What is your background?
BE (Chemical ENGG.) PGDBM (IIM-Bangalore) PhD (Management sciences)
What initially attracted you to your job?
The challenge of being a fresh mind in this area of knowledge and of stimulating creativity in young minds. I believe these are the pillars of the nation.
Define your job?
a) As a professor, to create new approaches (case, projects etc.) and to facilitate a learning process so that the students are geared up to face the competitive environment in their job situation. b) As head of Marketing, to create new curriculum and allocate professors to the subjects of their choice. I also schedule the lectures to fit into the schedules of a heterogeneous group with wide choices with optimal variation. c) As chairman of CBME, I identify new areas of research and new speakers or new videos for discussions, and stimulate a drive towards borderless regimes. d) As PhD/ Mphil Research Supervisor, I monitor the progress of studies for the students allocated to me and facilitate their growth and development with keenness in their area of research. e) As a journal and conference publisher/author, I create new research and present to new ISI approved journals or conferences and stimulate a new thinking process beyond the normal. (A student of Life) f) As a Research Committee member, I review and monitor the performances of students and maintain the quality for the university standards.
Can you walk me through your day to day activities?
A day begins by planning the day ahead, we choose either to complete the tasks of teaching and creating new approaches to the students or, if there is no lecture that day, work out literature reviews and refine and create articles for conferences or journals.
When there are Review meetings we try and pin down creative approaches to upgrade the contribution of the committee to the standards of the University.
If it is a CBME meeting day then I send people a reminder invite, with the agenda and the meeting highlights. Then chair the session to get new insights from members or fresh expectations of the Centre of Excellences role to the University.
If there is a research student either newly creating a proposal or presenting the progress they have made, then I listen patiently to their views and intervene with constructive or creative suggestions. Many of these questions involve introducing ” What if’ questions so that the researcher feels these suggestions are actually his/hers for inculcating or improving his/her research.
If there is a new faculty or a visiting faculty member from industry then I explore their strengths and accommodate them into the University’s planned schedule. Many a time, a guest lecture is organized for validating the capabilities and acceptance of students.
What are the key issues facing your sector?
The changing expectations of the students, universities, industry employing the students, conference organizers and, research articles for journals and PhD students. Things are growing by leaps and bounds. It is, however, both exciting and scary for fear of being outdated any time we pause; even if we are pausing only for reflection and generating creativity. The issue thus in most sectors is one of either creating history or becoming history; an apparent choice in appearance but no choice in reality.
How does government legislation affect your job?
More funds for research = more research activities and greater quality, the less funds we receive = reverse the effect, especially as academics are paid less and have no spare funds for research on their own initiative except conceptually.
What impact has technology had on your job?
A tremendous impact. Speed of work has trebled or more. Depth of research has increased, timescales have reduced. Coverage in class interplays with rich media presentations making them more interactive and lively. However, students’ interest is waning, they often tend to create short cuts and do cut and paste jobs and look for an easier life.
Only, in challenging projects; where a competitive thirst and good marks are the reward; they are found to do a fairly excellent job, many times beyond comprehension of our times. Students today are well read and well informed maybe in select areas, but with the heterogeneity of students we have this covers all known areas. A faculty member is thus often expected to keep abreast in many areas beyond their own, especially those which are IT driven.
What are the best things and worst things about your job?
The best thing is that you grow, and you can feel the growth and improvement in your contribution. Many journals can be written in a relatively lesser time. We tend to do many things at the same time, which was not even thought of a few years back.
The worst thing is when you are well prepared and the damn thing (IT system) does not work for over ten to twenty minutes with so many eyes keyed on you and the problem! The same thing that worked yesterday has failed today. We take options like having both a USB drive and a CD and have loaded the matter on the NET, but then find the server is down, CD does not open as drive is not working, floppy has been discarded or mis-matches, and the use of thumb drive shows the system hanging. The technician is also confused as for the previous class it worked without a hitch and then takes around ten minutes to arrive on top of the time taken to rectify the problem.
Do you have any horror stories?
None. Only once when a team of students working on their project (for every subject we have a corporate related project which is shared with the class); which they had presented privately to me and their tutor a couple of days back, and accepted our suggestions and incorporated them; was well geared up to present when the above happened and the problem could not be rectified in the class session.
What attributes do you need/ what are you looking for when hiring someone in your role?
The ability to adjust to the changing environment. The ability to guide a team of intelligent students in the latest topics of research on the field. The ability to work hard and, in trying circumstances, meet the deadlines for journal submission, project evaluations etc. The ability to communicate one’s understanding (compile) in a simple day-to-day fact-related manner so that the students get the right perspective. The ability to handle the administrative needs of the University that generally crop up as an emergency when you are fighting submission deadlines. The ability to relate to corporate organisations and be the brain wave to them for consultancy, research (TNA and need fulfilment) and applied research in their key areas.
What are your tips/ advice for those starting out?
Do what was mentioned above. Don’t come to lecturing as a relaxing or stress free option for a career as perhaps it was in the past. See it as a rapid advancement into the knowledge era with new challenges experienced everyday (hopefully ones which are experienced by others but noted by you and shared with your students for the benefit of avoidance of repetition of these costly errors).