AACSB supremo

EducationWorld June 2019 | People

Singapore-based chartered accountant and investment analyst Thomas (Tom) Robinson is president and CEO of the US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International (estb.1916). This is a globally respected association that accredits and certifies member business management education institutes (aka B-schools) round the world.

Currently, AACSB has a membership of 1,700 B-schools worldwide of which 845 have been accredited after complying with its stringent accreditation and certification norms. Of India’s 3,030 B-schools, AACSB has accredited and certified the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad; TAPMI, Manipal; IIM-Calcutta; IIM-Indore; IIM-Ghaziabad; NMIMS University School of Management; XLRI, Jamshedpur; IFIM, Bangalore, IIM-Udaipur and S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.

Newspeg. Robinson was in Bangalore in January to address a conference titled ‘Learning 4.0: Connecting the dots and reaching the unreached’ hosted by IIM-Bangalore. He also unveiled ‘Curricula 4.0 — Creating Future Managers’, an AACSB-supported study, for developing a model graduate business management curriculum, at IFIM, Bangalore.

History. An alum of the University of Pennsylvania and Case Western Reserve University, Ohio (USA), Robinson practised as a public accountant, financial planner and chartered alternative investment analyst for ten years in the US, before he switched tracks and signed up with Miami University as faculty and later as director of the varsity’s professional accounting and personal financial planning programmes. In 2008, he was appointed managing director of global education of the CFA Institute, Virginia which he served for seven years prior to his appointment after a global search, as CEO of AACSB.

Direct talk. “India’s best B-schools have rarely sought international accreditation as they are routinely celebrated, top-ranked and attract the cream of graduates who write the annual CAT (Common Admission Test of the IIMs), perhaps the world’s toughest B-school entrance exam. However, more enlightened leaders of Indian B-schools were quick to discern the value of AACSB accreditation which is important for attracting international students and faculty and research collaborations with top-ranked foreign B-schools. But as a globally-reputed 103-year-old accreditation institution, our accreditation process is a multi-year consultative programme and requires applicant B-schools to conduct well-documented, self-evaluation which is peer reviewed and mapped against our 15 accreditation standards,” says Robinson.

Future plans. Four years into his term as president of AACSB, Robinson believes Asia is a region with highest growth potential. “The economies of China and India, as also several other Asian countries, are the fastest growing in the world. Therefore, the demand for professionally qualified managers is likely to explode in the next few years. In turn, B-schools will need to upgrade and modernise their curriculums. AACSB accredited schools are ready, willing and able to benchmark themselves with the best worldwide,” says Robinson.

Sruthy Susan Ullas (Bangalore)

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