Praxis Business School launched its one year full time Business Program in 2011. The Praxis brand was new to this domain. When I heard about people mentioning Praxis on our blog initially, I thought it was one of the many programs which were started by Management Schools in the country. I dismissed it without opening their course page.
A few months after this incident, a couple of our community members had great things to say about the program. I usually consider this as one of the strongest early indicator about the quality of program and long term success. So, this time I talked to these community members for a long time over phone and also spent time understanding about their offering. I also went through the course details and looked at the profile of faculty.
There were quite a few things this program was doing differently:
- They had taken a call that to do justice to the subject matter, they would run the program as a full time program over 12 months (as opposed to other part time programs).
- The faculty was impressive with people from premier education institutes and industry experience.
- Praxis was also providing campus placements – internships followed by final placements, for the students attending the program.
All of this was being offered at a price point comparable to part time programs in the country. The only concern I could think was that the program was based only in Kolkata. While Kolkata has been a city of scholars, I personally thought a program like this would benefit a lot if there was a larger industry ecosystem in the city.
Irrespective, I reached out to Praxis and asked them to visit the campus and interact with the students in the program. They happily obliged! We reviewed the program and included it in our rankings after that. Over one of the discussions with the team at Praxis, I mentioned that while Praxis was not suffering because of its Kolkata location, a program like this should also have a center in Bangalore.
A few years later (i.e. last week), I got a call from the Praxis team informing me that they are now launching the same program in Bangalore. I congratulated the team and had a long discussion with Prof. Charanpreet Singh about the vision and addition of Bangalore as a program location. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion:
KJ: How do you look at the 5 years of journey of teaching analytics in India?
It has been a wonderful ride. We started the one-year full-time program in 2011 on the basis of suggestions made by our industry associates. As we did our own research, three things became abundantly clear:
- There would be a massive global demand for data scientists moving forward;
- There were no courses in the country addressing this need from a training perspective;
- Analytics and data science were complex fields that would require a deep dive facilitated by faculty of exceptional quality.
We started with a batch of just 8 students in 2011 – and today we are an established brand in analytics in the country with perhaps the only 360 degree solution for the student – concept strengthening, experiential learning with labs and projects, and placement into the corporate world of analytics.
Our alumni have performed with distinction and we get repeat recruiters at our campus – two pieces of unambiguous evidence that our efforts are bearing fruit. And yes, in these five years the world of analytics has evolved with speed – and so has our curriculum!
KJ: Take us through the thought behind the Bangalore launch.
As the awareness of analytics and data science gains momentum, the demand for good quality programs is bound to accelerate. Since we have chosen the high touch, in-class, full-time option, one way for us to grow and meet this increasing demand is to make the same program available in more geographies.
We started in Kolkata and focussed on getting our course content, faculty team and industry engagement right. We are now confident of a phased expansion, and Bangalore is quite obviously the best candidate for the first phase. It is the analytics capital of the country – with the highest number of people working with Tech companies and the largest number of potential recruiters.
As someone warned us a few months back – if you are in analytics you just have to be in Bangalore. We are excited about engaging with students in Bangalore and believe that this move will help enhance the Praxis position of being a top analytics institution.
KJ: The three critical strengths of the Praxis program have been its curriculum, the faculty and the placement program. Do you see a risk of dilution in these attributes with the Bangalore launch?
We gave a lot of serious thought to this and came to the conclusion that this ‘extension’ will actually enhance our strengths. We are preserving the core of the curriculum – the subjects will remain the same across Kolkata and Bangalore, but each faculty member will, of course, add his/ her own flavour.
We have engaged with some very accomplished people in Bangalore with a mix of academic and industry experience to deliver the course.
This will strengthen our faculty team and create a rich resource-pool that we can draw on for research as well as teaching. Finally, a larger group of trained candidates amplifies our value proposition to the recruiters, as the demand for data scientists keeps galloping.
KJ: Is there any change in the kind of applicants you are targeting in the two geographies? Can you briefly explain the selection criteria?
The selection process and criteria remain same irrespective of the geography.
We have two simple criteria for establishing suitability for this program – the extent of commitment to the domain of analytics, and the degree of problem solving passion and ability. Our program in Kolkata has had the full spectrum of students – from freshly graduated engineers and eco/ stats majors to professionals with 10 years of experience in IT and ITES.
The median would be someone with about 3-4 years of experience who is seeking a transition to a career in analytics. We have discovered that there are ready recruiters for the right talent and skill-set at every level.
KJ: Who should apply to the Praxis programs – and why?
Let me sketch a picture of a Praxis aspirant – serious about a career in Analytics – willing to deep-dive and devote a year to learning – loves numbers and loves solving problems – is not daunted by technology or complexity.
If one is seeking a comprehensive, rigorous and cutting-edge curriculum supported by a strong placement program that creates compelling career opportunities, Praxis is a great option. I would also recommend that aspirants research the quality of the programs they are applying to, and engage with the institute alumni before they decide.
KJ: There are several players in the hybrid and on-line space – which gives a much wider reach. You continue to stick to the full-time, high-touch program. Any specific reason?
Agree –on-line does give you reach. However, I look at two distinct types of audiences – one, those who are looking at analytics as an add-on to their existing set of skills with an objective of strengthening their capability in their current assignments; and two, those who are looking to transition from their existing careers into analytics.
Our programs address the specific requirements of the latter – analytics is a complex domain and a budding data scientist needs to devote his/ her full energy and time to the understanding of concepts and their applications.
A part-time program, in my opinion, may land the candidate a job, but may not be adequate for the person to perform with distinction. Even in a full-time program students sometimes struggle to grapple with advanced statistics and econometrics, data mining algorithms, tools like R, SAS, Python, new technologies like Hadoop and its eco-system – all packed into a tight 500 hours capsule.
Moving forward, we do have plans to address the needs of the on-line audience as well.
KJ: Praxis is one of the few programs, which takes ownership of the placements of the students. What is the thought process behind it and how has this changed over years?
We are clear that our target students are seeking a transition into a career in analytics – that’s the reason they join our program. So it’s our responsibility to make sure of both – that they get the required learning that prepares them for this career and that they get institutional support in their quest for the all-important (and most tricky) first job in this area.
And I guess the two go hand-in-hand – as we understand the corporate expectations better with every interaction, we make appropriate improvements in our academic content and delivery.
Thus, by taking up the responsibility of placements with a lot of seriousness, we ensure that the quality of the program is continually enhanced. It also ensures that we keep adding new recruiters every year, in addition to retaining the present ones.
This approach introduces a lot of clarity in our selection process as well – if we feel certain candidates will encounter seemingly insurmountable barriers in entering this domain for any reason we make that abundantly clear to them and generally do not admit them into the program (unless they insist – and a few actually do – that they are happy to just learn and work something out for themselves).
From an outcome perspective, our curriculum has evolved substantially in the last 5 years and continues to be acknowledged as the most comprehensive and current program; and we have found the ‘first analytics job’ for over 90% of our students – consistently, batch after batch.
KJ: Thanks Prof. Singh for your time. As usual, I enjoyed talking to you. I wish you all the success for this program and hope that you continue to build the momentum and brand Praxis in future.
To know more about the program, you can visit here.
Did you like reading this article ? Are you planning join business analytics program ? Do share your experience /suggestions in the comments section below.