Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Srinivas Subbarao Pasumarti is currently working as the Dean, Management Studies & C.E.O, SSU Innovation Pvt. Ltd., (An incubator of Sri Sri University) and the Professor of Entrepreneurship and International Business. He holds various degrees like D.Litt. (Post-Doctoral), FDPM (IIMA), Ph.D., M.Phil. (Nagpur University), M.Com, MBA, M.A., PGD T & T.M (Andhra University), L.L.M., M.H.R.M., M.Sc. (Psy) – Acharya Nagarjuna University. His areas of interests are Entrepreneurship, Innovation, International Business and International Finance. He has an experience of 24 years in the areas of Teaching, Research, Academic Administration and Pedagogical Activities. He is a versatile professional with a strong academic background significantly contributed to developing course curriculum, organizing annual events. He has been honored with several awards from Government and Educational bodies.
Many of his articles have been published in National and International Journals. He is the author or co-author of a total 26 books. He holds membership in several professional organizations and Editorial Boards. He has received the Best Boot Camp Award from the Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik on 13th April 2018 basing on the highest number of student Ideas (535 ideas) and participation among all the Universities and colleges in the state of Odisha.
Prof. Subbarao’s prosperous experience in the education industry
I come from a freedom fighter’s family. My grandfather P. Veerabhadra Swamy and my father PV Swamy inculcated the value of learning in me. Perhaps that is the spirit which has propelled me to continue to study. I have around 24 years of experience in teaching, research and academic administration. I am an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad with a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from Nagpur University and Post-Doctoral from Berhampur University on “FDI in Indian Tourism Sector. I come from an interdisciplinary background having studied social sciences, humanities, and management. Presently pursuing my third research degree i.e., Ph.D. in law on the topic “CSR and Entrepreneurship” from National Law University, Odisha. I have created three ED Cells in my earlier institutions and have developed and mentored Srinnovation & SSU Innovation Pvt. Ltd, the ED Cell & Incubation center at Sri Sri University. I have successfully completed the India-China academic exchange programme in China which was supported by the Ministry of HRD and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Education is the foundation of any civilization. Education is also the panacea for all social evils and also for all types of social, political and economic exclusions. My desire to make and contribute to positive social change has brought me to the education sector. This is a conscious choice. I am an entrepreneur in the food processing sector but I have chosen positive change and spiritual gain over profit and material gain.
A servant leadership style of Prof. Subbarao
Gurudev Sri Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned spiritual leader. To him, a good leader has five qualities. S/he has to be i) Satyadarshi (truthful), ii) Samdarshi (equanimous), iii) Priyadarshi (pleasant personality), iv). Pardarshi (transparent), and v) Doordarshi (farsighted).
Inspired by him, I follow a servant leadership model. I take initiatives first and I am the first volunteer for any initiative. Leadership is all about having your team’s confidence in you and having the right team in place to execute policies, ideas, and decisions. In doing so the team also has a personality and as a leader, I need to respect that. Team’s suggestions and opinions help sharpen the implementation process. I value my team as it comprises of dynamic and result oriented professionals who are willing to go the extra mile to make an impact.
Challenges to tackle at Sri Sri University, Cuttack
Sri Sri University is a new university and also a ‘new-age’ university. This is a very unique university having made a commitment to blending eastern wisdom and western science in a symbiotic way to the curriculum and campus life. Meditation has emerged to be the culture of the university. This is a spiritual university where students and faculty members join with a certain expectation of attaining spiritual knowledge and bliss. The first challenge of the university has been to create a balance between the spiritual goals of life and the educational goals of the students. Our students are no different from others. They will also face the market when they graduate. Creating this balance and focusing on both spiritual excellence and educational excellence is an ongoing task and a very happy challenge. We get the best students who are temperamentally ready and willing to learn. The challenge remains somewhat at the level of finding the right kind of professors who are spiritually aware and reflective.
As a professor of entrepreneurship, registrar, dean of students and the dean of the management school, I have faced several challenges in solving issues related to encouraging students to take up entrepreneurship, creating right kind of policies for the compliance, attending to food and hostel issues, strengthening the PhD programme and embedding skills development to MBA curriculum apart from introducing short-term market-oriented training programme and creating several MoUs to enhance internship and job opportunities for our students. I am happy to share that we have been able to create a collaborative system to solve problems with the strong support from the Vice-Chancellor Prof Nand Lal and the University President Ms. Rajita Kulkarni.
Curriculum of Sri Sri University
Our curriculum is revised and updated once in two years. We review the material and focus on the papers at the beginning of every semester in consultation with academic advisors & industry experts. In active consultation with the industry leaders, we have been able to develop two cutting-edge specialized programs; MBA in Business Analytics and Entrepreneurship.
Placement opportunities for students at Sri Sri University and plans to push it further
Placement is the result of a holistic process of student, faculty and industry engagements. At the student level, we focus on holistic personality development through skills development workshops, pre-placement training, guest lectures by industry leaders, encouragement to pursue sports both as a hobby and a possible career, extensive training in yoga and meditation with an option to become a certified yoga trainer etc. We truly follow Mahatma Gandhi’s precept on education. He said, “By education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.”
At the faculty level, we ensure that each professor uses appropriate case studies and encourages classroom discussions and incentivizes creativity and innovation among students. Our faculty members continue to attend seminars, FDPs, MDPs outside and organize the same inside our university to learn and contribute to the existing knowledge in the chosen field(s) of expertise and at the same time expand their academic and industry networks for collaborative work. This is extremely important as we strongly believe that a well-trained professor can add immense value to student learning. Our faculty members have recently attended training programs at several leading national and global institutions including that of IIM Ahmedabad, Central University of Hyderabad and Harvard University.
At the industry level, we engage with leading business houses and industry leaders. We invite some of them to campus for formal and informal interactions with students and faculty members. So many of them have returned impressed with our philosophy, pedagogy and academic rigor and market orientation and have sent their team to hire our students through campus placements.
Odisha offers enormous opportunities now to techno-managers and entrepreneurs. Sri Sri University is keen to tap this entrepreneurial energy and for this, we are focusing big on agribusiness, food processing and social entrepreneurship. We strongly believe that if the student has developed good domain and communication skills with a never-say-die positive attitude placing them becomes easy. I am happy to share that last four years our average placement percentage is above 90% excluding the campus startups.
Maintaining a healthy relation with the students being the Dean of the college
In the college days, I was a student’s union leader. I am very closely associated with student issues. I have a soft corner for students. I always have found time for students to know them as persons and also extend academic and mentoring support wherever required. I have worked as the Dean of Student Welfare at Sri Sri University for three years (2015-2018). We at Sri Sri University always strive to turn the students into complete and holistic human beings rather than running after grades so that they, as a responsible citizen, can serve in the long-term prosperity of the society and the nation in the true spirit of Learn, Lead and Serve. Students can meet me anytime during the office hours. They can call me anytime from 6.00Am to 12.00 in the midnight.
An ideal environment of collaborative culture
For me, an ideal school environment is a collaborative culture. I want my department to excel both in Teaching and Research. I want to brand my faculty members and students as knowledge creators. Our students have presented papers in conclaves, workshops and national level conferences. I want to increase the number of students who conduct research, present papers and publish in internationally recognized journals.
The 21st century requires a new education, a new pedagogy, and a new focus. The world is turning fast into a materialistic one. There is a need to integrate spirituality into the curriculum. I am fortunate to be working at Sri Sri University where a very unique culture is shaping that may become a best practice model in near future.
Top qualities that an aspiring Manager must possess
A good manager needs hard skills, soft skills, and smart skills. An inspiring manager will have employees learning and growing on a daily basis. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has written a bestselling book “Management Mantras”, where he explains six kinds of skills a good manager needs to have
- Learn to accept criticism and
- Give constructive criticism.
I think we need students to have a right learning attitude, holistic domain knowledge, participate in live projects and improve communication skills to become a good manager.
Goals to achieve for the next few years
I want to create a thriving incubation center at my university. I am happy to share that my efforts in the last three years have produced some positive result. Sri Sri University is now the nodal agency to certify start-ups in agriculture, food processing, and social entrepreneurship. I want to work with my students, faculty and placement team to increase the average annual pay from the existing 6.5 lakhs to 8 to 9 lakhs. I want my university to be a leading international higher learning institute becoming a brand by 2020. We will introduce several new courses in management. We will be having more MoUs with industry and we expect at least 10 patents to be registered in next two years.
Suggestions for the aspiring students
My suggestions for students are to use technology, do some live projects, read Economic Times, Business Standard, MINT, review books, write blog entries, be present in social media, learn from all platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, enroll in relevant MOOC offered by Edx, Coursera, and SWAYAM, etc.