Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Currently serving in IFIM Business School as the Dean of Department of Planning and Development, Development, Dr. Nitin has done his MBA (Finance) and Ph.D. (Strategy). He has taught subjects in the field of Management, Finance, and Strategy and has prodigious domain knowledge in subjects like Investment Management, Strategic Management, Corporate Finance, International Finance, Derivatives, etc. His area of interest is in the field of research, consulting, investments and strategic management.
Dr. Balwani has been associated with premier institutes across the country like AIMA, UPES, Apeejay Business School, Amity Business School, amongst others.
Dr. Nitin’s experience in the education sector
The education sector is one of the most interesting case studies. Centuries back it was a guru-shishya structure that we had in the sector, with individual attention and grooming for the skills, creativity, and knowledge. Post industrialization, the sector became a kind of a cookie cutter industry, everybody doing and delivering the same thing, the creativity got lost. It remained this way until a couple of decades back when slowly transitioning started to take place.
Now, changes are coming in at a drastic pace. For example, internet, open access, etc. There is a drastic change in the industry. These changes are bringing in a lot of new pedagogy/ methodologies of learning. Students have now access to best of learning materials and the best of teachers across the world. This is impacting the whole rigid and outdated structure of this industry in ways unforeseen. Now students are learning faster than ever before, they are now able to appreciate perspectives that were not accessible 10 years back. This all makes the industry very exciting for leaders and faculty, to not only help the students learn but also to learn along with them. You share the knowledge, see the students grow, and the amount of love and respect you get from students is unparalleled. Nowhere else and in no other sector you get this love and respect, this makes the work fulfilling and the best industry to work in.
Dr. Nitin’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style
I have always believed in fewer words and more action. Leadership is always meant to be felt and a leader is a facilitator who helps the team achieve what they set out to do. When the students do something, they should always believe that they have done it and feel a sense of achievement. A leader’s role has always been, and should always be, to empower, to help the students, faculty and staff feel empowered and participative and feel that they have done it, and not the leader who takes the credit. This is what I have always believed, I let the team take the credit for the things gone right and I will take the blame for the things that go wrong.
Significant challenges faced by the Dean – Department of Planning & Development of IFIM B-School
There is a huge amount of challenges as the education industry is dynamic. The way the education is developing, a lot of things have changed and how do we as an education institution keep ourselves on top of all these. The apex challenge becomes to develop a strategy to overcome all cliché’s and talk and think about what is new, and how do you adapt to it and how you do things in a better way then what your peers are doing. This is the biggest challenge that I am facing.
Curriculum of Department of Planning and Development of IFIM B-School
What I found was very interesting, when I looked at most of the curriculum in India, everything was fixed and structured, everything was rigid and did not offer flexibility. Whether you liked the course or don’t, whether it fits in your competencies or aspirations, you have to do it, you don’t get choices. We, at IFIM Business School, offer a Bespoke program where a student can choose, what he wants to do, how he wants to do and when he wants to do. This help students align their courses with their career path and goals. That is precisely what industry need is, to get budding professionals who are committed to the business and growth areas. Moreover, students now do not want to be in a company just for a job, they look for a career. Bespoke ensures that the students want to be in that in the industry because they love that industry and they have been trained for this. That’s the most beautiful aspect of IFIM Bschool’s Bespoke program.
The growth of students through placement opportunities available at IFIM B-School
We don’t want placements to be our core area of focus because we believe that if the students are skilled and competent the companies will always come and pick them up or they will set up their own ventures. This is what is currently happening at IFIM. We have over 100 companies, including consulting, fintech, e-commerce and all the new age industries, coming to our campus and picking up students year on year. We also have an in-house incubation center for the budding entrepreneurs. Our students have an immense choice of the career they want to choose and the industry that they want to work in. This availability of choice is making students happy, in return making recruiters happy. The way now we want to push the envelope is by going international. International exposure and international placements opportunity will add a lot of value to not only students but also to faculty.
Dr. Nitin’s relationship with the students
For me, the relationship with the students starts right from admissions. I am involved thoroughly in admission strategy, process, structure, and policy. That’s where most of the students meet me, then we do the mentorship, followed by mock GDPI and finally placements. My interaction with students in IFIM is spread across the entire student lifecycle at the campus. They regularly interact with me in all these phases of their time here at IFIM Since we regularly interact they know me and I am always available to them for any help they require from my side.
Ideal school environment according to Dr. Nitin, and how he encourages that kind of culture at IFIM Business School
The ideal school environment for me is where the faculty is only a facilitator and the students learn on their own because there are so many advances in knowledge today and things are changing so fast. There is no faculty in the world who can keep up with the latest happenings. Faculty can only show the way and lead students on a path to learning, but it’s always students who have to learn. For me, the perfect school environment is where a student is not only learning but is also sharing knowledge with the faculty and both the students and faculty are learning together and growing. Faculty will guide the way but then the focus has to shift from a pure teaching sort of a system which has been in vogue for some period of time now, to a collaborative learning and growth.
Top qualities according to Dr. Nitin, that an aspiring manager must possess
The growth mindset is a given, but the first thing is to learn the ropes by taking up all the responsibilities that come your way. When I was working with corporates, I found that new managers lack empathy and EQ (Emotional Quotient). What happens is when a new person starts managing team, he thinks he can dictate with their new-found power. This alienates the team, they have to work together over a period of time, have to learn and understand team dynamics. If you understand team dynamics, you have to know team’s psychology. Then only the team will perform optimally. Just pushing orders will not produce healthy results. That zeal to learn, passion to grow and empathy are top three quality that a budding manager must possess.
Goals in mind for IFIM B-School for the next few years
We have already got an AACSB accreditation. In next 5 years, our plan is to be amongst the institutions with some triple crown accreditations in India. My passion and our institution’s strategy and vision are being counted amongst the top-quality institutions in the country. All stakeholders should feel that they are a part of the top-quality institute of India, for this, we need to have collaboration and connectivity with the corporates, students who learn in a collaborative manner and faculty who leads the knowledge creation.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
One point which I always see troubling a student and new joinee in a corporate is the fear of failure. They get literally scared, they get completely stressed out and they worry a lot, as this has been their conditioning. My suggestion to all is “Let the failure in one task and endeavor never deter you”, you cannot be great at everything. Find your niche. Remember, you can get thousands of “no”, the only matter is to get one “yes”. Never take failure and critics’ too hard, keep striving!