Interview by Bhawna Rawat

Mr. Nealesh dalal

Mr. Nealesh Dalal is currently working as the Managing Trustee of JD Institute of Fashion Technology. Since 1991, he has been driven by a strong belief in the power of ‘Imagination’. Through his work since then, he has made immense contributions to the field of Art and Design education in the country. In 2002, he became the Managing Trustee of JD Educational Trust. His systematic approach involves the integration of design, innovation, communication, technology, style and market intelligence. He is also a frequent commentator on fashion and design and lends his expertise to various events in the industry. He is also a mentor to the students and grooms them.

Mr. Dalal’s creative leadership has contributed to making JD Institute of Fashion Technology, a pioneering art and design school in India, thus setting the benchmark in academic standard and for being pivotal in creating an educational system that recognizes, nurtures and promotes talent.  He says, “We would like to see our students make the best out of a higher quality of learning and gain access to cutting-edge technologies in the field of design education”.

Mr. Nealesh Dalal’s experience of working in the Education sector

It’s one of the most wonderful things, to be constantly around young and imaginative minds, and fresh perspectives, to have an opportunity to channelize their raw energy, to guide them into a responsible lifestyle, to expose them to the idea of progress and betterment and to nurture talent and creativity with love & affection. This journey has always made me feel young because I’m constantly surrounded by the youth. Plus, it’s an industry where we can contribute. We mould our students to serve the society in the best possible ways and as an Institute we come with certain responsibilities. In the last few years, we trained our students to innovate on sustainable and ethical lines.

Philosophy of leadership for managing the team and taking it forward towards the goals

My leadership philosophy is based on trusting the team which is paramount, a maintaining rapport that’s based on emotion and delegate to feel a connectedness. It is rewarding to see how people shoulder the responsibility given to them. Also, learning and leading by example is a very approachable style of leadership, accessible and always open to fresh ideas. It’s also important to be decisive and move on because it saves time and money.

Challenges faced being the Managing Trustee

Every day is a challenge. We have around 1000 students at the Bangalore campus. It’s very important to take care of their needs. We have to see that we provide quality to our students, creating an atmosphere to keep their creativity going. Part of giving the best is to get tie-ups with leading Fashion, Interior and Jewellery Design schools in the world. We develop international collaborations and associate with prestigious bodies to incorporate new techniques in education. We faced a lot of challenges by virtue of being a private college.

But I feel happy to say that we have overcome all these troubles and tribulations with patience. Today, we use new methods of imparting education. We rely heavily on members of the industry and their rich experience that supports the knowledgeable and diverse faculty.

The curriculum of JD Institute of Fashion Technology ensures to match the Global level

There is no compromise with the curriculum. Our team goes through a Humongous task of developing a Global Curriculum at par with the leading fashion, Jewellery & interior institutes. The Curriculum is supported by the state of the art facilities infrastructure, international accreditation and association with Cumulus, EU India Chambers, IFFCI, Adobe, IICCI, Business of Fashion (BOF), IIID, global tie-ups, sustainability, ethical like labour, fair practices, etc. and innovative and environmentally conscious design thought.

Placement opportunities provided at JD Institute of Fashion Technology and preparing students for them

JD Annual Design Awards, a public event with a high turnout of industry professionals where the JEDIIIANS showcase their final Design portfolio which again goes through a lot of selection process and the final ones get to showcase it on top models. In 2018, we had 55 collections with 350 Garments in the lines of sustainable, innovative and ethical which had a runway display. We make sure of the International exposure through the tie-up with LCF, short courses in styling and Creative Careers: online platform dedicated to connecting designers with employers, where both the employers and prospective employees from Companies such as CK, Levis, NOLTE, H&M, Chumbak, Genesis Luxury, Louis Philippe, CKC Jewellers etc., can learn more about each other.  We also facilitate industry-driven projects for industry study.

Also, we work hard to provide our students with International platforms where they can showcase their collections. For instance, our students just showcased a collection in IGFS, Colombo. Our students will be showcasing collections at the India Fashion Week, London, happening in November.

Building a relationship with the students while managing the responsibilities of the Managing Trustee

It was my Father Mr. Chandraakant Dalal and Brother Mr. R.C Dalal’s dream to create an exclusive Art and Design Platform in India. One major Factor they kept in mind was a place where students and management have an approachable relationship.

We are extremely accessible. Students know that they can visit me often. Students come by and address their suggestions and issues face to face. Normally, we have senior management who handles it but if any student insists on meeting me directly

my doors are always open to my students because at the end of the day, they’re the real stakeholders

We have an understanding where the students know that whatever is troubling them will be given a fair hearing and I’m grateful for that trust  

Working towards creating an Ideal Design School environment

We have travelled extensively in search of Ideas, technology and understanding Fashion and Lifestyle atmosphere in various colleges around the world. In 2013, we started a creative initiative called as Imagination trip where

our team goes around the world to understand the latest happenings in creativity and finding tie-ups which can be incorporated

The top qualities that an aspiring Designer must possess in order to excel and evolve

From outside, the design field looks very glamorous but to achieve success here is the most important quality which requires the determination to work hard and have a lot of patience. Skills can be always taught but the students should be open to criticism, a mind to work in a team, think out of the box. The college also plays a major role in creating an atmosphere for the JEDIIIANS so that they get their creativity and ideas flowing.

Goals in mind for the JDIFT for the next few years

There are lots. We are very ambitious, especially our team is working towards having an art and design university for India with International Standards and major tie-ups with top institutes of the world. A dream which my dad and Brother saw.