Interview by Kritika Gupta
Dr. Sujata Khandai is the Officiating Director, Deputy Dean (Academics) and Professor of Marketing at Amity College of Commerce and Finance, Noida. She has been in academics for the last twenty years. Currently, she is with Amity University Uttar Pradesh as Professor of Marketing. She holds the position of Deputy Dean (Academics) and is also the Officiating Director of Amity College of Commerce & Finance.
Dr. Khandai has spent a considerable number of years at Kathmandu University as faculty where she was associated with the Marketing Department of the School of Management. She has also been actively involved in consultancy assignments and conducting training programs and workshops. She has published extensively in international journals and also has also presented papers in international conferences in Asia, Europe, and USA. Her training interests have been in the area of marketing effectiveness, branding, and understanding the behavior of consumers. Her research interests lie in the area of consumer behavior and branding. Dr. Khandai has also co-authored a book Consumer Behaviour – In the Indian Context.
The experience of working as an academician
Working as an academician has been extremely uplifting, knowing that you are playing a very important role in and grooming the future generation of the country, thus making a tangible difference. I have spent close to 25 years in this industry and it is always rewarding to see your students achieve professional success and personal happiness. And of course, the bigger joy is when a student acknowledges the positive difference you have made in his or her life.
Biggest hurdle faced as the Deputy Dean or Officiating Director
I have faced a number of challenges, but never any hurdle or setback which I have been unable to overcome. Challenges are always welcome as they also present a set of opportunities alongside.
Opportunities available at ACCF
At ACCF, Amity University, Noida, a host of opportunities are available to the students in the form of:
industry internships in India and abroad
option to study abroad during the semester for a global outlook
participation in a host of varied co-curricular activities
placement in organizations matching their core competence
Opportunity to organize activities like seminars and conferences on a large scale to hone their team building and leadership skills.
Opportunity to attend and participate in a number of workshops, conferences, and seminars, held inside and outside Amity.
All of the above is available to all students, in addition to the curriculum which follows a choice based credit system and is benchmarked with the syllabus of renowned universities in India and abroad.
In the future, there are plans to impart advanced skills in the field of commerce and finance to the students to equip them with the necessary expertise and knowledge for the industry. Also, it is imperative to groom and impart the necessary skill sets to students to enable them to work seamlessly across borders.
Enhancing the student-industry interaction at ACCF
ACCF nurtures a strong relationship with industry. We work closely with industry to provide extensive corporate exposure to our students to enhance their employability skills and this is done through the following:
guest lectures by senior industry professionals
internship opportunities with companies
company sponsored projects
We are further working closely with the industry to mentor our students to impart them with the necessary skills to enhance their employability.
Leadership philosophy of Dr. Sujata Khandai
A leader should be the one who walks with the team and is able to identify and further nurture the potential in each of his or her team members and be able to bring out the best in each of them.
I believe in a more democratic form of leadership but ensuring that there are effective monitoring and control from my side. Implementation and closing the loop and paying attention to details ensures the smooth functioning of an organization.
Digitalization of education
It is important to strike the right balance between going digital and classroom teaching. Not all programs and courses can be effectively delivered in a 100% digitized mode. Practical and experiential learning is imperative in the case of many courses.
Having said that, in a country like India with a massive population, it may not always be possible to accommodate all interested in many courses with high demand. In such cases, digitization can be a boom to allow students to access such courses.
Thoughts of an ideal college environment
An ideal college environment should be such that provides the right academic environment without making it restrictive. It should give our students enough space and freedom to make their own choices and learn to be accountable for them. Also, the environment should be flexible enough to allow students to explore their true potential outside the classroom too in the field of sports, theatre, music, fine arts and the like. It is important to give wings to the students and encourage them to soar as high as possible.
At ACCF, students are actively encouraged to participate in a host of extra and co-curricular activities to explore and nurture their hidden potential. Besides, students partake in a number of extension activities in an attempt to contribute to the good of the community at large.
Students organize a number of events, big and small, in the university which gives them an opportunity to hone their leadership and team building skills. We encourage our students to take decisions unilaterally and also take responsibility for their actions.
Goals in mind for Amity College of Commerce and Finance
It is my dream to make Amity College of Commerce & Finance the most sought-after college for a degree in commerce and finance. In that direction to make ACCF the best college, we work tirelessly for continuous improvement and enhancement in the following areas:
learning beyond classroom
research and publications.
The difference in the decision making of Indian purchasers and other nationalities
I have worked and conducted research on various aspects of consumer behavior and branding, which I find extremely intriguing and yet very central to the success of any marketing strategy. My research has extended to the impulse buying behavior of Indian consumers, the impact of religion on the buying behavior of consumers in India, impact of celebrity endorsement ads on Indian consumers, to name just a few.
As consumers, our decision making is largely impacted by the cultural context, our value system and by the social groups that we belong to. Having said that, it is interesting to note that the buying behavior of the Baby Boomer and the Millennial generation is rather different. While the former believed in saving and then buying, the latter is all about instant gratification. The decisions of the Baby Boomer generation have included the opinions of others, being governed by collectivism whereas the Millennials are more individualistic in their decision making.
Suggestions for today’s youth
The youth of today, as I see them, are smart, determined and very focused on what they want to do. They have been presented with a world full of opportunities and they should equip themselves with the necessary skills to be able to avail of these opportunities. The world today is an oyster for them and they should work towards becoming a global citizen. So, for the youth and aspiring students, I would like to say the following:
Learn skills difficult to master. This will give you a competitive advantage.
Be passionate about what you do.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. So, work hard for everything that you want.
There is no substitute for hard work.