Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Ms. Seema Saini is currently working as the CEO of N.L.Dalmia Educational Society which runs two Schools of excellence; N. L. Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research and N. L. Dalmia High School. She holds M.A. (Economics), MS- HRD (USA) and PMP (USA) degrees. In addition to that, she has professional certification from eminent Institutes which have added value to her professional achievements; Project Management from Project Management Institute, Pennsylvania (USA), MDP on Excellence in Higher Education from Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, India and Certification in Strategic Leadership from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, India.
Ms. Saini is a frequent keynote speaker and panelist in prestigious conferences and seminars. She is an active social worker. On behalf of N L Dalmia Educational Society, she has adopted Kondgaon Village to improve the health, hygiene, education, environment and the livelihood for sustainable development of the people. A Funfair Carnival is organized and the proceeds from this initiative are used towards the development of the village.
The Indian Educational Industry is always going to flourish
To be in the education industry, I believe we must have the passion to work in this field. The whole concept of education is in developing a person with a purpose and goal. It is crucial to have passion in an individual to be a part of this realm. On the lighter side, this is one industry which does not get affected by the recession and it is always going to flourish, especially in a country like India which has an abundant youth population. To have a quality institution and to able to be a part of the quality institution is very fulfilling.
A leadership style which empowers the team
I believe in working with the team and ‘participative management’ is what we look for. Hence, we take inputs from the team and we empower them. If a person has been delegated with a role and responsibility, it is expected that he/she will carry out his responsibility. Of course, it needs to be appropriately overseen. A lot of thought goes behind every decision that is taken. If the planning process is strong then implementation and execution become easy, supported by follow-ups and monitoring.
We have dedicated departments for carrying out respective operations and have delegated roles and responsibilities to people. In fact, we are backed by a pool of diligent professionals who work as a great team and ensure commendable results that speak volumes about the efforts they make in the process.
Challenges prepare us to update as per the current trends
I don’t look at challenges as challenges per say, but as ‘learning opportunities’ - to learn more, to grow more, to expand your bandwidth and to do more for the students. Challenges help in keeping abreast with whatever is happening and facilitate in incorporating those within our functioning.
We take all measures to ensure that the curriculum is at par with what is happening in the corporate sector and bridging the loopholes if any. So theoretically, what we preach, is of course, the curriculum which comes from the University and we define that further. But we as an institution need to keep up with the current need of the education sector, where we need to match up and plan accordingly to tweak the existing curriculum. This will not only make our students industry-ready but also lay a direct impact on the economic benefits.
Development of the students take place throughout their coursework to prepare them for the placements from the campus
Right from the day one, when the student gets into the campus till the completion of their two-year full-time program here, all sum up as an experience for the student. It’s not after the placement that they will flourish, rather their bright future opportunities are well anticipated the day they step in. The experience acquired by the students, inside and outside the classroom, is priceless. The internships, projects and presentations, business simulation games, case study approach etc., all prove beneficial in the long run.
Our team of dedicated and highly experienced faculties train the students with abundant knowledge on live dynamics of the economy and live industry experience in the classroom. The students are well groomed about any merger or acquisition that is happening with a keen eye on every detail relating to various perspectives such as - financial and marketing implications etc. To match up to the updated teaching-learning process, every faculty and every stream will adapt to bring that into the classroom going beyond curriculum and books. In fact, it is more of a holistic approach and that is where professional development begins.
Apart from that, we have a whole lot of systems in place including mock interviews or simulated situations which are created for the students, thereby completely grooming and honing their skills. We put in our best efforts to equip with the latest technology to ensure his/her academic and personal development, thus making each student industry ready. We have the record of 100% placements. When we have a various top line of companies coming in and conducting interviews of our students, it serves as an experience as the students are absorbed and their strengths are identified and then they move to respective industries that visit the campus.
Hence, it begins from there and they are so ready with the experience that the institute has provided in the total span of two years of their management and research studies that they excel to reach the top executive levels in industries. We have over 6000 alumni whom we are tremendously proud of. Their accomplishments are noteworthy as they all are doing exceptionally well in senior positions in MNCs.
Matching the quality of education not just with IIMs as the benchmark but aiming for better prospects whenever possible
We wouldn’t like to restrict just to IIM benchmarks. In fact, we are in a growing phase and we believe that there is always a scope to become better than what you are and improve your systems that are already in place. Accreditations gained over time set very nice parameters and benchmarks for our institution and it enhanced the vision that we have.
Our management nurtures the vision that if we try to align all our activities including our program level objectives and course level objectives, we shall be able to achieve the desired outcome. No doubt the teaching-learning experience provided by the ISB, IIMs in India is one of a kind in the education realm, but yes, we in our own way can set
Higher benchmarks believing in the phrase “The world is your oyster”.
Any environment which promotes ‘everyday learning’ is an ideal environment
Any learning space, any learning organization is an ideal school environment. So, everybody is under that learning mode and even your faculties are also continuously growing through extensive research in their respective subject areas. There are a lot of Civic engagements which we have begun to execute of late. We are doing research projects for INS (Indian Navy) and the Police. Such civic research services and consulting assignments that we take from the industry, private companies, civic bodies etc. are carried out along with the teaching-learning that happens.
We keep on updating our curriculum regularly to meet the gaps and the demands of the industry. Automatically, we are able to generate those kind of students who would also transform their organizations into a complete learning environment. Thus, continuously evolving and growing in the process.
We don’t restrict students to textbook curriculum but train them to adapt to the practical environment
To adapt and adopt the best practices, one needs to understand the requirements and the need of the corporate or industry. Every domain has its special requirement and based on those requirements, every organization spends a lot of time training their students. For example, if we consider the field of Finance, then many corporates would spend their valuable time, resource and money on the research that is required for this particular realm.
We, at N L Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research, train the students through our Bloomberg Finance Lab equipped with 12 Bloomberg terminals. It is Mumbai's first Bloomberg Lab that offers students with completely focused and high-end knowledge programs. Our facilities ensure on-the-job applicability and a high degree of practical learning to the students.
Whether it is SAS or SPSS, we are armed with the upgraded technology that has been clubbed in very well with our practices. This is because we understand that when our students get into the real world they would have to work with technology in a way that will enhance their productivity.
We just can’t restrict our students to textbook curriculum, rather we need to give them exposure so that they get trained and tuned as per the changing environment.
They need the motivation and guidance to remain on top of the game and hence we have academic counsels for the same. We invite industry experts to our campus not just as guest faculty lectures but as academic counsels who take initiative in interacting with students, keeping them abreast of the latest and current trends in the industry. In addition, they help us to analyze the curriculum further and facilitate incorporating changes as per the industry needs. As per their feedback and valuable suggestions, we are able to tweak and add the latest in our curriculum.
Time is always fleeting so you need to make the most of it, setting your priorities right
A famous proverb says, “Time and tide wait for none”. Yes! It’s extremely true as there is always a struggle for time. Time is always fleeting so fast that you hardly realize it before you know that it’s gone. Even if you are continuously doing things in a planned and organized manner, there is never an optimum way out where you would plan and organize as scopes for doing the best is always there. I would look at it like that. Of course, we have to remain focused and prioritize our plan of work according to what is urgent, what is necessary, what requires immediate attention and what is most important.
Sometimes you’re just sorting out very urgent matters that require your utmost attention and in that process, some other things get missed. Balance is crucial to deal with the important and the urgent and even to handle those matters which are important yet not so urgent. Balancing is an art, which I think, requires honest time management skills.
Time is never enough but when you are focused and keen on doing things as per priority, the wheels get oiled automatically and help you to keep moving.
Goals of expanding into a University besides promoting excellence in education
Of course, growth is evident through the holistic educational approach in every aspect. We are looking to expand through new verticals and new courses that may be incorporated. This is because a wide spectrum of courses and quality education needs to be incorporated if it has to be a university. Our purpose is to provide and promote excellence in education. So, when we talk of providing and promoting excellence in B-school education, we need to understand that space so that our students can positively contribute to the economy of the nation at large.
Now talking about how to generate those kinds of students, obviously, a wide variety of courses need to be brought in. We need to remain abreast of the upcoming professions in order to equip the youth of our country, thereby enabling them to be able to create their own successful pathways. Besides, we seek to mentor them with sound knowledge and the skills required to be entrepreneurs, creating jobs and fostering new kinds of jobs. If our students are prepared according to the changing scenario, we would be equipping our children to counter and adopt the prevailing dynamic situation.
In order to be a University five years down the line, we have to consider and identify the change in technology as the world has changed drastically in the last 8-10 years. From 1991 onwards, India started changing and we became liberalized. Gradually, with the passage of
time, we witnessed several other changes like- in 2001 the internet started flooding. Again in 2008-2009, with the advent of smartphones, the world completely changed making communication feasible and transforming the world into a global village.
So, with technology taking over your lives, everything is progressing – right from our lifestyle, to work culture and new job prospects. Hence, in order to match up to the tone of the evolving changes in the world, we need to offer a wide spectrum of courses and activities to be a university in years ahead.
Suggestions for the current youth to become successful individuals
I firmly believe in one of the famous proverbs, which says- “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”
True! Education received by an individual during his lifetime not only paves the way to success but also helps in finding some purpose in life and to explore the world of opportunities.
Hence, I would like to suggest the current youth and the aspiring students to grow, evolve and progress. Only continual efforts complemented with passion and dedication can lead to a positive outcome, which will consequently impact the society and the nation at large. I wish to see today’s students turning into outstanding global leaders of tomorrow.
So, instead of just improving the Gross Enrollment Ratio, we emphasize on measuring relevant learning outcomes, keeping the social conscience intact. We also value the importance of giving back to the society and hence encourage students in taking active participation in ‘Sparssh’, a social initiative under ‘My Social Responsibility’ program of N L Dalmia Educational Society.