Interview by Swati Mishra
Prof. Siddharth Varma, Ph.D. from IIT Delhi and an MBA from AIT Bangkok, is Dean Academics at International Management Institute (IMI New Delhi). He started his career with the oil industry in 1987 and continued working for another 13 years. Contributing such crucial years of his life in the Oil Industry gave him enough insight into how industry works. Subsequently, he joined academics in the year 2000 as an Associate Professor at the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad and also held the position of Director (NCR Centre) and later Vice President (Academic Administration) at the University of Petroleum & Energy Studies (UPES). He joined IMI New Delhi in the year 2009.
Besides teaching, Prof. Varma has been involved in conducting training programs. He has presented his research papers in conferences and published papers in national as well as international journals of repute.
In conversation with Apoorv Srivastava, the Professor shares his views on the education system in India and how working in the corporate has helped him in the academic sector.
Primarily I am an academician and will remain so for the rest of life
I started my career with the oil industry and was with industry for 13 years. I switched to academics about 19 years ago as an Associate Professor. Since then, I have established myself in academics and made a career in the same. Industry experience has helped in making classroom discussions more relevant to my students. The fact that I hold an administrative position in an educational institute is just incidental. Primarily, I am an academician and hence always connected to the education sector.
My leadership style is participative
My philosophy is to take the Institute forward and do whatever is right for the Institute. I want to utilize my position to bring about improvements in the institute in whatever way I can. My leadership style is participative, and I think this helps in not only making decisions that are good for the Institute but also facilitates the implementation of these decisions.
If an MBA is an investment, we assure to give students the maximum ROI on it
Good B-Schools often charge exorbitant fees. When a student decides to take admission in management school, he, naturally, assesses the returns he would get from this investment. I think this is a valid criterion. Whatever we do for the holistic development of the student, we finally, try to make him suitable and employable in the industry, which is directly connected with ROI.
Read about IMI Courses & Fee
Improvement should be seen as a multi-faceted task
We are already a premier B-School of India and consistently ranked among the top private B-schools of the country. Our priority should be to move further up the ranking. One of the things we can do is raise the benchmark in terms of the quality of students to be admitted. We can further enhance academic rigor in our programs and also continuously update our curriculum, which we are already doing, to keep ourselves well suited to the industry. Also, we need to look at internationalization in terms of visibility outside the country and attracting students from abroad to our programs.
Our vision is and was always to make IMI a premier B-School
We had adopted a formal vision statement many years ago, which is to be a premier global B-school. That is where we would like to be and stay in the future. We have also articulated a mission statement and trying to fulfill the same in terms of teaching, training, research, and consultancy. Achieving a vision is a long journey. We are moving ahead and hope that sometime in the future we would achieve it.
We are very strong on intellectual capital
Our Institute is well established and has been in existence since 1981. We have everything which is required for a top B-school of the country. We offer different types of courses including general PGDM, PGDM specializing in Human Resources Management, PGDM specialization in Banking and Financial Services, and also a 15-month Executive PGDM program. We have an FPM program which is a doctoral-level program. Apart from that, we have a learned, and an excellent pool of faculty members, many of whom also have industry experience.
Click here International Management Institute Placement
Employability a significant challenge for higher education in India
I think a major challenge for higher education in India is that of employability. Our education does not make our youngsters employable. Most of our graduates, including engineers and MBAs, lacks job opportunities or the basic skill set required to be employable.
For IMI, specifically, the challenge is to survive and grow in an environment where there is much competition being offered by other good B-schools. We have to work hard even to stay where we are.
Handling expectations is one of the major challenges while being Dean (Academics)
One has to manage the expectations of various stakeholders related to a B-school, to keep relations healthy. As I said earlier, a participative style of decision making also helps. Besides, a balance has to be kept between expectations of various stakeholders, some of which may sometimes conflict with each other.
Follow your interests and passion and convert these into a career
I would like to advise the youth that they should follow their interests and passions and convert those into a career. Gone are the days when engineering and medicine were the only two good career options available. The options have multiplied, and if one is interested in a particular field, he or she can have a good career in the same area.
To the aspiring MBA students, I can only say that they should choose a good B-school for pursuing an MBA program. There are probably more than 2000 institutes in the country providing management education. However, most of them fail to make the students employable. Hence, prepare well and get into the right B-school.