Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Dr. Bigyan Verma is currently working as the Director at SIES College of Management Studies. He is a Gold Medalist in M.Com, completed M.B.A in International Business, M.B.E from Delhi University and holds Ph. D in Finance. He has a considerable experience of three decades as a Faculty, Director of Business Schools and as a Senior Investment Banker for JM Morgan Stanley. He taught Corporate Finance & International Finance for Postgraduate students of Business Management at XLRI, Jamshedpur and IIM Kozikhode.
Dr. Verma was the Adjunct Professor of Carleton University, Canada and was the Founder Director of a Business School set up by them in India. While working as an Associate Professor at Institute of Capital Market, he initiated Investor Education Program in India on behalf of Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), SEBI & National Stock Exchange. He had designed, coordinated and conducted several International programs under Colombo Plan Secretariat, Sri Lanka & the MoF, India. He organized and conducted dozens of training programs in Capital Markets & Investment Banking. He has written a book on International Finance and published over 50 research papers in journals of national & international repute.
The Education Industry offers the freedom to innovate and the chance to share knowledge.
Business schools offer phenomenal opportunities to innovate and make the learning relevant for what corporates expect. Considering the time in which we live in today which is full of complexities and disruptions, quality and scale of innovations in education in b-schools will only come from experiential learning. Unfortunately, Indian education, particularly business schools badly need effective innovations of scale that can help produce the needed high-quality learning outcomes across the system. While such innovations are possible only when pedagogies are built on solid theoretical foundation based on purposeful and systemic research, I sincerely believe that even the experience of the teacher plays a very crucial role in imparting innovative and relevant education.
To relate this fact with myself, well, I started my career by teaching at XLRI Jamshedpur and remained with such a wonderful institution for about 9 years. Since a lot of changes were taking place in the financial services industry during that period, I was very edgy to go out and get the experience for better relevance to what I used to teach. As a result I quit XLRI and joined JM Morgan Stanley as a Senior Investment Banker where I worked for five years.
As I have experienced both the academic and financial services industry, it is so easy for me to connect these two worlds and groom students accordingly. Education industry is one of the best industries and this world needs is educated, skilled people. This industry offers a huge amount of freedom to innovate and do things differently and also to ensure that you share your knowledge in the best possible manner.
This is one particular industry which is never going to go down and considering the kind of Gross Enrollment Ratio we have and the improvement it needs to be anywhere close to other nations like US & China, I see phenomenal opportunities for bright persons to build their career in this industry and innovate.
Leaders should know how to use the best resource-human beings
I personally believe that leaders have to lead by taking the team along. So, they have to be participative, extremely well informed in whatever industry they are working and motivate the people around them. That’s what will make the leader succeed in the long run because if any task has to be achieved it has to be with the help of their peers and teams members.
I too therefore believe in participative leadership, especially in the knowledge industry where we belong.
SIES College of Management Studies follows the concept of TBL which makes it different from the other institutes
SIES college of Management Studies is different from many other Business schools. If one looks into the legacy of this institution, SIES is perhaps one of the few institutions which focuses on holistic learning and education. SIES Society is almost 86 years old and it has been into only education and nothing else otherwise. SIES is also a very ethical institution and extremely concerned about the society in which we are living. Most Business schools focus on people and profit in their programs which certainly are essential to manage and also protect the bottom line of organizations.
This is one of the institutions which considers planet as well an extremely crucial element for our own survival. There’s a concept of triple bottom line, TBL and top corporates like ITC, TATA focus not on making profit alone. They make a difference to the society in many other ways. All over the world, the TBL concept has picked up and responsible institutions like SIES too sensitizes its students with the experiential leaning based on planet as well. This makes us extremely different from other institutions including the ones where I worked earlier.
SIES ensures a holistic development of each and every student
SIES was set up in 1995, so we are almost about 23 years old. More than 6000+ alumni have been there all over the world working in various industries and sectors and I have come across many of them who are doing extremely well. They are holding senior responsible positions and extremely happy about their alma mater. A lot of them come back to us and give back to our institution in some way or the other, not just a financial contribution but share their experiences, become mentors for our students, recruit our students, give them research projects and a variety of other things and all.
It is only because of the fact that SIES has treated the students as special and ensured that there’s a holistic development in the personality of each and every one. That’s one of the reasons why corporate come and pick up our students again and again. They see that flair, they see that spark in them and they pick them up. These students do exceptionally well in their life so this is how they grow. The SIES college of management studies actually grows in their personality and that’s what makes us Different.
The Director needs to be available all the time
This job requires a lot of passion and personal involvement in dealing with faculty, staff, students and other stake holders. As I said earlier, we work in knowledge industry is limitless and the thoughts can flow with no boundaries. Its only when sense of openness and trust exists, best of the creativity from faculty and students will ever come out. As a director of this institution, I have to make myself available all the time, directly - indirectly to everyone, not just staff and faculty but also every student as such. Even though I am hard-pressed with time most often, it has always been a great pleasure to serve all stakeholders of this industry.
Providing students with ample opportunities and freedom for innovation for their growth
The best school environment is the one in which enough opportunities are provided for any student to showcase their talent.
believe this and same goes with my faculty members also as they do not believe in rote learning and churning out bookish students. They want students to think freely - and not just out of the box but think in such a way that there’s no boundary for innovation to develop critical thinking skills. The best environment for me is the one when you enter the premises of the educational institution and be what you are in the most admirable manner. That is, I suppose, the best place to be for learning.
The curriculum ensuring the holistic development of students to make them industry-ready
When we design our curriculum, we ensure that the final outcome is a combination of knowing, doing and the being part of learning. It is never enough just to know what I need to learn or be able to do something as a result if the learning. The most crucial aspect of learning is the “being” part it.
Our curriculum therefore emphasizes on all the three different aspects of holistic learning which includes the knowing, the doing and the being.
Our curriculum takes care of all the three pillars of learning which includes knowledge (comes from knowing), skill (comes from doing) and the attitude (comes from being).
The Director is making himself available to the students
My door is always open and quite often I keep moving around, chatting and talking to students, faculty, staff and visitors. One learns all the time when you approach anyone with friendliness, inquisitiveness, openness and trust. The moment one creates fear in them or act dictatorial, problems crop up and the two way sharing of trust disappears.
In addition to that, we have student council and various committees which are run and managed by students. They keep interacting with me and if anyone has any problem, they are free to meet, call or write to me.
All of them have my cell number and they can call me up or just walk into my office and meet me anytime.
Goals set for the Institute to be achieved in the next few years
My goal for our institute is to be number one in Maharashtra in the next few years and that’s possible by adhering to outstanding processes followed by top B-schools in the world. With that perspective, I need to ensure that we keep on improving on several parameters which include robust scholastic and academic environment, top quality collaborations, ethical practices, outstanding placement record and quality culture of research. In the next few years I would want SIESCOMS to be a top rated institution by NBA, NAAC and by AACSB.
Suggestions for the students to gain entrepreneurship skills
Peter Drucker has always been my hero and Guru of Management. He is one of the greatest management thinkers of the 20th century (the Economist stated that he was not only a great management thinker but one of the greatest thinkers of the last century) pointed some 40 years ago to a sea change in the our society – he said that we are moving from a more protective and cozy employee society towards a more challenging and demanding entrepreneurial society.
Should you be worried about this? Should you regret the gradual vanishing of the “golden cages” that organizations built for you in those days? I frankly don’t think so. But you better get ready. Change is upon us and it is accelerating.
Drucker said– “If you cannot manage change, you must get ahead of it” – first in your minds and then in your practice and your lives. Hence my message to you is not a feel-good message but a message of truth and encouragement.
One thing I want you to take away from my suggestion that every student think and act like and entrepreneur who works with full passion 24/7. This does not mean everybody is an entrepreneur, but it means that wherever you stand (even as a student and later on when you get employed by a company) you have to act with entrepreneurial spirit. It means that the social compact is changing and that you must learn to take responsibility for yourselves.