Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Rajesh Panda is working as the Director in SIBM, Bengaluru in his current stint. He is a graduate of IIM Ahmedabad and holds Master’s degree in Economics and a Ph.D. degree in Retailing. Besides being a Professor at SIBM Bengaluru, he is also an Adjunct Faculty with School of International Business and Entrepreneurship, Steinbeis University, Berlin and a visiting faculty at IIM Ranchi. Dr. Panda has been awarded the Best professor in Marketing by National Educational Leadership Awards (2014). He also has three case studies with Ivey Publishing and Harvard Business School Publishing.
Dr. Panda is a member of the ‘Board of Studies (Faculty of Management), ‘Planning and Monitoring Board’ and ‘Academic Council’ of Symbiosis International University. He also served as the member of Academic councils of SCDL in the past. He has vast experience in corporate training, research and consulting with companies like Godrej, HUL, ITC, IBM, Amdocs, Zensar, BMC Software, Mphasis, Wipro, Capgemini, WNS, BACS, John Deere, Avaya, McDonalds, Praj Industries, Taco, Tyco, M&M, Allscripts, Eclerx, etc.
Dr. Rajesh Panda’s exciting experience in the education industry
Education is a noble profession. You guide youngsters and have the opportunity to create an impact in their lives. Hence, it is very satisfying to work in a B school. The job profile has a variety of responsibilities and you face very different types of challenges. This makes the role exciting as you delve into completely diverse problems. This is also academically satisfying as you learn new things when you prepare to teach. So, the education industry is certainly lucrative to someone who loves to teach and learn new things.
Dr. Panda’s leadership style of following no hierarchy
I believe in a flat organization with limited or no hierarchy. When I trust somebody’s ability, I prefer to delegate and empower the person. My experience says, a person performs better when she/he is given the free hand but accountable for the consequences. Some of my beliefs in leading the B School are:
- Trust in your people. You can’t do everything, one must learn to delegate and delegate to the capable and deserving.
- Supervision is hardly required, but guidance me be useful.
- Sharing your vision with everyone and make all employees part of it.
- Respect each and every individual, even the external stakeholders.
- Appointing the right people for some key positions- while recruiting people, I always look at cultural fit and not just ability.
- You don’t have to lead from the front for each activity, you can be a team player also and hand over the baton to somebody more able in that activity.
- Be receptive to the opinion of others, especially to those who are elder to you.
- In my opinion, the most important factor is that you as the leader of the organization have to be happy and content and satisfied with your work.
I believe in respecting the human for her/his work
and the contribution someone makes to the institute as per her/his capability. In my opinion, the employee should be happy to come to the workplace, should have respect for the work she/he does and more essentially respect for the workplace. We initiated a cultural statement- ‘Respect for work and respect in the workplace’. Everybody behaves with every other person, irrespective of the rank or position, in a dignified way, even when there is an inadvertent error or breach of procedures by a colleague/subordinate.
So I believe, when our faculty members and staff have respect for the workplace, other virtues like integrity, honesty, and dedication will automatically flow. And they will be the ambassadors of the institute even if they leave the job for a better opportunity or relocate to a different place.
Faculty-driven curriculum of SIBM
The curriculum at SIBM Bengaluru is driven by the faculty. Most of our faculty have relevant industry exposure to make the learning practice-oriented. Moreover, faculty members are in constant touch with industry through various Executive development programmers. The Academic Programme Committee and Internal Quality Assurance Cell has adequate representation of the Industry (senior management). Moreover, the academics at SIBM Bengaluru is based on the case method of teaching and simulations that help students develop decision-making skills on real-life problem scenarios. This is possible because of the use of academic resources like cases, simulations, reading material from Harvard Business School Publishing. In addition, faculty members are encouraged to attend industry seminars and various academic conferences to keep them informed of the evolving business practices.
Placement opportunities available at SIBM
To me, placement is a byproduct of the academic rigor that we follow at SIBM Bengaluru. Our relationship with the industry certainly helps in getting the best of the companies to participate in the placement process. However, we believe, if we create the right atmosphere for learning and research, students will be best equipped to perform and grow in the industry.
Dr. Panda’s connect with the students and availability for them
Being a professor,
I love to be in class and facilitate the learning.
I connect the best with students when I am there as a Professor. In my opinion, I am able to establish the desired relationship with the students by just being in the class and being their teacher (not just as the Director).
An ideal school environment helpful for shaping thoughts
In my opinion, the ideal school environment is where students learn and faculty members shape their thoughts, not by teaching (spoon feeding), but by challenging them to think beyond the obvious. This has been possible because of our pedagogy which is predominantly based on case studies and simulations. All of our faculty members are well trained in case method of teaching and creating the positive atmosphere of creating discussion in the class. Learning is not limited to the classroom. Students have to do a lot of self-study and undertake group activities/assignments that help them to learn from each other.
Qualities that an aspiring PGDM/MBA/BBA/LAW student must possess
Aspirants of such programs must be humble and willing to learn.
Goals in mind for SIBM in the coming years
‘Dissemination of knowledge’ in this era of AI and technology will go through major transformations. Technology will be the driver and AI will make it possible to simulate classroom scenarios and create individualized delivery of education. Investment in technology will be a key area for SIBM Bengaluru in coming years. We are working on integrating technology with the delivery and class evaluation and in near future, we should be able to impart quality education online without comprising the benefits of classroom teaching. In addition, we are planning to introduce modular courses targeting the industry.
Suggestions for the current youth
Be humble. Be curious to learn. Be open to face challenges and uncertainties of new kinds.