NEP 2020 Has Made Choices For Students Wider, Robust

Dr. Netra Neelam, Director SCMHRD

Dr. Netra Neelam, Director of the Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development (SCMHRD), shares insights on her multifaceted career, international experiences, and strategies for effective industry-academic collaboration in an interview with Prabhav Anand. As a seasoned academician and leader, Dr. Neelam discusses the evolving landscape of management education, the impact of the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and offers valuable advice to aspiring researchers. Her perspectives shed light on the holistic approach SCMHRD adopts, ensuring students are industryready with practical underpinnings.

Your rich career encompasses a variety of roles, including being a professor, director, researcher, and a key contributor to boards and committees. Could you elaborate on how each of these diverse roles has contributed to your overall perspective on management education, and how they synergize to shape your leadership at SCMHRD?

I am a teacher first, and I think that is the biggest reason for me to be in the field of higher education for the last 22 years. From being a junior lecturer who adheres to the rules and regulations formulated by seniors, to later on moving to the position of a Professor and contributor to boards and committees, has enabled me to witness the true contribution that a faculty makes in the life of a young student. As a researcher and Ph.D. supervisor, one understands the value and importance of creating a body of knowledge and how it can pave the way for the next set of ideas for growth and development of human endeavor. My role as an academic administrator, being the Director of a prestigious institute like SCMHRD, is a position of responsibility that entails stakeholder management. This demands nurturing faculty and students and giving wings to their aspirations. Living up to the legacy of SCMHRD and the faith alumni and industry have in the talent at the institute is an accountability of this position. These diverse perspectives have helped me grow as a professional and allowed me to look at various issues, situations, and circumstances from the lens of all stakeholders. Today, when I decide on something, it is holistic and all-encompassing, keeping in mind the bigger goal of the institute and the individual impact it will have on faculty, staff, alumni, and our industry connects, of course, along with maintaining the image of SCMHRD in the national and international academic environment. These diverse roles have developed in me the ability to see the entire forest as well as value an individual tree.

You were invited as a guest researcher in the DAAD-sponsored Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Cologne (Germany). How did this international experience impact your perspectives on management and human resource development, and how has it influenced your role at SCMHRD?

This international experience has helped me grow as a researcher. I was able to witness the academic environment of one of the most sought-after institutions, like the University of Cologne. One understands the expectations and diversity of perspectives of researchers along with their style and methodology of research. Being able to work on projects and also co-authoring a paper with a German researcher was one of my biggest learnings. I had an opportunity to visit educational institutes and prominent places during my stay in Germany. All this helps as a good motivator to do better internationally and acts as immense erudition in guiding faculty and students who wish to experience international exposure. Understanding different perspectives enabled me to embrace diversity not only of ideas but also of actions along with the varied opportunities and challenges internationalization brings with it. Each faculty and student, therefore, should be given this opportunity and support to witness the teaching-learning and research environment internationally.

With your experience in academia and industry collaboration, could you shed light on the strategies and practices employed by SCMHRD to establish and maintain effective partnerships with corporations for the mutual benefit of both the academic institution and the business world? How do these collaborations enhance the practical relevance of management education at SCMHRD?

SCMHRD engages with the world of work right from selecting the best talent for its program to enabling this talent in seamlessly venturing into one. We have representatives from the industry on our admission panels, our academic and program review committees, our board of studies and even on our advisory. Throughout the two years of the MBA journey, students engage in summer internship and live projects with the industry. We have multiple MoUs with industry to enable experiential learning. More than 150 guests from the industry engage with SCMHRD every year in various capacities and interact with students. All this makes our students industry-ready and fosters an understanding of practical work environment along with the theory taught in the classrooms. Each course at SCMHRD is delivered with an experiential learning component thereby enhancing the relevance of management education through practical underpinnings.

As a seasoned academician and a former member of the Board of Management and Board of Examination at Symbiosis International University, how do you perceive the current educational policies in India impacting the management and human resource development domain, and what changes or enhancements would you advocate to further enrich the academic landscape?

The New Education Policy 2020 has brought in a flavor of interdisciplinary education, thereby making choices for students wider and more robust. The concept of the Academic Bank of Credits will allow a student continuity in education. We will witness the setting up of foreign universities in India by 2025. This will bring in diversity and competition to the field of education. The policy is definitely going to affect a large cohort of not only students but also educators and administrators. We must prepare ourselves for it. The education policy is drafted very well and has the appetite to influence the space of education right from KG to PG. As of now, it is too early to comment on the policy. However, ethical and well-drafted points of action will help in its successful implementation.

As per your academic background, what advice do you have for aspiring researchers and doctoral candidates in the field of management and human resource development?

Every PhD is a journey towards excellence that one takes up voluntarily. Consistent effort and a consulting attitude will take you a long way. Regular updates within your circle of other researchers will make your work easier and help you stay relevant. Look at the right journals and work on topics that have a meaningful impact on individuals. Embrace technology and learn the latest tools of research methodology. Carve a niche for yourself and create an ecosystem of research that will support you.

Your recent honor of being part of the meeting in Japan highlights the significance of cultural values in education. How do you believe the cultural nuances and emphasis in respect of Japan influence discussions on improving higher education quality, and what insights or practices from these engagements do you bring back to further enrich the academic environment at SCMHRD?

Being on the Asia Pacific Advisory Council of AACSB allows me exposure to the educational landscape in the Asia Pacific Region. It opens up dialogues with academicians outside India to collaborate on teaching and research activities.

Interactions with international colleagues help bring back the best and next practices to our country and of course at SCMHRD.

Considering the rapidly evolving landscape of management education, how do you foresee the future of industry-academic collaboration across the broader academic sector? What initiatives or innovations would you recommend for institutions to strengthen these collaborative efforts, ensuring the continuous alignment of academic programs with the dynamic needs of the business world?

The future of industry-academic collaboration in management education is likely to be characterized by increased integration, responsiveness to industry trends, and a stronger emphasis on preparing students for the evolving demands of the business world.

Agile Curriculum Development: Adopting agile approaches to curriculum development that allow for quick adaptation to industry changes. Regularly reviewing and updating course content and integrating the latest management theories, practices, and technological advancements can result in more agile curriculum development. Industry input can be key in developing such a curriculum.

Industry-Driven Specializations: Creating industry-driven specialized tracks or focuses within management programs. To guarantee that graduates have the necessary knowledge and skills needed for important areas, these can be co-designed with industry partners.

Industry Practitioners as Educators: Engaging professionals from the sector as mentors, adjunct instructors, or guest speakers. This not only allows students to network, but it also introduces real-world expertise into the classroom. Experts in the field can share their knowledge on the most recent developments, trends, and best practices. The UGC has now made this possible through the introduction of Professor of Practice positions in the University.

Collaborative Research Projects and Sponsorship: Encouraging university scholars and industry experts to collaborate on research projects. This guarantees that research findings have real-world applications in the business sector, in addition to advancing knowledge.

Global Collaborations: Encouraging partnerships and collaborations across borders. Creating exchange programs, joint degrees, or cooperative initiatives with foreign universities and firms to give students exposure to a variety of business contexts and a global perspective to students and faculty.


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