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The managers and leaders of the future today face looming challenges and opportunities that require new skills, specialist expertise and a fresh perspective to address – and the three main pillars for future leaders in a PGDM programme can look ahead are responsibility, sustainability and inclusivity.

Each one of these concepts have come from a problem-based approach, looking around and thinking how we can do business better, how we can do it differently, examining what the challenges are that businesses are facing – whether it is a changing workforce, or a changing community, or climate change. Whatsoever is the problem, they are all pillars that can help one develop a right mindset to address it.

Instead of giving quick little one-off solutions, what PGDM students should be trying to do is to build attitudes around responsibility, sustainability and inclusivity, so that as the problems change and evolve – and they will – our managers and our leaders are equipped to respond to them. Such an approach enables students to make the ‘right’ decisions as business leaders – decisions that ensure the best outcomes, and decisions that consider our environment, wellbeing, opportunity, risk and so much more. Ultimately, PGDM students should be offered the opportunity to challenge themselves, to transform themselves into the leaders the world needs.

Let us take a close look at these three main factors that has the potential to create future leaders in a PGDM programme:

  1. Responsibility

When we talk about responsibility, we frequently talk about responsible leadership, and it is essentially being responsible to employees, to consumers, but we also need to take into account suppliers, and the community where manufacturing plants operate. It is about broadening the concept of responsibility so that companies are not just responsible for profit or productivity, and not just concerned about the shareholders, but rather they are really responsible to that much larger group of people.

  1. Sustainability

This leads to the issue of sustainability. Sustainability is deeply embedded in that concept of climate change which says that we have to be more responsible to our planet or we are not going to sustain our lives. Yet, it is about moving beyond that, and we have to look at how we can make organizations sustainable in communities. Sustainability means organizations must sustain themselves and must think about acting in ways that are resilient and agile, such that employees and companies are not placed in vulnerable positions. We all understand the importance of being profitable, but that is also being sustainable. This is because if you don’t make a profit, you are not going to be around for very long – but if your only guide is making a profit, then the chances are you are going to cut your nose off to spite your face, so to say. If you pull out of a community, and leave that community in ruin, then the ripple effect will ultimately crash your ambitions. Hence, it makes good business sense to be sustainable within communities.

  1. Inclusivity

Inclusivity is often less considered, but it must surely be taken into account. We are witnessing the highest-ever levels of human migration. Companies, even local SMEs, are already global, with global reach, global supply chains, and we are working in increasingly diverse communities. We have to realize that it is not enough just to include token representation in decision-making; we actually have to create workplaces that are inclusive. People’s voices must be taken seriously, a diverse workforce created, and various elements in organizations – from the supply chain, to consumers, to product manufacturers – should be listened to and given influence in decision-making processes. One of the important things that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated is that when we listen to more voices, to those who know, who have a perspective that we don’t have, then we make far better decisions. The benefits of inclusivity are huge, but we have to be smart about it. Issues around equality and diversity have been treated as bean-counting phenomena, but that is not inclusivity, but those are just numbers. What we are talking about is being smart leaders, listening to various groups.

At Asian Business School (ABS), Noida, our flagship PGDM programme puts students in a position to tackle these key issues head on. Our programmes are purposeful and professionally oriented. The biggest advantage of studying at ABS is to attain an internationally recognized qualification, by the exceptional academic minds who grants holistic knowledge through outcome-based teaching methodology. The support from the industry is extensive in the form of internship and job placements. ABS believes that education and training are crucial inputs for human resource development, which in turn is quite essential for the economic well-being and growth of the larger society. Hence, we work with the leading think-tanks for improving work in India, building understanding of the issues across organizations and society, and developing mindsets to achieve responsible, sustainable, and inclusive outcomes. We understand that what works in one place will not work everywhere. We also realize that we have to have these mindsets to help us think in terms of responsibility, sustainability and inclusivity, as opposed to saying ‘here’s a plan that you can implement across the globe, that will work in every situation’. Besides, our students come from so many different places, so the one-size-fits-all solution isn’t going to work.

In conclusion, it can be said that if we think critically and with these principles in mind, then our future leaders in a PGDM programme can go into a variety of workplaces and cultures and do what needs to be done.