Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal

Prof. Gulbash Duggal Dean of International College of Fashion

Currently serving in International College of Fashion, Prof. Duggal has accomplished an integrity driven professional offering over 12 years of business success at all levels with strong concentration and enormous success in Project Management and Customer Service Management. She is recognized as a savvy leader with strengths in re-engineering business processes, defining continuous improvement process, presiding over lively brainstorming sessions, building consensus, recognizing and accelerating peer's strengths, delegating the ‘Right Task’ to the ‘Right Person’ and building powerful teams that can conquer any obstacles. A professional with highly diverse business knowledge and prosperity to initiate positive change, Prof. Duggal is praised for prudently managing Human and Technical resources and continually extinguishing ‘Fires’. She is not afraid to delve into ‘un-chartered Waters’.

Prof. Duggal’s educational qualification includes MBA, Marketing/Marketing Management from the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management; Interior Design from Suffle University, USA; schooling from Frank Anthony Public School and is currently pursuing Ph.D. in Design Education from Sunrise University.

Prior to International College of Fashion, Prof. Duggal has held several important positions in reputed organizations including that of Director and Director Promotions at Satyam Fashion Institute, Senior Manager Corporate in IIFT, Director Business Development in IAAN School of Mass Communication, Director Communication and Marketing in IIFT, HOD and Centre Coordinator in Spectrum Institute of Design, visiting faculty in Exterior Interiors and IPW-South Extension. Apart from this. Prof. Duggal has also served for UNICEF as a freelancer.

Prof. Gulbash’s experience in the education sector

Education is an imperative share of our being. The form and extent of education that we receive is a foremost stimulus. Learning is significant in gaining and progression of one's core skills, mostly in the versatile field of Fashion and Design. Fashion education sector embraces a variety of institutions that offer academic education, career, and methodological instruction.

The fashion sector, however, looks beyond these stereotypical forms of education as it requires more practically oriented learning along with the upkeep of the ever-changing fashion markets.

International College of Fashion

Prof. Gulbash’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style

As the Dean of ICF, my philosophy is to set some core performance criteria and leadership competencies in hiring the faculty members and shaping the strategies that focus on effective and progressive values aligned with the ICF mission and values. My philosophy is to determine objectives and priorities and act as a catalyst for the growth of both the institution as well as the students.

As a leader, I foster an environment of open, honest, and respectful discussion on all issues; communicate effectively to internal and external audiences by tailoring communication, style, and content. I like to listen attentively and with empathy to concerns expressed by others; Promote ideas and proposals and create a climate that nurtures personal outlay and encourages commitment to a common vision and shared values.

In short, I would describe my leadership style as to inspire actions without relying solely on authority.

Know about the faculty at the International College of Fashion here.

Significant challenges faced by Prof. Gulbash as the Dean of International College of Fashion

Deans can count on having to deal with an increasing number of student issues and challenges; one is to demystify the myth of design education being “non-academic”. Students join such courses dreaming of striking it big at the fashion weeks, flashlights, paparazzi and instant shots to fame right after college. This, however, needs to be tackled in a more serious manner.

The task is to bring on the table the nuances and the practicality of the subject; the design aspirants must be educated on the skill enhancement in tandem with the theoretical aspects. Having said that experiential learning is also is a very important aspect of the learning of the subject.

The curriculum of International College of Fashion

Fashion Entrepreneurship at ICF aims to break new ground through offering a postgraduate program that provides a new business opportunity for emerging fashion entrepreneurs who need professional business strategy and project management knowledge, guidance, and a systematic approach to develop and sustain new business opportunities.

The ethos that entrepreneurship serves as a catalyst for economic development underpins the course. Strengthened by International College of Fashion’s unparalleled external and internal industry networks, students will be able to develop innovative fashion related concepts through to commercialization, whilst developing collaborative relationships between education and industry that are aligned to 21st-century business and new market challenges for the fashion industry at large.

The college is designed to provide consistent, high-quality and appropriate academic advising, monitoring, mentoring, nurturing and coaching to ensure your academic and personal success. We believe that with all of the support services available, including tutoring and supplemental instruction, no student should earn any grade below a B. Even so, the academic success of a student depends on how well they take responsibility for their own education, including taking the initiative to achieve academic excellence.

The growth of students through placement opportunities available at International College of Fashion

Whether or not students start a business, the entrepreneurial perspective is a trait most employers find attractive in new hires. ‘Entrepreneurship’ is a term that describes the method of introducing a new idea, process or product into a pre-existing company by organizing colleagues to create, adapt, sell and implement innovative concepts into the existing business. It is acting like an entrepreneur within a corporation or organization. Companies and organizations benefit when employees bring innovation and creativity to the workplace. Whether you are starting your own business or working within a company structure, Entrepreneurship will broaden your perspective to recognize opportunities.

In our endeavor to bridge the gap between the industry and the aspirants, pushing the envelope further at ICF, we encourage active involvement from the industry professionals and potential employers; training the students for the role and responsibility before the commencement of their placement for a smooth ‘plug n play’ transition.

International College of Fashion

Prof. Gulbash’s relation with the students being the Dean of the Institute

The best teachers understand that the key to unlocking student potential is by developing positive, respectful relationships with their students beginning on the first day of college. As a Dean of a Design Institute, I am more natural at building and sustaining positive relationships with the students than others. Some of the pointers that I always keep in mind are, firstly, to treat them with respect. We deal with problems individually, in a respectful, yet direct and authoritative manner and treat each student the same (no playing favorites). Secondly, to go the extra mile. Some students need hand-holding to get to their goal and be able to walk that extra mile to ensure that they are successful. We encourage good students by raising the bar for their performance in class and provide extra mentoring sessions for struggling students; putting together specific projects to work upon, communicate with parents more frequently, and take a genuine interest in the well-being of the student. Going an extra mile may mean continuing to work with a student even after they are no longer in our classroom. It is about identifying and supporting to meet the student’s needs inside and outside of the classroom. So, I am available to them for any assistance they may require. An open-door policy even with the students and being approachable is the mantra for churning out successful real-world professionals.

Ideal study environment according to Prof. Gulbash

As a Design college, we must necessitate the students to take a core curriculum of fashion design courses to enhance their academic specialty along with the critical thinking of an entrepreneur. Catering to the highly versatile industry of Fashion and Design, we need to continuously reinvent core courses, designed to help students develop global awareness and strengthen their analytical and reasoning abilities, critical reading skills, and writing proficiency etc., classroom sessions should be focused on research, presentations, discussions and project teamwork along with class lectures where students and faculty actively learn together.

The best education comes through experiential learning and skill enhancement, which has core on-job skills like marketing, negotiating, business contracts, and networking, etc. For which ICF is best known, ideally, is its career-oriented professional training.

Top qualities that an aspiring candidate inclined towards Design courses must possess

A strong will to succeed, along with a few things. Firstly, personality – one should be ready for challenges and be able to take initiative. There will be nothing served on a silver plate to you. Secondly, hunger Your world should revolve around fashion design and business to be a successful designer. Learn and live the life of a designer 24X7. Then comes flair - Fashion Design candidates must have the flair to think innovatively. There should be a constant want for refining and articulating the magnificence of everything they see.

To be able to chase a dream of being a successful Fashion Designer, one must continue to be motivated and focused.

Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students

Determine the market for the designers in demand and look for the gaps. Keep an eye on the demand and supply. Network with the established designers; they are often happy to give back to the fraternity. Your knocking on their doors will keep them impressed with your effort and keenness to learn. Don't be choosy about the work location as most of the big fashion houses are either located on the outskirts of the city or in the midst of a very busy crowded market. Make an effort to fill in gaps in your training as it is always a good idea to work extra hard on your weak subjects and always keep learning. Talent is not enough - you need to get out there and make sure everybody knows about your skills. It is never a 24/7 glamour - fashion can be a very demanding profession.