Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Fr. Dr. George Sebastian, Director, XIME Bangalore, is a Jesuit priest belonging to Jamshedpur province. He is an alumnus of XLRI (PMIR), and has also obtained Masters in Science in Positive Organizational Development from Case Western University, USA. His PhD thesis is on Transformational Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behaviour from Madras University. For a decade, he did work in XIMB as Dean of Finance and professor in the field of organizational Behaviour, and then worked at XLRI as Dean of Administration and professor in OB. He has also held the post of the Director of the XIME Chennai campus. He is a visiting faculty at Loyola University, Baltimore, USA. His expertise is in the field of Transformational leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Positive Organizational Development and Managerial Counselling. He has conducted numerous MDPs, in-company programs, and workshops.
Fr. Dr. George Sebastian’s experience in the education industry
Interacting with the young minds on day to day basis is what makes it the best industry to work in. In the educational atmosphere, one needs to constantly update with recent researches conducted and books and articles written in their chosen field. You get the chance to learn and share the knowledge with colleagues and students which is an exciting journey for one to undertake. It is one of the few fields in which passion and profession become one and the same.
Fr. Dr. George Sebastian’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style
Leadership is defined by two major variables result-oriented behaviour and relationship-oriented behaviour. For every person, one of the two variables come naturally, that is either they are very good at producing results or extremely effective in people management. Leadership is all about mastering both the variables. If one is good at one variable, then he or she needs to develop consciously the missing variable. I am good at relating and motivating people so consciously I motivate myself to focus on result. Result oriented behaviour without relationship skill becomes a dictatorship, it may be effective in short term, but in the long run no gifted people will remain with you, similarly if one focuses on the relationship at the cost of the result, then it will be a monumental failure from the beginning.
Changes in the education industry noticed by Fr. Dr. George Sebastian over the years
In terms of technology, there is a major shift in the teaching process. It is a positive change and students level of IQ is increasing and it is expected because that is what the theory of evolution is. There is a big change in the evaluation of the student, previously we have blindly followed the bell curve method saying IQ is distributed in a normal bell curve fashion. In a class of 60, ten percent will be given A+ and A, five percent will get F and the majority will be in C and B. But the human behaviour and endeavour is always explained by the skewed curve and not by the normal curve. Now the current thinking doesn’t force the student to fit into a normal curve, rather approach each one unique in the process of evaluation.
The most optimum path, according to Fr. Dr. George Sebastian, for a student wanting to excel in any field of management
Today the management education in India and abroad comes with a financial cost. The majority of students are able to attend the course with bank loans only. So, the choice of the field has to be in align with the market demand. The luxury of following one’s passion is not present for all students. Every student must understand both weaknesses and strengths and without ignoring the market demand, one has to choose the field to gain more knowledge. If a person is an extreme introvert, then focusing on marketing or HR will be tiresome, even though jobs available in those fields are comparatively plenty. Since this era is the era of positive psychology, one has to play to his or her strength with a positive mindset.
Curriculum and placement opportunities available at XIME
We have one of the best curricula in the country since the founder Prof. Joe Philip is closely monitoring and revising continuously. From its inception, XIME placed all the students consistently.
The placement record is certainly enviable. This year is a challenge since the market is undergoing steady change, but I am sure our placement team under the guidance of Prof. Sam placid is fully engaged and continue the tradition of 100% placement.
Fr. Dr. George Sebastian on what makes XIME stand apart from other institutions
Value-driven education is the hallmark of XIME. Developing social conscience is given equal importance in the development of young managers. Similar to the summer internship at corporate, all students undergo winter internship for a month with a reputed NGO. XIME is one of the pioneers in international exposure for all students. Students go to either Japan or France or China for the exchange program.
Academic rigour is given highest priority and we are fortunate to have Prof. Anandharaman who was teaching at Harvard Business School, he is our present Provost who designs and monitors the academic performance of students and the faculty.
Qualities, which over the years have helped Fr. Dr. George Sebastian and the entire management, create a brand name for XIME
There is an absolute transference in the admission process, merit is the only criteria for admitting any student into the institute. Ethical practice in all matters of administration both internal and external activities.
The Founder and present Chairman of Bangalore campus, Prof. Joe Philip started his teaching career at XLRI and was the Director of IIM, Bangalore. It is his vision and passion that gave birth to this institute. From the beginning itself, he instilled the best practices of XLRI and IIM-B into the DNA of XIME.
XIME attracts students from different parts of our country, the current batch has students from 23 states. And the gender ratio is the healthiest in comparison with other institutes I have worked in.
Fr. Dr. George Sebastian on how do they prepare students to face challenges of modern organizations and global standards successfully
Risk taking is essential for leadership, but go to prison and you will find behind the bar only risk takers. The risk-taking tendency can make you a leader or a criminal. Having vision is also important for a leader, just visit a mental asylum, it has more people seeing the vision. Being a visionary either can make you a leader or a mental patient. ‘Resilience’ is the only quality that separates winners and losers. It is not a coincidence that the greatest leaders were the people who failed the greatest number of time. So, the thing to be successful in life is ‘resilience’.
Goals in mind for XIME for the next five years
In south India XIME has a strong presence, next level is becoming a strong brand in all over the country. Second, it is time to move beyond India, we will be looking at the possibilities of opening campuses in other countries.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
The world in which I was born is totally different from yours. There was no need for me to study five books in the first standard, but you did study more than five books in the first standard onwards. Chewing gum, breaking queue and reading comic books were the top crimes committed in the school by my generation, but your generation engages in the adult crimes in the schools itself. You are living in the more complex universe, the only consolation is that complexity increases with time, so relatively you are living in a less complex world in comparison with your future generation.
Nobody even predicted that this kind of information explosion would take place and at this scale, it is both blessing and a curse. The real concern is that you may be rooted neither in profession nor in a relationship. Breadth certainly you have, what about depth? The temptation to have superficial knowledge is very high, consciously you need to be rooted and develop depth in your understanding of subjects and people.