Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Sanjay Mali is the Principal of National Insurance Academy, Pune. His educational qualifications include M.Com. M.M.S. and Ph.D. He possesses immense experience of 35 years in Academics out of which 24 years are as a Principal. He is a recognized Ph.D. Research Guide for Marketing & Business Administration of Savitribai Phule Pune University and Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune, India. Under his guidance, 6 students have completed Ph.D. and 5 more are currently pursuing.
Dr. Mali was recently nominated by Savitribai Phule Pune University as Academic Council Member of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), Pune. He received "Best Principal Award” from Savitribai Phule Pune University, India in the year 2011-12. He has published 10 Research Papers in International Journals and 27 articles in National Journals. He has presented papers at National & International Conferences. 12 of his books are published as sole Author.
A rich and learning education industry experience
This is a very interesting sector because we play a major role in the young generation’s growth. This is a very challenging job for anyone who wants to come forward and contribute something to the society. Moreover, one gets to realize eventually that this is an opportunity to learn while teaching the students.
Leading the way by using PPTs and interactions with mentors
Today, what we require is to develop emotional intelligence in students. For that,
A student should look at the faculty as a mentor also
and they are of course. But that should be practically proved with the way of presentations or interaction with the mentors.
Challenge of fulfilling the students’ expectations
My experience has been in the administration of the traditional colleges like Arts, Commerce and Science College as they were the popular career options for the students. But when I joined here, I found that there are more dimensions to it. As there are students who have decided on their future in advance. And to fulfill their expectations is like a challenge to them.
There are two aspects. First, that for their career goal we should help them and secondly, to develop them and let them grow. They are mature students so they already know where they should focus, it will be really difficult if at all. I treat them as an undergrad student. We give them our complete focus and for doing that we need to give them our skills, abilities, and knowledge which is very challenging.
Cent percent growth through placement opportunities available at National Insurance Academy
So far, our track record says that we have achieved cent percent placements. Nowadays, there are institutions that are coming up so the competitors are increasing.
If you don’t perform, you don’t survive.
If the students have an idea that this particular institution is providing cent percent placements, then they will stop making efforts and hence, will not grow. That is what I feel. So, the self-motivation of students declines. So, I feel that it is hampering the growth of the students.
Basically, the core knowledge of this subject is important. When the students go for placements, what they need is the ability to multi-task. Although you have specialization in an insurance while doing a job, as per the convenience of the placement partners, they keep on changing the portfolios. So, the students should be able to do multi-tasking and that will lead to their growth in their career.
Dr. Sanjay Mali on what keeps him motivated towards research and teaching
In academics, when you start teaching, you start developing an interest in it. Nowadays, everyone wants to update their knowledge then research is the only way for it. You should always keep on writing. I want to see myself as an ideal personality for others so I should do that. Basically, this motivates me.
Plans to expand the presence of PGDM in Insurance course provided by NIA
Although it is a PGDM, we don’t say that it is a PGDM in Insurance because 70% of our weightage is for General Management and 30% is for Insurance. So far, we have been working on the philosophy that once a student has done 2 years of the program from here, he/she must have an understanding of the basics of management whether it is HR, IT or Finance.
we are trying to develop them in that field also along with the core knowledge of Insurance.
This Insurance sector is growing to such a height that the students should know first of all the management function and some core subjects of Insurance so that they can have this combination of knowledge in the two subjects.
Top qualities that an aspiring management student must possess and how NIA is helping its students to become Entrepreneurs
Basically, for any Management Institute, from the first day, the employer expects that they should perform because they have no time for training. So, the basic purpose is that we want to inculcate that habit, especially the skill aspect, not only that they should be groomed in that way. And that is why we are trying to achieve that with not only theoretical but practical purpose. Our NIA is blessed with a very unique model as such. We are having a different model altogether. The government of India along with the Finance department as well as all these public sectors undertaking as LIC and Insurance come up with the idea that to train the executives from the Insurance sector and now accordingly they have been working since 1990.
After making such a good infrastructural arrangement which is very conducive to the educational activity, initially NIA was in a trend and the second phase, they started the PGDM program. Otherwise, in most of the business schools, they start working with the idea of PGDM or BA program. Whereas just because everything was available and the management at that time was having this opinion that why not try to train these executives as they are also the budding executives. They also felt the need to educate them. This foresight of the management was so nice that they wanted to develop these executives. That was the philosophy to start this PGDM program.
We have been blessed with the two parts of this, that we have a core faculty and there are deputed executives and managers who are working in all sectors and are also working as the faculty over here. That is a great advantage to us as the students over here get to know the direct knowledge from the industry. People think that there is a link between the industry and of academics but what you find is totally different over here. Industry only took initiative to start this institute and the industry experts are only here. So nearly 30-40% of them are industry deputed. We have got a core faculty here for the management subjects. Students are also provided with the project-based learning. But not only that, so many executives have come here in and around 6,000 to 10,000 executives are trained in a year. These students are trained in a different manner because training is important. Education is the first priority. They are learning but they are directly in contact with these executives. These management development programs or the MDPs are also conducted which is also a big advantage.
Recently, the CEO of policybazaar.com, Mr. Dahiya was invited. And if you look at the governing board of our institute, you will find that it is not like other management institutes or bodies. Our body is totally different. These people are generally by the life insurance or other insurance or by the governing board members. They all are executives, like CEOs or MDs of all public sector undertakings along with two professors from Bangalore IIM. We get a first-hand information in order of what is the requirement of industry and not only that they suggest us and inform us that this is what is going on, our faculty is also involved with this other aspect where they have been involving in consultancy and research work. Naturally, it is a very unique combination.
Goals to achieve in the coming years
In the next few years, we want to be good at placements and also a top management institute. So far, our reputation and goodwill in the insurance sector are very good. It’s too early to say that we are planning to be a deemed university. We don’t have a plan for that at the moment. Whatever is there, we just want to concentrate on how the students can be placed well. Later on, with the help of alumni, that I’m seriously thinking for a long time, to do something related to whatever is required in the industry after 10 or 20 years. We have started restructuring our curriculum with the help of alumni. We want to see how the industry will be after 10 years and what will be the requirements. Basically, we are not going for the horizontal and vertical sort of development.
We are only focused on what the industry requirements will be in the future.
For example, technical subject like Engineering and subject like Pharmacy, over the time it becomes like a cycle with the demand going up and down with time. We want to go beyond that and instead of developing the number of classes or courses, this is the only motive that we are focused on. Secondly, there is a Capsules program for the students. Those who are going for the insurance sector, there are so many ammunition available right from agents or the brokers and all other experts from different parts. Whether it’s a farmer or health insurance, we need to have the experts. So, we want to have a kind of program for that. For college going students right from under graduation, we want to create an opportunity for them to know more about the sector. Once they come to know the employability level, they will definitely get the benefit.
Suggestions for the youth to maintain ethical values
I’ve seen young aspirants in the last 3 decades of my life. Nowadays, it is difficult to map their desires and ambitions. They are well informed, aware and focused too. Apart from that, the sincerity, integrity and ethical values are more important because the current youth get carried away from so many activities. Since they are so talented, we just need to give them the direction. Whether it’s the finance sector or banking sector, what we see normally that there are scams and unethical things going on.
The pivotal role of an employee is that ethical and moral values are really important. Ultimately, once a person goes from the institute, then he/she becomes a citizen like an employee or manager or executive. But the thing is whatever he learns from the institute, from the society and the family, that ethical part is very important. Moral and ethical values are essential qualities that students must have and that is a challenge for this generation.