Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Dr. Manoj Kumar is currently working as the Dean of Faculty of Management Studies of Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer, Rajasthan. He holds an MBA and a Ph.D. degree. He has a considerable experience of 3 decades in the pedagogy of MBA students. He has taught at Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, IIT Bombay, Nirma Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Institute of Management Studies, Bikaner, M.L. Sukhadia University, Udaipur, M.D.S. University, Ajmer and Sinhgad Business School, Pune.
Dr. Kumar has 90+ publications and presentations including two of his written books and 10 research papers presented at various reputed International Conferences held in different foreign countries. He has won the best research paper award at an international Conference held at California School of Management and Leadership, San Diego, California, USA.
Working in the education industry brings several advantages
I have spent about 32 years working as a Faculty in higher education in general and MBA Programs in particular. There are a few key features of this industry which are good for any faculty. One, in order to be an effective teacher, one has to update knowledge on a continuous basis which keeps you physically and mentally fit. Secondly, it is completely stress-free and one can balance family and job responsibilities effectively if one works in a systematic manner.
Another significant advantage is that one gets lots of opportunities to travel to other countries. For instance, I could travel to Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Netherlands once and to the USA thrice in connection with presenting papers in International Conferences. This had been a tremendous learning opportunity in my life. It is also a noble profession wherein you are able to shape the destiny of hundreds or thousands of young students.
A leadership which balances the qualities of head and heart
As Dean, I would say I believe in democratic leadership and the leadership which is based on balancing the qualities of head and heart. I would summarize my leadership style more specifically through the following personal principles which I follow day in, day out and actually live and breathe them:“As you grow in Age so must you grow in Grace”
- “Any problem is a problem only till the extent when you think it to be a problem else creative ways and means are always available to overcome the same”
- “Expect human differences, accept differences, respect and harness differences in a positive way and it will always pay you back both personally as well as in the organizational context”
- “Honesty, Integrity, Hard work, Discipline and Commitment are the hallmarks of success and there it has to be 100%”.
- “Purity of thought, purity of speech and purity of action is the crux of effective leadership”
“Always see and appreciate good quality in others and try to figure out your own deficiencies”
- “Two things stand like stone in one's life - courage in facing one's own problem and compassion in others”
- “Disciplined Love is the greatest power on earth”
The philosophy of institutional leadership is that the organization has to be managed like an orchestra, building a strategy around a common thread and unifying the disparate Departments. This will unlock tremendous latent potentials of individual units and maximize the organizational effectiveness.
Significant challenges faced as the Dean of MDSU
The biggest challenge faced has been the not so supportive policies of the Government and Administration. For instance, while we get hundreds of letters every year from the government to improve academic excellence, at the same time the government fails to provide effective staff and infrastructure. For example, we are provided with only one clerk and one peon in the Department for the past ten years. But we have a team of five full-time faculty members and visiting faculty which helps to tide over the problem.
I am fortunate that till date not a single student has come to me saying he/she has been unable to get a job.
Importance of time management and the process of managing people
I would say time management is also connected to your leadership style. I believe in democratic leadership and in decentralization, having high respect and regard for the employees. I believe in people and their abilities. The only thing I do is I visualize the scenarios, do the planning and then provide guidance to my teammates.
One more thing that we do is that as the Dean I hardly issue written directions to my faculty members or employees rather all the activities of the department are carried out by personal initiative and oral instructions.
When I went on foreign tours I used to ask the Deans/Directors as to what has been the most pressing issue facing their academic leadership to which they said it is the time management.
So, there is no need to highlight the importance of time management as it’s the crux of effective leadership.
We update our curriculum regularly with useful feedbacks
Every year, we meet senior professors from other Universities who are invited and we regularly update syllabi. We also take feedback from our alumni and their employers on the concurrent practices and need to update.
There is a hope of an increase in the number of companies coming for placement drives
We are completing 25 years of our existence and celebrating 25th anniversary as the Silver Jubilee celebrations but we did not have the facility of the local airport which would have facilitated the travel of HR Managers or their teams to Ajmer from other big cities. Fortunately, one Kishangarh airport is on the verge of starting commercial flights very soon. This airport is hardly 15 minutes’ drive from Ajmer and we believe more of National Companies would be able to come down for campus placements.
As of now, about 5-6 Companies visit us every year. The Placement cell is managed by one of the very senior faculty members in the Department. FMS Ajmer is housed in the middle of hill range and all around there is a green belt. The campus is clean and green in the real sense. We do have separate hostels for boys and girls on campus.
Bonding with students is a must activity for each teacher
To me, as the Dean, I believe that every teacher is supposed to act as a friend, guide and philosopher to the student which is what I do personally. When it comes to my access to the students, any student can come any time and discuss their issues which are listened carefully, sympathetically and resolved promptly. Every year after the students take admission to my Department, I invite them for tea at my campus-based home in order to make them comfortable and open up. This actually goes a long way in overcoming their initial anxiety and rather acts to open their learning window.
An ideal environment can be created by proper initiatives taken by the head of the institutions
Well, the ideal environment would be one in which all Departments of the University identify a common thread among them work towards developing all possible synergies and offer its students the best and widest learning opportunities. This can be developed only with the proper initiative of the Head of Institutions such as the Vice Chancellor and through a cooperative approach. For instance, there might be tens or hundreds of areas where the different Departments can join hands and produce results which are much bigger if had they acted independently of one another. At Harvard University this initiative goes with the name School Unity popularized by one of its President Drew Gilpin Faust.
Goals planned for the coming future to be achieved
I would like to identify the main thrust area of teaching at the MBA level as to what basic capability we are trying to develop through a host of subjects and for Ph.D. programs, a single research thrust area should be developed for which the Department must be known after scanning the opportunities, local business profiles etc.
Skills which the present day students need to develop
I feel students need to hone the following essential skills, more specifically speaking, - creativity and imagination, since the environment is changing very fast and practically all sectors of the environment are changing quite rapidly. Secondly, they should have the ability to paint a broad brush picture of the events happening all around them. They should have the ability to see the connection of one event with another. These two are the most important skills.
Suggestions for the aspiring youth to unlock their talents and potentials
My word to aspiring youth is that one needs to read at least one English daily religiously as we have food and go on honing your English language and vocabulary skills. It is also important to keep your eyes and ears open to what is happening at national or international levels as these days everything is connected to something else. I am firmly convinced that as a learner you have to grow with the growing knowledge and as such you just cannot learn in an overnight manner.
Second, learn from nice local or foreign authors only. Publishing industry has grown in leaps and bounds today so all shades of literature are available in the market. One must accept the personal challenge to read from difficult, standard and authentic textbooks. That way you develop a better conceptual background about the subject and you are also able to significantly improve your English language.
Always remember the thing that we use mother earth to build mud houses as well as for making silicon chips. It all depends on your own initiative as to what you become. Every one of us has tremendous and unknown potentials in our lives. This is precisely the lesson behind the book by Wayne Dyer which has the title “Sky is the Limit” meaning thereby it's you who fixes limitations and boundaries to honing your potential and what you might actually become one day.