Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
After a working experience of about a year and a half after doing her MBA, Prof. Romola started working at BJS Rampuria Jain College, Bikaner. She worked there for about a year and a half and then had to quit due to personal circumstances. She finally got associated with IMT Ghaziabad and continued with them by working part time and full time for a decade. After this, she, her academic team and her Late husband, started the Delhi School of Communication, in the year 1994.
Prof. Romola’s experience in the education sector
When I was a student at Ottawa University (MBA), I wrote a few papers for a few professors in my university. One of my professors wrote an excellent synthesis of knowledge. And he asked me if I ever thought of being a professor. I really think that even at this moment 35 years down, it was his blessings, his wishes and his words that gave me the position at which I am today.
I worked for a year and a half before that and then I got an opening at BJS Rampuria Jian College, Bikaner. I worked there for about a year and a half, and then I came back due to family reasons. I finally got associated with IMT Ghaziabad and continued with them as a part time and full-time employee for a decade. After this, me, my academic team and my late husband, started the Delhi School of Communication. This is a 23-year old institution. It is not a big business, it is a serious business.
Prof. Romola’s philosophy of leadership and her leadership style
A leader is someone who can accept the team, in its good and bad both, strength and weaknesses, pick up the strength in everybody and help them build the quality till a unified whole solitaire gets better results in return. One should avoid looking at negatives, everybody has negatives, we should rather give strength and positivity to the positivity so that you can build that person and get the best out of the team.
Significant challenges faced as the Dean of Delhi School of Communication
In the year 2005, I lost my husband. But 4 days later, I took my college class because I had 60 students looking into my eyes and asking-what now? I said-nothing at all, let us get going, let us start working. My husband would have never liked if we wasted our time. I took my first class on the 4th day. I sent my daughter, who is the current Executive Director of DSC to the UK after her father’s death. And it was hard for me when at times I could not speak to her. I never went to London for the one year, she did not come to Delhi for one whole year. It was a challenging time, I had Delhi School of Communication here to take care of and it was my husband’s venture. From then, till now, we have only acted strong and will continue to be, only for the sense of peace that you get when you go to bed content, and wake up the next morning with no regrets.
Curriculum at Delhi School of Communication
Like I mentioned, Delhi School of Communication for me is not a big business, it is a serious business. We wanted to start with MBA, but then we thought why not communication program. I went and searched about 40 onsites, and put together this program. We take only about 60, which involves a lot of close counselling, lot of monitoring. The student may feel that there are many exercises involved. But by the end of the 1.5-2 years of curriculum, the students learn to stretch themselves. Because this is a PG course and during their graduation of 3-4 years, most of them have not even properly attended college.
Here, we have a program where there are classes from 8:30- to 2:30 and they go to work from 2:30-7:30. It is a very professional, tough timeline, highly-scheduled program, with a lot of creativity involved. There are 5 months of internship in the course duration of 2 years, and 2-4 months of half day work, depending on how much they can manage. We also have courses like Big Data Analytics and Software Marketing, which I believe no other college in India is offering. A lot of placements are done by Jan-Feb, and the students graduate in April. We upgrade our curriculum almost every semester. The idea is to relate as much as possible with the real-time situation.
Placement opportunities available at Delhi School of Communication
We upgrade our curriculum every semester, or as and when required. We give equal room to theoretical as well as practical knowledge, which is the reason the course does not get monotonous. This also includes training in the mid of the course. Most of the times the companies where our students intern is where they get placed. The course ends in April, whereas most of the students are placed somewhere around January-February. We have also done marketing for Bajirao Mastani, Bahubali, etc. There are 3 internships, December-May, May –June, June-July. Placements have never been a pain for us.
Prof. Romola’s relationship with the students
I have been very close to my students. I make it a point to spend time with them. There is no pomp and show involved in coming to see me or coming and meeting me. I am very approachable to my students, that a few of them discuss a lot, way beyond what a student would with their teachers. But when there is need, I turn out as a Hitler. I have been in the industry for more than 35 years now. I exactly am in a mindset to understand that all of this is important at their own time. I do understand that it is very difficult to turn late teenagers into young adults. And an average person can do a lot of things, an average person can change the future of a nation. One doesn’t have to be a 99 percentiler, when we know and have seen that being average but very disciplined and hardworking at the same time can yield wonderful results. There is a very thin line between friendship and familiarity, which is to be maintained always.
Ideal school environment according to Prof. Romola and how does she encourage that kind of culture
I am a strict disciplinarian, and on the other hand, I make sure of being there for my students as and when required. This created a kind of atmosphere around in the campus where learning is not a task. With the less strength of students, it is also easy to pay more attention personally, which gives a little ease to the faculty as well, but the positive learning aura and the environment where everyone thinks out of the box and is welcomed with new ideas and innovations, is what I call as my ideal school environment.
Top qualities according to Prof. Romola, that an aspiring candidate must possess
He/she needs to be able to think differently. My question to them once was that what do you learn from the tree? or What does the sun represent for you? The answer to many such questions is “time”. This is a sense of selfless giving. Any student who takes up communication courses should imbibe within themselves the quality of hard work, thinking out of the box, and a sense of selfless giving.
Goals in mind for Delhi School of Communication for the next few years
I want to constantly add new courses and subtract the old ones which I find should be eliminated. I am looking for new horizons in all spheres, and if there are any new horizons, I want to be the first one to be there. I am definitely looking at some new verticles, but they are still only in the pipeline.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
There is a period in your life when you need to just get down and do something. Especially when you are into a PG curriculum, one needs to snap the tiles between childhood and adulthood. One should learn to respond to his/her ability. And for this, you need not be a 90 percentiler, you need not be an 80 percentiler either. Someone who is between 60-75 can make a vast change. Why not put your energies together and just work hard! Earn in crores, but make sure you give something back to the society.