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Learning without boundaries

DEEPA KURUP

A fresh and inspiring take on management education



John. L. Keifer

For a man who has 20 years of work experience and a strong research-oriented spell as an academic, John L. Keifer is rather friendly and down-to-earth. Dispelling the need for all formality, he is happy to slip into a chat about everything ranging from the changing face of the global economy to what the front page of a newspaper should look like. His inquisitiveness provides an insight into his curiosity about India and his willingness to learn about the market as well as the social set-up of an alien land.

Having taken over as interim director of the Ohio University-Christ College Academy for Management Education, he says that he wants to do everything to strengthen the programme. The recently introduced “Special Executive Admission Process” fits very well with our ideas about learning and management education, he says. “As the experience of a candidate increases, the learning curve of an individual deepens,” Mr. Keifer asserts. The programme will be open to students who have not less than 20 months of work experience and is designed to suit the requirements of employees who wish to take a break.

Specialised training

So, what does the professor think about the rapidly emerging trend of “Executive MBAs”? Though we may be looking at an executive MBA, we would prefer at least a short period of residency, Mr. Keifer says. The “without boundaries model” that he explains is one which will focus on specialised training and providing the right environment. His repertoire makes him the right man to talk about this since he has worked with public sector projects in Tenaga as well as taught State-owned enterprises of the Government of Serawak (both in Malaysia) about the nitty-gritty of resource allocation. “We aren’t looking at just one programme here. We’re in the process of conceptualising an education consultancy.”

The Ohio-Christ Management Academy will also be one of the first to introduce psychometric testing of candidates. Though he accepts that no one is going to be thrown out as a result of this test, it will help them understand the student better. “When we use this it helps us gain more insight and based on statistical averages we know where a student fits, which will only help us guide him better,” he explains.

Is a psychometric test as complex as it sounds? “No, certainly not! It’s by no means a screening device,” says the professor. “Personally, I would just look for people who are comfortable in their own skin. I had a student who came here and told me that he was here because he wanted to make his parents proud,” Mr. Keifer explains with an example. “And I asked him: What do you want to do?”

And of the few candidates that Mr. Keifer got the chance to meet or interview: “I found them extremely bright and intelligent, but we are looking for people who are self motivated, who are diverse in their personalities and who will add value to their classes with their originality.”

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