Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Dr. Sandhir Sharma is currently working as the Dean of Chitkara Business School. He holds Management and Finance degree from Panjab University and a Ph.D. in Strategic Management. He carries a valuable experience of 17 years of experience in higher education and 5 years in the Telecom industry. With more than 43 research papers to his credits has been published in various journals and conferences at the national & international level.
Dr. Sharma has developed his core expertise in the area of Strategy formulation. His research has widely published in various newspapers. Currently, he is serving as Dean, Chitkara Business School & visiting faculty to Binus University, Indonesia and University of Applied Sciences, Osnabruck, Germany. He has been instrumental in scaling Chitkara Business School operations from 60 students & one program to 1200 plus students & more than 12 programs within a span of 7 years.
In his last assignment, Dr. Sharma set up a B-School in Ludhiana and was instrumental in taking that B-School to the pinnacle of glory in the region. He has widely travelled all across the globe for participation in academic events. He is an active member of various management associations and University bodies. He has guided more than 5000 students in the field of business management all across streams of Commerce and Management so far. He is serving as a consultant to various SME organizations in the area of strategy formulation. He is a Major Guide to 7 Ph.D. Scholars from Academia and Industry.
Dr. Sandhir Sharma’s journey in the Education Industry and the changes he has come across
It has been a wonderful journey so far. I started working in the education industry in the year 1999. A very few institutions were offering an MBA as a course. The words “Education” and “Industry” were not used together. Things changed with the passage of time and we started recognizing “Education” as “Industry”. Trust me, I felt a sea change in the mindset of edu-entrepreneurs switching from labeled thinking of running a social organization to running an organization full of commerce. I see it as a positive change in the education industry. I think that the concept of ROI (Return on Investment) in the education industry in India came into practice after the dawn of a new period. Technology has changed the way of its functioning further. Parents, Students, Industry, Faculty, for that matter all stakeholders are more aware, conscious and choosy nowadays.
Research, Innovation, Outcome-based education and Quality standards (National or International both) have become new norms in the education industry. Options have increased. Education, globally, is accessible and affordable for many as compared to two decades before. Traffic of incoming/outgoing students in India increased though there is some imbalance yet it has increased substantially. Private educational institutions have played an active role in bringing this change. Another side of the education industry is; it is still confusing for parents and students. There is multiple govt. bodies to regulate different types of courses/institutions/universities. Some are affiliated, some are private, some are deemed to be, some are autonomous and some claim that they are institutions of eminence hence cannot be regulated by any govt. body.
If you want to do MBA, you would be surely selected irrespective of the scores that you get in one or more than one of the multiple entrance tests (CAT, CMAT, NMAT, XAT, etc.). How does it matter, who scores what? You score fewer marks in one, you are denied admission by Tier-I, not to worry, Tier-II or Tier III will adopt you. This sounds funny to me. Such a situation is largely prevailing in all the disciplines. The priority remains more or less limited to improve Higher Education in the country, not much attention is given to Primary and Secondary education. We are improving, yet we have to go miles!
This industry is best to work in because it gives you a sense of fulfilment. You feel that you are contributing to making the lives of others. You feel contributing to the cause of building a nation and society worth living.
Philosophy of leadership that the dean follows
“Explore Your Potential” is our philosophy and punchline at Chitkara University
I derive my leadership strength from it. Fortunately, this punchline is quite similar to what I strongly believe in “Freedom to Evolve”. These both statements drive my passion for building the institution stronger.
I strongly believe that the Faculty remains at the core of every institution. Freedom of Faculty in terms of thinking something new, empowering them with the best of resources, engaging them with new age learning, and supporting them when they fail in their efforts helped me in the last 20 years in making of Institutions.
Significant challenges faced by the dean
The biggest challenge is to create a balance amongst students’ dreams, Teaching-Learning process, and Industry requirements. The curriculum has to be the latest. B-Schools are required to be flexible enough to adapt to the change which is driving the industry. The requirement of Industry should be part of the curriculum. We should teach what can be practiced in the future. Training students in multi-disciplines is another challenge. Technology & its usage is a different challenge. The connection between Faculty & Industry is a challenge of paramount importance for a B-School.
A Professor should retire as a Professional and a Professional should retire as a Professor.
Chitkara Business School ensures the best practice of industry through its curriculum
Our curriculum at Chitkara Business School is exactly what the industry requires. We are flexible so our students are industry ready. It’s simple. Students and Faculty equally participate in building relevant curriculum besides the industry at Chitkara Business School. Bombay Stock Exchange is coaching our MBA students for financial markets. Safeducate – an arm of Safexpress, is mentoring our MBA students for Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Fortis Hospitals is training our MBA students in Healthcare Management. FMCG companies are engaged in grooming our MBA Marketing students. CFOs are teaching our Finance & Banking students. Future Group is preparing our students for MBA in Retail. Pharma companies are supporting our curriculum and teaching students of MBA Pharmaceutical management. Data companies are helping our MBA Business Analytics batch. Our BBA program has a specialization like Digital Marketing, SCM & Logistics, Business Analytics, Sales & Retail, Global Immersion, and B.Com Program has ACCA and CIMA embedded curriculum. Our B.Com students learn capital markets with BSE and CISI (new batch formation). We are running a Ph.D. program for Industry Professionals in order to find solutions to their real-time problems.
The skillset that an Industry requires in a student
Industry prefers those students/candidates who have travelled widely, are self-sustained, can work in teams, can lead teams, are good at networking and ethical in their profession. Industry requires both attitude and aptitude. All students have to be aware of the global happenings, their outcomes, and impact. The mobility of students, communication skills, technological know-how, use of tools, and above all knowledge related to more than one discipline is what the industry requires.
As a professional example; an MBA student should be able to mine data, prepare XL dashboard and pitch book, targeting customer, delivering a presentation, deriving the cost of the project, managing team, handling project operations and forecasting future earnings. Don’t you feel it’s a mix of many MBAs? Though it sounds strange it’s the latest requirement. Industry requires one person with multi-skills rather than one skill per person.
Being the Dean, how can one manage to build a direct relationship with the students
Strange question. My availability is their first right. I am accountable to them and their future. As a Dean, I ensure that I keep meeting all my students, faculty, and industry partners on a regular basis in order to help them to meet their requirements and creating synergy. It is the legacy of our Hon’ble Chancellor Dr. Ashok K Chitkara and Hon’ble Vice Chancellor Dr. Madhu Chitkara that we are taking forward. Our Hon’ble Chancellor teaches the whole MBA one course on Business Ethics and Values every year. It’s their inspiration that drives all Deans in Chitkara University to stay closer to students, faculty, and industry. My job is to teach my students how to accept failures gracefully, revert and win; handholding faculty in training them and making them strong; continuously staying in touch with industry for updating/mentoring.
Chitkara Business School current rankings at various levels
NIRF Ranking 2018 has ranked Chitkara Business School amongst Top 75 management institutions of India out of 487 B-Schools. Business Today, Business India, India Today, Careers360, Academic Insight, Education Jagat and several popular magazines have been ranking us as the Best in the Region for the last 4 years consecutively.
- We wish to be figured amongst the top 20 B-Schools of India and first choice of Faculty, Students and Industry by 2020.
- We wish to be accredited nationally and internationally.
- We wish to be amongst the Top 20 B-Schools of India in the Executive Education by 2025.
What the current youth is lacking
Our youth is majorly suffering from the disease which can be termed as “Instant Gratification”. The youth of today is in a hurry and likes shortcuts. Technology has played a very important role in it. Poor tolerance, less hard work, lesser commitment, lesser discipline & deteriorated social values are some of the challenges of youth currently.
Message to aspiring students
Our brains, our intelligence need no introduction. We proved it in the past, we are proving it at the present and we will prove it to the world in the future because you are our future. The nation depends on you and your competencies.
Value your culture, be committed, hardworking, ethical, Sustainable social human being
Future is yours and we all believe in you.