“Education needs to constantly reinvent itself to remain relevant, otherwise, we will create cadres of persons who have ‘book’ knowledge but are unable to contribute in the real world.” – Mr. Amit Dasgupta
From IFS to heading a global management school – how has the journey been?
It has been a wonderful beginning and I am looking forward to the journey. Interacting with young minds is an extraordinary experience and one that I am grateful for. Young minds are creative and innovative and hungry. They are also tech savvy. I find it fascinating to interact with them. At the same time, I hope they find my global experience also interesting and stimulating.
Life as a diplomat VS life as the Head of SP Jain – which role did/ do you really enjoy?
A diplomat learns to think globally; that’s part of our job. In a school such as this, thinking globally lies at the very heart of its teaching methodology. We teach the students to be multicultural and thus, culturally sensitive. As such, I see a great synergy.
What made you decide to take on this role with SP Jain?
I wanted to continue to think young! There is no better place to do this other than in a school. Age catches up on you when you stop learning. Picasso once said that it takes many years to grow young! The young are associated with ideas, with innovation, with a craving to know more, to change things, to challenge established ways of seeing, to discover. And, they are impatient! The School offered me the platform to interact and to learn and so, naturally, I grabbed the opportunity once it was offered to me.
What kind of challenges have you come across in this role?
I realized very quickly how little I know and how much there is to learn. Technology and the internet are game changers. Information is now at the tip of one’s finger and it is no longer about how much you know but how you are able to successfully process the information. I come from a generation that was not exposed to so much technology. It is challenge but at the same time, a learning experience.
The fundamentals of education as a whole – curriculum planning, practical imparting of knowledge has changed over the years. What changes do you see?
The most important discovery is that our kids and grandchildren will do a job that has not yet been created. So, what should the role of education be in such a scenario? Consequently, it is important to reimagine education, to reformat its end-objective and to constantly reinvent what it is supposed to do. Unless this is done, education would fail to be sustainable, contemporary and relevant.
Do you think they are for the better or worse? And what can be changed to make education sustainable and of quality?
Our educational institutions need to be rooted in the out-of-class experience or the real world, which is volatile, uncertain and unpredictable. This means ‘in here’ and ‘out there’ cannot be silos but an integrated whole.
The importance of industry connections & global exposure cannot be undermined today. Where does SP Jain stand on this?
Being industry relevant is a very strong component of the School because business education is relevant only when it is industry relevant. Additionally, businesses are rapidly becoming global. The unique tri-city model of the School inculcates global thinking and learning in students.
What kind of initiatives has SP Jain taken to ensure that students are in sync with the practical requirements of the industry?
Regular guest lectures and industry visits are especially tailored to ensure that students have a clear understanding of the evolving expectations industry has of its personnel.
Use of our simulation laboratories give our students the edge that few schools are able to offer.
Let’s face it: if you want to learn on the job, you may most certainly do so. That is the traditional methodology. Companies incur losses, as training is important but alternatives were not available. Today, our School offers the alternative: across verticals and horizontals. Simulation enables approximations of real-life experience, as never before. We have incorporated simulation as part of our teaching methodology. It is an extension of our philosophy that education can be contemporary, relevant and sustainable, only if it is real-world and experiential.
Would you agree that there is a gap in the skill set of graduating students’ vs what is required in the industry today? How can that be abridged?
Yes, indeed. Consequently, our School has consciously and consistently looked at its teaching methodology and introduced new elements to make education relevant and future ready. Our blended learning programme, for instance, is one such. The simulation laboratory is another unique feature in the pedagogy. Education is relevant only when it is praxiological.
What is the need-of-the-hour in the education industry, irrespective of the field?
Education needs to constantly reinvent itself to remain relevant. Unless we do this, we will create cadres of persons who have ‘book’ knowledge but are unable to contribute in the real world. In a competitive global environment, the relevance of an educational system is measured in terms of how it contributes to national productivity. How much you know matters little. What you can do to improve circumstances, to bring about change is what matters. We are focused on creating change-makers.
Why should a student choose SP Jain as their management destination?
We have consistently received international rankings. For a young, 11-year old School to be ranked year in and year out over the past 5 years reflects that we must be doing something right. Consequently, students see being part of SP Jain Global as a great differentiator. Second, quality assurance remains at the core of our USP and it is something we are not willing to compromise upon. Third, we craft global business leaders. Consequently, our graduates find placements in companies across the globe.
What are the top 5 USP of SP Jain Global - Mumbai?
First, the School stands out for its unique tri-city campus. This experience of living and studying in 4 very diverse cities [such as, Dubai, Singapore and Sydney], most certainly, impacts the way the students approach other cultures. Their thinking broadens and expands. They start becoming global in their outlook. Being global really means being multicultural and culture sensitive. Mumbai has now been added as the 4th campus and we believe it will add value.
Second, the School has students from around 30 different countries. This is an extraordinary experience for the students. They experience being global and it is not simply something they read about in books. They live it every day. Through interaction, they learn about cultural differences and come to accept cultural diversity as part of their everyday life experience.
Third, our teaching methodology whether through blended learning or simulations or out-of-class activities reflects our constant effort in searching as to how we can make our pedagogy relevant, contemporary and sustainable.
Fourth, our international rankings are a clear recognition of our efforts. We are only 11-years old and yet, have been internationally ranked for the past 5 years.
Fifth, we believe if our students have to be a cut above others, our faculty must be international and renowned. We do not compromise on the quality of education. All the above are part of our DNA.
What are the differences (if any) / USP’s in each of SP Jain’s campuses –Dubai, Sydney & Mumbai?
Our campuses are integrated in terms of the academic component. Naturally, there will be differences but that emanates from the cultural context of each campus. Mumbai is the youngest in the family and is already fast catching up.
Can in-house students opt for other SP Jain campuses while in the midst of their course?
Our students have to experience the other campuses, as it is part of our pedagogy. So, they, naturally, have an opportunity to experience our other campuses. We believe this to be an enriching experience. For global companies, such students are an asset.
Basis solely on location, are students of international SP Jain campuses at an advantage when compared to students of SP Jain Mumbai campus?
Since students have to travel to other campuses, no one faces a disadvantage. We make it a point to ensure a global learning experience. Our philosophy is to craft global business leaders and we can do this only when ‘thinking globally’ becomes an integral part of our teaching methodology – whether it is with regard to our teaching faculty or the students in our learning centres or the location of our multi-city campuses. This mix is unbeatable and unparalleled. It is what makes us unique.
What are the new & innovative aspects that we can expect from the SP Jain – Mumbai campus?
As we are a completely new campus, we have a relatively clean slate to work with, which is a great advantage. ‘Out of class’ activities are going to be an integral part of our teaching. At the same time, we would like our students to have a broad and holistic knowledge base. We would also prepare them, in advance, with regard to the different cities they would be studying in. Our idea is to not only off-load information to the students but to teach them the tools by which they can process the information. That is the fundamental shift that education needs to undergo, including business education. And we are in the cutting edge of precisely that kind of approach.
To be a successful professional, what attributes should a student possess/ inculcate?
Decision-making. That is the fundamental attribute that students need to master: the ability to see through the fog and to decide how the ship needs to be steered. Our entire teaching focus is geared towards this single objective.
What, according to you, are emerging careers in MBA?
Globalization is here to stay. Economies will increasingly get integrated in a world economic system. In such a scenario, business enterprises will look for persons with a global outlook. At the same time, the kind of education our School provides will open up multiple avenues for the students. I don’t see it as a contradiction.
Tell us something about the current book you are authoring.
I have just completed a manuscript of four long short stories set in Calcutta and have started working on a non-fiction book with the working title: Why we hate to fail [and what we can do about it]. I also write regularly on foreign and security policy, international trade, and management issues.
Your advice to the management leaders of tomorrow?
India is yet again on the cusp of transformational change. Let us not see it only as a governance issue. Governance is too important a business to leave to governments and bureaucracy. It is a collective aspiration and hence, a collective responsibility. Management Leaders of today and tomorrow need to recognize this. Values and business ethics must be integrated into management philosophy. This is what we teach in the School.