Dr. Kulneet Suri
Senior Director – IMS NOIDA, IMS DIA
How do you ensure liaison between the Institute and the various stakeholders, like economic organizations and local authorities?
“Stakeholders are the Life and Breath of any project whether these are worked with economic, local, educational, government or any other authorities both at the National and International level”
Projects are like Airplanes – Once they take off and then they are hard to stop. Stakeholder communication is one of the project manager’s most important jobs because the stakeholders define the success of a project. The stakeholders must be identified, actively managed, and consistently communicated with to ensure their buy-in to the final service/product, or you might find yourself on the express to project purgatory.
We execute the following to ensure a streamlined liaison. Stakeholder communication in any domain consists of three essential components:
- Identify the stakeholder
- Analysis of Stakeholder requirements
- Management of Stakeholder needs
It can be understated that the stakeholders who usually derail a project are the ones who were not identified at the beginning and are hence not adequately communicated with. Every project has primary stakeholders that everyone knows about, for example the Institutions for academic-industry integration or Institutes tying up for knowledge sharing with Universities and National and International level or Research work between Industry and Institutions. But it’s the secondary stakeholders who are less well managed who tend to topple down a project.
If you are to effectively communicate with stakeholders, you need to know what they need and why they need it. This analysis determines what drives the stakeholder, their underlying motivations and needs from the project.We ensure that to track each stakeholder throughout the project, stakeholders are placed on a scale identifying their support level for the project, in one of five categories:
Unaware: They are not aware of the project.
Non-Supportive: They are aware of the project but are not supportive of it.
Neutral: They are neither supportive nor opposed to the project.
Supportive: They are in favour of the project.
Often stakeholders must be moved from the Unaware and Resistant columns to the Neutral or Supportive column during the course of the project. When this is the case, they require significant planning and resources, and I will add, an effective and robust execution of the plan is required. One should not underestimate the resources required to move stakeholders from a resistant status to neutral or supportive. Most Institutional projects which have these types of stakeholders must produce reports, make video presentations, and hold face-to-face meetings (and so on) all of which have project schedule and budget implications.
An Effective and Robust Stakeholder Communication Plan is essential for a smooth Liaison: The communication plan identifies how the stakeholder will be communicated with, the type, frequency, and medium. It establishes the content of the communication and what it intends to accomplish. Each stakeholder has their own unique needs and must be addressed individually. While it is true that stakeholders fall into groups with similar communication needs, one cannot stop at lumping stakeholders into groups. They must be communicated with on their own terms and given personal attention. Each stakeholder should have a detailed plan that includes the following types of stakeholder communication:
- Face to face conversations
- Group Team meetings
- Video Presentations
- Notice boards
- Newsletters, magazines or e-magazines
- Mailers to faculty/staff etc
- Press releases
- Annual progress performance reports
- Emails and intranets
- Web portals
- Group Thinking
Managing Stakeholders is equally important for a streamlined Liaison: Throughout the project, each stakeholder is managed to ensure their communication needs are being met. The stakeholder is tracked using better information systems to ensure they are adequately moving to their desired place of project buy-in. Not all stakeholders need to be in full approval, but often enough of an acceptance to avoid active opposition is enough. Stakeholder management throughout the project execution phase consists of the following actions:
- Ensure that the Stakeholder Communications Plan is being followed. If not, take corrective action.
- Assess whether the Stakeholder Communications Plan is still meeting the needs of the project. If not, update it. A review of the actual communications can indicate whether the stakeholder communication needs have changed or new information is received that affects the plan.
Few projects go through their entire life cycle without changes to communication strategies, hence it is important to re-assess the plan regularly.
The collaboration with the corporate sector is another aspect which influences brand development and placements. What’s your policy for implementation of such a partnership?
According to Kapferer & Keller“ The more the stronger brand is created, the greater will be revenue generation both in short and long term” Effective branding will result in higher sales of all the products that are associated with a particular brand .
We work with a multi-pronged approach for brand enhancement through collaboration with the corporate sector. We do not only focus on placements while collaborating with Corporates but also invite top Corporate conglomerates to our HR Summit wherein they address the students about best, effective and latest industry practices. These speakers are invited bot from the National as well as the overseas Corporate sector. Right from semester one we start offering Internship opportunities to our students. Also an external JURY is invited every year and the best business plans are showcased to the Jury from Industry-some of the best projects get sponsorships and mentoring from the Industry JURY which helps us with not only an effective branding and promotion strategy but also a long-term Industry-Institute relationship
Merits of campus recruitment as a branding and promotional activity while collaborating with Industry :-
- Atrract the Prospective individuals: A large number of applicants may be willing to join the organization based on the Placement track record and the type of companies participate in campus for recruiting.
- Win-Win situation: It serves as a win-win situation for both the Institute and the Individuals who tend to enroll for the courses offered in terms of employment with reputed brands of companies.
- Cost-effective: This method has proved to be cost-effective as campus placements itself are an integral part of branding and promotion and no additional expenses are incurred.
- Goodwill of Institution is generated: Any activity with Corporates will in turn generate goodwill for an Institution which is an effective tool for generating admissions.
On a closing note I would like to add, that Campus placements is one of the increasingly popular way of collaborating with the Industry and also which in turn also helps them in reaching out to potential candidates by enabling them in choice architecture of educational institutions for higher studies. However, in order to reach to these targeted audiences, educational institutes must use campus placements in increasingly ethical and effective ways. The ideal campus placements will always be a win-win situation for the individuals, industry and institutes as they get to know about new and recent placement record, outreach activities between the Industry and the Institute. A genuine partnership with the Corporates also builds up the knowledge reservoir of an Institute
Tell us about your contributions towards the cause of upliftment of women and girls.
Angela Merkel of Germany, and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, came forth only to show how better-equipped women are with the qualities of leadership, intelligence and courage.
IMS Noida and IMS DIA under the aegis of Unison Education foundation are the two Institutions out of our 11 campuses being spearheaded by me. We are a women dominated organization but with a difference. We practice inclusion and diversity by hiring the best talent from National and International organizations and Institutions. At the same time, I have pledged to Educate the GIRL CHILD at various levels and am also spearheading the National Committee of CEGR for the Upliftment and EDUCATION of Girl Child. Through various initiatives we have distributed books in Rural India. I have also earmarked a separate quota for educating GIRL CHILD in IMS.
The core idea is of education for sustainability which includes lifelong learning, interdisciplinary education, partnerships, multicultural education and empowerment. I give Priority to ensuring women’s and girls’ full and equal access to all levels of education and training whether at IMS or at the various National and International organizations where I am the Advisory level.
At the same time I have encouraged and branded close to 2000 plus women start-ups through Community Radio station wherein these women start-ups get a chance to speak about their start-ups and brand their products and services. They also get to showcase their products and services by displays on various occasions like International Women’s Day etc. I have provided services to NGO’s catering to Women and GIRL CHILD needs through various education programs which train them on Dietary habits, Nutrition during pregnancy, Lifelong Education, Child-care etc. Various campaigns have been run by me to provide equal opportunities for work to Women.
With digitization of education, how do you plan to expand the periphery of knowledge sharing with foreign universities?
“There will be no time like this to be knowledge expansive and work globally.”
Digitalization of education is currently one of the most important trends that change society and business. There is no doubt that the digital economy is profoundly changing the methods of teaching and knowledge sharing and providing education services worldwide. Thus, in the education sector, expansion of the periphery of knowledge sharing through digitalization can be implemented at the levels: administrative, teaching-learning, evaluation, research, development and for the benefit of society and will contribute to the expansion of knowledge sharing across global boundaries. This also brings many advantages such as time savings, transparency, overcoming Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy, overcoming geographical barriers, continuous flow 24×7, minimizing human error, mass digitalization. All these factors contribute to the expansion of knowledge sharing irrespective of the physical distances.
In the process of adaptation, we the HEIs must focus on improving largely on their traditional mission of on-line teaching and learning. Today, society is asking for much more from universities regarding their contribution. They must develop a third mission that concerns the provision of services to knowledge sharing and the more active involvement in the triple helix Institutions-International Institutions-Industry. In this context, universities should contribute more to the development of students’ digital skills and give them a global exposure. Digitisation has also helped in cutting costs and therefore extending a global education perspective to students through knowledge sharing, research work, projects has somewhat become an easier task.
In a world of rapid and unpredictable change, leading to a turbulent business environment, HEIs must not only adapt to all these changes but become driving forces for change and leaders in building new contracts. Universities should develop strategies to increase their intellectual capital and become digital organizations. In the new economic and social landscape, universities should be able to become leaders of change and innovation. In conclusion, we consider it important to monitor the fundamental transformations induced by the advance of the digital age, especially on the educational process in universities worldwide.