Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Prof. Jagdish Math is presently working as the Dean of RICS School of Built Environment at Amity University, Mumbai. His educational qualifications include degrees like B.E, M.Tech. from IIT-Bombay followed by a doctorate degree and diploma in Entrepreneurship Management. He has a massive and valuable work experience of over 3 and a half decades working in various capacities including Executive Coach, Mentor, Director, Business Leader, Consultant, Professor of Practice, Visiting Faculty, Trainer, Geomatics Scientist, ICT Solutions Architect, Project Manager and Social Entrepreneur. He is a multifaceted leader who has leaded large hyper-growth premier companies, government organizations, Research and Education Institutions.
Prof. Math has been an Intrapreneur, taking ideas and converting them into successful applications for businesses outside the organization. He has been mentoring professionals and Start-Up companies in diverse areas like health-care, natural resources, location-based services, ICT, financial and career services. He has been helping them with conceptualizing their ideas, creation of the business plans and fund-raising. He is the author of international publications on technology applications and management.
A valuable experience of 3 and a half decades in Government, Corporates, Academics and Research
Basically, I attribute my success to the values of my family, the inspiration which I got from my father and the training which I have got from my teachers. I was very fortunate to have inspirational teachers at the school level and college. Also, I was very fortunate to work with industries like ISRO and getting a chance to work with people who have been visionaries. In addition to this, at an early stage of life, I quested to look for ways to contribute to society. There was an urge to do some long-lasting contribution to society that inspires me. I kept on looking for a chance to do something which is of relevance to the common man. That helped me to keep going and I was fortunate to get challenging national mission projects. I got a job in ISRO especially based on my specialization which was relevant to set up national resource management system. There I had to set up the centre of excellence. Then I had to set up application solutions to set up various challenges. So, the objective was to look at the gap and come up with a solution which reduced the time and one should be able to do a job with precision. So, these things were at the back of my mind which I feel was the motivation for me to come up with some meaningful outcome.
The roles and responsibilities as the Dean of RICS SBE Mumbai
As the dean of RICS SBE Mumbai, one of my main functions is to establish the school as per the vision that is planned. So, I trust documented visions, missions and objectives which are necessary for the schools. Evhen I was working at ISRO and Reliance I was developing such documents which were like the master plan. Then we started establishing the school. I gained a learning experience derived from the experience of establishing this school here.
Then we had the Amity University, Mumbai which a new school had its own challenges. All my past experience came handy to build a team and now we have the second batch going on where 300 enthusiastic students and a competent and committed faculty supported by the support staff. In addition, we have the industry experts who give their inputs and also encourage the students by telling them what is expected by the Industries. We also have a lot of industry experts coming as visiting faculty. In addition to all of we have the support from the RICS SBE Mumbai. It is behind this initiative. So, all this help in establishing the school. We are also looking for international collaborations with universities. 32 students have already gone there for summer internships.
As a dean, I am also supposed to ensure that every part of the curriculum, design and deliveries with the university guidelines and RICS SBE Mumbai ethos. We keep motivating the team members. There will be challenges while dealing with a lot of students but it is a wonderful responsibility and I enjoy doing it. I am passionate to ignite the young minds.
The pros and cons of the education sector
I started my career as a lecturer. Yes, the education sector is very interesting. I have realized that I have studied more when I was teaching than the time when I was a student. I remember my mother and my sisters teasing me while saying that if I would have studied half of what I am studying now I would have been much better.
The pros of the education sector include the opportunity to educate the future generation. In this school, we are especially targeting professionals and leaders. So, we have a very clear purpose of creating such professionals who have the understanding of doing the right things.
We hope that the upcoming professionals do things in the right manner and create smart cities instead of the rampant growth which didn’t do well.
We have created a lot of problems in creating the cities because we didn’t adhere to the standards. So, this is an opportunity to contribute to the development of the nation, sustainable development, through these young people. I personally have been contributing like this but after creating such an army of professionals or future leaders the impact can be multifold.
Now, coming to cons, there is a lot of grey area in the education system where reforms are required. They take their own time to be implemented. We have an example of Germany where a person who works in the industry is allowed to work in the education sector. After a few years, they go back to the industry. So, that is the best way because academicians lack industry experience and the practical application. Also, the industry people need to have an academic approach so that what they do is theoretically sound. This is the gap which needs to be filled and there is a lot that needs to be done in the education sector.
One more thing, people in the education sector are highly paid in foreign countries but that is not the case in our country.
From the Interview at ISRO to the work culture and experience gained at ISRO
Working with ISRO was an awesome experience. Let me take you through my journey. I always had the urge to serve this organization. I thought I would join defense services but that didn’t happen perhaps because this was in store for me. I have the specialization from ISRO and then IIT, Mumbai. As we say that it is all planned. Thus, I had the required background for the role in ISRO as they were looking for an academic person with a financial background.
I remember the interview at ISRO. I had this wonderful experience. The experts were sitting all around the table including the professors from IIT and all. Typically it goes on for more than an hour and well the result was very clear at the end of the interview and they did acknowledge it. Immediately I got a telegram stating that I was selected.
Otherwise, I had a lucrative job in PWD with very good posting and all but I did not want it and joined ISRO instead. When I joined the head office of ISRO Professor Satish Dhawan was the chairman and Mr. Y. S. Rajan was the scientific secretary. I had the chance of working with experienced people and establishing a center of excellence. My IIT specialization was used there. I was very happy and was given all the freedom and encouragement.
The learning experience which I received in ISRO encouraged me to do greater things in life.
I have done amazing projects there. Most of the things which I did was on the natural resource management, for example, forest management, water management, minerals and so on. It is all related to sustainability. I developed various solutions there for effective management of natural resources. The work environment was awesome and we never used to look for holidays.
Those days ISRO was not so popular but I knew that this organization is going to have a good future. Well, as an ambassador of ISRO I moved out from ISRO to implement this technology for engineering applications in terms of infrastructure. I can go on and on talking about the culture of ISRO. I have very fond memories of ISRO.
Studying human behaviour plays a vital role when it comes to management or teamwork
There are different aspects to be taken care of while training the executives and teaching the students. One of the things in which I have always had interest along with my job is the study of human. When I was managing people I had to understand their minds and emotions too. I was somehow picked up for such projects. I always had to ensure that people who work with me should develop and are always interested in their growth. That encouraged people to stop looking at me as just a superior authority.
In the corporates, I was given the responsibility to train the executives. I have also given training for the technical and non-technical fields. The approach is to transform the way they do their work through technology. Instead of just telling them the theory which can be a boring approach I introduce them with the practical aspects that can be implemented in the job that they are doing. So that is more effective and that is what they are looking for. That is a very different approach than the traditional one. I have effectively used technological solutions as a means to transform the mindset of people.
While teaching the students I have chosen a very important subject which is to help the students understand themselves so that they can manage their thoughts and emotions and become capable of understanding the emotions of other team members.
We are talking about creating managers and the responsibility of managers is not only to manage technology and materials but also to manage people. So, studying this is also a part of our curriculum as this is the aspect which not told about. I have personally trained them with science, personality traits, human, emotional intelligence and so on.
The right approach to build a strong team
Building a strong team is straight and simple. The purpose has to be understood. There should be a common goal and that common goal should supercede the personal interests and on. So, if the purpose is very clear and everyone has aligned the goal then everybody starts thinking of achieving that goal. Ultimately what is important is the collaboration of different minds together while working towards a single goal. There should be clear communication between the team members. Leaders should keep motivating them and there should be a supportive approach.
Leaders should the team members to perform and allow them to do mistakes and learn from them. They should tell others that every moment is an opportunity to learn. They don’t have to keep monitoring them every moment. This is how a strong team can be built which is committed to one common goal. Leaders should focus on the strengths of the team members and accordingly encourage them. They have to understand their skills, emotions and personality.
Things that need to be changed in order to promote research
Building a strong team is straight and simple. The purpose has to be understood. There should be a common goal and that common goal should supercede the personal interests and so on. So, if the purpose is very clear and everyone is aligned with the goal then everybody starts thinking of achieving that goal. Ultimately what is important is the collaboration of different minds together while working towards a single goal. There should be clear communication between the team members. Leaders should keep motivating them and there should be a supportive approach.
Leaders should allow the team members to perform and allow them to do mistakes and learn from them.
They should tell others that every moment is an opportunity to learn. They don’t have to keep monitoring them every moment. This is how a strong team can be built which is committed to one common goal. Leaders should focus on the strengths of the team members and accordingly encourage them. They have to understand their skills, emotions and personality.
The desired changes in the educational sector which can lead to growth and development
The learning, experiential learning and the live projects are talked about but they in the way which they should be. UGC is talking about experiential learning but there must be much more of the employers in deciding the curriculum. People who complete any level of education should be employment ready.
So, we don’t have to chase degrees but employability. This what the UK education is focused on. There you don’t have to go for further studies to be employable but here you have to do further studies for becoming more employable. So, this is a huge and a thing which needs to be improved.
Other things which I would like to see in the education sector is to not just focus on skills but focus on character, culture and building personality and competence.
Right now it is missing and that is why we end up creating just workers and not smart thinkers and leaders. The holistic development is required which used to be offered and promoted by the traditional education or temple schools. Then it transformed into a university. That is how we spread this knowledge to the world. We have the three Cs: Competence, culture and character. So, time management, personality and skills development and entrepreneurship is all part of our curriculum.
We would like to bring in the digital revolution to RICS SBE Mumbai and make it futuristic
RICS SBE Mumbai is one fifty years old organization and it also focuses on many other things in addition to education and training. They have been developing standards. We are celebrating 150 years now. So, we have a brand and we have a history. So, we would like to be current and futuristic.
We would definitely like to be a leader and contribute to the sustainable development of the built environment because the built environment industry touches almost all sustainable development goals. So, it is an important responsibility. We want to be agile in the sense to incorporate the modern methods in our standards so that we are able to create leaders. We would like to bring in the digital revolution here into our world and set guidelines for the future.
Advice for the students to live a happy, healthy and successful life
My advice to the students are:
- Don’t miss any opportunity to learn and grow.
- Build yourself and your strong foundation which I will again like to repeat are the competencies. The tower of excellence has to be strong. The competencies plus your additional learning.
Learn to learn.This will help you all the time.
- Have a humanistic approach to all the situations.
- Take every failure in the right spirit.
- Move forward don’t brood over the past. You should live in the present moment. There are so many opportunities in the present moment.
- Decide better and respond well to a situation. So, it is always better to respond rather than react.
- Be active. The first duty of everyone is to maintain good health. If we are healthy, we can do whatever we want to do. So, it is important to be healthy both mentally and physically. We should have a lifestyle which gives us an opportunity to participate in every moment. Do exercise.
- Practice Yoga regularly for overall personality development.