One of the earliest entrants in the analytics education space and one of the country’s leading business schools, Praxis Business School has been consistently ranked among the Top 10 analytics courses in India. Praxis kick-started the Post Graduate Program in Business Analytics in 2011, four years after the business school was set up, with an objective to “fulfill the industry requirement of analytics-trained resources - who would, in due course, shape the future of the nascent and ever-evolving analytics field”.
The Praxis program, with its unique offering of a full-time, in-class, comprehensive one-year program with complete campus placement responsibility, has grown to comprise two campuses, Kolkata and Bangalore, and two intakes per year, January and July, at each campus. In addition, in a rare honour, Praxis has been selected by the Andhra Pradesh Government to manage and run its Business Analytics program at the International Institute of Digital Technologies, Tirupati and has already started the first batch in February this year,
Praxis is a young institute and will be completing 10 successful years this July. ‘It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the first few years as we strove to find our bearings in this highly competitive business management education domain,’ said Charanpreet Singh. ‘We stuck to our fundamentals - of being close to and addressing the needs of our two sets of customers - the students and the industry and it seems to have paid off. So at this point in time we feel that our approach has been vindicated - but the journey continues and we hope to touch and improve more lives.’
Praxis took a lead in adding Analytics to their portfolio of courses, and have enjoyed the early mover advantage in this field. When asked about the trigger for starting a program in Analytics, this is what Charanpreet Singh had to say:
‘The addition of the Business Analytics program to our portfolio is the result of our deep relationships with the industry and our willingness to listen to our industry friends. A couple of industry well-wishers suggested that we start a program in Analytics as the demand for professionals in this area was poised to skyrocket and there were no formal channels for recruitment. We saw analytics as a good vehicle to differentiate ourselves in the business education space.’
Prithwis Mukerjee lists four reasons for Praxis’ continued success:
- A comprehensive, contemporary curriculum that addresses the three pillars of techniques (& tools), technology and business understanding.
- A crack faculty team that ensures,
- Effective pedagogy (with a mix of lectures, case discussions, projects, labs) and
- A high quality of in-class engagement
- A stimulating student community - people from diverse geographies, backgrounds. industries and aspirations. A strong peer group is a priceless asset for any program.
- A well-established campus placement program that helps students get their first job in the analytics domain
Courses are built on great content – Praxis’s PGP in Business Analytics keeps pace with industry demand. Our research shows that a lot of aspirants choose Praxis because of the coverage of its curriculum and the clear perception that it is updated continually
‘The initial content has been created with industry collaboration from ICICI Bank and PwC, our knowledge partners’, says PM. ‘The faculty team at Praxis comprises professionals with considerable industry experience - it keeps itself abreast of the latest industry developments and keeps upgrading the curriculum accordingly. Our industry partners play the roles of an advisor as well as a soundboard for any changes that we may plan. Other mechanisms include recruiter and alumni feedback. So we end up teaching what the industry wants as opposed to what the teacher is already comfortable teaching!’[box title="Dr Mukerjee outlines some key changes made to stay at the leading edge of technology:" box_color="#ffffff" title_color="#5b5b5b" radius="5"]1. In 2012, statistics was the big thing and we were teaching a lot of it, shared Dr. Mukerjee. And then came coding languages, R and Python so the course was redesigned to reflect that
2. Couple of years later, Hadoop the big data platform was replaced with Spark and the classes were re-started with new Spark curriculum
3. Now, Google’s Tensorflow, an open source software library for machine learning has been integrated into the course[/box]
‘Class-room discussions are backed up by real-world case studies with publicly available data and a Capstone project. This gives the students a chance to benchmark their solutions against global leaderboards. Statistics and Machine Learning continue to form the backbone of the program,’ shared Dr. Mukerjee, ’but about 25% of the curriculum undergoes changes every year’.
Praxis is one of the very few institutes that take ownership of placements making it an attractive option for people seeking their first break in analytics. It runs a comprehensive campus placement program, with a process in place to match skills with industry requirements.
Charanpreet Singh explained the reason behind opting for this model: ‘The expressed objective of the program at Praxis is to enable an aspirant to get his/ her first job in Analytics - and, as a natural corollary, add to the pool of Analytics- trained resources. More than 80% of our students leave promising, stable jobs in good companies to join our program, after making it through a fairly rigorous selection process. We believe that it is only fair that we put a robust process in place to enable us to create superior career opportunities for the students.
We also believe that placements are not a stand-alone activity. It is a natural fallout of doing the right things - so if we have the right curriculum, pedagogy, student profile and placement process in place, placements will happen. We have provided placements to more than 90% of our students, batch-on-batch, so far.’
As organizations become more data-centric, and technology takes massive strides forward, making it easy and possible to access, store, analyze and visualize different types of data, the requirement for professionals trained in this science is poised to grow larger. No wonder, therefore, that there is mushrooming of courses – with a variety of content, duration, delivery models. How does one decide on a course design and then measure the success of a program like this?
‘We have a very clearly defined target audience - people who want to make a transition to the analytics and data science domain and make this their career,’ says Charanpreet Singh. ‘Given the breadth and complexity of this science, this requires a deep dive into the concepts, tools and techniques. We are convinced that the only way to do this is to engage aspirants in a rigorous, in-class, full-time program. Remember, we own the campus placement piece as well - so we need to ensure our students are well-trained before they face recruiter interviews. On-line and hybrid courses play a critical role as well – but for different target audiences’.
We have a simple outcome-based measure to assess the success of our program – says Prithwis Mukerjee. It is the level of acceptance of our students by recruiters, followed by repeat purchase - i.e., do the companies who have recruited once, come back for the next batch? A second measure is alumni performance - we keep in close touch with our alumni and follow their progress. Partly because of our training, and partly because of the high demand for analytics professionals, our alumni have grown considerably in their careers in the last 5 years or so. And finally, if we grow our numbers year on year and batch on batch, something must be going right! A large majority of our new applicants talk to the alumni before joining - and the alumni have been consistent in endorsing the program strongly to whoever reaches out to them.
Praxis debuts Business Analytics program at IIDT, Tirupati
As part of Andhra Pradesh government’s commitment to making AP a technology hub, Praxis Business School has been selected as the “Academic Partner by the Government of Andhra Pradesh” to deliver the one-year full-time postgraduate program in Business Analytics at the International Institute of Digital Technologies (IIDT), Tirupati, an institute established to be the digital and innovation centre for next-gen technologies. The first batch commenced classes on February 20 this year.
“It is a huge recognition, at the highest level, of the quality of work Praxis has done in the field of Analytics and Data Science, and an inspiration to continue to excel. With this, Praxis now has its footprint across Kolkata, Bangalore and Tirupati,” shared Prof Singh.
Here’s the role Praxis Business School will play in mentoring, guiding and partnering with IIDT in creating and delivering world-class training programs:
[box title="Praxis Business School & IIDT will offer joint certificates, diploma and degree to graduating students" style="soft" box_color="#ffffff" title_color="#563737" radius="5"]• Creating and delivering masters education programs to students
• Creating and delivering short-term certificate and diploma training programs to corporate employees and government officers
• Creating and delivering online/ virtual training programs
• Praxis Business School & IIDT will offer joint certificates, diploma and degree to graduating students[/box]
So where does the Praxis Analytics story go from here?
Charanpreet Singh: To start with, we need to consolidate and continue to be at the bleeding edge in terms of content, delivery and placements. There will be a continual effort to enhance the real-world project component so that students get more hands-on practice. We are viewing growth in a couple of ways - extending our footprint to other cities; and offer our academic expertise to emerging institutes that wish to run programs in analytics and data science (the IIDT model). Moving forward, as this domain evolves further, and the batch-size becomes larger, we can certainly envision technique-specific and vertical-specific (healthcare/ retail/ BFSI analytics).specializations. We are increasing the breadth of our offerings by launching week-end and on-line programs for time-poor working professionals. We are committed to creating well-trained professionals and serving the analytics industry needs.[box title="Snapshot of the program:" style="glass" box_color="#ffffff" title_color="#48536d" radius="5"]Name of the course: Post Graduate Program in Business Analytics
Duration: 9 months
Mode: Instructor-led classroom training program
Start date: July 03, 2017
Selection process: Written aptitude test followed by personal interview
Ideal profile: Program is suitable for Graduates with Mathematics and Statistics as one of the subjects such as BE/ BSc in Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, Computer Science, IT and so on. Work experience, while not compulsory, is preferred. Students ill at ease with the world of numbers or are uncomfortable with coding, may not be able to derive the full benefits of this course.[/box]
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Bhasker is a Data Science evangelist and practitioner with proven record of thought leadership and incubating analytics practices for various organizations. With over 16 years of experience in the area of Business Analytics, he is well recognized as an expert within the industry. Earlier, Bhasker worked as Vice President at Goldman Sachs. He is B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi and MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.