Career Growth in Finance: Insights from Arindam Bandyopadhyay

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Dr. Arindam Bandyopadhyay, Academics Dean at NIBM, highlights how finance offers immense opportunities for career advancement. Discover how pursuing a career in finance can lead to significant growth and success.

 

In an era of rapid transformation in the banking and finance industry, staying ahead of trends and acquiring the right skills are crucial for aspiring professionals. To shed light on these developments and provide insights into effective skills training, we sit down with Dr. Arindam Bandyopadhyay, Professor of Finance and Dean of the Academic Programme at the National Institute of Bank Management (NIBM), Pune. With an illustrious career spanning academia and industry, Dr. Bandyopadhyay brings a wealth of knowledge and a human touch to the complex world of Banking & Finance education.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay has made significant contributions in the fields of credit risk modelling, integrated risk management, and banking regulations, including Basel II and Basel III. He holds a Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, and has been awarded the UGC Junior and Senior Research Fellowship. His impressive publication record includes articles in esteemed journals such as the Economic & Political Weekly, Indian Economic Journal, and IIMB Management Review, covering topics like bank solvency, credit risk analysis, and financial performance. Additionally, he has authored several books, including “Managing Portfolio Credit Risk in Banks” published by Cambridge University Press. 

At NIBM, Dr. Bandyopadhyay teaches courses in risk management and research methodology and has conducted over 100 executive development programmes for senior and middle-level executives. His role also includes mentoring PGDM students, serving on editorial boards, and undertaking consultancy projects for prominent banks. His extensive academic and practical experience positions him as a leading expert in the Banking and Finance sector.

In this interview, Dr. Bandyopadhyay discusses the emerging skills essential for success in the world of finance and banking, focusing on the increasing importance of soft skills and technology proficiency. He offers practical advice on selecting the right business school, emphasising the significance of a well-rounded curriculum, experienced faculty, robust placement records, and financial support options. His insights are grounded in a deep understanding of both the academic and professional landscapes, making his perspectives invaluable for students and professionals alike.

Beyond the technicalities, Dr. Bandyopadhyay shares his thoughts on the broader implications of pursuing an MBA, highlighting its impact on career success and personal growth. His passion for education and his commitment to nurturing the next generation of financial leaders shine through, providing a glimpse into the heart of an educator dedicated to making a difference. 

Join us as we explore these vital topics with one of the leading experts in the field and discover how the right guidance can pave the way for a fulfilling and successful career in banking and finance.

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Q1: What changes do you foresee in the insurance and finance sectors in India and globally in the coming years? How is NIBM ensuring its students gain the necessary skills and technologies the industry seeks?

Answer: NIBM was established by the Reserve Bank of India and is 54 years old. The institute was launched during the bank nationalisation era with the mandate to provide leadership to the banking sector through independent perspectives, research, and training.  Our primary focus is executive training and research, and our  PGDM programme was the first banking and finance course for postgraduate students. 

Our Post Graduate  Diploma in Management (PGDM) programme is a pioneering initiative in banking and finance education for postgraduate students. This programme is designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the banking and financial sectors. Our institute is guided by a high-level committee comprising distinguished members from academia, the banking industry, and top-tier leadership. This committee meticulously oversees our activities, ensuring that our academic and educational endeavours maintain the highest standards. We collaborate closely with executives to understand the evolving dynamics of the banking sector, particularly in the face of rapid technological advancements. Each decade presents new challenges, and our curriculum is continuously updated to address these changes. 

The curriculum at NIBM is both rigorous and contemporary, encompassing principles of management,  quantitative techniques, emerging technologies, risk management, regulations, and credit. Developed through extensive discussions with industry executives, academicians, and alumni, our curriculum reflects the current needs and future trends of the banking sector. Our PGDM programme, now in its 22nd  or 23rd year, has been AICTE-approved since the 2013–15 batch, underscoring our commitment to academic excellence. 

Our faculty members are deeply involved in research, regularly publishing papers that contribute to thought leadership in banking, finance, and the insurance sector. This active engagement in research ensures that we remain at the forefront of academic and industry developments. Our PGDM course is highly regarded by industry companies and major stakeholders,  enhancing its acceptance and recognition. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India serves as the chairman of our governing board, providing invaluable advice and support. This strong affiliation with the Reserve Bank of India significantly bolsters our institutional strength and credibility, reinforcing our position as a leading centre for banking and financial education.

Q2: Given your extensive experience in education and your prominent role at NIBM, what trending skills in the banking and insurance sectors do you believe will significantly impact student employability in the coming years?

Answer: For students, I would suggest that some of the key aspects they need to consider include the curriculum, the faculty members, and the level of industry involvement. The curriculum is very important, as are the faculty members and the opportunities for industry interaction. We have several industry interaction initiatives, such as leadership talk series, colloquiums, seminars, and conferences.  These platforms allow students to engage with industry trends and developments. Understanding the business environment is crucial since this field involves banking, insurance, and financial services.  Students should be familiar with core principles, available products, and emerging products driven by technology. The curriculum should cover these aspects. For example, lending is a core business area, but there are also products related to investment income, treasury, and various financial instruments like swaps.  Additionally, students should learn about infrastructure financing, retail lending, corporate lending,  and agricultural financing. Product awareness is equally important in insurance. 

Technology and adaptability to change are essential. The curriculum should be regularly updated and include a wide range of electives, allowing students to choose areas like AI, machine learning,  blockchain, regulations, audit, product valuation, and risk management. Understanding product valuation is critical for marketing, and risk management is essential due to the inherent risks for candidates in the business world of finance. I would suggest focusing on several key aspects when selecting a programme. The curriculum is very important. Additionally, consider the faculty members and whether there are opportunities for industry involvement. Industry interactions are crucial, such as through leadership talk series, colloquiums, seminars, and conferences. These platforms allow students to engage with industry professionals and stay updated on the latest trends. 

Q3:  When viewing finance and banking,  students frequently prioritise math and technical skills while overlooking the significance of soft skills. How crucial are soft skills for students aspiring to excel in the banking & insurance sector?

Answer: Continuous improvement is an inherent aspect of personal and professional development, with the acknowledgement that perfection remains an elusive pursuit. Within the realm of academia and industry, a paramount yet often underappreciated facet is that of interpersonal proficiency, colloquially referred to as business communication. This skill set not only serves as a cornerstone within educational curricula but also finds resonance within executive training programmes. In both virtual and physical learning environments, the duality of verbal and written communication assumes critical importance. In an era characterised by technological advancement and digital interconnectedness,  adeptness in articulating ideas and adhering to professional etiquettes through various mediums stands as a requisite competency. Herein lies the juncture where theoretical knowledge converges with practical application, necessitating active engagement and participation from students. 

Encouraging students to partake in scholarly discourse and extracurricular activities such as colloquiums and seminars not only fosters intellectual growth but also cultivates confidence and networking acumen. Hosting seminars, in particular, presents an invaluable opportunity for students to assume leadership roles, thus augmenting their organisational and managerial skills. Executives often appreciate candidates who can present themselves well. 

This enhancement in communication skills not only benefits students during recruitment but also adds value to their CVs. Additionally, such activities contribute to developing leadership qualities, a crucial aspect of the professional world. Being a good listener is equally important, as it opens avenues for research, communication, and industry insights.

Q4: How do you think technology and AI are impacting finance and banking? How can students prepare to stay competitive in this changing landscape?

Answer: In addressing the evolving landscape of the finance and banking sectors, it’s evident that our world is in a state of constant flux. This paradigm shift isn’t novel; historical precedents exist, indicating recurring cycles of transformation. Presently, with India’s globalisation, we find ourselves poised to compete on a global scale, aligning with international standards in banking and finance—a notable achievement. Embracing technological advancements is imperative, albeit with a nuanced understanding of its intricacies, capabilities, and limitations. Consequently, I advocate for a multifaceted approach to student preparation. Alongside their core curriculum, students should consider augmenting their skill set with short courses focusing on practical applications such as Python programming. 

Collaborative learning environments, facilitated through orientation programmes, are pivotal in fostering interdisciplinary exchange. Engineers adept in programming complement the interpretational prowess of commerce students, fostering a symbiotic relationship conducive to holistic learning. Active participation in academic forums, innovation councils, and competitions not only cultivates critical thinking but also nurtures a culture of innovation—a hallmark of academic excellence. Short courses,  spanning a spectrum from competition strategies to digital leadership, serve as catalysts for cognitive agility, equipping students to navigate the dynamic landscape of the finance and banking sectors. 

Moreover, fostering a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration is paramount. By embracing a collective ethos, students can harness the power of synergy, transcending disciplinary boundaries to effect transformative change. In essence, while technological advancements herald unprecedented opportunities, they underscore the irreplaceable role of human ingenuity and interpretation. Thus, in preparing for the future, it is imperative to balance technological acumen and human-centric skills, ensuring a seamless integration of innovation and expertise.

Q5: Pivoting to a different topic. As a leader of a renowned institution, what are the top five factors you recommend are crucial for students when choosing the right B-school during the MBA admissions process?

Answer: I would recommend that students thoroughly assess several vital factors when choosing the right B school. Firstly, they should delve into the curriculum, ensuring it offers a rigorous and comprehensive academic experience. Secondly, evaluating the campus facilities is crucial, considering the availability of resources and conducive learning environments. Furthermore, examining teaching facilities is essential to ensure quality education delivery. 

Additionally, students should meticulously review the institution’s recruitment and placement record,  gauging its ability to facilitate career opportunities post-graduation. 

Affiliations with reputable bodies such as AICTE and NIRF signify credibility and adherence to academic standards. Faculty expertise is another critical aspect; students should explore the institute’s research output, which is a testament to their academic prowess. Access to financial support, including bank loans, can significantly alleviate the financial burden of education, particularly in specialised fields like AI in finance.  

Lastly, the institution’s brand image, as reflected through affiliations, approvals, and historical performance in curriculum delivery and placement, should be thoroughly assessed. By carefully considering these factors, students can make informed decisions that align with their academic and career aspirations.

Q6: When alumni discuss their MBA experience, they often emphasise its transformative nature. What guidance would you offer to students intending to join NIBM on how they should approach these two years, both personally and professionally?

Answer: Students are given a unique opportunity to maximise their time during the two-year MBA  programme. It is imperative that they approach this period with a keen sense of inquiry, coupled with a willingness to adapt to the inevitable challenges that may arise. Maintaining a constructive and optimistic outlook is essential, as it not only fosters personal resilience but also facilitates a conducive learning environment. 

A pivotal aspect of this journey involves seeking guidance from mentors and faculty members,  leveraging their expertise to navigate academic and professional complexities effectively. Furthermore,  students should actively engage in practical endeavours, such as internships and research projects,  which catalyse experiential learning and skill development. Transforming these experiences into tangible outputs, such as publishable articles or presentations, not only enriches the academic discourse but also enhances students’ communication and analytical abilities. Moreover,  collaborative endeavours foster a sense of camaraderie among peers, creating a supportive ecosystem conducive to intellectual growth. In essence, the initial phase of the MBA programme lays the groundwork for future success. By approaching the first year with diligence and a spirit of exploration, students can cultivate the skills and insights necessary to thrive in the dynamic landscape of business and finance.

Q7: How would you define success, and what standards do you employ to gauge personal success, particularly for young professionals undertaking an MBA or Masters programme?

Answer: Success, in my opinion, is a journey that spans a significant period. It’s essential not to be solely focused on short-term gains and to avoid being myopic. Initial successes may provide confidence, but one should guard against overconfidence. Similarly, initial failures should not deter us, as there will always be opportunities for redemption. Persistence is key; treating success as a marathon rather than a sprint is crucial. Maintaining focus and integrity throughout the journey is paramount. Passion for one’s chosen field, whether it be banking or insurance, is foundational. Even if passion is not immediately present, dedication and perseverance can foster it over time. By staying resilient and positive and by upholding integrity, navigating the challenges of the journey becomes more manageable, leading to eventual success for both students and seasoned professionals alike. 

Q8: Explain why choose an MBA in under 10 words.

Answer:  MBA: Master subject, understand utilisation; vital for permanent career growth”.

Postgraduation or MBA education is crucial for mastering subjects and understanding their utilisation,  offering a permanent career advantage. My advice to prospective students: Prepare diligently and give your best effort to maximise this opportunity. All the best! 

In conclusion, the insights shared by Dr. Arindam Bandyopadhyay underscore the dynamic nature of the banking and finance industry and the critical importance of acquiring both technical and soft skills to succeed.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay’s passion for education and his commitment to fostering the next generation of financial leaders are evident throughout our discussion. His perspectives on the transformative potential of an MBA highlight how this advanced degree can catalyse personal and professional growth, equipping graduates to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry. 

For those on the path to a career in banking and finance or contemplating pursuing an MBA, Dr Bandyopadhyay’s advice offers a roadmap to success. By staying informed about industry trends,  honing the right skills, and choosing educational institutions wisely, aspiring professionals can navigate their careers with confidence and achieve their goals.

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