Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Director of Shanti Business School, Prof. Bala Bhaskaran’s educational qualification include Ph.D, B.Tech from IIT Madras, PGDM from IIM Bangalore and CFA.
He has work experience 18 years in financial Services Industry with focus on Development Banking and 20 years in Management Education teaching and institution building. In these years, Prof. Bala has held important Board/Advisory positions of a Member, Board of Studies, NIRMA University, Faculty of Law, Ahmedabad; Member, Board of Governors, Oakbrook Business School, Ahmedabad; Non-Executive Director, MAS Financial Services Ltd, Ahmedabad and position of a Non-Executive Director, MAS Rural Housing Finance Ltd., Ahmedabad.
Apart from this, Prof. Bala has edited a number of books, published several papers, cases and conference papers.
Prof. Bala Bhaskaran’s experience in the education sector
I came to academia accidentally after nearly two decades of corporate experience. Once into the academic field, I enjoyed it very much and chose to remain in it. The education industry is characterized by continuous learning and knowledge; this gives you the challenge to be on your toes all the time to remain knowledgeable and relevant. This segment is evolving very fast and there is tremendous scope for innovation. Our educational system needs humongous change and re-invention. These make the segment very challenging and worth being there.
Prof. Bala Bhaskaran’s leadership style
I believe that in an educational institution, you have to adopt a democratic style of leadership only. As a Director, I consider myself as first among equals. Everybody is talented and has expertise in one area or another. As Director my role is that of a coordinator. I cannot and should not impose my views on others. For every problem and every situation, I should elicit solutions from everybody and debate as to which is most appropriate. Chose the one that is found to be most suitable for most of the people. If you have a solution where others have not proposed, let that idea simmer in the minds of everyone till it becomes acceptable to most of the persons. This way solutions are found faster and their implementations generally more robust.
Changes in the education industry noticed by Prof. Bala over the years
I continue to be a member of the board of studies of Law faculty of Nirma University and the board of governors of Oakbrook Business School. I am also a non-executive Director on the board of MAS Financial Services Ltd. a public limited company engaged in the financial services. All these are non-executive positions and based on one prior experience; I consider these as windows through which I am able to interact with industry and education simultaneously. These offer me opportunities to enhance my exposure to various aspects of these sectors.
The education sector has been undergoing serious changes in the last few decades. In the early part of this century, there was euphoria over management education leading to mushrooming of management institutes across the country and flocking of aspirants to management institutes. Within a decade, the euphoria has crashed. Young graduates were reluctant to take up management education and many of the schools have to be shut down. Now the situation is that only those schools that have focused on quality education with a long-term horizon would survive. In the next decade, you can expect the strengthening of this trend leading to stabilization of the management education. Education sector as a whole is waiting for re-invention. The earlier we can usher in the reinvention, the better it will be for the society and economy.
Prof. Bala’s relationship with students
For an academician, teaching is the primary source of establishing a relationship with students. You need to be fair in your dealings with students. You need to understand their concerns and sincerely make efforts to address them. Students respect teachers for their knowledge, their fairness, and their continued concern. Building a relationship is a slow process, but once you have built a rapport, it is going to last forever. One has to take pain to make oneself available to the students. This is not always very easy. That is precisely the challenge.
Prof. Bala on how his industry experience has helped him understand the needs of the education sector
My industry exposure enables me to understand the practical relevance of any concept. I am able to explain, illustrate or describe the practical side of any concept or theory. I am more likely to be focusing on the practical relevance rather than just the theoretical base. I tend to look at the relevance of the educational system as part of the supply chain leading to the industry. For me there is no disconnect between industry and education; it is a continuous chain.
Prof. Bala on what makes Shanti Business School stand apart from other institutions
India is a vast country with the highest level of diversity. Every institution has a great role to play in rejuvenating India’s human resources. The challenges present in harnessing the human resources of India are so large and huge that all the universities and institutions together also would find their resources and capabilities inadequate. So, my institution does not have to worry about others, all it needs to do is to focus on its chosen area and try to excel therein.
The growth of the students through the placement opportunities available at Shanti Business School
At Shanti Business School, we have been trying to place students in accordance with their aspirations and aptitude. We ensure placement to all, but to each according to his/her capabilities. Over the years, we have been watching their career growth with a lot of satisfaction. We are getting increasingly convinced that everybody is not the same and the placement opportunities have to be diverse to match individual needs. We are continuously re-inventing our placement efforts to match the changing profile of the industry and the changing profile of the students.
Qualities which over the years, have helped Prof. Bala and the entire management create a brand name for Shanti Business School
Our untiring efforts in academics, in grooming the students to the ever-changing demands of the industry, in establishing linkage with the industry and the word of mouth goodwill that we are getting from our satisfied alumni are the eternal qualities that keep us going year after year.
Strategies in mind for Shanti Business School for the next few years
We would like to strengthen our academic processes, improve the faculty talent continuously, improve the grooming process of the students, widen the scope of specialization available to students to match with the changing profile of the industry, strengthen our internal processes for quality enhancement and strengthen the quality of talent intake and strengthen the industry connect.
Message for students wishing to join Shanti Business School, Ahmedabad in the near future
We are looking for bright and motivated students. If you have high aspirations and are motivated to achieve great heights in your career and life, do come to Shanti Business School. The path to glory is going to be tough and strenuous; so be prepared for hard work and tough tasks. We are not an employment exchange guaranteeing jobs to everybody; we try to mold the character, capabilities, and caliber of our students. When these are imbibed, superior placements happen automatically.