Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Dr. Kailash Srivastava is currently the Vice Chancellor of Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences. His academic qualification includes Doctor of Philosophy, in Electrical Engineering (Power Systems); Master of Technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from MMM Engineering College, Gorakhpur.
Dr. Kailash has worked at different positions in his career span which includes visiting professor in IIT Mandi; Adjunct faculty in IIT, Kanpur; Senior R&D Engineer in ABB Global Research Lab; adjunct professor Lulea University of Technology; Deputy Manager in Electrical Research and Development Association, India; Assistant Professor in G B Pant Engineering College, India; Senior Research Associate in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India; Assistant Executive Engineer in Ministry of Defence, India and as an Engineer in Instrumentation Ltd, India.
Dr. Kailash Srivastava’s experience in the education industry
It’s exciting and challenging. The best part is that I’m always surrounded by brilliantly energetic and youthful people loaded with innovative ideas. What they just need is a little bit of trailblazing.
Dr. Kailash Srivastava’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style
I have no fixed style. I believe something like “one size fits all” doesn’t exist in real life. I have had an opportunity to live and work in India and spend a very considerable part of life in Sweden and many different countries where I worked in a perfectly international setting. I had the privilege of working with 32 different nationalities. Truly, it was an experience that symbolizes the underlying principal of Symbiosis, i.e. “Vasudhaiv Kutumbukum”. There are certain things that are common in all human beings across the world but there are many things which differ people to people, culture to culture and country to country. Dealing with people is not easy and all sensitivities should be taken care of.
There are different leadership styles such as persuasive, autocratic, democratic, strategic, transformational, facilitative, etc. As vice-chancellor of Symbiosis Applied Sciences, I wear different hats at different point in time and need to use right skill sets at the right time while dealing with every different stakeholder. In a nutshell, my role requires a mix of all above styles though I more often attempt to be transformational which is about initiating change in organizations, groups, oneself and others. I try to motivate others to do more than what they originally intended and often even more than they possibly thought they could.
Significant challenges faced by Dr. Kailash Srivastava as the Vice Chancellor of Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences
We are a new university. Putting systems and processes in place is a challenge. We are also a different university. Being a skill university, our vision is skilling India through education. Our curriculum and pedagogy are different. Most of our faculty members are from classic universities with a traditional mindset. Aligning them in line with our curriculum is a challenge.
We will be rolling out #industryready and #futureready professionals. We need faculty members who have had considerable exposure to the industry. Finding faculty members is a challenge in India and finding right faculty members is an uphill task and significant challenge which I am facing. I simply wish more and more qualified, knowledgeable and skillful persons from industry venture into education.
Bridging the gap between industry and academia is a major challenge in this country which I think can be made possible only by intense industry-academia interaction. Our curriculum has provision for internship at industry ranging up to half a year.
Dr. Kailash on importance of time management in his life
Time is money for me. I am an action-oriented person and I strongly believe in management through delegation. I try to find the right person for the right job. We have a very competent set of people who do most of the things for us. I must prioritize only those that must be done by me. However, I try to remove the randomness in the beginning itself before it gets clumsy.
Curriculum at Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences
Our curriculum is designed by industry experts and our outstanding faculty members who have considerable industry and research experience. We have collaboration with many universities around the world and keep ourselves engaged with them to evolve our curriculum as per international requirements. Our aim is to produce #industryready skillful professionals who can start working productively from the instant they join the industry. We focus less on “chalk and talk” component and more on hands-on experiential learning i.e. skill, practical and tutorials. We typically devote 30% of the time to the theoretical component. The rest goes to important things that makes them #futureready.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences
Our curriculum is oriented towards an overall development of each student. We offer various credit and non-credit courses that would help shape their career and make them employable from the moment they are hired. We have many industry partners who regularly visit our campus and advise us how we can do better to shape future generations.
We believe “placement opportunities” are just the byproduct of our overall efforts at the university.
Dr. Kailash Srivastava’s relationship with the students being the Vice Chancellor of the university
The university has a mechanism and our Dean (student affairs) does this in a very systematic manner. I personally enjoy meeting students and interacting with them on any matter. I give them a regular course in class. I visit various joints such as canteens and join them over a cup of tea. Sometimes, I visit hostels and have dinner, lunch or breakfast with them. When I meet them in the corridor or in the lift, I enquire about them and their studies. Sometimes I call them to my office for a cup of tea and try to get the feedback about the curriculum and how they are doing. I also enjoy meeting their parents and patiently listening to all what they have to say about us.
Ideal school environment according to Dr. Kailash Srivastava
Ideal university environment for me is one in which the teaching and the learning is not to be a kind of burden but fun and fun only. The instructions would be technology driven where students become autonomous learners and learn at their own pace. They acquire skills to be lifelong learner and leave university with ability to learn throughout rest of their life.
Goals in mind for Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences for the next few years
We are the first skill university in India and want to position ourselves as one of the top research driven skill universities in the world. We want our students to solve real-world problems through research and innovations. We also want our students to become entrepreneurs giving employment to others rather than themselves seeking employment and working for others.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
Think original, think big, believe in yourself, focus on your strengths, work on your weaknesses, be a lifelong learner, do what you like to do, take life as fun and enjoy every moment in life.