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B-Schools: Specialised courses on real estate and infra management are a huge hit

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The country’s premier management schools are addressing the builder community’s need for employees who understand the nuts and bolts of their projects.

BANGALORE: The country’s premier management schools are addressing the builder community’s need for employees who understand the nuts and bolts of their projects. IIM Bangalore, ISB, IIM Indore and IIM Ahmedabad are introducing specialised courses on real estate and infrastructure management, and in return, are attracting a dedicated stream of real estate companies during placement time.

The demand for these courses is high. “Infrastructure management was introduced last month for the 2014 batch and to our surprise, 75 students, the maximum a class can take, registered for it,” says S Nayana Tara, teacher at centre for public policy, IIM-B.

The idea for the course took shape this year after IIM-B worked on a couple of projects with the Karnataka government. “We realised they lacked talent that could work in large-scale projects, prompting us to start the elective,” says Nayana Tara. Industry experts who come for practical sessions during the 20-class course include members of World Bank, ADP, state governments and firms like GMR. The institute plans to make it into a permanent course.

The slowdown-hit real estate and infrastructure industries are hungry for talent. The real estate and construction sector employs 50 million, of which only 2 million are professionally qualified, according to a study by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Further, because of constant market fluctuations, “managing cash flow has become tough and projects need more planning and research,” which the sector is currently ill-prepared for, says Mahesh Prabhu, director – finance, Century Real Estate. Companies that need experts to hit the ground running have even started their own management schools with faculty from the IIMs.

IIM-B is currently working on a research paper to help Century Real Estate bring down its costs. “There is a huge shortage of labour and we cannot solely depend on manual labour anymore,” says Prabhu. The developer has even sponsored a chair last year at the institute.

Since global colleges have been running courses on real estate and infrastructure for a while, institutes in India have entered into alliances with them. In 2012, ISB along with MIT Sloan, started a research institute on real estate and infrastructure. The institute also runs a Real Estate Club formed along with infrastructure company SREI. Students who are part of the club go on field trips and shadow CEOs of infrastructure companies. ISB is helping SREI to foray into newer geographies like Africa, says Dhruv Bhalla, VP corporate strategy and planning, SREI Infrastructure. When it started in 2006, the club had 12 students. Today, there are 45.

At the other end, real estate courses are an incentive to industry players to participate in summer internships and final placements at IIMs. Every year, Reliance Infra, Brigade Group, Supertech, Lodha Group and Puravankara Projects hire students across management institutes and salaries start from Rs 18 lakh on an average. Puravankara has three IIM-B graduates who are undergoing a year’s training to take over as business heads in the company.

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