Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Mr. Chaitanya M.N.V.V.K. is currently working as an Associate Professor at Media Entertainment Business Management at Annapurna International School of Film and Media. In his past role at with IIPM and CentumU, he was responsible for faculty selection, faculty performance management and managing all the facets of academic calendars/academic programmes in addition to coordinating academics functions with Dean's Office.
For over 15 years, Mr. Chaitanya has been involved in facilitating lectures/training programmes in economic subjects, supervising thesis projects at the graduate and undergraduate levels, updating the academic curriculum, assisting senior faculty in book writing, sourcing & copy editing research articles for IER journal and lastly handling all sorts of tasks related to academic administration. He has travelled to 11 countries as part of GOTA trimesters at IIPM. He has attended 10 EDPs facilitated by Ivy League Univ. Professors and and he holds dual post graduate degrees in management and sociology streams.
No other industry than the education industry provides the chance of continual learning
I started my learning journey in 2002, straight after the completion of management studies in New Delhi. For the fact that continual learning is what I am fascinated with, made a conscious and calculative decision of not joining any industry other than higher education. Management studies and business administration is my first love and accordingly, I have been a part of it for the last 16 years. By a happy accident, I made a seamless transition to media education (more skewed towards film education) in 2012 when I joined my current school, AISFM Hyderabad. While working with the three previous employers in New Delhi, I managed to do moonlighting and undertook additional freelancing assignments including multiple projects like behavioural training, economic policy research and print journalism areas.
In Print space, I had the fortune of being the founding team member of a weekly news magazine, "The Sunday Indian" and business magazine called "Business and Economy". I have also edited a non-peer reviewed economics journal, The India Economy Review.
Specifically, in the area of educational administration and higher education management, I was once again fortunate to launch three international university collaborations in management education and designed/developed the curriculum from scratch for two media management programmes with two state universities.
Coming to the second part of the question, namely that of industry attractiveness, no industry other than higher education provides the rare chance of continual learning and dynamic learning of myriad areas/issues on a real-time basis. This sole factor made me not leave this industry.
Annapurna International School of Film and Media in comparison with other Media and Management Colleges in Hyderabad
There is no comparison in any definite manner. The MMBA (Master of Media Business Administration) course is unique in the truest sense, combining the craft and commerce aspects of allied media and entertainment industries, with a heavy focus on Film, Television and Digital mediums. It is indeed a hybrid programme, with a series of combined projects of MA course (craft and technical) and MBA (business and marketing), across the four semesters.
The second hallmark is that it has the right blend of local, national and international components in the teaching content. The industry integration is seamless and robust as the AISFM campus is located inside the fully functional corporate studio of Annapurna Studios Pvt. Ltd., giving unparalleled access to equipment, talent and all the stakeholders. The compact batch size (limited to 20 seats) is another differentiating factor that works in improving the individual student attention, mentoring and teaching quality.
The significant challenges faced as the Associate Professor of Annapurna International School of Film and Media
Primarily, in curriculum development, it is more in terms of accessing the best of the teaching material and curating the right kind of case studies and projects. The film industry and M+E industry as such has less institutional memory and is wholly under-researched in the Indian context.
Also, getting the teaching talent from other national and international locations is not that easy. Although South India has many vibrant entertainment industries (which as of now are more inward-looking), Hyderabad is yet to make a mark like Mumbai and New Delhi in M+E space, specifically in terms of the corporation and industry events.
The regular departmental activities keep the campus lively
Curriculum update in the programme is a constant process, with continual industry outreach/integration with industry stakeholders. There is never a dull week in the campus, for there would be at least 3-4 different departmental activities, relating to any one of these: Master Classes, Guest Lectures, Technical Workshops, Studio Visits, Student Exchange Programmes, Participation in Film Festivals, Film Markets, Industry Conclaves, Seminars and etc.
The capstone project of Line Producing for the Graduation Film of MA and BFA students is a micro-simulation of what it means to produce a mainstream movie. 50 per cent of the course has practical papers (non-exam and non-theory papers) in addition to 10 different live projects and one internship project, making the whole course and learning experience very topical, industry-focused and practical.
Goals for Annapurna International School of Film and Media
Our goals include to scale-up the student intake in accordance with the state’s regulatory norms and not compromise on teaching quality as and when the scaling happens. Also, the newly constituted academic advisory board is trying to increase the international component and bring more experts from Hollywood, making the current linkage with local industry more robust.
The academic services team helps the faculty by capturing the student feedback on a periodic basis, in addition to keeping a tab on the overall student satisfaction scores. The Industry Interaction/Placement cell ensures that the industry partnerships are always open for student success. We even have a dedicated department for student services, catering to their holistic educational needs, in addition to provisioning career counselling and psychological counselling services. The Academic Advisory Board continually monitors the semester wise learning outcomes, teaching activities, administration, university relations, faculty development, student satisfaction and allied areas.
Establishing a relationship with the students
I live by the credo of 'constant learning' and personally make great efforts to make the teaching content relevant/updated, use loads of current examples that students can relate to attempt at making all the classroom activities, super interactive. I also believe more in the power of peer learning, learning outside the classroom and the immense power of "reading" and reflecting thereafter. I leverage social media, specifically, LinkedIn and for continual sharing of relevant articles and readings with the class.
The placement opportunities available at Annapurna International School of Film and Media
The way I see it is that the department in particular and school as such need to increase the budgets for this line item. Also, there are other non-financial interventions like leveraging social media and other communication technologies for better industry connect. Building and bagging few but effective and long-standing partnerships the .
The leadership style of Mr. Chaitanya
Essentially and personally I strongly believe in the dictum that "My job is not to be easy on myself or my students”. My job is to make myself and them better than what we were yesterday. Lest you think it is too philosophical and not actualized, do cross check with alumni and current students.
Suggestions for the current youth and aspiring students
More than as an advisory, I just want to share what I passionately believe in and always try my best to practice it as well. Be kind, be happy.
Do what you love and definitely love what you do thereafter.