Interview by Yash Panchal


Dr. JC Wandemberg is the former Dean at Woxsen School of Business and Art & Design in Hyderabad, India. He has over 30 years of international experience as international consultant, manager, professor in a range of fields and with a variety of organizations, such as the World Bank, USAID, ACDI/VOCA. His motto has been “creating excellence on a daily basis!” He obtained his Ph.D. in Socio-Ecological Systems from New Mexico State University as well as his M.Sc. in Economics, Marketing, and Management. He was in the dean’s list at the University of Maryland where he obtained his BSc. in Agronomy as top 5% of his class. Based on his working experience and training with the late Frederic Edmund Emery and his wife Merrelyn in Open Systems Design Principles, Dr. Wandemberg has assisted corporations, communities, and organizations transforming themselves from the typical tropophobic bureaucracies into Tropophilic systems catalyzing a culture of trust, transparency, and integrity.

Dr. Wandemberg has worked at renowned universities in North and South America and in Europe and has received numerous awards and recognition. His field of expertise is very rich, including Tropophlia & Sustainable Human Development, Strategic Planning & Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility, Project Management, Cultural Change & Development, etc. Dr. Wandemberg holds multiple nationalities and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian. Since 1998, he has been the President and CEO of a consulting firm helping private and public enterprises change their restrictive/tropophobic organizational DNA.

Dr. Wandemberg’s experience in the education industry 

Given the increasing relevant uncertainties and complexity in the world, education is paramount. Education is the present, thus, it determines the future. My experience has been most gratifying, although there are always some issues such as anachronisms (e.g., continued use of the word “Teaching” which is spoon-feeding, instead of focusing on learning, or “Pedagogy” when talking about adults (I.e., andragogy). Just being able to open a single mind into a brighter future is extremely gratifying.  

Challenges faced 

The biggest challenges in every field are restrictive organizational structures and mindsets. 

A constantly evolving Tropophilic curriculum 

Our curriculum is in constant evolution, not only anticipating change but, more importantly, creating it. Such is the case with our Tropophilic curriculum. 

Goals for Woxsen School of Arts and Design 

Too many to mention, however, they are all aimed towards our single vision, namely, to become #1 in India by catalyzing our students’ dreams into reality! 

The difference in the education system between India and other countries  

Unfortunately, India’s education system remains reactive and, therefore, it is always at least one step behind. The main culprit or malady is bureaucracy, which in India, is perhaps the biggest and most inefficient structure in the world. 

Positive school culture by creating a hierarchy 

Culture is an emergent property of the structure. Most businesses have been fooled by unethical consultants who profit from deceiving their customers into all sorts of schemes to “change the culture” of their organization when in fact all they change is the phenotype (i.e., the appearance) while leaving the restrictive organizational structure intact, hence, all the issues they face with their toxic cultures.  

The best way to have a positive culture is by creating an enhancive hierarchy and the best process to do so was developed since the 1960s over six decades by Fred and Merely Emery and given for free to the world, it is a two-stage process. The first stage is called The Search Conference (where carefully selected participants to determine their most desirable future) followed by the 2nd stage called Participative Design Workshop (where the participants determine very specifically how they will be able to make their desirable future a reality). The implementation is immediate and the results beyond what most businesses think they are capable of. 

Establishing relation with the students 

By creating a transparent environment that allows for fluid and clear communication, which, in turn, allows the trust to emerge. This is an ongoing and never-ending process. 

Growth through placement opportunities 

Most academic institutions see placement as the culmination of their work, at Woxsen, we see it as just the beginning because we know our students are quite capable of becoming job creators rather than just job seekers. 

We have already pushed the envelope further and continue to do so on a daily basis in many ways, through our academic and extra-curricular activities, research, by establishing industry partnerships, etc,

Leadership philosophy 

To me, “Leadership” is already an anachronism, the world needs Visionaries instead. Leaders have, by default, followers, and followers need continued direction and guidance, leaders cannot afford to spend time proving these. Whereas visionaries, all they need to do is to convey their vision to witness the transformation of their followers into leaders and eventually into visionaries themselves. I would describe my style as Tropophilic

Suggestions for the youth  

The only skill you need to be as successful as you can only dream of is Critical Thinking. This skill will also allow you to become Tropophilic. This skill will also ensure you remain TRUE to yourself, become the master of your life and the co-creator of your destiny!