Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Dr. Suresh Mony is currently the Director of NMIMS, Bangalore. His educational qualification includes Ph.D. (Business Administration and Management) from University of Mumbai, MFM (Financial Management) from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies and B.tech (Metallurgy) from IIT Madras.
He has been the Chairperson, Executive Management Programs, SPJIMR; Group Advisor Four Seasons Marine & Air Services; Chief Executive Champdany Industries Ltd and Managing Director North Eastern Industrial & Consultancy Organisation Ltd. (NEITCO).
A few of the publications under Dr. Suresh Mony’s name are listed below:
- From a Young Professional to a Thinking Leader: Conference organized by Vanilla Beans, 2013
- An approach to Developing Higher Education in north-east India through ASEAN and Global Partnership: Conference organized by Ministry of DONER, 2013
- Management Control systems Framework to Enhance Productivity and Profitability of PPP Infrastructure Ventures: Research Paper published in conference proceeding of Public-Private Partnership: the need of the Hour organized by International Centre for Promotion of Enterprises, 2014.
- Learning and Development- A different perspective: NHRD Network Journal, 2009
Experience in the education industry
I have a good 16 years of experience in education, the total being 45 years, of which 29 years are in this industry. For me, it was a very welcome change from industry to education as I was able to bring forth my knowledge of industry into teaching. If you look at education, especially management education, unless you have an industry background, you know different sectors of the academy, you will not be able to do justice to teaching. There are so many B schools, so much craze to have a Ph.D. But unless you haven’t worked in the industry, you will never be able to understand what the problems are. Whether it be finance, marketing or HR, industrial exposure is very important.
So, my industrial experience helped me a lot. I have also been into consulting for quite a no. of years which helped me in understanding the requirements of the academics’ field. So, I have become easily functional in varied fields (marketing, finance, HR etc.). This helps you in designing the curriculum, teaching, introducing new courses. Today people insist a lot on Ph.D., but when I joined the education sector, I didn’t have a Ph.D. After becoming the director, I pursued my Ph.D. So, I would say the industry experience was No.1 which held me in designing the curriculum and managing the entire work.
Dr. Suresh Mony’s philosophy of leadership
Leadership is a much-abused word today and a lot many people still think that leadership comes with authority. I don’t believe that. I address everyone as my friends. So, my leadership style is non-combative, non- threatening and most importantly taking people along.
Where ever you are, which-ever industry you are working in unless you take people along, you will not be able to do well. You have to also break your own competence so that people have to respect you not for your authority but for your competence and for the human being you are.
As a leader, you should be able to bring in the humility in yourself. So, I would say my leadership style is, apart from the fact that you bring in the knowledge aspect, I think it is about being friends with people, taking along people and being humble about your achievements and when I look at my team, I always say, “The bouquets are yours, the brick-backs are mine.” So as a leader, you need to take the onus for any failures, but the credit you always give to your team.
Important changes brought in the curriculum of NMIMS, Bangalore and challenges faced in all these years
When we set up our campus here, the first thing we said was we must be different because there are so many MBA institutions today. Look around India, about 3,000 MBA institutions are there out of which the top 40-50 are the good ones. So, it is a competition amongst the top 40-50. So, the biggest challenge is that how we can be different from other MBA institutions as well as from our parent campus in Mumbai.
The first things that we focussed on were that along with the general courses being offered we must have something which defines our USP. So, we came up with this new discipline of analytics as our USP. We were the first MBA institution in India to have analytics as a part of our core curriculum and still we are the only institute in India who have analytics specialization stream. Apart from marketing, finance, operations, and HR, we have a 5th specialization stream which is analytics. So, we started with analytics as a core course in the initial stages.
Later, we introduced it as a specialization stream, giving it equal importance just like other courses and that has sort of held us in good step. In Bangalore specifically, there is a big demand for analytics, so our analytics students get placed immediately. So, through analytics, we established a niche for ourselves and all the major companies came to know that there is an institute offering the analytics course which in turn helped us to market our other courses as well.
Qualities, which over the years have helped Dr. Suresh Mony and the entire management, create a brand name for NMIMS, Bangalore
First thing is the quality of the program curriculum and the quality of teaching. We have been extremely careful in choosing our faculty, be it the full time or the visiting faculty. Our investment on recruiting the faculty is done with utmost care. Also, we are highly conscious of the feedback from the students.
Just like we grade students, the students also grade the faculty. I am very proud to say this, that on a scale from 1 to 10, the average feedback for the faculty consistently remains 8.5+. IIM’s have got the name because of the brand equity, but some of our faculties even go to IIMs for teaching. Along with being careful in choosing the faculty, we are also very particular about what they deliver.
When we came to Bangalore, we were not much known as we are known in Mumbai and Delhi. So, how we have developed is only through quality. We have also been working towards getting some International accreditations. So, we were the youngest B- School to get International accreditation by a UK body called “AMBA” in 2015 which in turn is again a testimony to our quality. AMBA stands for Association of MBA Schools.
Changes noticed by Dr. Suresh in the education industry in all these years
In the education industry, so far, we have been talking about the conventional methods of learning in the classroom. But what is happening today in the industry and in the education sector also is that E-learning is coming into the picture.
Today, we are talking about blended learning. So, we have also gone along with how can we use the blended learning in our curriculum. We are looking for ways by which we can make the best use of blended learning in our curriculum.
“Artificial Intelligence” is coming in a big way. And when it will come, it will hit the education industry also. So, through artificial intelligence, many classes will be done through the electronic media and students will be able to set up their own pace.
Also, you can customize learning depending on the capability of the student. When the class learning is happening, the slow learners have to compete with the fast ones. With artificial intelligence, this problem can easily be dealt with as students will be able to control the pace of their learning. Also, a lot of learning will be possible at the student level itself and the teacher becomes the facilitator. And, it can be one-to-one. And that is what the world is coming to. Today, it is a standardize learning which with time will be changed to customized learning.
The most optimum path according to Dr. Suresh Mony, for a student wanting to excel in Business Management
If you look at Business management, management is an agglomeration of various disciplines. It has got economics, it has got accounting, it has got psychology and so. Which means that an MBA student should have a breadth of knowledge and he has to grasp the knowledge of various disciplines, which is not easy. So that is why we say, MBA students are good General Managers or we can say MBA students have potential to become good general managers. I always say, when we take the blood sample of an MBA, he must be strong in financial skills and also with human relations. He might not much of operations or analytics, but he must know numbers. He must be able to analyze the balance sheet, must be able to read accounts and plus he should be good in interacting with people. If you want to rise in the industry, you need to know how to manage people.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at NMIMS
If I were to give you some answers, we have had 100% placements ever since we started. So, that has been a big success and because of which are student strength is growing. So, how do we ensure 100% placement, I think we have a curriculum which is tuned to the industry. While designing courses we also take into consideration industrial views. When we started with the analytics course, we had companies like Accenture, HSBC, Fidelity etc. help us design the course. So, when we design the courses, we know what the industries want. Then we have a board of studies which reviews the course curriculums twice a year.
When we introduce new course or new program, we go to the board of studies. The board of studies has 5 senior academicians and 5 senior people from the industry. Interaction with industry helps us to ensure that our curriculum is up to date. We also involve industries in our admissions process, also for evaluating students for vivas and projects. We do so many events in the institute. Every department has its own customized events including panel discussions, workshops, and events addressed by top industrial personals. Hence, students get a very good insight of what the industries expect out of them.
Relationship with the students at NMIMS
My doors are always open like anyone can walk-in as in as long as I am free. I follow an open-door policy. I always make a point to take at least 2 or 3 courses per year so I keep in touch with the students. I take up subjects like strategy or strategic sourcing etc. Plus, we have around 16-17 committees and clubs in the institute which are student-driven and students have to manage the events but when they manage the events, they put up their proposals. The proposals come to me for final approvals.
At that point of time, I am able to interact with a lot of students and am able to guide them. A in MBA stands for Administration, which cannot be taught. The administration is something students learn through non- classroom activities. All these committee events come under the non- classroom activities in which the students learn various things like budgeting, negotiations, teamwork, leadership and they are guided and mentored by their respective mentors. And, any student activity or function, I always attend that.
Goals for NMIMS for the next few years
When we came here, we started with the MBA program. The intake capacity was 30. This year the total no. of intakes is close to 250. So, our MBA itself has got around 420 students. We started with the UG program last year, which has also grown immensely. We have around 330 students in UG courses. So today the student strength is close to 850 in full-time and 100 in the executive programs which run out of Koramangala. I see this going to strength of 1,000-1,100 next year and about 2000 in the next 3 years’ time. And I see a lot more programs coming up in the executive space.
Right now, we have only 1 program in the Executive MBA segment. I see the addition of courses like innovation management and infrastructure management to the same segment. Then we are talking about a course for scientists and technologists. I also want to take up entrepreneurship in the big time.
With artificial intelligence and robotics coming up, job search will become difficult. This means we need to encourage our MBA students to set up their own units so that they will create jobs. We are motivating our MBA students to become job creators instead of job seekers. So, I am trying to include entrepreneurship as a culture.
Suggestion for the current youth and aspiring students
I think whatever you do, values are very important. Today’s youth is seeking more towards short-term methods towards short-term successes and forgetting the long term. I always tell this to my MBS students, everybody looks at the first package they get, please don’t look at it. Look at the job role. Whether you like the role, whether you have a passion for that, whether you like the particular job or company. Salary is secondary.
Never take up a job because your father, mother, teachers or friends asked you to or the salary was high. You must like the job. That is the first advice which I give. Look at the corporate world, a lot of scams have taken place in India as well as in abroad and a lot of MBAs have been involved in them. And that is not right. So, passion for your job is the first thing, then comes salary and not to forget your values. So, if you want to succeed, values are extremely important.