Empowering Careers in the Development Sector: A Deep Dive into ISDM's PGP-DM Program

| 19 January, 2024
Empowering Careers in the Development Sector: A Deep Dive into ISDM's PGP-DM Program
Author Published: 19 January, 2024
Empowering Careers in the Development Sector: A Deep Dive into ISDM's PGP-DM Program

Over the past decade, more and more people have been drawn to the social development sector, driven by a desire to find purpose and meaning in their lives and work. This surge in interest has led to a substantial increase in the sector's budget, reaching Rs 8.28 lakh crore ($100.77 billion) for the year 2023-24 in India. However, a significant challenge arises from the lack of effective management in the development sector.

Mr. Ravi Sreedharan, the Co-Founder of ISDM has stressed this issue in his TED Talk: Tedx Talk by ISDM Founder Ravi Sreedharan - Management for Development

To address this issue, the social sector requires development management to enhance societal growth and achieve economic and social freedom. Unlike corporate management, development management is not about individual projects; instead, it focuses on a process-based system to eliminate stagnation in public service.

Hence, to tackle the acute lack of management skills and knowledge in the development sector, a group of experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds founded India’s first institute dedicated to development management, ISDM (Indian School of Development Management). It was built on the importance of making the leadership and management of social purpose organisations (SPOs) more professional by introducing PGP in development management.

Introducing Post Graduate Program in Development Management (PGP-DM)

In the ever-evolving landscape of professional development, the significance of hands-on learning and real-world application cannot be overstated. Aspiring to bridge the gap between academic theory and real-world challenges, the Post Graduate Program in Development Management (PGP-DM) introduced by ISDM is becoming the launchpad for individuals seeking not just knowledge, but the practical skills and insights needed to thrive in the complex realms of the real world.

Study at ISDM


The program is crafted to immerse students in the intricacies of development management through hands-on projects, simulations, and exposure to actual industry scenarios.

As we delve into the transformative journey of PGP-DM, it becomes clear that the magic lies in the synergy between theory and practice.

This article explores how the hands-on learning and real-world application in PGP-DM not only equip individuals with the necessary tools but also instill a mindset that is ready to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by the real world.

Watch this video to understand what makes ISDM one-of-its-kind: What makes ISDM, ISDM

Nurturing Young Professionals: ISDM’s Approach

The Post Graduate Programme in Development Management (PGP-DM) at ISDM is an 11-month program with 75+ global faculty, 300+ placement partners, 100% placement assistance, and the highest salary being 16 LPA.

The PGP-DM program is carefully crafted by experts and has a blended synergy of development and management theories. The course offers high-tech in-class sessions with collaborative group work and a field experience.

This course aims to produce tomorrow’s skilled and dedicated management professionals who are adequate to manage complex circumstances, diverse locations, and cultures, specifically for Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs). It imparts exceptional knowledge and methods enabling its students to plan interventions, construct, lead, and manage organisations for lasting social impact.

Skills needed for success in the Development Sector: PGP-DM Curriculum and Pedagogy

ISDM with its Post Graduate Program in Development Management, fosters young professionals through its rigorous coursework divided into 8 terms that include:

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability
  2. Economic Reasoning & Public Policy
  3. Intervention Design for Social Impact
  4. Fund Raising
  5. Monitoring and Evaluation
  6. Technology for Social Impact at Scale
  7. Network and Partnerships
  8. Concepts of Social Work

The above-given eight courses offered over the year fall into the following clusters:

1. Curated Development Management Courses (Term 1 to Term 2)

- Courses on business and development management.

- Teaches critical thinking by exploring the boundaries of the market.

- Covers various topics like Perspectives on Society and Development, State, Market & Society, Systems Thinking,Financial Perspectives, Operations Management for Quality and Impact, Behaviour Change Communication, Marketing Management, Human Development in an Unequal World, Technology and Management, and Corporate Social Responsibility.

- ‘New age’ electives like Behavioural Sciences in Social Change, Introduction to Digital Marketing and Social Entrepreneurship are also offered for a more in-depth study.

2. Personal Mastery for Development Leadership (Term 1 to Term 7)

- Provides sessions and workshops like Personal Mastery for Development Leadership, Radical Transformational Leadership, and Group Dynamics.

- Focus on nurturing curiosity, courage, and compassion in students as they collaborate in teams, engage with communities, and design interventions.

- Throughout the year, distinguished speakers and leaders from diverse backgrounds are invited to encourage student discussions, debates, reflection, and learning.

- Workshops on Networks, Partnerships, and Alliances for Scale, Perspective on Organisations, Knowledge Management Systems, and Fundraising.

- In terms 5-7, students must complete self-paced Harvard ManageMentor Courses covering essential management topics such as Team Creation, Team Management, Budgeting, Project Management, Business Plan Development, and Negotiating. These courses offer a chance to enhance management skills.

3. Writing in the Discipline (Term 3)

- Students are provided individual mentorship and feedback on how to write, speak and present their ideas.

- Teaches choosing appropriate words, and tone that recognizes the complex nature of social change and the emergent nature of this work.

4. Context-Based Collaborative Learning (CBCL) (Term 1 to Term 7)

The context-based collaborative learning (CBCL) is an integral part of ISDM’s pedagogy. It is a method used to make the teaching and learning process more impactful.

- Lectures, case studies, workshops, group work, readings, and individual assignments are carefully integrated to enhance students' knowledge and application skills for the social sector.

- The course offers opportunities for practical application through specially designed group work, allowing students to apply what they've learned in real-world scenarios.

- Central to the CBCL process is collaborative inquiry and co-creation, supported by learning mentors known as Bricoleurs, working with students on a one-to-one basis and groups to discuss individual learning journeys and key development lenses to differentiate management for the social sector such as collaboration, equity and social justice.

5. Realising India Immersive Experience (Term 4 to Term 8)

- Realising India Immersive Experience is a two-week project that emphasizes scale and sustainability.

- It provides a practical experience by working on live projects with Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs).

- Integrates previous term learnings into a real, viable, and scaling strategy for the SPO.

- Concentrates on the 'what' and 'how' of managing SPOs.

- Aims to deepen students' understanding of people's lives at the district level.

- Prepares students to design effective interventions by immersing them in real-world experiences.

In addition to the eight core courses, the program provides elective options to nurture your leadership skills for the future. PGP-DM students learn to address community issues with empathy and understanding, considering systemic and cultural aspects, all while keeping a focus on impact, scalability, and sustainability.

The course also prepares future policymakers with skills such as teamwork, effective communication, empathetic engagement, critical thinking, data-driven decision-making, networking, stress management, and willingness to learn, unlearn, and relearn. These skills are taught by the unique method of ‘knowing’, ‘doing’, and ‘being’.

- 'Knowing' skills are about understanding the limits of the market and developing critical thinking skills.

- 'Doing' skills refer to thinking creatively and innovatively to frame and solve problems.

- 'Being' skills are about paying greater attention to personal development and grounding organizational decision-making in ethics and values of equity and fairness.


The assessment process is a key part of the student's learning journey. It involves evaluating the student's progress through a mix of the following components to make you ready to kickstart your career in the development sector:

  1. Classroom Attendance
  2. Graded Individual and Group Assignments (Faculty and Bricoleurs)
  3. Tests/Quizzes
  4. Peer Assessment in Collaborative Groups

These assessments help build the students’ caliber and prepare them for real-world problems. With all these factors and a strong alumni network, the PGP-DM course can ensure the personal and professional growth of the student resulting in better career opportunities.

What job opportunities are available in the development sector for young development professionals?

Explore the myriad possibilities that await you as you embark on a journey toward a rewarding career in the social sector through our comprehensive PGP-DM program. Following are the career options in the development sector:

  1. Programme Operations and Management:
    Develop program design aligning with the organisation's strategy.
  2. Communications and Engagement:
    Shape the organisational brand and manage the communications strategy.
  3. Fund Raising (Retail and Corporate):
    Formulate fundraising strategies and engage donors for organisational and programmatic funds.
  4. Strategy & Data-based Decision Making:
    Contribute to the overall strategy and analyze data for informed decision-making.
  5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
    Define CSR strategy, implement interventions, and ensure governance compliance.
  6. Government Relations and Advocacy:
    Submit proposals, build relationships with government wings, and advocate for specific areas.
  7. Strategic Partnerships and Alliances:
    Identify, onboard, and manage partners based on collaboration needs.
  8. Monitoring & Evaluation:
    Develop M&E Framework, collaborate with technical partners, and analyze impact data.
  9. EA to CEO:
    Assist the CEO in implementing organizational initiatives and data-driven decision-making.
  10. Co-Founders:
    Collaborate with development sector entrepreneurs and organizations' founders.

ISDM Alumni Success Stories: Diverse Roles and Impactful Positions in the Social Sector

The Post Graduate Program in Development Management equips students with a plethora of career options, offering diverse roles and responsibilities within the social sector. With a commitment to fostering impactful careers, ISDM collaborates with over 300 placement opportunities, ensuring our PGP-DM students have access to a wide array of professional pathways. It offered 100% placements in its previous batches as the placement process at ISDM is student-centric, and not organization-centric.

No matter what your educational or professional background is, this program is designed to provide you with an enriching experience, empowering you to make meaningful contributions to the field of devlopment management.

One such example is ISDM alumna Ayushi Jauhari. Ayushi was an engineer at a multinational company before joining ISDM. Volunteering at the CSR of her former employee made her want to pursue the path of social development management as a career.

Here is what Ayushi has to say about her journey from engineering to social development management: From an Engineer to Changemaker: Ayushi's Transformative Journey in the Development Sector

So was the case with Simran Bhola, an ISDM alumna, who was working at EY as the Assurance Associate. Finding her zeal for the social sector, Simran joined ISDM for a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the sector and its problems. Here’s what Simran has to say about her experience with ISDM and her career journey: My journey at ISDM | The social sector's next place to be

Here is a list of ISDM alumni working in different positions in the social sector as per their interests and choices:

1. CSR Fund/Foundation:

- Rama Krishna Teja, PGP-DM 2019, CSR Lead at Tata Consultancy Services, B.Tech from K.L University.

- Viswanathan V, PGP-DM 2017, Assistant Manager CSR at Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd., BE in Electronics and Communication from Jeppiaar Institute of Technology.

2. Social Welfare Organizations:

- Nilanjan Panda, PGP-DM 2019, PRADAN - Professional Assistance for Development Action, BSW from Visva-Bharti and MA in Development from Azim Premji University.

- Akshay Jha, PGP-DM 2020, Program Manager Aftercare at M.A.D (Make a Difference), B.Pharm. & M.Pharm.-Pharmacy from Guru Nanak College of Pharmacy.

3. Policy Consulting Firms:

- B Shrija, PGP-DM 2018, Project Manager at Egov Foundation, B Sc Agriculture from Banaras Hindu University.

- Ashish Manjunath, PGP-DM 2020, Innovation Officer at Water Aid India, BE-Arts from M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology.

4. For-Profit Social Organizations:

- Swati, PGP-DM 2017, Project Manager at Janaagraha, B.Sc from St. Joseph's College & MA in Rural Development from IGNOU.

- Sanket Sunil Aher, PGP-DM 2019, Swades Foundation, BS in Physics from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.

5. Not for Profit/NGOs:

- Arpit Jain, PGP-DM 2017, Consultant at Dalberg, B.tech from NIT Karnataka, PG Diploma in Liberal Studies from Ashoka University.

- Abhishek Tyagi, PGP-DM 2019, Senior Associate at CSR Box, Political Science Hons from Delhi University.

6. Impact Investing Firm:

- Grishma Kajbaje, PGP-DM 2021, Samhita, B.COM from R A Podar College of Commerce and Economics.

- Priyanka Nalawade, PGP-DM 2018, Programme Associate MNE at Under The Mango Tree, B Tech in Computer Science and Technology.

7. Social Impact Consultancy:

- Supreeth V Kashyap, PGP-DM 2019, Wellbi, B.E in Computer Science & Engineering from The National Institute of Engineering, Mysore.

8. Social Enterprise:

- Tanushree Jain, PGP-DM 2018, Naushaura, Founder, Engineering, Mody University.

9. Education/Think Tanks/Research:

- Abinaya Rangarajan, PGP-DM 2018, Officer - Skill Education at Lend - A Hand India, B tech Industrial Biotechnology from Sastra University Thanjavur.

10. Bilateral Agencies:

- Radhika Nair, PGP-DM 2017, Consultant at Women's Fund Asia, BA in Communication from Amrita School of Communication.

Wrapping Up

The PGP-DM program is all about learning through hands-on experience. Perfect for those in or aspiring to join the social sector. The program's unique design acknowledges that regular management principles don't cut it for the complexities of the social sector. It seamlessly combines development and management, blending theory with real-world practice. Our community of teachers, mentors, and alumni is here to guide you at every step toward your dream opportunity.

If you're ready to make a meaningful impact, seize the moment and submit your application now!

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