Interview by Yash Panchal
Mr. Rahul Reddy is currently positioned as the Director of Vanguard Business School. He is a Mechanical Engineer and an alumnus of IIM Calcutta. He has had varied experience in the corporate world working in such organizations as Lakme Hindustan Lever and Mirc Electronics. Mr. Reddy has been involved in the education space for more than 8 years and now runs a center for a Leading Educational Organization.
Mr. Reddy’s experience in the education sector and what makes it the best sector to work in
If you see my own grades, I was an average student till graduation. The truth was, formal education bored me. I would sit in the backbench and read novels, write short stories and poems. It was only when I got to IIMC, where I found that learning can be fascinating, and application oriented. At IIMC, we would stay up late, discuss and argue with each other over case studies, business problems and so on. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to create an atmosphere where normal students can learn and achieve.
Post IIMC, I worked with Lakme Lever and Mirc Electronics (ONIDA) in Sales and Marketing. Both were great experiences but to put in a clichéd way, it lacked meaning. I wasn't making any difference in people’s lives.
I have worked with young people for the last 15 years, people who are smart, energetic, and enthusiastic. Managers, entrepreneurs, teachers, a lot of them keep in touch and share their stories. A teacher may not be a hero, but he/she gets to play a key part in many, many stories.
Mr. Reddy’s philosophy of leadership
I am not sure I even qualify as a leader. I would like to think of myself as a teacher first and foremost. As a team player, I have always felt that people will do so much more for a request than they would do for an order. As a team, we are an informal, high faith team. We are successful together as we believe in the same dream, the same core values.
Significant challenges faced by Mr. Reddy as the Director of Vanguard Business School
Of course. B-schools as an industry have earned a bad name because of dubious practices followed by many B-schools. False promises, inflated placement data, agent-based admissions, sub-standard teachers, there are many problems. So even when B-schools like us are different, it is difficult to convince prospective students and parents. Thankfully, our alumni and students are our best ambassadors. When a parent speaks to our current student or alumni, he/she is almost always convinced.
Curriculum of Vanguard Business School
Education starts with the teacher. Get the right teacher and the curriculum will follow. We have two simple rules at Vanguard. Every teacher must be from top B-schools/Universities themselves. Two, they must have worked in the industry for at least 3-5 years.
I read extensively as does most of my faculty. I would read probably 6-7 books a month as well as follow many websites, podcasts, and videos. Also, the team is encouraged to meet as many practicing managers as possible. Vanguard Alumni regularly come back to college and share their experiences. Our CIC, Corporate Interactions Committee brings over 40 eminent personalities across different industries to visit our campus and deliver talks, workshops etc.Last, but perhaps critically important, we have people who are working in the industry and have a strong desire to share their knowledge. We have people working in companies like Big Basket, Eka Analytics, Vodafone, Hesol Consulting and many more come and teach on weekends. To put it simply, there is no shortage of people who want to share their knowledge. We just need to find them and ask.
Mr. Reddy on how he looks at the growth of students through placement opportunities available at Vanguard Business School
Whenever I counsel a student who is looking at a management program, I ask him/her to look at placement as well as 5-year post placement time frame. A good management program should give you not just a campus job, but also a fast-track career. When we track our student’s careers, we find that most of them have progressed very well and the best of them have doubled their remuneration in 3 years. Our alumni have also won numerous awards for meritorious performance.
At Vanguard, we want to push forward. We have achieved significant success in areas like FMCG, Corporate Sales and Bus Development, Business and Financial Analyst, Research and Consulting domains. We are making a strong push into emerging areas like Digital Marketing, Sharing Economy, Healthtech, eCommerce logistics and many more. Bangalore being the hub of both technology and innovation is a big advantage and we intend to take full advantage of that.
Mr. Reddy’s relation with the students and his availability for them
As I have said, I see myself primarily as a teacher and mentor. My room is open to students at all times. No appointment necessary, Knock and walk in. Obviously, I teach, I also walk around and chat with students during breaks, even play sports with them. The important thing that they learn quickly is that they can ask me anything, disagree and even argue with me, provided it is done logically and in a civil manner.
Ideal school environment for Mr. Reddy
At Vanguard, the core philosophy is based around what we call ASK: Attitude, Skill, and Knowledge, in that order. There is a key reason Attitude comes first. How we see the world and how we respond is key to success. One of the first things Vanguard students learn is to take responsibility for their lives. The connect between the choices we make and the results that affect our lives is crucial. Secondly, have an actionable plan. This bias towards action separates wishful thinking from achievable success. Success is a process and this process includes a series of small actions, done well and then rinse and repeat. The learning process at vanguard is to ask questions, understand and keep learning.
Top qualities that an aspiring manager must possess
As explained in the previous question, the attitude is the key. Aptitude and skills can be learned through practice, but the beginning is always a change of mindset. We strongly believe that management is a set of concepts and skills that are learnable and almost anyone can learn them. That said, each student has a unique set of qualities and interests. We try to find the sweet spot, which is the conjunction of student’s interests, abilities and market opportunities.
In fact, I would love to have more students from the Arts backgrounds including languages and even performing arts to take up management.
Goals in mind for Vanguard for the next few years
The next few years will be an exciting time at Vanguard. We are launching or BBM program this academic season. We hope to add other undergraduate courses, all aimed at creating career and life skills.
We are also looking at a range of short and long-term skill-based programs for working professionals taught as a Click and Mortar blended program: a combination of web-based and weekend classroom-based sessions.
Suggestions to the current youth and the aspiring students
It is a great time to be young, smart and Indian. There is a range of opportunities that are available for people who have the right mindset. Learning is a process and it can happen anywhere. Teachers and Mentors are all around us, learn to ask, seek to understand and you will grow. At the end of each day, ask yourself, did you learn anything new today? If you haven’t, then make sure you change that tomorrow.