Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Gopal Ramamritham is currently working in D Y Patil University as the Director and HOD of DYPSOM. He holds various degrees such as Mechanical Engineering degree, an MBA degree, Ph.D. degree and a D. Litt degree. His long and valuable experience of more than four decades includes working in different institutes and colleges as the part of the faculty.
Dr. Gopal Ramamritham’s experience in the education industry
When I left Siemens in the prime of my career, I was the general manager -strategic planning there. The main reasons why I came out of it were:
- I needed to give back to the society.
- I needed to equip my colleagues so that they reach the goals which I have reached so far.
- Even at Siemens, I was trying to give education through the faculty.
The industry is growing very rapidly which you can see from the way people are getting themselves admitted to the professional courses like MBBS or MBA. And you can see a large number of applications and there are a large number of seats available. Now coming back to MBA which I am looking at or the BBA, there also the ratio is very high but what is missing in this industry is the link between what you teach in the colleges and what actually the industry requires. This is something which is very critical, which is missing all the way around.
Because this link is missing the students get more of academic nature or what we commonly call bookish knowledge. But they do not know what is the application of that knowledge or how does it help the industry. Therefore they are not able to contribute to the industry from day one. Industry today says that I don’t have time for training you and teaching you and I want you to contribute from day one. And that’s totally missing.
Industry also expects that if I am giving you a salary of rupee 1 then you should be able to contribute and give me at least 30 rupees back and this the present generation is not willing or not able to do and therefore there is a large no. of unemployment and studies are being conducted that the graduates are not employable. And so on and so forth.
But ignoring these challenges if we look otherwise, the education industry is a fast-growing industry. Graduation is the minimum qualification everyone is looking for. If you are not a graduate, you won’t get a job. Look at India's population growing at 2% per annum. You can Imagine how much scope is there. The higher education is a fast-growing market. Although the fastest growing education is the school education till 12th as the number of students tends to decrease after school for higher education.
Dr. Ramamritham’s philosophy of leadership
I follow two types of leadership first is the leadership that is based on relationship and the second one which is more critical for me is leadership which is based on transformation. My aim has always been that every student at my school should be successful. My entire vision keeps the students as my first priority. I want to change my students not according to how I want them to be but according to what their styles or objectives are so that they are able to succeed in life. They should be able to see what are their strengths or weakness and what exactly needs to be done.
I believe that I am only a catalyst. I am not a teacher or guru or a leader, I am not anybody of that sort. I am only a catalyst who is helping my students to reach whatever goals they have to reach and for that whatever transformations they have to go through and to do this I would try every possible way out. And it's then that these guys can actually succeed.
Every child is a good child there is no child who is bad. Every child has got lots of potentials. There is not a single child who doesn’t have the potential. The only thing is that we need to awaken that potential. We need to tell them that this is what it is. There is a latent energy which is there in the child and this energy is colossal. If we convince them and channel this energy into the right direction then the child can see that this is what is required and we can move in that direction. And I don’t think we need to do more than this.
Changes in various industries over these years noticed by Dr. Ramamritham
The corporate world is changing and is changing very drastically. There are a lot of disruptions which are taking place. For example, earlier we used to have C++ java + as the priority but now people say forget that we need data analytics. Things are becoming process oriented or automated. But simultaneously along with this, there is an increase in the need for people who can operate on such systems. As we cannot have changes where no human employee is needed to execute such tasks.
Suggestions for a student wanting to excel in any field of Management by Dr. Ramamritham
The students must first look at what does he want. Is he talking about becoming an entrepreneur? Is he talking about working in an organisation? Or is he trying to get into social work for the society? For becoming an entrepreneur, a student must have a fire in the belly. He must have a passion for what he is doing. He won’t have any support system. Only time will tell him whether he is right or wrong. And there will be many people ready to oppose him. On the other hand, if he is going into a corporate world, then you must be clear in your mind, as about 90% of the people go into the corporate world. The corporate expects that:
- The child must know the basics of management which constitute about 20-30%. For example, knowing the concept of ROI or to calculate it.
- They must know the applications of these basics into real life. For eg, how can an ROI increase or decrease, can you calculate the ratios and then can you interpret them? Anybody can calculate ratios but can you interpret what are the challenges faced by the industry? Can you compare it with other companies? This is what I call the application of knowledge in the real world.
- They must have a wholistic approach to life. Today the world does not believe in working individually they believe in working together in groups. We should be able to negotiate not between a supplier and a person or purchase department but between two groups. Because we are not working individually but in groups. When you work in a group there are work dynamics and you should know that.
- Students should understand what Indian, American, German or any other culture is and how every culture is different from one another. For example, I love to eat with my hands as many people of my culture love to do rather than using spoon and fork. But is it an appropriate behavior among people who are coming from different cultures or in a party? These small things help in enhancing our understanding and move us from one level to another. You may be a good person with a lot of knowledge but if you are not able to present it or communicate it, it’s useless.
- You cannot change your words or explain their meaning again and again. You have to say what you mean exactly and this is what I call wholistic development of the child. And this constitutes almost 20 to 30% invariably.
I have almost 200 or 250 corporates coming to my office to have a cup of tea and among the various things I discuss I ask them what do you look for in a student and they answer sir we are looking for basic knowledge inputs, aptitude testing and all of that, application knowledge, the area he wants to go and how will the child grow. And that is what is required.
Dr. Ramamritham’s views about the growth of students through placement opportunities available at DY Patil University School of Management
Before I talk to you about the placement let me talk to you about the curriculum we follow. We are a deemed university and a deemed university has the power to change the syllabus as it wants. Of course, there is a process to gradually change the syllabus. We have a board of studies meeting which takes place once in a quarter. it has members coming from the industries plus the faculty. The board of studies reviews the syllabus once in 3 years unless there is a drastic change. For example, now there is a subject called big data analytics, the syllabus was changed about one and a half years back but in the last one and a half years we realised that big data analytics is becoming the hottest topic of present time. So we immediately changed the syllabus.
Similarly when GST came, which came in the middle of the year when we can’t change the syllabus suddenly. So we called specialists including government officials. And GST counsellers. we called them and asked them to address our students that what is it and what are its applications. So at least the students are not blank on GST and there is some basic knowledge available to them regarding GST. And in the current year which is 2018 we have introduced the subject called GST into the main syllabus. And at least one or two sessions need to be conducted on GST, so for six hours, students get knowledge about it.
I do not expect my students to get into the minor details about the articles in GST. The intention is that the students should know the overall picture. They should know what the broad headings are. They should know how should they apply it and it is more than sufficient. In case they need it further they can continue their detailed study.
So by taking these steps, first of all I am taking my students closer and closer to the industry. Second, we have a series of guest lectures and the advantage of these guest lectures is that I call people from industries to the university. There are three layers of guest lectures which I have. The first layer is the functional layer where I call people who talk about marketing, finance etc. The middle layer is the product management level where they talk about the interlink between the various functions which are there. The third level is where I call the senior people in college like CEO and then they come and talk about the macro level picture of the environment and what exactly happens in their organisation. They talk about the investments, acquisitions everything and they give information which links everything together from the top to the bottom.
We have summer placements at D Y Patil. During the summer internship which takes place, we expect the students to go to the organisation for about two months and work there. They have to prepare a small project report after coming back and then there will be a viva on the report made. Our faculty has been told to be in touch with corporates to know how the students are working in the organisation. In the third semester, we have live projects where the students go to the organisation twice a week and work there on a project given by the organisation and then submit the report for the viva.
The reason why we are doing this is because most of the graduates and postgraduates students are not getting jobs because the industry feels that they are not employable. So we are extending an opportunity to the students to apply their knowledge into the real world and prove themselves. And if the organisation likes the student during the live project period they offer jobs to them. Then it is up to the students whether to take it or to leave it.
We also have a national and international conference which takes place twice a year. It could be on any stream, it could be a hospital, marketing, HR, national business. Experienced people will come and talk to the students. Why am I doing all this? I am doing this because I want my students to understand that what you have learnt in the college is basic knowledge which constitutes only 20-30%. What you lean outside the college Along with what college teaches you is the application knowledge. And once you know the application of knowledge then you know how the industry works. I think this is when you become employable.
As they always say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If we look at it, more than 250 corporates come to our college every year and 30 - 40% of these are the same corporates. They come back, again and again, every year and say we want your students. For example, today I have a large number of corporates waiting but all of my students have already been placed. I place my students by the month of February or march latest. Of course, some of them are not placed because they want to join their family business. Ignoring that group of students all the students who wanted to join corporate have gotten job.
And this is the net result. All the students at D Y Patil have got placements. And it's not that corporates are coming with less package, I am talking of minimum salary package of 4 lakhs per annum, maximum goes up to 8 to 9 lakhs p.a. and I think 4 lakhs rupees is worth it. It’s a good package for these guys who have no experience, are freshers and are going to see the industry for the first time. Every year we raise the bar, next year we will talk of no company coming in unless they talk of minimum 5 lakhs p.a package. That’s the level we are talking about. So gradually we are increasing the bar.
Dr. Ramamritham on what makes D Y Patil stand apart from other institutions
There is something unique about D Y Patil. It is a young school; it has been almost ten years. And in these ten years, we are ranked among the top 100 B schools by a lot of agencies. D Y Patil has been ranked as the no. 1 Private university by Times. What makes D Y Patil stand out is, at the macro level the philosophy which we have - students first, students first and students first. The philosophy is that our students have to be successful and we do everything that is there to ensure that our students are successful and that is what makes the difference.
Placements are the consequences of all what we do. I have not been worried about the admissions, I have not been worried about the placements because there is my student's output. They will come automatically. And what do the students of an MBA college look at? They look at placements and placements don’t come just like that. You got to put in your efforts. I have a team of faculty members along with the student community they organise the companies to come to the college, job fairs, guest lectures, tell students how to write resumes, how to attend group discussions or personal interviews. There is a one to one relationship which takes place which makes the difference.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students by Dr. Ramamritham
Only one thing, whatever you do you do it with passion, with love. You take an interest in it. You have got to put in hard work and passion. You got to have something called fire in the belly because God helps those who help themselves. He doesn't help everybody. And when you don’t put hard work you put blame on the government, industry or your luck. No, it's not that. You must have a positive attitude.