Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
In her present role, Dr. Anupama Natarajan is the Principal of IFIM College located in the electronic city, Bengaluru. The college is affiliated to Bangalore University, AICTE approved, ISO certified and accredited with NAAC A grade maintaining a high level of quality in curricular and co-curricular deliverance to its students. The IFIM College offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs and is an integral unit of IFIM institutions that carry a 23-year old legacy. The other institutions of IFIM are IFIM Business School, AACSB accredited and IFIM Law College affiliated to Karnataka State Law University. Widely traveled Dr. Anupama has worked in national and international markets with a rich experience of over 37 years.
Dr. Anupama’s experience in the education sector
Education is the lifeline of society. It is a very satisfying experience when you know that you have been instrumental in impacting the careers of thousands of students. As an educator, you have a great moral responsibility as well because the companies which hire students, all of them place their trust in you and you can’t let them down.
Education sector still has a long way to go. This sector is competitive with any other and sometimes we end up benchmarking ourselves against best practices of those who have tread this path earlier in order to be as good or better than them. But the truth is, best practices are unique to an organization and what is right for one need not necessarily be right for another. Our challenge as educators is to make path-breaking changes in the education system. It is a dynamic industry and will have to keep evolving continuously with requirements of tomorrow. The dynamism and the impact of this sector on a society are what make it the best sector to be in.
Dr. Anupama’s philosophy of leadership and her leadership style
I describe my leadership style as being ‘Entrepreneurial’. I ensure transparency at all levels and foster trust and confidence. I am a “Students’ Principal”. I have an open-door policy and am very approachable by students and staff. As a leader, I make every effort to ignite the confidence in my team to be leaders themselves. I believe one should aspire like royalty but be ready to strive like a commoner.
Dr. Anupama on the importance of Marketing and Strategic Management for Management students
A strategy is the basis of sound planning and managing any business. It is essential for the meaningful and effective implementation of all ideas in businesses. A strategy is imperative to improve and innovate to stay ahead of the competition and keep pace with the changing dynamism of the world market. It’s important in business and management studies can never be overemphasized!
Significant challenges faced by Dr. Anupama as the Principal of IFIM College
It is always a challenge to take over the reins and to know when, where and how to introduce changes to steer the institution to growth and progress. Administration involves competent and prudent interactions with all stakeholders at different levels and each day could bring you new challenges. As the Principal of IFIM College, I represent the institution and I am required to balance the interests and expectations of all stakeholders alike.
Curriculum of IFIM College
We welcome the thrust and boost given to the education sector by the present government which has made bold and beautiful decisions for the development of our economy in the international market. The IFIM curriculum is in sync with the present industrial trends. We augment the university curriculum with interventions that are need-based, practical and ever evolving. We network closely with the industries and keep updating our content to suit market demands. We understand youth energy and imagination. Our highly qualified and experienced faculty ensures that the learning process is student friendly and encourages their inputs.
The growth of students through placement opportunities available at IFIM College
Each year our student body is growing in numbers. We are constantly looking to expand our working relations with the industrial houses locally and elsewhere in the nation and outside national boundaries as well. Preparing our students for corporate readiness begins when they join us. Industry interactions, guest lectures, industry visits, research, live projects, internships etc. exposes them to the real business world. The purposing and mentoring program helps them identify their purpose and goals early in their preparation for a professional life. Feedback from the industry and our placement desk helps plan pre-placement training that is industry specific. A variety of opportunities identified by the placement office ensures each student the right kind of work profile that matches their specialty skills, strengths and interests.
Changes noticed by Dr. Anupama in the education sector over the past few years
A business house has many departments and each one need is different and yet unified by the common thread of commitment to work, setting goals and achieving them and putting the interest of the company before all else. Each job profile needs a set of skills in keeping with the rank and responsibility. A recent upsurge in the technology sector has redefined the education sector. Pedagogic teaching is obsolete and rightly so. Even a kindergartner has an opinion about everything these days. Change is healthy and is ironically enough, the only constant.
We at IFIM believe in making our students continuously employable. The curricular interventions like Personality enhancement program, Social Immersion Program, Industry Immersion Program, Research incubation, Mentoring ensures holistic development of students. This also ensures that education does not stop at the College. They are encouraged to develop an appetite for continuous learning.
Dr. Anupama’s relationship with the students being the Principal of IFIM College
My interactions with my students are both at formal and informal forums. My students feel comfortable talking to me and bringing their problems and concerns to me. As I mentioned earlier, I am a ‘Students’ Principal’ and I maintain a healthy rapport with them. I am available to them at all times. Even when I am not on the campus at times and they need to speak to me they are comfortable sending me messages and calling me on my mobile. I make it a point to address immediate concerns. I take my students seriously every time and let them know I trust them. I encourage the students to search for answers and solutions.
Ideal school environment according to Dr. Anupama, and how she encourages that kind of culture in IFIM College
This is a very broad question. Whether it is a higher secondary school, a junior college or at the undergraduate level or post-graduation, I believe that the teaching/learning process should be a two-way street. At all times a student-centered approach is vital. Today, students are looking for opportunities to explore and discover. We as educators must respect that and facilitate this by motivating the youngsters and by shifting from teaching down to a collaborative learning practice.
Top qualities according to Dr. Anupama that an aspiring MBA/BBA/BCA student must possess
The present generation thrives on technology like we need air. Needless to say, then they are already adept at using the web information corridors and other applications which feeds online schools. Apart from the virtual platform, they need to sharpen communicative skills, interpersonal relations, again, this is outside of social media chat rooms, problem-solving ability in the real world, staying grounded, ability to think and act quickly, taking responsibility for one's decisions, and the willingness to be a team puller.
Goals in mind for IFIM College for the next few years
Our IFIMites are already gearing up for the new challenges. The management makes every effort to make changes in the academic and non-academic environment which will help students to rediscover themselves in their own context which they would choose, which in turn would help them to focus on their strengths and progress with confidence towards their goals.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
Demographically, India is in an enviable position. Currently, we have the highest population of youth in the world. Young minds are full of good ideas and high energy; directing or channelizing this energy to catapult India to a leading position amongst developed nations is a task that would be both stimulating and rewarding. I appeal to the youth to use their energy constructively and create positivity around them.