Engineering, medical, ya phir (or) law? You might recognise this ‘holy trinity’ from all the casual career counselling you receive from your parents, distant relatives and all manners of well-wishers – around the time you sit for your first board examinations.
But maybe, you’re somebody who wants to go off the beaten path, and try to make a difference. And there’s loads of young people who want to do just that!
Last year, Forbes ran two stories about how, more than any other generation, millennials are interested in ‘social impact investing‘, and want to challenge the status quo. In India too, we’re seeing the rise of startup culture, where youths are finding new ways to create positive social changes. It’s no wonder then that many young people are drawn towards development management, wishing to be a part of driving change from the grassroots level.
The discipline is, however, still relatively young in India, and requires highly-skilled hands to take over the reigns in the social sector. So, if a career in development management is your cup of tea, here’s a few things to keep in mind before selecting an institution:
When we hear the word ‘development’, we immediately think of economics. But it’s precisely this understanding of the word that leads us to exclude people.
Conventional business is about maximising returns to a few individuals or shareholders. However, there are hardly any existing theories on how development organisations should be managed. There needs to be focus on impacting more people by training them to create scalable and sustainable impact.
That is why it is imperative to select an institution that equips students to understand the dynamic world of development leadership and the challenges associated with the field. Opening its doors to students in July 2017, the Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) is one such unique institution which aims at preparing future generations of managers for the development sector.
Vidya Shah, CEO of EdelGive, a philanthropic organisation that’s partnering with ISDM, says that there is a deep gulf between students of social work and the people who actually profit. But, there needn’t be one. Development management, she says, “is really providing that balance for people who are truly interested in development, it can bring a leadership orientation to the work.”
While traditional business or management focusses on directing a fixed amount of resources towards achieving a certain goal, development management looks at social goals that lie ‘outside’ an organisation. The need of the hour is to develop a separate discipline for development management that meets the needs of the social sector and imparts this to students.
Learning comes from being ‘on-ground’ and understanding the context you are working in. ISDM’s one-year-long postgraduate programme in Development Leadership has been designed to provide this.
The curriculum, which has been drawn up using the Australian Qualifications Framework, includes ‘engaging with practitioners, theoretical frameworks, hands-on field experience, collaborating with highly motivated peers, and being taught by some of the best professionals in the field’. What’s more – a student will also have access to a number of workshops on skill-building.
Development management is necessarily collaborative. And having experts who know the field is extremely important. Says ISDM co-founder Suparna Diwakar, “With some of the most respected practitioners, researchers, academics from India and around the world coming together at ISDM, we will be doing pioneering work in developing the discipline of development management.”
Among these eminent figures are Harsh Mander of the Centre for Equity Studies, Arun Maira, former member of the Planning Commission and former chairman of the Boston Consulting Group , Sidharth Agarwal of Teach For All, and Prof. Shiva Kumar who teaches various courses at Harvard University and Indian School of Business. In addition to this, engaging actively with the alumni also contributes to the impact of this field – while also building a strong relationship between those leading by example and those who are on their way to do that.
A curriculum and learning environment that creates the leaders and managers of tomorrow is in itself a way of addressing the needs of the development sector. A strong approach to placements, however, will not only put students in good stead when they go out into the world – it will also provide them with the right kick-start to their careers, which they all desire.
For this purpose, students should look out for an institution that encourages regular interactions between students and development organisations that are potential employers. Besides, they should also look for a faculty which has stakeholders who can absorb new talent.
According to Ashish Dhawan, one of the founders of ISDM, the conditions that have been created for development management are very encouraging indeed. Thanks to the capital coming in from foreign investments from corporate social responsibility and growing individual philanthropy, he says, “There is a ₹30,000 crore to ₹40,000 crore revenue pool to tap into, that will require a whole set of managerial capability.”
So, if your game-plan revolves around creating positive social changes and addressing some of the numerous issues affecting people in India today, then studying development management may well be the way to go!
To know more about courses in development management, head to the Indian School of Development Management’s website.