Dr. Prem Kumar is well known and highly regarded as a strategist and innovative leader in conceiving, organizing and managing enterprises in multiple domains. He possesses qualities of vision building, organizing, motivating and leading teams to perform at their peak level. He is well regarded as a thought leader and speaker on the formulation and implementation of corporate strategies, knowledge and innovation management. He received Master’s in Economics from the Panjab University, Chandigarh followed by M.Phil and Ph.D. from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He has attended faculty development programs/management development programs conducted by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, IIM-Calcutta, XLRI and Harvard Business School.
He is currently the Vice Chancellor, GNA University and has been Vice Chancellor of Bahra University, Shimla and BML Munjal University, Gurgaon. He has served as faculty at University Business School, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjab School of Management Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala and Department of Business Management, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar in the area of Strategic Management.
Dr. Kumar has also worked as Vice President (Strategic Planning) and later Advisor Strategic Planning with Vardhman Group. His other industrial assignment includes stints as a Marketing executive at Jenson and Nicholson (I) Ltd and Shaw Wallace and Co. Ltd. Dr. Kumar has traveled widely and made presentations on various aspects of management including Strategic Management, Knowledge and Innovation Management, Manufacturing Excellence etc. at various National and International Forums. Dr. Kumar is an independent Director on the Board of select companies.
Ques1: Kindly tell us about your experience in the education industry and what makes it the best industry to work in?
Ans. I have spent half of my work life in education and the other half in the corporate sector. I joined research program leaving a cushy bank job. As a young student, I was inspired by the university professors and I perceived them as harbingers of good, purposeful and fulfilling life. Later, I found the opportunity of leaving a large impact on the life of the students as a privilege very few could have in life. Education is the best industry to work on two major counts. One, the freedom it gives you to pursue your passion of living in the world of ideas and ideals. Second, the opportunity to engage with bright minds of academics and imagination of young students. I think the opportunity to change lives makes education the best sector to work in.
Ques 2: Any of the significant challenges you faced as the Vice Chancellor of GNA University?
Ans. The availability of high-quality faculty is the most significant challenge that all academic leaders face in the universities. While most people will lament this fact, there are very few who are trying to augment the pool of faculty talent available in the country. At GNA University, we take special pains to train and develop our faculty. The University has established a Centre for Learning and Teaching which works for effective learning tools and trains faculty on a variety of learning effectiveness factors. The other major challenge is to attract good quality students who have a clear vision of the purpose of education and are willing to go an extra mile to develop themselves as complete human beings.
Ques 3: How does your curriculum ensure best practices of the industry?
Ans. The GNA University’s focus on student centricity has led to the creation of a highly innovative curriculum aimed at developing future leaders. The curriculum development is guided by the design principles of enabling a student to acquire proficiency in a discipline blended with interdisciplinary approach of problem-solving. The students are trained in the tools of creativity and innovation to find solutions to the real-life problems specific to the emerging economies. Each student is guided through a personal leadership journey to make a large impact on the organizations they serve and at some point, on society at large. Sustainability is another theme guiding the development of the students. The students are encouraged to use local materials and develop sustainable solutions to solve problems of water, energy, education, urban living and health care. The GNA University is one of the few universities in India who is constantly innovating curriculum and delivery pedagogies. The University lays stress on experiential learning, industrial internships, learning to learn principles, flexible, credit based study programs and holistic development of personality. The University is proposing to set up an incubation center for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. The University also works closely with industry in the areas of product development, productivity improvement, and skill development.
Ques 4: What goals do you have in your mind for GNA University?
Ans. The GNA University is designed to be a leading institution of higher education in North India with a diverse community of students from India and neighboring countries. We are backed by the renowned GNA Group, a leader in auto component manufacturing. Our focus on technology and we offer some of the cutting-edge programs in Mechatronics, Robotics and automation, Aerospace engineering, design and computational sciences. The University has established GNA business School and we wish to make it a leading business school in the region. Briefly, we aim to be leaders in technology and business education in the northern region.
Ques 5: You pride yourself on the level of education and responsibility you teach here to students. How do you ensure the quality of education in your institution?
Ans. The GNA University follows a research based quality education model. The model has the Quality mind set at the center implying quality consciousness in everything that we do. The elements of this model include Student Centricity, Learning Management System, Passion and Commitment, Service Mindset and Focus on Systems. The culture of quality also permeates in the organization because of the corporate legacy of over 70 years.
Ques 6: How do you build a positive school culture or climate?
Ans. It begins with the process of developing a shared vision. A shared vision enables people to pool their talent and energies to achieve collective objectives. Our shared vision is to create a “University of 21st Century”. A positive climate is also created through a strong set of values which act as a glue and bind people together. GNA University has a clear set of values that include Freedom, Trust, Passion, Innovation, Transparency, and Dignity.
Ques 7: How do you tend to establish a relationship with the students?
Ans. Student centricity is the hall mark of GNA University. We are clear that the student is the sole reason for the existence of the University and the University seeks to improve their quality of life through an eclectic blend of science, technology, and humanities for innovative solutions to real life problems. The University has the following factors built in its DNA to ensure that the students are empowered to lead a complete life:
- Developing leaders for the future
- Innovative curriculum design
- Practical, hands on knowledge
- Research driven degree programs
- Flexible and lifelong education opportunities
- Innovative, project based delivery of the programs
- Deep corporate engagement
- Collaboration with leading universities and research institutions across the world.
- International benchmarking
The University has provided multiple forums for students to engage in individual and group learning. A large number of clubs and societies run by the student themselves provide an excellent opportunity for them to pursue their special interests.
Ques 8: How do you look at the growth of students through placement opportunities available at GNA University? How do you wish to push the envelope further?
Ans. We are clear of the occupational aspect of higher education. The University aims to achieve hundred percent employability through an innovative curriculum developed in consultation with the employers. The University has established a Corporate Engagement Division to foster a deep relationship with the corporate sector. Our relationship with the corporates has multiple engagements like products development, R&D, executive training, joint research projects, training, and placement. We keep focusing on their current and future needs to align our programs to the corporate sector requirements. The University also promotes entrepreneurship among students through on campus and overseas innovation and entrepreneurship programs. The proposed incubation center is another step in promoting start-ups on the campus.
Ques 9: What is your philosophy of leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
Ans. I have had the opportunity of managing the future leader's program during my stint in the corporate sector. At GNA University, developing future leaders who have values, knowledge, and skills to lead their organizations is central to our vision. Our model of leadership is built around developing a clear vision, articulating it preferably in a powerful story, securing buy-in by the team, leading by example and inspiring through the selfless pursuit of shared vision. To me, the best leaders are those who enable their team to realize that they are capable of accomplishing great feats all by themselves. President Kalam inspires us with the concept of Ignited Minds which we practice diligently. My leadership approach is to identify the best people for the job, work out an agreed outcome and approach, provide required resources and give them free hand to perform. I keep supporting people whenever there is a need and am tolerant of mistakes that happen in the process of creating a learning organization. I also believe in creating a leadership pipe line to nurture leadership at all levels.
Ques 10: Any suggestions you would like to give to the current youth and the aspiring students?
Ans. For the youth, there is ample opportunity today to achieve everything that you wish. You are living in a flat world and the opportunity available to you is the same that is available to the students in developed countries. You have to think big, have a dream and a commitment to achieve it. To use a phrase, all streets are paved with gold. You only need to have the desire to collect it through talent and hard work.Last Updated - 27 Jul 2017