Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Professor Prashant Verma is currently serving FIIB, New Delhi as the Program Chair (Analytics). He is leading the Analytics programs for the institute including the flagship Post Graduate Certificate Program in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (PGCP-BI & DA). Prior to this, he was the Area Coordinator for NIIT University’s industry-sponsored MBA (Business Analytics) offered jointly with WNS (Holdings) Limited. He has worked with NIILM Center for Management Studies as Program Director and has served NIILM University, IILM- New Delhi, Hindustan Institute of Management and Computer Studies- Agra, AIIMS Agra.
Along with teaching MBA graduates, he conducts executive training in the area of Business Intelligence, Predictive Business Modelling, Advance Predictive Modelling, R-Programming and MS Excel-based Modelling using VBA and BI using Tableau and Power BI. His training has benefited executive cohorts at Ernst & Young, Jubilant Food Works, Ciena India and leading training institutions like Bridge, which offers analytics programs jointly with Northwestern University, Chicago, NIIT University-WNS executives and Grow Talent, Gurgaon.
15 years of experience in the education industry
I have more than 15 years of experience in the education industry. If you look into what attracted me to the industry, I was always passionate about changes in the lives of people as a result of what I was able to do for them. I have a mathematics background and I am able to change the way student thinks, I feel greatly satisfied and that’s what I have been doing. We can’t change everyone in the audience to a considerable degree but even if we can bring a small change then that would help definitely.
Professor Verma’s Philosophy of leadership is to unlock students’ potential
I believe, leadership is all about enabling things and how you are performing as an enabler. Think clearly, think objectively, and enable people around you to use something which they have not used earlier. Learn how to remove bias from decisions and that’s what I have been trying to deliver. When a student come to me I enable their unlocked potential and then they realized their capabilities and perform wonderfully. For me, leadership is all about enabling.
Including Analytics into the curriculum was a significant challenge
When I came to FIIB, the institute gave me a mandate to integrate analytics into PGDM. This is a wonderful domain to work. Analytics is all about seeing things clearly, looking at data, taking your decisions without biases and taking them faster.
We have successfully integrated Analytics in FIIB curriculum. I have got support from our Executive Director Radhika Srivastava, all the faculty members and students. This is the second batch which would graduate with Analytics as a minor and they are doing wonderfully good in terms of their contribution to the corporate.
The curriculum ensures to develop students’ skills which are required by the industries
We meet industry people regularly and engage them to understand what kind of skills they are looking forward to have in new managers. When we ask this question of what kind of skills they look forward to we don’t ask this just to list the skills but also to grade the skills in terms of what is really required from day 1 onwards and in the progression of their career So, the skills which are needed in the industry are the skills that we impart to our students.
Through carefully designed courses, the students are put to practice such skills. Thus they are productive from day 1 on their job, of course there are other skills which they should be mindful and acquire with experience. Here at FIIB, they imbibe it better and learn it better. This kind of industry interaction we do regularly. This time we had a massive exercise when we were integrating Analytics. We did this exercise in a comprehensive way. There was a change required in our curriculum and now we have a great curricula. In each course you will find our students using analytics tools which we believe would drive a distinction between our institute’s and other institute’s graduates.
FIIB focuses on students’ placements and invests enormously into this process
Looking at my 15 years of experience in academia, I found this institution is working differently in terms of supporting placements drive. From the very first term when the students enter into the foundation, FIIB takes a very important role in grooming students for placements. They have Sankalp sessions which help students for placement.
The kind of investment FIIB does for training the students for is enormous and that drives all our students. They call the subject matter experts on latest skills. They bring industry leaders. At FIIB mentoring is multi-fold, industry mentors and faculty mentors both work with our students to ensure the students learn business knowledge and corporate know-how.
Establishing a relationship with the students by guiding them to choose the right path
Rather than calling myself a faculty I treat myself as a teacher. A teacher is the one who meets the epsilons and makes them realize what they are and helps them to grow. Every person you meet has some background. So, when you meet them, you need to know them, you help them identify what they really want to be. That’s the process which I follow as a mentor.
I meet the students whether they are from FIIB or outside of FIIB. We do the same thing. We help them realize their potential; we help them realize the path they want to take and how to take that. This enables them and they are able to take steps forward.
Encouraging an ideal school environment
Doing less but doing it thoroughly should be the key motto of the schools which are shaping the budding managers. Doing less but doing thoroughly means whether you know or don’t know all the things in the world but you should really know all those things which you are going to use in your job for next two years. And you should also know the subjects thoroughly which you have studied in your specialization.
Important skills to be acquired by the students opting for Analytics
Two very important skills:
- Your ability to consider your natural observations in terms of data. Whatever you observe- think of it as a data and learn those processes which draw meaning full insights from your observation. If you are able to process those or similar data with the help of computers, mobiles then it would be great. You should be able to visualize your data clearly; you should be able to understand that the data helps immensely in decision making.
- You should be a good human being. I see organizations suffering a lot because of bad managers - bad managers operate in a very distinct mode. They show performance on certain indicators all the time, which the management is looking forward to; but in the background, they hurt the whole organization because they are not good human beings. I think analytical capabilities complemented by the right attitude has the potential to change the world around us.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
I am biased but I would like them to take up Analytics and at the same time, they do not need to get bogged down by the Mathematics or Statistics behind it. That’s not something which is stopping anybody because the technology around us has taken out all mathematics rigor out of the processes. You just need to open your eyes and appreciate – this is so simple, so easy, and so bright.