Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Ms. Radhika Shrivastava is working as the Executive Director at FIIB, New Delhi. She is a mechanical engineer from Tufts University, USA and PGDBM from Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. She embarked her career by working with the global consulting firm Deloitte Consulting, and has also worked with the International Finance Corporation (private sector branch of the World Bank) for over 8 years as an Investment Professional. As Executive Director of FIIB, she is currently providing strategic direction and vision to the college since 2009.
Experience and Core Value
I have been in the Education Industry now for about ten years. Prior to this I have worked as a consultant as well as a private equity professional for 10 years. While each of my professional pursuits have been in very disconnected fields, there is one common thread that connects them all. And that is one of having a positive impact. Impact for my clients (as part of my work at Deloitte Consulting, Philadelphia), impact in improving lives of people (as part of the International Finance Corporation, DC), and impact in the education of our country’s youth (as part of FIIB).
Excitement about Education Sector
A strong sense of personal fulfilment is what excites me most in doing what I do on an everyday basis. This satisfaction comes from three main areas: Firstly, through my work, I know I am making a difference in the future of our country. We graduated FIIB’s 23rd batch this year. At the convocation when I looked around at the faces of the 150 newly minted MBA talent that FIIB was adding to India’s work pool, it was a proud moment. Secondly, I am constantly learning. Learning from the diverse perspectives that I hear in all my interactions with policy makers, recruiters, our advisors, teaching and non-teaching staff, and mostly from our students. It's a very dynamic environment and staying on top requires to constantly keep evolving. Lastly, I enjoy the thrill of facing newer challenges and ever-changing opportunities that this sector provides. Management education is very closely aligned to business and at all times we have to move step by step with them. At times even walk a little ahead of businesses so as to anticipate what their needs are.
My style of leadership is best described as shared leadership. At FIIB what we have done is articulated very clearly our shared values. These are - We will always do what is right, we will always do things in the most excellent ways that we can, we will take full ownership and accountability of our work, we will work in collaboration with others, and we will always behave respectfully with others. What that does is make all our lives super easy. I define what the final outcomes are, and each person in the organization keeping our 5 core values mentioned above at the back of their minds, devises their strategies and plans to achieve these. That way we all have a stake in the governance and outcomes. I spend a lot of my time making people understand how the work they do adds up to putting FIIB on a forward and upwards trajectory. That is important because without being able to see impact of one’s efforts, it is easy to feel demotivated and lose the will to give it your best.
There are some unique sector specific challenges that occupy a lot of mind time as I focus on building an institution that contributes to the capability, capacity and research output for the country. Like finding trained faculty that is in short supply overall; balancing high quality initiatives for enhancing student learning with the limited funding that schools our size have; as well as how to deal with the sometimes not-so-transparent and not-so-accountable policies that are applicable to the education sector. Apart from these, I spend a good chunk of my day-to-day time thinking and working on people issues. These issues are prime for any organization of any size. The main challenges here are twofold – how does one attract and retain the best talent: in our case, how do we make FIIB a community of choice. Without the best teachers, students, research collaborations, corporate partners, we cannot achieve our mission to advance the practice of management. Secondly, how do I build a shared understanding among all stakeholders for FIIB’s mission and strategic priorities?
I am very fortunate that I have a very capable, experienced and engaged set of senior industry advisors who give shape to our strategies and help keep us on a growth path. These advisors, constituting the FIIB Academic Advisory Council, span more than 300 years of cumulative experience in some of the leading institutions and corporations globally. They have been our guiding light in fulfilling our mission.
How to Stay Relevant
The ony way to stay relevant for a school is to answer three questions – what we teach, how we teach, and how do we know we what we have taught has been learnt.
First the what we teach, meaning our curriculum. This has been developed in close consultation with the industry. That way we know that it is tailored to their needs. I mentioned earlier our top level bard of advisors who vet ours trategies; We compliment that by smaller and multiple bodies for each focus area that dives deeper into the curriculum and advises on course topics and contents, links to other functional areas, hard skills to be deloped, and tools to be deployed, etc. One of the things that FIIB did 4 years ago was move from a functional perspective to a career track perspective. What this allows us to do is cater to a job and individual’s needs in a holistic manner. So we don’t just train people for a marketing role; we train our students who are interested in pusuing a career in the marketing domain deeper by offering course combos around Business Development, Market Research and Digital marketing, so students can customize learning in their interest areas, bring to bear knowledge from other disciplines in acquiring skills, and hence carve their unique career paths.
Next comes the how we teach. Our full-time faculty, recruited from some of the best, are a rare mix of rich academic and industry experience. They are constantly engaged in attending faculty development programs at some leading Indian and international institutions that keeps them and their teaching pedagogies current. We are also involving the industry in the delivery of the curriculum as visiting faculty. We have a large pool of experienced industry and they deliver over 50% of all courses in the second year curriculum. For these faculty, we follow a rigorous vetting process through past teaching feedback, recommendations from our own faculty members or other advisors. We work with them to provide training and other kind of support that is needed because while they are well informed about the realities of business, they might not be as well informed about the academic practices. So we make it easy for the industry faculty to seamlessly integrate into our classrooms. Additionally, we offer a lot industry interaction opportunities for our students outside of the formal classroom through industry visits, speaker series, involvement of industry in evaluation of students’ experiential projects, etc.
Then comes the ensuring what we have taught has been learnt. This is part of the Assuarance of Learning process at FIIB. Through our internal quality assurance cell (IQAC) we collect detailed feedback from all stakeholders, and have defined proceeses for monitoring quality in all aspects of our impact.
And that is how we ensure that all FIIB initiaves and programs offer the highest quality instruction, and are always incorporating best practices.
Creating Opportunities for FIIB Students
It is said that success rides on time. FIIB has achieved a 25-year tradition in delivering a learning experience that is rigorous, relevant and rewarding. Our role is to challenge and inspire students in a supportive environment, and ultimately enabling them to achieve their potential for both personal and professional growth. We have only one focus – and that is the Success of our students. This is best conveyed in our tagline – Enter to Learn, Leave to Succeed.
This is done achieved through offering the following unique propositions to a student:
- Innovative employability skills dominant curriculum – Our students benefit from the continuous innovations that we keep making in our curriculum and pedagogies.
- Outstanding indstry focussed, research driven faculty - Excellent professors will build upon each students’ unique talents and shape their learning experience.
- Consistent Placement record and strong corporate linkage - Regular campus visits by top recruiters from some of the most sought-after companies.
- Unique career development program - One-on-one meetings with our Career Center offer students unparalleled advice about achieving their goals.
- Vibrant beyond the classroom experiences – These are for the high achiever who dreams big, with the courage and passion to turn that dream into a reality.
Support from an accomplished and connected alumni base – Over 2500 alumni in leadership roles across the globe devote time and energy to supporting their juniors through preparedness sessions, final placements, mentoring and other interactive programs.