Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal

Dr. Natarajan Chandrasekhar, Professor-Marketing in IFIM Business School

Dr. Chandrasekhar has successfully completed his Ph.D. in Retail, FDI, and Employment. Apart from this, his educational qualification includes M.Phil. in International Business – Thesis on “FDI in Health Store Retail”, Master’s in Marketing Management, PGDM in Consumer Marketing, B.Sc. (Hons.) in Chemistry/Physics from the Mumbai University and GCE ‘O’ levels from St. Andrews Secondary School, Blantyre, Malawi, Central Africa.

Dr. Chandrasekhar has over 13 years of experience in full-time academics as a Professor. Being passionate about sharing knowledge, this acted as a precursor to his teaching management subjects, initially as a visiting faculty in leading business institutions. To name a few, Welingkar’s, SIMSR, Symbiosis Institute of Operations –based in Mumbai India for the PGDM/MBA/MMS students are some of them. This motivated him to enter full-time academics in the year 2005 culminating in his assuming full-time academic roles.

Dr. Chandrasekhar then did serve in Welingkar’s Institute of Management Development and Research (Mumbai University) as a full-time Professor in the areas of Marketing, Internationalization, and Retail. Apart from this, his academic work experience includes working in Technical University, Ingolstadt, Germany as (Chair Professor for Media Market) in the areas of Marketing and Globalization of Business and Retail; Professor of MDP and training in Firebird Coimbatore; Dean and Professor in School of Business of Alliance University, Bangalore where he taught at both graduate as well as postgraduate levels besides regular discharge of functions associated with dean’s KRA’s. In IFIM Bangalore, Dr. Chandrasekhar served as a Professor of Marketing Area and Chairperson of Placement.

Dr. Chandrasekhar’s experience in the education sector

The education sector is a very enriching one when viewed from a different perspective. Within a limited physical area, it affords enriching experiences. You have a few thousand young minds from different backgrounds and there you experience everything on a platter! It is the variance which makes it exciting and enjoyable. The culture, practices, and learning-unlearning make the environment vibrant and exciting. Anticipating the unexpected and the fun of resolving issues. I would mark it as one of the most important “touch point” stage of the future. For the socially inclined, it literally offers them the satisfaction of contributing to the society at large. You are addressing the foundation of the nation.

IFIM Business School

Dr. Chandrasekhar’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style

In my take, a true leader is one who needs not be physically seen but is “resorted” to by default. They follow you even when you are not there. Lead from behind. Just be the facilitator more specifically a co-facilitator. Enable and enjoy. A person who lived this: Shri Abdul Kalam.

IFIM Business School

Dr. Chandrasekhar on the importance of Sales and Marketing for Management students

Any individual who cannot market/sell oneself in all likelihood will not be in a position to market or sell to others. Life is about marketing oneself to others and in turn marketing for others. Love and be loved.

As an example, as a student, if you are unable to market yourself to the interviewer the matter ends there. Hence the importance of marketing and selling. Marketing is inborn and we only refine it further!

Significant challenges faced by Dr. Chandrasekhar as the Marketing Professor at IFIM Business School

In teaching, challenges have always to be expected and accepted. The very diversified student population in itself is a great challenge. One has to see their point of view and understanding and bring all of them together without misunderstanding their point of view. This is the true role of a facilitator.

Dr. Chandrasekhar on how his experience as the Dean of School of Business of Alliance University helped him in IFIM Business School

To put it in a nutshell, it was a totally varied experience. Alliance is physically a very large operation and power concentrated where I did less of teaching and more of administration. My role in IFIM is reversed. I do a lot more teaching and related activities while I foresee issues well in advance due to earlier experiences all my exposures are paying off now. I guess that is the experience! I do involve in passing on informal and unsought advice to upcoming and young faculty. I term this as “sharing and caring” not “teaching and learning”. Ultimately, it is the brand equity which is impacted.

Know about the faculty at IFIM Business School here.

Curriculum of IFIM Business School

At IFIM, while we lay a strong emphasis on theoretical aspects, we are particularly known for our Marketing and Finance faculty and other innovative practices. The curriculum as such is constructed with active and ongoing contributions from senior industry practitioners who are on the board of studies. Besides this, most of our teachers have also had substantial work experience. Some of our out of the box programs like Industrial Internship Practice, Bespoke program, Social immersion Program, Mentorship and special engagement with Business Research and Personality Enhancement Program set us aside from other schools. It is not that we have these programs up and running but is also very diligently monitored and graded leading to our Mission and Vision. Our Mission is to nurture holistic, socially responsible and continuously employable professionals, whereas the vision is to be the most sought-after destination for quality management education in India.

Changes noticed by Dr. Chandrasekhar in the education sector over the past few years

I live by the motto: “change or be changed”! Whether it is one’s personal life or official life, we have to continuously evolve and not get stuck in “age-old practices “which simply are irrelevant in today’s scenario. I have had the privilege of teaching in the West and working and teaching in India. The West is predominantly learning through doing one does not have to memorize a textbook but demonstrate the theory. We are still to adopt this change in a big way though we see some glimpses of it happening in some schools.

The corporate is not in the business of charity. They would expect a student who graduates out of a business school to start contributing to the bottom line from day zero! Out in IFIM, we walk the talk and lay equal emphasis on doing. We get them more industry ready through our “out of the box” programs. What must be stressed here is that we should stop looking at students as our “customers” and rather enable them as “co-producers” or “co-facilitators”. This would turn them on and actively engage them. In turn, the corporates who actually are the customers find them a lot more acceptable. At IFIM through each of our “out of the box” program, we engage with the corporation which would provide the much-needed taste of the business to our business school students.

Growth of students through placement opportunities available at IFIM Business School

We will continue to offer such exposures to our Business school students in as many ways possible. The other day we had a final semester student doing her IIP in an organization and I made it a point to tag along with me junior students who could actually observe the interactions between the industry mentor, me and the senior student. At a later stage during the interactions, the juniors took over with a number of questions. It was an all-round learning for me, the students and the industry mentor!

Read about the placement opportunities available at IFIM Business School here.

Dr. Chandrasekhar’s relationship with students from other verticals being a Marketing Professor

Firstly, to be in the area of teaching, one must have an open mind. Await, accept and embrace challenges! When the students on the campus see this in you (remember they are always observing you) they look upon you as a friend-mentor. They open up to even discuss with you issues not related to Marketing as a subject. We have very formal programs where non-marketing students approach for insights into Business Research projects or career-related counseling etc. This is a great advantage in my case as I do have about 25 odd years’ experience in the corporate world. You tend to share real-time experiences which provoke and prods them into thinking. Education through “edutainment”.

Ideal school environment according to Dr. Chandrasekhar and how he encourages that kind of culture in IFIM Business School

The ideal is never there and never going to be there. Remember, it is an ever-changing world. The ideal is only a delusion. While one may have a physically ideal school what matters, in reality, is what you do and how you do! Be prepared to try and test, be prepared to fail and accept failure. Even in real business, many of the new products or services don’t see the light of the day. Let improvement be an ongoing process. The present generation, unlike the earlier ones, will not take “no” for an answer. If it is “no” we owe it to them to explain why “no”. It is no longer “I say so”!

Top qualities, according to Dr. Chandrasekhar that an aspiring PGDM/MBA/BBA student must possess

Be prepared to learn, change, adapt and adopt continuously. Travel and you will learn. It is a great teacher. Embrace cross-cultural experiences. Out there in the business world, you will find this mighty useful. Be a team player.

Goals in mind for IFIM Business School for the next few years

Be on the path of innovation and continuous improvement and besides the AACSB accreditation received recently bag the others, QUIS as an example.

Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students

To be entitled to something good one must be prepared to accept sacrifice and walk the talk. Apples are getting rarer but a number of Newtons is growing by the day. Compete in a healthy manner.