness and self-development for a unique business school experience that develops the whole person, not just technical skills. 

At the 2014 GMAC Annual Conference, Chattapadhyay explained how he has integrated the Reflect™ soft skills assessment and development resource into the SPJIMR program to help students improve the “being” skills that employers look for and align with the program’s other opportunities for self-development. Understanding that every graduate management program is unique, what Chattapadhyay offers is an explanation of how the Reflect tool and a focus on self-awareness and self-development fits into his program so that others may emulate. 

With an annual intake of 240 students accepted out of 20,000 applicants, SPJIMR is a top program that attracts students who are looking for job opportunities when they apply, and this drives what they want to get out of the program. As a program head, Chattopadhyay’s main concerns focus on differentiation and addressing the needs of recruiters. SPJIMR differentiates in three main categories: 

  • Selection process: Segmenting students at the time of admission based on the needs of the recruiters. 
  • Unique pedagogy: Balancing the right mix of knowing, doing, being; combining Western efficiency with Eastern ethos. 
  • Student professional development process: Focusing on self-awareness and self-development.

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It puts students at the center. An important aspect of the SPJIMR program, according to Chattopadhyay, is the “being” part – helping students take the initiative in preparing and building themselves, and take charge of their own self-awareness. “We want to put students in a position to develop themselves,” he said. 

Career Planning through Self-Awareness and Self Development 

SPJIMR integrates its “being” differentiation through a three-pronged professional development process that includes: 

1. Self-awareness
2. Self-development
3. Placement positioning for landing the right job 

Recruiters are looking for these “being” competencies, which include communication, teamwork, and leadership. For recruiters, according to Chattopadhyay, the differentiating factor is the “person.” Recruiters take for granted that students will have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. The challenge of SPJIMR, and any other graduate management programs, is to groom individuals into their desired roles, and this is why SPJIMR introduced Reflect into the program. 

"In a business program, students need their own agenda for self-development, and Reflect provides this."

Atish Chattopadhyay
Deputy Director, PGDM Programme
S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR)

It is in the student professional development process that SP Jain has found the Reflect assessment to be an invaluable asset. Reflect helps students understand their own individual competencies, benchmark against others in their role, and understand the critical competencies required for a particular role. For SPJIMR, the Reflect tool (each of the 10 competencies) integrates with the program’s other opportunities for self-development, including: 

  • Assessment and development of managerial potential (ADMAP):
    • Classroom sessions: involvement in administrative and academic tasks
    • Feedback: self, peers, faculty
    • Learning outcomes: getting things done (operational thinking); influence without power (drive); recognizing feasibility of strategy goals and tasks; learning by doing
  • Social projects: internship in rural areas, which exposes students to an unstructured environment with limited access to data (addresses decision making and innovation) 
  • Abhyudaya: spending time with underprivileged children living in slums and learning how to mentor someone, how to value individuals, and developing the ability to unearth human potential (valuing others) 
  • Personal growth lab: three day outbound activities at Khandala (hill-station), learning how to understand oneself (strategic self-awareness), and one’s strengths and weaknesses (interpersonal intuition) 
  • Science of spirituality: participating in a workshop based on spirituality and its relevance in management. Promotes ability for introspection and reflection; live an intelligent and balanced life (resilience)

The Reflect assessment helps SPJIMR develop the complete business leader and complements its other opportunities for self-development. But it also provides some intangible benefits, according to Chattopadhyay, such as providing the business vocabulary that students can use on their resumes and helping students build personal narratives that enable them differentiate in interviews and present themselves in a professional manner to recruiters. “In a business program, students need their own agenda for self-development, and Reflect provides this. It puts students at the center.”