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Unlocking Global Opportunities: Interview with GMAC's Regional Director Gaurav Srivastava

  • 27 May 2024

An exclusive interview with Srivastava, Regional Director, GMAC


By D.Raghavendra for ET TECH X, May 27, 2024


With GMAC® being the driving force behind renowned assessments such as the GMAT® exam, NMAT by GMAC™ exam, and the Executive Assessment exam, Gaurav Srivastava, the Regional Director overseeing South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey for the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), brings over 24 years of rich experience across diverse sectors including FMCG, Financial Services, and Education Services.


In an exclusive interview with ET TECH X, we delve into the dynamic world of global assessments and educational services with Srivastava. Throughout his career journey encompassing leading multinationals like Pepsi, Citibank, Fullerton Securities, and GMAC™, Srivastava has been instrumental in spearheading the launch of numerous successful products, services, and new ventures both domestically and internationally. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, with global presence extending to London, Gurgaon, and Hong Kong, GMAC™ continues to shape the landscape of business education worldwide.


Stay tuned as we uncover insights from Srivastava on navigating the ever-evolving educational ecosystem, harnessing global opportunities, and driving innovation in assessment methodologies.


With India being the second-largest market for GMAC's assessments like GMAT and NMAT, what strategies is GMAC employing to further penetrate this market?


The GMAT and NMAT, are amongst the most popular tests for candidates wishing to pursue management education in India. The GMAT is already accepted in over 150 programs that are offered by leading b-schools in India, which include the IIM’s, XLRI, MDI (for their Executive Education programs) and for the full time programs at ISB, SPJIMR, Great Lakes, IMT, IMI, TAPMI etc. The NMAT is the accepted by over 55 leading private universities in India, for their MBA programs that include NMIMS University, Xavier University, TAPMI, KJ Somaiya etc.


The GMAT and NMAT together deliver over 100,000 tests within India, with the highest amount of diversity in terms of Male : Female test takers, which is approx. 60:40. This large and diverse test taker base offers Indian b-schools an excellent candidate pool to recruit from and GMAC works closely with b-schools to guide them with the right set of tools and data to get the candidate that they desire for their class.


Some of these services and products include GMAC Tours, which are recruitment fairs run twice a year across 4-5 cities in India. Schools and candidates get the opportunity to meet up in person at these fairs and evaluate each other. GMAC also has a media service and a database that schools can use to highlight their programs amongst candidates through various promotional means.


The official website for the GMAT and NMAT is MBA.com, which attracts over 12 million unique visitors each year and the schools that accept the GMAT and NMAT, are listed here and their program details are mentioned. This is an ideal way to showcase programs to candidates.


Through these efforts over the last 10 years, applications and admissions to Indian schools have quadrupled for the GMAT and NMAT.


How do GMAC's assessment offerings like GMAT and NMAT contribute to the diversification of candidate pools in graduate management programs, especially in India?


With a Male : Female test takers ratio, which is approx. 60:40, both these exams already offer an extremely diverse pool of candidates to select from to the partner institutions. One of the key reason for this is that both the exams are built in manner that can be attempted and exceled in by a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds and not only engineering graduates. This has made GMAT and NMAT get students from all educational backgrounds, providing the necessary diversity in cohort every institution is looking for both in terms of gender and inclusivity. We also conduct extensive market education exercises to help candidates understand more about GME journey and all these aspects.


Looking ahead, what are GMAC's key objectives and focus areas for further growth and expansion in the Indian market?


GMAC’s key objective is to continue to expand usage of its assessments the GMAT, NMAT and EA’s (Executive Assessment) presence in India. The GMAT test is accepted at all PGDM schools governed by AICTE, as one amongst 6 ratified teats.


GMAC will continue to work closely with schools to help them build a robust pipeline of diverse students including international students, which is a focus are for b-schools and something that is presently lacking in Indian schools.


How is GMAC adapting its assessments like GMAT and NMAT to address the growing demand for AI and STEM skills in management education?


To adapt to the increasing demand for AI and STEM skills in management education, GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) has incorporated relevant content into its assessments, including the GMAT and NMAT exams. Indeed, GMAC recently launched an updated version of the GMAT exam that now features a new Data Insights section. This section aims to assess candidates’ capacity to analyze and evaluate data, crucial for addressing real-world business challenges. This new section evaluates digital and data literacy, both of which are pivotal proficiencies in today’s business environment and essential for careers in AI and STEM-related fields.   



Can you share insights into how GMAC's assessments assess candidates' readiness in AI and STEM fields for graduate business programs?


Both the GMAT and NMAT assessments include question types that assess AI and STEM-related skills, such as data analysis and data sufficiency.  In addition, the format of some questions involves scenarios that require candidates to demonstrate their understanding and ability to apply AI and STEM related concepts in real-world problems and contexts. For example, questions may involve the analysis of datasets from multiple sources, such as emails, web search results, and media stories, as well as interpreting results. Additionally, there may be questions that assess candidates’ ability to determine the quality of presented data to ultimately solve complex problems, discern relationships between entities and datasets, and evaluate trade-offs. By incorporating AI and STEM-related concepts and content into our assessments, GMAC ensures that candidates for management education programs are equipped with the skills necessary to excel in an increasingly technology-driving business landscape.


With the rise of AI and STEM in management education, what role do you see GMAC's research products and professional development opportunities playing in preparing students for these domains? How does GMAC collaborate with business schools to integrate AI and STEM curriculum into their management programs, ensuring graduates are equipped with relevant skills for the future?


We constantly review and revise our market research and professional development opportunities for school admissions officers to ensure that we meet the pressing demands from candidates as well as the evolving roles of business schools. With the rapid rise of AI and STEM, for example, we added questions to our annual survey of prospective students to gauge their interest in incorporating the topic in their academic experience. We also added questions to our survey of corporate recruiters about their need for business school graduates with skills in AI and data analytics, detailing whether these skills are important to employers now—and five years from now—to ensure that business schools can adapt to future market needs. In addition, we recently launched a case study series on AI in Business Education to spotlight how some business schools are integrating AI into their curriculum development, administrative processes, and strategic projects. We will also host practical workshops and educational sessions at our upcoming annual conference for school professionals to explore generative AI and understand how it will influence their operations and help engagement with their target audiences. These are just a few ways GMAC collaborates with business schools and corporate employers to ensure that GME graduates are well equipped with the relevant skills for the future.


With the increasing importance of data analytics in business decision-making, how does GMAC incorporate this aspect into its assessments and offerings?


GMAC, at its core, is a truly data-driven organization. In 2023, the GMAT exam underwent a significant evolution with the introduction of the GMAT Focus Edition, the 11th iteration of the gold standard assessment in graduate management education. This updated version emphasizes data analysis skills through the Data Insights section, testing candidates' data literacy and ability to apply data to real-world scenarios. The section may require math, data analysis, verbal reasoning, or a combination thereof, challenging candidates to integrate multiple sources of information. Furthermore, the enhanced Official Score Report now offers detailed, data-driven performance insights, enabling candidates to identify strengths and areas for improvement.  We also support our partner schools and programs, and their admissions teams, by providing invaluable insights into global graduate management education trends. Our Research team conducts annual surveys and publishes reports covering prospective students, application trends, regional profiles, corporate recruiting, and more. Additionally, we offer personalized validity studies to schools, providing them with insights into their admissions process's effectiveness. These studies include a statistical analysis of admissions criteria, bringing data science into the art of admissions, and allow schools to understand how assessment scores and undergraduate grade point averages correlate to student success in their programs. As evidenced, data analysis is fundamental to all aspects of GMAC’s operations, from supporting schools to assessing candidates.