Interview by Swati Mishra
Dr. Prachi Gharpure is presently the Director of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Besides holding a Doctoral degree, she has over three decades of experience in teaching and academic administration. Before joining NMIMS, she was associated with SPIT, Mumbai as Principal.
Dr. Prachi’s awards and achievements include - Higher Education Forum Award for Contribution to Information Technology. She is a Chairman of BOS (Computer) at Mumbai University, Member of Syllabus Committee and Staff selection committee for Maharashtra State, Convener of several Mumbai University Committees related to affiliation, approvals and fact findings.
Education is not an industry, it is a platform to groom the future of the nation
Education was and is never an industry for me. It is a way of life for me where I work with the most dynamic age group of the nation. We work in the age group 18-21 so we never grow old, the thought process never grows old and we always look forward to what is the next best approach we can opt, to make our students better.
So, in that there is no obsolescence, we have to remain updated otherwise we are not doing justice to these young children. These are young kids so every day something new is been implemented, sometimes in good ways, in funny ways and sometimes in not so good situations. Every day is a different day and as an Academic Administrator, we learn to deal with it. Serving in this industry can never make one exhausted or one’s work monotonous.
Having an approachable and conducive style, there are certain points that I do not compromise on!
As far as a leadership style is concerned, Academic leadership is a very different ball game. You cannot adopt a style that does not allow people to approach you. Because being unapproachable can prove to be disappointing to the students and will not do justice to them.
My leadership style is - I do not work on an appointment basis. I follow an open-door policy i.e. any student or faculty member is most welcomed to discuss any issues or give their feedbacks. But, there are certain situations or things which require a strict ‘No’ and you have to say ‘No’. And when it comes to discipline or deliverables from the faculties, there is no compromises there.
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Curriculum at NMIMS is Industry driven and fills the gap in professional studies
Specifically talking of the Indore campus, all the courses and programs available are purely professional. If we talk about, MBA-Tech, which is a 5-year integrated course giving B.Tech as well as an MBA or B.Tech, Law, and BBA, all the programs are designed to ensure that the students are industry – ready. Hence, the curriculum which ensures the best practices encompasses a very strong industry connect.
A dire need of quality educator and lack of research work in the education sector
The head hunt for quality educators is always on! In our system, there is a huge need of professionals, who are equipped and well-trained to impart knowledge in the best way possible to the students. It is the biggest challenge that prevails in the entire nation.
Another challenge that we face is the narrow mindset of the people. Most of the people think that every facility or service should come cheap or free. But, it is not always possible. Providing education, maintaining global standards and assuring the students are well groomed to face the real-world challenges can prove to cost high sometimes. We highly believe in providing quality, and we still have to convince and justify our fee to the parents and the government.
Lastly, in India, the industry does not do cutting edge work. We are still largely a service industry-oriented business in India. Unlike in the US, the research flows from education institutes to industry, but, we are still looking at the industry to give us what is current and hence, we teach it. So, currently reversing this process is another challenge for the entire education sector.
To teach and learn – best approach to establish a relationship with students
For me, the best way to establish a relationship with students is to teach them. I believe that any academic administrator is an academician first. No student will accept an Administrator who comes and sits in a close office and goes away. So, I make sure to teach them on regular basis so as to make that connect with them all.
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Maintaining the quality, while adding new elements is our current goal
Currently, Indore Campus is very small as compared to the other campuses of NMIMS. We just started 2 years ago so, the current goal is to maintain the quality of infrastructure and quality of education rather than enhancing it. Apart from that, we are also adding new experiences to and for the students every year. At the same time, another goal is to filter out the best students out of the lot, who will speak for us and showcase the world what we are.
Students need to build empathy and integrity in their thoughts and actions
The students are becoming conservative nowadays, this spectral world creates a very different personality than what is needed. But, I need the students to know that it does not work in real life. In real life, you come across all kinds of personalities, irrespective of whether you like them or not, you will have to connect with them. This is one skill or quality that today’s generation needs to develop. They have to accept people as they are because in the workspace they will have to deal with a variety of them.