Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Born in Allahabad, Mrs. Manjulika Gautam is currently the Director General of Satyam Fashion Institute. Her academic qualification includes schooling from Loreto Convent, Lucknow; graduation from Awadh degree College, Lucknow; and post-graduation from Lucknow University.
She has worked as a Lecturer of English at Awadh Degree College, Lucknow and had joined IAS in July 1972 and was allotted U.P cadre. Her work experience also include DOPT, and she has also served as the Secretary to the State Government in several departments like Cooperatives, Labour, Women and Child, Secretariat Administration, Tourism etc.
In August, she joined as Additional Secretary, DOPT in the Government of India. She has also worked as Senior Advisor in the Planning Commission. She took VRS in May 2008, to join as member, CAT and was posted to Patna and Allahabad, and subsequently at the Principal Bench, New Delhi.
Mrs. Manjulika Gautam’s experience in the education industry
Education is one of the core sectors. Without education, life is very incomplete. I personally think that education is also a very fulfilling career in terms of choice. I come from the Government, I have been an IAS officer, and I have had a large variety of experiences during my tenure with the Government. I got into the issue of women in India, and I got to see how the women in this country have a very difficult existence. I have been trying in my own way to solve some of the problems that they have to handle all the time. My inclination towards education is because of my gender-biased side towards women education, and therefore our institute, Satyam, which is dedicated only to girls is for a very fulfilling, very challenging and difficult role to play.
Mrs. Manjulika Gautam’s philosophy of leadership and her leadership style
All my efforts go into creating strong women. As I look at it, we are dealing with girls coming from different areas different backgrounds. Our program here in fashion designing gives an opportunity to them to stand on their own feet. Basically, it is an empowerment program and my effort has been all along to turn out ordinary girls into extraordinary performers. I believe in that extra bit to bring out the best in every student that comes to us, to bring out the quality education that we impart, the personal attention that is given to the grooming of every child, that is how I look at my role as a leader. All my efforts are spent on not only giving them an environment where they can learn, and give them best practices, but also an environment where they can over-achieve, where they can do better than what they ever thought they could do.
Significant challenges faced by Mrs. Manjulika Gautam as the Director General of Satyam Fashion Institute
I have been seen women who have been down-trodden women who have been oppressed, ill-treated and who have never been able to overcome their circumstances. And at the same time in rural India, I have seen very strong women groups, I have seen women having no education but having very broad-minded ideas, having strong leadership qualities, running their families, bringing up their children, trying to do their best. All this makes me feel that every child has the potential, every child has it in her to achieve it. And it is our responsibility to bring out that something from within her. Everyone will not end up in the same place, every child will shape up differently, but every child needs to go somewhere, needs to get somewhere.
Curriculum in Satyam Fashion Institute
Our curriculum is decided by the SNDT University, Mumbai, which we are affiliated with. It is a global curriculum and at par with anything, anywhere in the world. We try to have a lot of interaction with the industry. We in Noida are lucky that we have a number of export houses, garment industry around us. We take our girls for on-hand exposure looking in these organizations. We also have a number of professionals to come in and talk to the girls about the trends in the industry, or what the industry requires, and we try to train our girls in such a way.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at Satyam Fashion Institute
As far as placements are concerned, any student who wanted to get placed has been placed by us. There were some who were not really into work, a small percentage of girls who just wanted to be at home or get married were not interested to pursue a career. Leaving them, everyone else who aims for a placement gets placed at Satyam. We tried to reduce numbers from that category, motivating them to get placed, but they are reluctant. We aim at improving this scenario at our institute in near future. We will be launching a new program for mass media and communication, which is a 3-year degree program. We shall be starting it somewhere between 2018-2019 and I hope to encourage a lot of young girls to come in and join us for these programs. Mass Comm. is a good field for girls, and we hope this program will be very popular. We are also planning to start a master in fashion designing.
Mrs. Manjulika Gautam’s relation with the students being the Director General of the Institute
I speak to the students when they join our course, and I tell them that my door is always open. There is no hierarchy in coming to see me. I keep myself very easily approachable. I think on that score there is no difficulty.
Ideal school environment according to Mrs. Manjulika Gautam
There are essentially 2 points that I would want to advise to my students. First, being that they should always enjoy their studies, studies should not be a torture, they should not be unwillingly handled. You must enjoy whatever you are doing. They should be happy with what they are doing. Secondly, they should learn to take care of themselves, they must be strong women, they get no hand-holding, they are on their own. Being a girl’s institution, we have to have certain restrictions, we admit that it cannot be all open. Some parents are fussy about this. But we try as much as we can in transforming the girls here into strong independent ladies of future. Unless we make them feel responsible, they are never going to grow.
Top qualities that an aspirant of Design course must possess
Love for the subject. This is not everyone’s cup of tea. Design is a very dynamic course. We get a lot of unwilling people. We work at motivating them and get them to make something out of them. So, it requires a strong attitude to pursue this program. It is a must.
Goals in mind for Satyam Fashion Institute for the next few years
We want to introduce Masters in Fashion Designing, and probably a few more courses in the near future. Education is not something that moves very fast. You have to go slowly and steadily. I would like to build first on what I have already, I would like it to be everybody’s choice of Institute for the courses that we incorporate into our system.
Suggestions for current youth and the aspiring students
Youth are already very focused these days and it is a welcome change. Back in our days, people went on to do B.A, M.A, without even having an awareness of what they are going to do in the future with all those degrees. Now a child knows, what he wants to be in life, they are much more focused, I welcome that and I think they must know their goals and what they are looking for. That is very important. Sheer determination and hard work can make one reach wherever one wants to be.