Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Dr. Ajay K. Jain is presently working as the Director of Institute of Management Studies IMS, Ghaziabad. Prior to this, he was working as the full-time professor of Organizational Design and Behavior at Management Development Institute Gurgaon. He had started his professional career in 2003 after completing his Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur and a Postdoctoral Fellowship from ISB, Hyderabad. He is a visiting professor to several international universities of repute including Aarhus University, Denmark, Lancaster University, the UK, IULM University, Italy, University of Free State, South Africa, IIM Lucknow etc.
Dr. Jain is the recipient of an award for the extraordinary performance from Aarhus University Denmark for his research and publications (2012-2014). He has published and presented more than 70 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and conferences and receiveda recipient of the Best Paper Awards of National Academy of Psychology and Emerald.
Dr. Jain is also serving on Editorial Board of several international journals. He teaches courses on Leadership and Organizational Design, Organizational Transformation, Emotional Intelligence in Organization and Business Research Methods. He has research interests in the field of distributed leadership, employee silence, organizational citizenship behaviour, emotional intelligence etc. He is a highly effective trainer and consultant to top class Indian and multinational organizations. He believes in practising the lessons of “leadership and organization transformation” at his workplaces which he teaches to his students and participants. He has travelled widely and has visited more than 25 countries across the continents.
The importance of education and the education sector in one’s life
Education makes a student employable and self-dependent and being in this sector for so many years bring smile and confidence when you see your students holding a senior management position in the industry. Although I am not an entrepreneur I help students become one. Like Chanakya was not a king but he made Chanakya a king. That is what makes one an important entity in the society. An institution helps people to grow, become self- dependent and employable. That is why I think the education industry has a very different kind of position in the society and I think it is more of a service to the society rather than a work.
My philosophy of leadership involves humility, gratitude, forgiveness & developing a sense of belongingness
I have been working on this leadership philosophy from past so many years. I have been a good teacher and a trainer in MDI, Gurgaon where my teaching philosophy was that in the classroom I always used to aim at making things simpler for my students that can be used in real life. So, everything which we discussed in the classroom, the student should make practical use of that learning. My aim was to bring a sense of togetherness in the classroom like building a sense of belongingness in the classroom, that you belong to this class and you should be connected to other students and promote peer learning.
As a teacher, I grow with this philosophy. Then I have taken over the role of Director in Business school, IMS, Ghaziabad. My leadership philosophy has been translated in the similar pattern as a teacher. So, I prefer to be a good teacher, a good trainer and a good researcher in order to become a good administrator/director. My philosophy involves 3 components very strongly:
1)Rule of Humility which I am bound with and in IMS I have shared this philosophy on the first day of joining. Humility helps in dealing with your success and failures and to keep working hard on your purpose in life.
2)I am practising gratitude in my life and I believe whatever I am that is God’s grace. I think God has given me an opportunity to serve in an academic institution for a bigger role to bring a change or a transformation at a larger level in a business school. So, Gratitude is very important in my life. Otherwise, you are nobody if God does not support your decision and action.
3)The sense of forgiveness is required to deal with negativity in life in all our interpersonal relationship. It saves your energy and helps in concentrating on your bigger goals of life. We have celebrated “forgiveness day” in IMS Ghaziabad wherein faculty members have sought the forgiveness from their fellow colleagues.
4) Creating a sense of belongingness, when I joined here, our school was called as ‘IMS’. We created a sticker and put it on our doors and vehicles saying ‘I AM IMS’. So, this is our motto that everyone should develop a sense of belongingness for the institute by having it as I AM IMS. A sense of belongingness solves all your problems of talent management.
These 4 things are important and my leadership involve Humility, Gratitude, forgiveness & developing a sense of belongingness. In brief, I can say that my leadership style is more like distributing style and empowering style.
Making the teamwork together was a significant challenge
Being the director is a very challenging job as because of some past episodes my faculty, colleagues and staff members had developed a silent aggression due to which they had withdrawn from the mainstream activities which leads to the growth of the school. So, it was easy to notice that people were not well aligned with the organizational activities of IMS, Ghaziabad and there was a time when people had a fear or insecurity and the whole institute was not well aligned in its academic and institutional activities.
So, alignment was the greatest challenge which we faced and secondly how to make the entire system to work collectively in the same direction. People were making individual efforts but somewhere they were unable to make collective efforts. Along with this one of the challenges which I am perceiving is how to make IMS Ghaziabad a Strong Brand. So I have implemented a “new organizational structure & cultural practices” bring better coordination across all its department and activities. Every day, all my staff and faculty colleagues meet over a cup of tea from 2.45 p.m. to 3.15. pm that has helped in improving communication and coordination within the institute. Moreover, we have also developed a culture of appreciation and recognition on 15th August and 2nd October Celebration.
We make sure to update our curriculum with industry experts’ opinions
Last year we have conducted Curriculum Redesign workshop in which we invited industry experts and professors from top business schools to give their insights of what is relevant in the current practices which a student should know and what are the different functional areas. So, we have updated our curriculum in terms of course offering.
Based on which, we have offered new courses like Digital Marketing, Big Data Analytics and HR Analytics. So, in this way our curriculum is aligned with the industry requirements. We take continuous feedback and in each course, we have made a rule that along with the faculty members there will be 1-2 special sessions to be taken by the industry experts who are at GM and above level positions. So, we include industry experts’ opinion in all our courses.
Companies find our students talented and we get cent per cent placements easily
Placement is like a central point for all the business schools and technical institutions. The purpose is to make our students employable with the right skill sets and competence required to deliver a job but we do not put ourselves in the category of B school charging very high fees. Our whole fee structure is very reasonable also we give the scholarships to deserving students. We provide an opportunity for our students for a foreign tour to give them international exposure on best management practices.
Our fee is very low, while our service and quality are very high and the placement opportunities which we are giving to our students are very interesting. All the top brands participate in the recruitment process at IMS. On an average, the salary package is 4-5 LPA. So, we try to ensure a good return for the students on their investment on us through an exposure and by organizing several highly focused industrial workshops in this area. At IMS, we do not ensure placement rather the companies find our students with enough talent who can get employment easily. So, we get 100% placement easily.
Pursuing the goal of making IMS an integrated B School
My goal as a leader of this institution is to become the best employer among all B Schools in the country and when I say the best employer, I mean to create a culture of mutual trust, recognition and appreciation for each other. Secondly, my aim is to make IMS an integrated B-School, means a school which is renowned in all kinds of activities, like academic activities, Management Development Program (MDP), Professional Skill Development Program and other skill development programs for undergraduate students, faculty and student exchange with global b-schools,
We are promoting our faculty member to publish their research in top class journals like ABDC and Thomson Reuters. The most important thing is to make IMS, Ghaziabad a Happy and Happening workplace for faculty, staff and students.
I make sure to take classes to interact with students
I am not a very strong administrative man. I am a better teacher and a great trainer. When I joined this place as the director then my aim was not to remain in the back seat, rather go to the classrooms, interact with students and teach them my subject. I am a professor of Leadership and organizational design and I am teaching a course titled as ‘Leading and designing organization’ in Aarhus University in Denmark from last 10 years.
Every year, I visit Denmark for 1 month in summer to teach this course. I want my students at IMS to get the benefit of this teaching experience and in this way, I get an opportunity to meet them directly in the classroom and interact with them. Apart from this, they can also approach me directly in my office. So, this way I am very easily accessible to my students.
An ideal learning environment which encourages entrepreneurship skills
Culture is the most important takeaway from my own subject itself, ‘Leading Cultural Change’. In IMS, my main emphasis is to create a good academic environment for my faculty members. They should be happy with the physical environment and infrastructures in which they teach. Along with this, they should be recognized by the Institute for their work as well.
We have created a workplace which is more like a family. Also, the Director’s role is more like a facilitator, a guide or a coach rather than a boss. We all are governed by the rule of humility so nobody is aggressive and nobody crosses the boundary in terms of behavioural etiquettes. At IMS, people feel involved and they have the high spirit to perform and deliver their best.
We have also created a centre of excellence in the field of entrepreneurship for our students which leads to making them as job creator rather than the job seeker.
Skills which the students need to possess to compete in today’s environment
Students should have high emotional intelligence skills and they should have a very long vision for their career because the success doesn’t come in days or months. It requires rigorous hard work to start getting success. For me as a Director, people like Jack Ma, The mountain man Manjhi and Mahatma Gandhi who have a clear vision and aim are the role models. We are trying to make the students employable but at the same time, they should have an attitude of optimism.
Failure should not demotivate the students rather they should push themselves to a higher level of excellence and interpersonally they should be able to manage the stress which comes from the daily life’s events.
The technical skill set is required but it doesn’t make you live a very high-quality life. They should live a meaningful and purposeful life that reaches to the society and think of others as well. These days, students count their success from their average salary rather I say count your success if you are ready to fight with the life and all the challenges. So, I want them to become challenge seekers and risk takers with an optimistic outlook.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
The problem is that students are obsessed with the thought process of getting placement rather than working very hard to develop enough competence and skill set. Success is a gradual process. If you will keep on working hard and if you will keep on putting efforts in a particular direction, success will definitely be yours. So, have a very long-term focus for career and keep enjoying life with small initiative and efforts on regular basis.
Life should become fun rather than a burden and if you feel that you are growing and learning then this means you are enjoying. The only way you can reach the top is by making efforts. Our youth and students should focus on EFFORTS along with the spirituality as nothing can compensate it. Also, we should serve people, whomsoever you are around with, think positive about their welfare rather than thinking about yourself only. So, come out of your selfishness to help others.
Be SPIRITUALLY INCLINED and be EFFORT-ORIENTED.
Last Updated - 04 Oct 2018