Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal

Prof. Vijay Tandon, Director of PGDM and International programs at Universal Business School

Prof Vijay Tandon is a highly self-driven, dynamic, committed, passionate and a focused individual with more than 16 years of rich, varied and Insightful experience, which is a combination of Industry, consulting & Academics. Currently Vijay is serving at Universal Business School in the capacity of a Director for PGDM & International Programs. Vijay started his corporate Journey with a MNC Pharma Company known as Astra IDL which is currently known as Astra Zeneca. At Astra IDL Vijay worked for six months and then left to accomplish a Management degree. Vijay successfully completed his PGDM course from MET, Mumbai with specialization in Marketing.

Post Management studies Vijay started his corporate journey with GE Healthcare, which is one of the most respected companies in the world. At GE Healthcare he served in the rank of a Territory Manager for a period of 5 years, but due to his strong inclination towards Marketing, later he switched to Tyco Healthcare which was a competition to GE Healthcare. At Tyco he served in the rank of a Product Manager for South Asia region for 1.5 years. Currently Tyco is known as Covidien Healthcare. Post gaining experience in the Marketing function he picked up an offer at GE Healthcare in the rank of a Marketing Manager South Asia and served at GE for a span of two years. Later to gain consulting experience he worked as a Marketing consultant at Magnus Health Pvt. Ltd. for South Asia region for a span of 3 years and then he shifted to academics, due to his strong passion towards teaching.

In the Academic space he has worked as a visiting faculty with different Institutes across Mumbai and as his core area is marketing, he has been teaching subjects like Marketing Management, Product Management, Brand Management, Marketing Strategies, Principles of Management, Rural Marketing, Sales & Distribution Management, Strategic Marketing, Strategic Global Marketing Services Marketing, Innovation, contemporary issues in International strategic Management, B2B Marketing, Selling and Negotiation skills, Integrated Marketing Communications, etc.

Prof. Vijay Tandon on what made him more inclined towards the education sector

Many can transform business, but very few can transform lives. Transforming lives is more challenging than transforming business and as I always love to seek challenges, I find teaching the most challenging and the most rewarding profession at the same time. I always wanted to do something that I felt had a more direct impact on others and I find teaching is the best way which directly impacts people in a positive way. I am passionate about transforming lives and I like the challenge and excitement of inspiring young minds who in the future as leaders can positively contribute to transforming both businesses and society at large.

I consider teaching as a great responsibility and I find it to be more satisfying and fulfilling than any other profession. I strongly believe that teaching is the only job where you are “Paid to learn”. I learned from my experience that every good manager must also be a good teacher and a good teacher a good manager, who can share knowledge and impart wisdom. As teaching provides me with the platform to inspire young minds by sharing all that I have learned during my corporate, consulting and teaching experience. This will facilitate students for their betterment and in turn for the betterment of our country. These are some of the challenges and rewards that made me inclined towards the education sector.

Prof. Vijay Tandon’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style

To me, leadership is not about a title or a job, in true sense leadership is all about taking responsibility. My philosophy of leadership is inspiring young minds to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way to ensure excellence in everything they do. The role of a leader is to create the environment that brings out the best in people and invest in individuals to inspire greatness to emerge.

As I am a principle-based leader and I always say what I mean and mean what I say, in the end, my words and my actions are synonymous. I always seek to learn from others and I personally treat every success or failure as a great learning opportunity and strive to be a better version of myself every day and want to positively impact the lives of those around me. As values create strength, consistency, and sustainability, I give a lot of importance to values and the values that are imperative to me are the ones that build a good character such as “Always doing the right thing” even when it is a struggle. Foundations of a good character are built on trust, respect, and Integrity. I express gratitude towards others and thank them for their valuable contributions.

Changes in the various industries noticed by Prof. Vijay Tandon over the years

I would say that the only thing that is constant is “CHANGE” and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, hence it has become imperative for all the companies irrespective of which Industry/Market they are into, they need to learn, adapt, evolve, explore and respond to the dynamic changes in the business environment. With more economic reforms as a part of Government initiative, the competitive landscape has changed significantly and the level of competition in each industry has become more intense. Due to technological advancements, the business model of various companies has undergone radical changes, some businesses got disrupted while some got evolved and offered new value to internal as well as external customers. Industries have evolved along four distinct trajectories - radical, progressive, creative and intermediating. It has been witnessed that Industry’s core assets and core activities are both threatened with obsolescence, hence it has become imperative for senior leaders to understand the nature of change in the Industry then only one can determine which strategies are likely to succeed and which will backfire. Personally, I have witnessed customer centricity. Precisely I would say, it was rightly said by Darwin - “Survival of the fittest”.

Top qualities, according to Prof. Vijay Tandon, that a Management aspirant must possess

As a management course demands both theoretical and analytical challenges that a student will have to overcome, to be an ideal management aspirant one must have logical thought process complemented with good communication skills so that the student can present creative ideas/solutions effectively and efficiently. To be successful commitment and focus is a must for a management aspirant, the most successful are the ones who are absolutely committed to the Program and to their own career goals.

In the management course students are expected to work in diverse teams on various projects, assignments, presentations etc. Hence being adaptable and possessing team building skills is a must. As the management course is very demanding students should have good time management skills as well as multitasking abilities. In today’s VUCA world Organizations give a lot of importance to “Outside the box thinking” hence creativity along with hard work plays a vital role and will go a long way in the professional journey of a management aspirant.

Curriculum at Universal Business School

PGDM course at UBS is completely based on a unique learning model known as “Experiential based learning” which is an integral part of our PGDM program and ensure integrated learning environment. Faculty at UBS have worked in MNC’s and Global Organizations in senior leadership positions and they bring to the table rich, varied and insightful experience they have gained during their corporate as well as the academic journey. As the faculty at UBS have great industry connect we leverage on our industry relation by engaging industry experts and taking their valuable inputs and superior insights in designing our curriculum, this strategic approach helps us ensure our curriculum is aligned with the Industry standards. This adds great value to our students and we find this to be a great way of imparting education in a holistic manner. As UBS is built by Industry Professionals - Prof. Gurdip sigh Anand, Founder & Chairman UBS and Prof. Tarun Singh Anand co-founder UBS who have served in senior leadership positions as CEO’s and Managing Directors in true Global Organizations, hence precisely, I will say that we follow an approach which is built on the fundamentals of “By the industry for the Industry”.

Read about the faculty at Universal Business School here.

Another key highlight of our PGDM program is that during the start of the academic program our students are required to go through a one-week of the rigorous induction program. For ensuring VALUE addition through induction program our dedicated placement engages at least 30 CEO’s who are serving in the top-notch companies in senior leadership positions. Through CEO series, we provide an excellent platform to our students as they get an opportunity to interact and learn directly from the Industry stalwarts. Also, our students gain superior insights and a great exposure to various industries and companies which they get to know from the CEO’s who bring rich, varied and insightful experience to UBS campus.

At UBS our teaching pedagogy is constructed on case study based approach it helps our students develop strategic thinking, analytical skills, and decision-making skills. Precisely USP of our PGDM course is that the course is completely based on “Experiential learning pedagogy”

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Prof. Vijay Tandon on what makes Universal Business School stand apart from other institutions

At UBS we follow a unique learning model known as “EXPERIENTIAL BASED LEARNING” the core essence of Experiential based learning is “Learning by doing”. Under this approach we have a student managed enterprise known as ELC - Experiential Learning Corporation. The patron for ELC is our UBS, co-founder Prof. Tarun Singh Anand who has worked for Thomson Reuters in the capacity of a Managing Director - South Asia and Board member of Global Innovation Board, Reuters PLC, UK. Prof. Tarun Anand in his endeavor for driving Experiential Learning Program has got the trading room set up by Thomson Reuters where the students are connected through terminals and have real-time market updates and they gain insights into financial markets on a global scale.

At UBS, one of the key focus has always been and will always be on “Building a good character” to ensure this we mentor our students once every week. We consider Mentoring as our “DHARMA” and through mentoring we sensitize our students to build domain knowledge, take leadership positions, actively participate and contribute towards community services, keep self-updated on current affairs and geopolitical aspects, do certification courses and play sports.

To ensure learning by doing on a continuous basis, we have created various clubs, to name a few - Marketing club, Innovation club, HR club, Finance club, CSR club, Go-getters club (Aspiring entrepreneurs) etc. Through various clubs, we provide students with an opportunity to learn and develop managerial, leadership and entrepreneurial capabilities.

UBS being India’s first Green Business School and Environment is one of the key pillars of our Vision, through mentoring and monthly assembly we sensitize our students towards Environmental concerns. We ensure our students don’t create environmental liabilities both inside and outside UBS.

At UBS the focus is not only on academic development, but equally on building the physical well-being of our students, because collectively at UBS we strongly believe that a Health body and a healthy mind with a good character is a must for our students to - survive, succeed and thrive in this highly dynamic, ever-changing & hypercompetitive world, hence to inspire and motivate them to play and take sports seriously we have tied up with a professional sports agency named as EDUSPORTS. Now sports are an integrated part of our curriculum.

Prof. Vijay Tandon’s relationship with the students

As a Director of PGDM course, I am responsible for building a good character and making my students employable, while making my students employable is one of the biggest responsibility, but it’s not the only responsibility. I am also responsible for ensuring my students get engaged in wide variety of personal and social development activities. In my role, I am responsible for formulating sound strategies and ensuring excellent implementation with an intention to enhance the value and reputation of my Institution. Aligned with this I am accountable for implementing the process of Accreditations. I am also responsible for providing strategic direction for the Program in alignment with the Institution’s mission and values and for establishing and leading various Programs with high quality, high effectiveness and high engagement in collaboration with key stakeholders. Along with the key stakeholders, I am accountable to realize the vision and mission of the Institution and the Program by aligning Organizational processes to strategy and mission. I am also responsible for organizing, planning, and setting priorities for allocation of resources within the Program. As a Director. I am responsible for building a strong relationship with the Faculty, students, business community, and society. 

With my students, I share a very positive, transparent, open and mutual exchange relationship. Precisely, I will say that I and my students share a WIN-WIN relationship.

Growth and placement opportunities available for the PGDM course students in comparison to students of MBA or other Management courses

With the expanding global economy and India emerging as the fastest growing economies complemented with a very high potential of consuming population there are ample of opportunities in various industries and various functions such as Sales & Marketing, Finance, HR, and Operations. With our unique learning model known as Experiential based learning and focus on providing holistic education through mentoring and other value-driven activities our students are better prepared and better placed as compared to other B schools. At UBS, we have a dedicated placement team which ensures our students witness a high ROI as compared to other Institutions, as through mentoring our students are well trained to work and perform under pressure and delivers results without compromising on the quality of work. At UBS, we offer International placement opportunities.

To ensure growth and all-round development of our students we have created various clubs, which provide them with an opportunity to acquire various managerial skills and competencies. To name a few clubs - we have clubs such as Marketing club, Innovation club, HR club, Finance club, CSR club, Go-getters club (Aspiring entrepreneurs) etc.

Know more about the placement opportunities available at Universal Business School here.

Goals in mind for Universal Business School for the next five years

One of the biggest goals I have for my Institution is to contribute towards making UBS a University with an aim to offer a wider spectrum of courses to serve the Nation and to emerge as a leader in the field of education and all the areas we are engaged in, by being one of the most progressive and Innovative Institutions across the country. One of the key goals based on outward focus is to be engaged in at least one joint project through industry connect and to increase the number of Industry driven project.

One of the immediate goals on my strategic agenda is to get the NBA accreditation for the PGDM program. Other goals include developing strategic partnerships with Industry to ensure all courses/Programs are aligned with Industry standards and also to undertake consultancy projects. Leverage the strength that UBS has developed since its foundation and to build upon them and develop new strengths. Precisely transform academic programs from excellent to great.

As UBS Marketing team seeks to attract the best students from diverse background one of the goals is to do everything possible to offer them an excellent educational experience. Offer more flexibility and choice to the students in the academic programmes through continuous improvement. Within the next five years be a model university in terms of sustainability and provide and sustain an exciting environment that fosters a culture of Innovation, excellence, and Entrepreneurship.

One of the social goals is to make the significant contribution towards community services by sensitizing and engaging students in community services.

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Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students

My suggestion to the current youth and aspiring students is that they need to accept responsibility for whatever they do. They need to ensure to be both responsible and active, as today’s world is highly competitive students need to be better prepared. As there is nothing called as luck, one gets lucky only when preparation meets opportunity. Hence, I advise students to invest their valuable time in reading books, securing certification courses, participating in competitive activities, taking leadership positions by active participation in sports and cultural events and actively contributing towards community services. One important suggestion I would like to give to the current youth is that never compromise on integrity despite challenges they may have to face. I would like to take this golden opportunity and earnestly request the readers to RESPECT our mother NATURE as what she has given us we can never give back. We need to protect our planet not only for ourselves but for the future generations as well. Individually we should all prove ourselves to be a valuable asset and not a virus to this beautiful planet called “EARTH”.

And I would like to end with one personal saying, which I have been strongly communicating to my students, since the start of my academic journey. The saying goes like this “Excitement is good but patience is the key”.