Dr. Pawan K. Aggarwal is currently the Vice-Chancellor at ICFAI University, Dehradun
Dr. Aggarwal holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics from the prestigious Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. He is endowed with about 38 years of rich experience as an acclaimed academician, policy advisor, trainer, administrator and institution builder, including about eight years as Director/Associate Pro Vice Chancellor of an educational institute of repute.
He has served as a consultant to various international organizations such as World Bank (WB), Department for International Development (DFID-UK), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
He has conducted more than 70 research studies, authored 9 books and published 21 Research Papers of practical relevance in National/International Journals of repute. His research work/publications have been of practical relevance and significantly influenced the major Fiscal Reform initiatives in India in the 1990s, at the Center as well as State level. He is one of those key persons who persuaded the States in India to adopt Value Added Tax (VAT).
He has been the Chief Editor of four peer reviewed, bi-annual Research Journals of decent standing in the disciplines of Management, Law, Computer Applications, and Mass Communication, during 2008-2015.
“Collaboration, empowerment and winning the trust of my colleagues is the philosophy of my leadership.”
- Dr. Pawan K Aggarwal
Kindly tell us about your experience in the education industry and what makes it the best industry to work in?
Well, ‘Teaching’ is the mother of all professions, I am pleased and honored to be a part of the education industry. It gives me a deep sense of active and meaningful involvement in the endeavor of nation building. As an academician, one discovers, rediscovers, and rejuvenates with every incoming batch of students. In the education sector, one can be instrumental in bringing socio-economic change, and that is the biggest strength of education sector. A teacher has the greatest impact on the society. Perhaps these things make education industry the best to work in.
What is your philosophy of leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
Empowerment and trust is my philosophy of leadership. Empowering and trusting the people encourage them to do everything expected of them. As a leader, one can strategize, but to achieve the results the people have to work hard. A leader, to be successful, should be acceptable by his followers and should be able to convince them that their individual goals and organizational goals are compatible. So, collaboration, empowerment and winning the trust of my colleagues is the philosophy of my leadership. This is more important and purposeful in the education sector where one associates with practitioners of knowledge, the knowledge workers.
What has been your major setback or the biggest hurdle you have faced as the Vice Chancellor of ICFAI, Dehradun, if any?
Indian economy is changing at a faster pace and so the requirements of industry. Coping with this change to meet the requirements of industry is not an easy task. It requires ensuring the focus of teachers as well as learners, on learning and performing. Another challenge is to fight the unhealthy competition for admissions through offering incentives and relaxation in standard norms. In such a scenario, significantly more emphasis on USPs of the institution is required.
How do you look at enhancing student-industry interaction at ICFAI, Dehradun?
At ICFAI University Dehradun, we make sure that curricula are revised frequently so that latest industry demands and expectations are met. In fact, we have an active Board of Studies comprising of various stakeholders, i.e., alumni, industry professionals, academicians, etc. whose valuable inputs enrich our curricula and make these more relevant for industry. Apart from this, we have a provision of compulsory internships (arranged by the University) for students of all programs offered by the University viz. BA LL.B, BBA LL.B, LL.B, MBA, BBA, B. Tech., and B. Ed. These internships are a unique feature of ICFAI University Dehradun wherein interns essentially complete their internship under collective guidance of company guide and faculty mentor. Moreover, eminent guests from corporate are invited for interaction with students and faculty, enabling the learners to learn about the latest developments at industry and the expectations of industry from fresh recruits. This also creates better placement opportunities.
How do you look at the growth of B-schools in India?
Good quality of higher education is a prerequisite for economic growth of a country. Phenomena of globalization, corporate aspirations and expectations, opportunities for economic growth, increasing degree of complexities in business, etc. have amplified the demand for Quality Managers and consequently Management Programs. Accordingly, many B-Schools including ICFAI Business School (IBS), ICFAI University, Dehradun have emerged as a center of learning, for management education. There are opportunities for sure, but there are challenges as well. B-Schools ensuring quality output are bound to sustain and survive.
What are the qualities which, over the years, have helped you create a brand name for ICFAI?
Emphasis on academic rigor, internship, formally structured mentoring program, various capacity building interventions focusing on enhancing employability, and case-based teaching. In fact, case-based teaching gives us a unique and remarkable place in education sector. Our forward-looking approach helps us to create special facilities for our students and the student community at large, such as specialty labs: Texas Instrument Lab by Texas Incorporation, USA; E-Yantra Robotics Lab by IIT Bombay; Knowledge Partner and Northern Region Hub of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) Project, IIT Bombay; and Virtual Lab Resource Center by IIT Delhi.
What goals do you have in your mind for your institute for the next few years?
We would like to grow our university as a preferred choice of place of learning for all the stakeholders, like students, teachers, researchers, and professionals. We would continue to add new courses and programs based on our strengths and need of industry. Focus will also be on further improving infrastructure and quality of intake of students.
What is the best thing about leading your institution?
Diversity and Equality. Diversity, I must say, among students as well as faculty/staff members. We have students and faculty/staff from many states of India making this place very happening and live. Equal treatment of all perhaps is a unique characteristic of all our ICFAI Universities. There is lot to learn from the diversity of stakeholders that contributes to the growth of a leader.
Which other areas of education and extracurricular activities are you developing?
We have created various clubs viz. Marketing Club, HR Club, Economics Club, Finance Club, Cultural Activities Club, Sports Club, which help students imbibe many skills like team building, coordination, behavioral skills etc. The University conducts relevant State/National events every year, such as Management Fest, Tech Fest, Moot Court Competition, Model United Nations Competition, Local/National/International Study Tours, Sports Week, and Cultural Fest, which, along-with learning, give students ample opportunity to network with students and experts of other institutions that sharpens the skills of our students.
Any suggestions you would like to give to the current youth and the aspiring students?
Explore the ‘self’. If you are able to know your potential to the fullest, sky is the limit. But this pursuance of excellence is possible only by getting into a disciplined life. Technology is great as a servant but bad as a master. Use it wisely. Determination, devotion and smart and hard work are the pillars of success. And, there is no substitute of smart and hard work.