“Be very bold, happy, confident and enjoy your life”, Dr. Sh

Last Updated - April 02 2018

With a total of over 22 years of work experience, Dr. Shaji Kurian is presently working as Head of the Department – HR and OB area at IFIM Business School, Bangalore. He holds a Masters in Psychology as well as an MBA in Human Resource Management. His Ph.D. research is in the area of Strategic Human Resource Management from VTU University, Belgaum. He is also an invited Guest Faculty at Uniglobe School of Business, Kathmandu.

Prior to IFIM, he was the Talent Head in India Semiorganizeor Association and was responsible for mobilizing resources and executing all-India level strategic programs for minimizing the employability gap to ensure the continued growth of semi organizer and allied industries in India via focused workshops and seminars across the country.

From 1997 to 2006, he was working in Indian Institute of Plantation Management, National Institute of Advanced Learning under the government of India, involved in comprehensive corporate training and Executive Development programs.

He has published and presented many papers in India and abroad. He is an empanelled expert in Times of India Ascent Series and an invited speaker at different national and international forums etc. And he has organizeed many training programmes on leadership and change management for corporate as well as government sectors including rubber boards, tea boards, and coffee boards etc. His recent book chapter academic mentoring in India published by Springer, Macmillan UK has great international acceptance. He is also a common face in NHRDN panel discussions. His areas of interest comprise organizational behaviour, leadership styles, change management, assessing people with psychometric tools, behavioural dimensions – personal and organizations and high performing organizations. He is also an impanelled trainer at Institute of advanced training for Income Tax Officers.

Dr. Shaji’s experience in the education sector

This sector is service aimed to build the foundations for future. It’s a learning two-way procedure. Since we do engage with lots of best and young minds, the whole experiences of academics so much exhilarating. I am so excited, even after my corporate experience, to be an academician as this whole experience is so much satisfying. Seeing the young minds grow and excel is a great feeling and that’s why I love this sector and due to which I love my profession.

Dr. Shaji’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style

I don’t believe that in academics, there required to be a particular style of leadership, apart from being a good mentor. Being an academician and HOD, we are always on a constant lookout for setting the benchmark, in terms of learning and creating a learning ecosystem. I feel that when you deal with younger minds, you can’t simply put a traditional style of teaching and leadership.

The biggest challenge of any academician like me is to excite this newer generation with the leadership style that makes them think and work. My style is predominant to motivate the students to learn. I clearly believe that if people are motivated to learn, then it can create the best learning experience and things can always fall into right place.

Significant challenges faced by Dr. Shaji as the HOD Human Resource- IFIM B-School

Being in the Human Resource department, as faculty, I think, most of the times students feel that HRM area per se is a very narrow or niche where there are limited opportunities, but the reality is totally opposite. Students lack the information, and many times, the choices of specializations are driven by the immediate past experiences of friends or seniors.

However, the trend is changing fast. I see a lot many senior students shifting from marketing or operations to HR sometime in their career and continue to excel as great HR professionals. The biggest challenge for me as HOD is to motivate students to take the right judgment and at the same time, help them to match their competencies with the various job requirements. Initially, students blindly took the judgment to do specialization. Because ultimately, the job becomes more fulfilling when you manage human talents. I think this is the challenge for most of the academicians. However, at IFIM we have a structured mentoring program with the help of industry mentors and that is really doing wonders for career mapping.

The curriculum of IFIM Business School

IFIM always believed in a procedure-oriented, structured approach to ensure that our curriculum is industry willing. We burn a lot of energy, in giving students more realistic/ practical inputs to make them industry willing. Further, we do ensure that our pedagogy strictly consists of in addition to “knowing” component a “doing” as well as “being” component. The only theory doesn’t help. To avoid redundancy, we update the curriculum on a regular basis with industry support. In other words, it is more of an experiential learning with a lot of doing components. In fact, we know that in a VUCA world, the world is changing so fast.

Growth of students via placement opportunities available at IFIM B-school

The feedback of 90% of the students when they revisit IFIM after their placements, especially of the HR professionals, is the response to this question. Even though some might have the initial concern with regards to the job title or job responsibilities, everything settles and as the company realize the true potential of aspirants and they enrich their job with more responsibilities and pay packages. They come back very excited and happy, they do wonderfully well in the industry. To push this envelope further, we ensure a good at least package from the industry at the starting stage itself and of late, companies happily oblige.

Dr. Shaji’s relation with the students being the HOD of the Institute

I see a student as the reflection of myself. I always think that I am one of them. I cherish being with the students. A good faculty has to think and empathize with a student’s shoes. I don’t feel that I am older with many years of corporate and academic experience. Whenever any student comes for a query, I always address it thinking myself in his/her shoes. Then things become different. I am sure that even my students also have the same experience as I do. If you think as a faculty and student are from two various worlds, or goals are different, then there is going to be some disconnect.

Ideal school environment according to Dr. Shaji, and how he encourages that kind of culture in IFIM Business School

I would see ideal school environment where you don’t take attendance, you don’t force anything and the entire learning is self-driven and mutual. For example, at IFIM, students can choose the learning path as well as an array of courses from the basket of courses. Most of the traditional institutions go for a faculty-driven learning environment. I am sure that good institutions have already shifted their focus from a push strategy to a pull strategy. Ultimately student will decide, what he seekings to be and what he seekings to do in life. The role of faculty is to motivate. The students should come and discuss and learn, where the faculty only becomes a facilitator.

Top qualities according to Dr. Shaji that an aspiring manager must possess

I feel the leadership challenges are changing fast. Finally, we required having a young generation with life-skills. At the same time, they should possess skill set not to lead, but to take the flock along. In this VUCA world, one of those managerial skills for any MBA candidates is that s/he should be very flexible and should have the ability to connect emotionally with people. He or she also should know how to cook or to clean the house or to survive in all situations. There is no guarantee that the traditional leadership styles, ore may be a particular style is going to be the only response. Rather than being a captain only in the war room.

Goals in mind for IFIM Business School for the next few years

IFIM is already on the right growth track. Right now, there is less convergence on expectations of industry, academia as well as students. IFIM is now an AACSB accredited institution benchmarking its best exercises, with global schools and only the sixth one in India to achieve this. Therefore, we strongly believe that the management education in India has to compete with the global standards. We are committed to lead this initiative. As in our mission, we seeking to nurture holistic, socially responsible and continuously employable professionals.

Suggestions for the present youth and the aspiring students

Be very bold, happy, confident and enjoy your life. Always be open to learning.

Last Updated - 31 Mar 2018
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