Interview by Yash Panchal
Prof. Kalyana. C. Chejarla is currently serving IMT Hyderabad as the Asst. Professor & Area Chairperson (Operations) and Chairperson (Placement). His educational qualifications include B.Sc (Engineering) from NIT Jamshedpur, PGPX from IIM Ahmedabad, PGBDA from IBS Hyderabad, CFA (ICFAI) and CIRM (APICS).
He is an industry veteran with 17+ years of experience with big corporate houses like Dell, TCS, HCL Technologies & Tata Motors. He has worked extensively and has contributed to success in Manufacturing, Retail & Services environments with elite clientele such as Target, CVS Caremark, Tesco, Applied Materials, Toshiba, General Motors & Tata Motors in their Supply Chain Transformation programs across geographies such as Japan, Europe, Africa & USA. His teaching philosophy is to provoke thoughts among students through careful navigation of foundational concepts & underlying technology and let the knowledge evolve.
Prof. Kalyana’s rich experience
After having worked in the corporate world for more than 18 years, I have shifted to academics. The rich experience from multiple business settings helps me hugely in providing a practical perspective to the theory I teach in the classroom. This background also helps me in mentoring students and preparing them for corporate careers. Given that I have the opportunity to guide and help so many youngsters, which would not be possible in any other industry; I feel this is the best industry for me.
Challenges to deal with, being the Chairperson-Placements of IMT
Following are a couple of key challenges I face as the Chairperson-Placements:
- One of the important criteria applied by corporates in choosing a campus is the number of years of existence, which is a disadvantage for a young Institute like ours.
- Given the mismatch between hiring cycles and campus placements season between corporates and business schools, on some rare occasions, we are forced to let go of good companies from visiting our campus.
IMT Hyderabad’s rigorous and comprehensive curriculum
The curriculum of the course is both rigorous and comprehensive, particularly, case studies, projects, and practitioners’ sessions provide a perfect blend of theory and application. We ensure that 10 to 15% sessions of each subject are taught by a senior functional leader who has handled decisions in the subject area. This helps us bringing the latest industry experience to our classroom learning atmosphere. Also, our unique 14 - 16-week Internship program helps students to apply their 1st year conceptual learnings in work environments and absorb the realities of work-life, before they make their specialization choices in the 2nd year. IMT(H) ensures that the projects are mutually beneficial by attaching a faculty mentor to each student, who reviews independently the progress of the project on a weekly basis, and also three times along with the company guide over the course of the project. Student Exchange Programs help students develop sensitivity to diverse cultures. Co-curricular activities of various student clubs hone their interpersonal skills and help them develop as holistic individuals.
Skills required for placement
In our observation, corporates mainly look for the following skills in students for making their hiring decisions:
- Communication Skills
- Problem Solving Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Openness to Learning
- Team Player
Ensuring the quality of education at IMT Hyderabad
The pedagogy at IMT Hyderabad is student-centric, participative and team-based. The institute has adopted the latest technology, research, and advancement in pedagogy required for delivery of knowledge and information beyond borders. Our approach towards learning gives students the freedom to delve deeply into areas of inquiry stimulated by intellectual curiosity and the desire to excel.
There are a number of institutionalized processes, which are tracked, monitored and reported on a regular basis to ensure the quality of education such as, diverse measures of evaluation, continuous evaluation and feedback, mentoring students, project-based components, mandatory number of practitioner sessions, regular monitoring of Internships by faculty guides, etc.
Establishing a relation with the students
I make sure of the following in my relations with students:
Open, timely and transparent communication
Fair evaluation and regular class based and one-on-one feedback
Promote healthy competition and leave sufficient scope for self-learning
Treating students as adults and holding them accountable for their decisions and actions
Placement opportunities available IMT Hyderabad
Over the years, the placement metrics at IMT Hyderabad have continuously improved. We make sure that the students are placed in reputed organizations and in the roles they aspire for. We follow a 360-degree feedback (recruiters and alumni) approach to constantly improve our processes. Our “Dream Company Policy” helps students to participate in the campus process of a company of their choice regardless of their placement status. In the coming years, our focus will be to encourage our recruiters to upgrade the rating of our campus equivalent to the leading B schools of the country.
Leadership philosophy of attributing success to the team
In my opinion, a leader is a person with a passion, a dream and a vision and who persistently strives for a better cause. A leader is not deterred by obstacles.
I believe that the leader exists because of the team. Open and continuous communication with the team is my top priority, because, it ensures that specific tasks to the team members are clear and succinct. I always make sure that I acknowledge the work they’ve done, attribute the success to the entire team which proves to be a motivating factor. A leader must try and help his team members grow and take up higher responsibilities.
Suggestions for the youth
The current youth is well informed and is self-reliant. They know what exactly they want and are determined to achieve. What I would like to suggest to them is that they should do an objective self-assessment, understand the gaps vis-à-vis the goals they are set to achieve and put an honest effort on a consistent basis. They should not deter from seeking mentor’s advice and not give up in the face of a failure. Making short and long-term planning would help them in tracking and making course corrections. Lastly, current youth should also learn to be patient with oneself.