Lt. Gen VK Sharma, AVSM is an alumnus of the erstwhile King George’s School (now called the Military School) located at Chail (Shimla). He joined the boarding school at the age of 10 years and passed his All India Higher Secondary Examination in 1968. Thereafter, he joined the prestigious National Defence Academy and passed out as a Permanent Commissioned Army officer from the Indian Military Academy in 1972. He was granted the President’s Commission in The Corps of Signals of the Indian Army where he served for almost 40 years. During his meritorious service, he held several command and staff appointments and participated in Operation ‘Rakshak’ and Operation ‘Vijay’ (Kargil War).
General Sharma has also been an excellent academician, in addition to being a military leader. He did his B E in Communication Engineering from College of Military Engineers in Pune and Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE), M Tech from Pune University and MMS from Osmania University, all in 1st Class with Honors and has had the unique distinction of standing first in all these programs.
Upon retirement from the Indian Army, he was appointed as the founder Vice Chancellor of Amity University, Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior. Under his able leadership, Amity University, Madhya Pradesh has grown leaps and bounds. The University has been adjudged the “Best Private University in Madhya Pradesh” as also, “Excellent Higher Education University of India” by CMAI and has been ranked amongst the top 20 private universities of India by India Today.
Ques 1: Kindly tell us about your experience in the education industry and what makes it the best industry to work in?
Ans. I do not think ‘education’ is an industry; at least not in the conventional sense of the word. Education is a service in its true sense. Nevertheless, being given the chance to shape the abilities and aspirations of youth is most rewarding; being a part of their learning process and watching them grow from school children to responsible, capable National Assets is deeply fulfilling. That, in my opinion, is the best part of being an educationist.
Ques 2: Being the Vice Chancellor of Amity University Gwalior, what is your philosophy of leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
Ans. I have always taken an inclusive approach to leadership, be it during my career with the Indian Army or in my role as Vice Chancellor of Amity University Gwalior, in that, I believe that a leader must lead by consensus and personal example and not always through force of authority. To be able to do that, the leader must possess qualities of integrity, compassion, the courage of conviction, selflessness, humility and a very high level of professional competence. He/ she MUST lead from the front and do so even when no one is watching. Conduct of the leader must be ‘above board’ at all times
Ques 3: As quoted by you, “Amity University, Gwalior empowers students through a holistic curriculum which includes personality development, confidence building, and communication skills etc.” How do you ensure all of these are practiced through your curriculum?
Ans. Our University has experienced academicians and industry veterans who are entrusted with ensuring that our curriculum is not only academically robust and challenging but also addresses contemporary issues and practices in technology, management, design etc. We also believe that industry ready professionals, graduating from Amity, cannot rely on technical skills alone. They require a multitude of soft skills, emotional intelligence, environmental and social consciousness etc. to be successful in their chosen professions. Thus, we ensure that alongside imparting technical knowledge, students are also given opportunities for holistic development through such platforms as student seminars, NSS activities, hobby clubs, and societies, sports meets, youth festivals, inter/intra university competitions etc. We have formalized value addition to their technical education through training on communication and behavioral skills, foreign languages and environmental consciousness by making these as compulsory subjects which are a graded part of the curriculum. Further, students also have the opportunity to develop themselves and specialize in areas other than their ‘major’ fields of study by choosing a minor track. For example, students majoring in computer engineering might choose multimedia, fashion design, labor laws, psychology etc. as their minor track and specialize in an area which interests them.
Ques 4: How do you look at the growth of students through placement opportunities available at Amity University, Gwalior? How do you wish to push the envelope further?
Ans. Students at Amity University Gwalior enjoy the dual advantage of availing placement opportunities not only through the University’s Corporate Resource Center but also through Amity Technical Placement Cell of the Amity Education Group. With the collective efforts of these two departments, we provided more than 70 opportunities for placements to our students in the last academic year alone, in that 70 companies/ organizations met and selected our students. Our placement record has also been fairly impressive with 100 percent of our management graduates and about 90 percent of our technology graduates being placed in reputed companies. The rest went on to study further or set up their own ventures. We are in the process of evaluating the feasibility of setting up an incubation center at the University to encourage student start-ups. Talks with certain technology conglomerates are also underway for accreditation of our academic infrastructure. This will enable us to further build capacity and develop a placement pipeline.
Ques 5: How do you tend to establish a relationship with the students being the vice chancellor of the university? How do you make yourselves available to them?
Ans. My door is always open for students to approach me at any time and share their grievances. I never turn them away and always give them a patient hearing and more often than not, a solution to their problems as well. Students can also share their grievances through the University’s Learning Management System, which sometimes get escalated to me. When this happens, it gives me an opportunity to meet the students and hear their side of the story and ensure a fair and impartial resolution. I also leverage social media to communicate my thoughts and news about the University. Hearing from students on social media is an enjoyable experience and helps me connect with them informally. Almost all my students follow me on Facebook and quite a few on Linkedin as well. I also make it a point to address the student body frequently and interact with them.
Ques 6: How do you build a positive culture or climate?
Ans. We take pride in being a ragging free campus. There are very strict protocols to ensure that ragging/ harassment of students does not take place. We have also institutionalized welfare and psychological well-being of students by creating single window mechanisms for grievance redressal, provisions for academic and psychological counseling (especially during exam time) and round the clock access to a member of the faculty who also performs the role of their mentor throughout their tenure at the University. We also ensure that students are kept gainfully engaged at all times. There is always some activity, seminar, conference, workshop, lecture, sports or cultural event being organized at regular intervals during the term which not only keeps the student body busy but also provides academic and creative enrichment.
Ques 7: How does your curriculum ensure best practices of the industry?
Ans. Course syllabus for each program is reviewed once every year by a Board of Studies which comprises experienced academicians and technical experts from the industry. Inputs from industry representatives, as also, feedback provided by companies during the placement process, are taken into account while revising and approving the new syllabus. We also organize students’ visits to relevant industry houses. Summer Internship Programs and projects greatly help students pick up best practices of the industry. Guest lectures by eminent professionals (from both, academia and industry) are also a useful source to track best practices.
Ques 8: Any of the significant challenges you faced as the Vice Chancellor of Amity University, Gwalior?
Ans. Being at the helm of affairs of any organization is challenging, more so when that organization is a University full of creatively charged young men and women. However, if there is anything I have learned from my years in the Indian Army, it is that no matter how tough the challenge, a soldier must never give up.
Ques 9: What goals do you have in your mind for your university for the next few years?
Ans. Amity University Gwalior is currently in its 6th year of operation and we have already had significant achievements. We have been adjudged the Best Private University in Madhya Pradesh twice (in 2014 and 2017) and been conferred the prestigious ‘Excellent Higher Education University of India’ award this year. We have also been ranked among the top 20 private universities of the country by India Today. Our academic and research infrastructure is second to none and our student placements stand testimony to the quality of education we provide at the University. Nevertheless, in the next few years, I would like to see the University consolidate and build on its learnings and make significant leaps in creating new knowledge through its research efforts. Within the next five years, I would like the University to become a Regional Center of Excellence in the field of engineering and technology and business management, and a Center of Excellence of national importance in these fields in subsequent years.
Ques 10: Any suggestions you would like to give to the current youth and the aspiring students?
Ans. The youth must focus on improving their conduct and build confidence. This they must do by acquiring ‘depth of knowledge’ and learning to communicate effectively. However, they must also remember that youth is a period of experimentation, of exploration and adventure. I always tell my students to stop focusing so much on the result and instead, learn to enjoy the process of learning. That is not to say that they needn’t be focused or have a goal, but they mustn’t squander away joys of the journey in pursuit of the destination.Last Updated - 22 Sep 2017