Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Ms. Shefali Raj was born in Lucknow. She is an alumnus of Loreto Convent who moved to Kanpur, where she did her Post Graduation in Commerce. She pursued Fashion Designing and textile designing to satisfy her urge for creativity. Shefali has been an active member of CII and YWCA. She has held key position when she was a Jaycee Club Member. Reiki healer and yoga practitioner. She has received appreciation from blind employees' welfare council for her knowledge of Braille. She had been active in DARN (drug addicts' rehabilitation) and UNICEF where she was awarded for exemplary efforts to ensure survival, protection, and development of needy children.
Ms. Shefali is the President of her NGO "Arth" and imparts education to Girl Child with the help of an able team. She has the title of Vice President of National Human Resource Development and thus, chairs meetings across the country where she deliberates on topics of Human Resource. She is a recipient of UP Governor Award for excellence in the field of education and has been awarded a Career Guru by a reputed Media House.
Shefali has been active in the field of education for 23 years now. She has handled leadership roles for her own venture 'SPEAKWEL' and 'PSIT'. Experiencing organization journey during different phases such as start-up, scaling up and transformations driven by changes in education strategy has provided her some of the most diverse and complex challenges and learning as an educationist.
She is invited to reputed Organizations and industrial houses like PepsiCo, Pantaloons, HBTI, Kanpur University, Institute of Chartered Accountants & IRDT. The most recent stint is the session she imparted to Senior Officials of Kanpur Municipal Corporation on Life Skills and Leadership Development.
Shefali had been associated with Pranveer Singh Institute of Technology for over 7 years and has been instrumental in transforming the Brand Image of the organization. She has been able to position the college amongst Corporates as an institution of Choice and amongst parents-students as a place for great learning. PSIT today can take pride in the fact that it has produced successful professionals who are recruited by Top Corporates and PSUs. In her role as MD, she has built domain expertise in different areas of HR like Workforce Planning & Recruitment, Placements, Training, Corporate Relations, Organization Development, Employee Relations and Communications. She has impacted over 200,000 students over her 23-year journey and brought Kanpur on the India Corporate Education Map. A staunch believer in analytics coupled with passion drives her in her quest for excellence in all her endeavors in the field of Education and Social Service.
Ms. Shefali’s experience in the education sector
Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. And I'm glad that I'm contributing to this change. My journey in this education sector has been a life-changing experience. To see my students, build future for themselves as well as for the country, is a satisfaction that I earn every day. We may associate our education sector with business, but deep down we know that tomorrow's world lives in today's classrooms.
Educating young minds has never been an easy task. While doing so, we not only have to teach them the basics but also understand their new concepts and ideas. It is a two-way learning process, both for the students and for the teachers. This industry is probably the best to work in because unlike other fields, you see the results of your efforts every day. It brings in you a sense of responsibility and makes you work hard every day to deliver the best you can. Our entire team at PSIT does everything that is possible to strengthen the pillars of our nation and that, I think, is a noble task in itself.
Non- academic support services at PSIT
Academics are an essential part of student life, especially when we consider the professional courses that our college offers. But that doesn't mean that we don't believe in non-academic support.
The clubs in our college encourage students to showcase their talents, be it related to cultural, literary, photography or their compassion for the environment and the society. Our annual techno-cultural event, Ignitia, is one of the most successful college fests that is majorly handled by the student body. It gives them a platform to explore their capabilities and refine their skills. We give all the support that our students need to create a bright future for themselves.
"All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." And we definitely don't want our students to be dull individuals. There are so many players from our college who have reached state level championships and we have supported them, both financially and emotionally. We even organize an annual sports meet ‘Footprints’, that helps us to recognize budding athletes, every year. This motivates us to work for our students with even more zeal and vigor. We even have special facilities for our NCC cadets so that they get proper training and don't miss out on the important opportunities in Defence as well.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (IEDC) gives wings to innovative ideas of the students who wish to seek the proper guidance. We believe in creating individuals who work as successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow. That is the reason why the college does that extra bit to change the start-up ideas of our students into reality. We do not wish to leave any stone unturned for the students to make sure that they experience the best in their journey to become the best.
PSIT’s planning for further expansion in terms of placement drive, international projects, and seminars
PSIT has an integrated placement cell, which welcomes the leading and top brands of the corporate world to the campus every year. The Placement Cell interacts with the reputed organizations all over the country for arranging campus interviews for the final year students. The campus placement process is designed to meet the needs of recruiters alongside providing students with the best opportunities to jump-start their career henceforth making PSIT one of the institutes with Best Placement records in Northern India with 154 selections in Infosys and 68 selections in L&T Infotech in 2018.
The previous year records have been excellent with 201 selections in INFOSYS, 38 Selections in Tech Mahindra, and 30 selections in Capgemini. PSIT placement cell makes efforts to organize technical seminars, workshops, and corporate sessions. Industry personnel is invited periodically to enrich the knowledge of our student community with the latest technological innovations and industry practices. PSIT produces graduates who are well equipped to handle the working norms of the industry and commerce in the public and private sectors.
Despite the debatable worldwide macroeconomic scenario, PSIT continues to remain one of the most preferred destinations for campus hiring by top brand recruiters across diverse sectors.
A quick responding placement team, best infrastructure facilities, with multiple conference rooms for group discussions and lab facilities is PSIT’s backbone.
PSIT Placement Cell looks after employment avenues in the emerging Industry at national & international levels, having a Corporate tie-up with more than 300 multinational companies like IBM, Ericsson, Syntel, Dell, Bosch, Accenture etc.
Teacher training of the teaching staff at PSIT
I'm proud of the fact that our entire staff is well trained and highly qualified. We don't want our students to be bookworms or individuals who don't have any practical knowledge of their subjects. Our focus has always been and will always be Academics. And that is why we choose our faculty wisely. Most of them have done Ph.D. in their respective fields and are masters of their skills. Our selection procedure is solely based on their capabilities to understand our young scholars and clear all their doubts. We keep in mind their qualifications, experience in the education industry and past work records. We have ‘X-Presso’ a lecture series for peer to peer learning in research & development among the faculty members of the institute. Our faculty members also have access to online courses on NPTEL and trained through various industry-sponsored training on cutting-edge technologies.
Our college also gathers feedback from the students on a regular basis to make sure that the lectures are both interactive and effective. Their constructive feedback helps us to improve our teaching ways and makes us realize the areas where we can deliver a better performance. Because after all, learning is a two-way process and requires the contribution of everyone involved. The entire staff of PSIT works for the bright future of the students because we don't want to compromise on the quality of education imparted to them.
Ms. Shefali on the efforts made by the college to stay in touch with its international alumni
Our alumni are our face to the industry, and it’s not mere a chance that our head is held high with proud and respect by their performance, it’s all because of the rigorous efforts and value additions have done when they were being chiseled out. We here at PSIT practice an alumnus- students interface by organizing Alumni meet and running some regular events and activities where our alumni share their success stories with the current students. The center of corporate relations at PSIT works to maintain a constant touch with international alumni through Facebook and webinars. The department also sends birthday and wedding greetings to them on their special day.
Ms. Shefali on the steps taken to maintain the positive environment in PSIT
Since we've been quite a premier institution for some time now, we get the privilege to educate students from different states, different cultures, and different interests. But what becomes common for everyone in PSIT is DISCIPLINE. Though we have a very meager number of students from the southern and western parts of India, nevertheless we are sure and confident of extending the same culture of oneness and unity in diversity to each student of PSIT regardless of its class, creed or culture. We strictly believe that without discipline, no amount of talent, even when combined with hard work can get you the desired results.
The day a student enters this college, he/she becomes our responsibility. We regularly counsel our students about what's best for them, what we expect from them, what the society expects from them. It may sound old school but believe me, a consistent approach to boost students is what we need! We keep our students busy and engaged for the better part of the year! We provide them with so many recreational moments such as the recently held TEDx event. All of this helps in maintaining a positive atmosphere.
Measures taken by PSIT to ensure the process of internships
Internships impart the knowledge to the students about ' What employers WANT'. We regularly organize industrial trips so that they can be encouraged to do internships when it matters. Our students have always made the institute proud by receiving appreciation for the Campus Ambassador Programs by industrial giants such as Dell and Google. On-campus training programs by the top companies are also making a way for the students to join the internship programs. Various companies which visit PSIT for recruitment also select students for internship. Students can join the company in their last semester.
The institute provides full support in the form of delegations in attendance if a student genuinely wants to go for an internship or training programs.
Ms. Shefali’s philosophy of leadership and her leadership style
The only leadership philosophy that I believe in is being an EXEMPLARY leader. If you cannot lead by example, you can never be effective. My passion for what I do drives me to improve with every passing day.
Every day you come across people who have their own innovative ideas. Sometimes, even the most experienced of us are amazed to see the young minds pop up with things that are out of the box. What excites me the most is the glimpse of the potential that is yet to be unlocked in an individual. And that, I believe, my job has always been about. I have been a trainer to industrial giants, esteemed institutes and have come across students of all age groups.
The biggest challenge that I feel I have successfully tackled is making PSIT stand among the elite. It has required consistent efforts, planning and a competent squad to execute. Right people for the right job still remains the thumb rule of leadership! Of course, I would applaud and extend my gratitude to Chairman Sir for his vision and trust he has shown in me.
Leadership is shifting from telling everyone what to do, to empowering people to come up with the best and brightest ideas. Don’t ever feel insecure, lead by example!
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
Youth is always so energetic! It is important that they channelize their energy in the right direction! The only message I think I can give to the aspiring students is 'decide your priorities'. Versatile and pro-active individuals are sometimes caught in a trap they call 'lack of time'. So, decide your priorities, know what's best for you, do not run in a rat race and socialize.
Physical fitness is also an issue these days. Students are following a sedentary lifestyle. One of my students wrote a blog about how frequent the cases of anxiety have become due to increased stress and reduced physical activities. So, it's time that the young students start devoting some time for something that is going to remain with them for the lifetime, their body. Moreover, every student should practice discipline in his college life. Without self-discipline, a student can never shine and succeed.