Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Dr. Lakshmi Mohan, Director of ITM Business School, Navi Mumbai headed the ITM Chennai Campus for 3 years and was associated with Times and ICFAI in the capacity of Campus Head. She is a Doctrate in Management; Postgraduate in Education Management and Human Resource Management and Masters in English Literature. She was selected as Intel Master Trainer to introduce teaching using technology and was an Anchor for Softskills Certification Program for 150 campuses of ICFAI. She had a brief stint as Advisor to Free Press Journal. She is a Core Committee Member of Higher Education Forum.
Dr. Lakshmi is a recipient of the “Apeejay Karmaveer Chakra” in 2014 for inspiring youth to contribute towards society. She was an awardee for “Woman Achiever” from NSA and Higher Education Forum bestowed on her the “Best Emerging Director” Award in 2015. In 2017, Fine Arts Society bestowed FAS Stree Ratna Award which was presented by Dr. Rajashree Birla to Dr Lakshmi in recognition of her illustrious contribution and achievement in the field of Education.
Dr. Lakshmi’s experience in the education sector
I have witnessed rapid changes in the education sector alongside today’s complex and fast-changing business dynamics. There has been a lot of thrusts laid on moulding the education scenario to suit the industry needs. The choice of learning has widened with mushrooming of courses and institutions. Virtual classroom has become a virtual reality with MOOCS and other online modes of learning. It has been exciting and enjoyable to keep pace with various trends of education.
Dr. Lakshmi on how she ensures outstanding teaching and learning practices are embedded across ITM
Any form of learning ought to be outcome based and for us at ITM, education leading to employability is foremost. The whole curriculum is built by the Board of Advisors comprised of industry professionals, expert academicians and our august alumni. Researched and proven courses are added or excluded based on insights from the industry. The pedagogy adopted by Professors to teach the class is experiential, thus transforming the students to business leaders.
Dr. Lakshmi’s teaching philosophy
Every individual is made different and unique, my philosophy as a teacher is to identify that uniqueness and create a career path for the student. Inspiration and motivation is the greatest tool a teacher can give her students. As a leader, having served different B-Schools, my team of teaching and non-teaching staff and students have been my biggest strength.
Dr. Lakshmi’s philosophy of leadership and her leadership style
My work style leans on participative, collaborative and creative leadership. Apeejay Karmaveer Chakra was an honor bestowed on me for inspiring the youth to contribute towards transforming the society by working with destitute homes, differently abled children, educating slum children etc. I believe that students who are set to be business leaders have to be sensitized to the needs of the society and that’s what precisely our NGO internship of two weeks does to our students. Many of our students learn to serve the society for life! Having served higher education for many years, fighting the social stigma of being a woman rising into a leader, balancing work-life and being there for my team and my students have all been my achievements and all the awards are dedicated to all those who supported me in my rise.
Top qualities according to Dr. Lakshmi that an aspiring candidate must possess
Top qualities that any individual should possess is summed up in the 5Cs-Creative- Bring newness and productivity, be bubbling with ideas, Character- Be progressive and possess positive attitude. Develop good habits, sincerity and discipline, Change- Be willing to learn and adapt, transform with the world, Connect and Collaborate- Be Observant and watchful of the environment to learn and unlearn. Connect with people and the world and Clean- It is very important to clean our thoughts for new ones to emerge. Cleaning leaves less clutter and baggage and provides space for growth and progress.
The growth of students through placement opportunities available at ITM, Mumbai
There is a job for each and every one. We have more than 350 companies lined up every year to pick up our students, every student has umpteen opportunities to crack interviews. We can proudly vouch on the fact that many of our alumni today are Presidents, CEOs, MDs and even Founders of Organisations. What drives many students to join ITM is the industry connect we bring into our curriculum that enables students to face corporate challenges very confidently.
Challenges faced by Dr. Lakshmi all these years
The mindset of a student who joins a B School is to get a job troubles me the most. The priority has to be excellent education that eventually will lead to a dream job. Students fail to understand that the job is there only if the learning and development has been great. This is a challenge that every Management School is facing today.
Qualities which over the years have helped Dr. Lakshmi and the entire management, create a brand name for ITM
The brand is created by those associated with ITM and that is a long list. Our Founder and Chairman Dr. PV Ramana is an inspiration for the whole ITM family. Professors, industry professionals, our own students, alumni and our many associations have been our brand ambassadors all along.
The students who join ITM are from across all the states of India, we are the best example of “Unity in Diversity”. ITM is well-known in all parts of India and abroad too through our International Collaborations.
ITM is connected with the corporate world, many of them rely on our research and management expertise. The PGDM I Connect Program made a mark by offering a unique five months of industry internship for our students to strengthen and smoothen their campus to corporate transition. We made a big difference in Management education!
Industry relevant curriculum embedded with latest courses on analytics, design thinking, management simulations, global immersions and close to 200 hours of corporate transition, communication and competency enhancement modules have made us special in the education arena.
Dr. Lakshmi on how they prepare students to face challenges of modern organizations and global standards successfully
We constantly interact with organizations, invite professionals to mentor our students, engage students with expectation management lessons from corporate professionals and have corporate guided courses embedded in our curriculum.
We lay emphasis on Attitude, Skill and Knowledge Development of students. A team of soft skills trainers counsel the students on life skills. Analytical and reasoning skills, managerial skills, communication skills etc are developed in the students to face life challenges. Knowledge and information is life, in fact, our logo carries this message and we lay great impetus to relevant learning which is essential for employability. Reviewing the curriculum and revising it to suit modern and global trends coupled with pedagogy that makes learning lively is our chosen path to prepare our students for corporate challenges.
Message for the youth who aspire to be young leaders
Learn more (acquire knowledge), do more (be positive and show humility) and become more (inspire and lead, be a visionary).