“Best teachers are those who excite you about life, push you beyond” – A Candid Interview with Prof. Janat Shah

Interviewer: Rajashree

Student Representative, Media and industry interaction Cell (MiiC), IIMU

Photographer: Zeeshan

Student Representative, Media and industry interaction Cell (MiiC), IIMU

This week to garner the occasion of Teachers’ Day, we bring to you some reflections and heartfelt words from our Director and one of our most loved teachers, Professor Janat Shah.

We enter the cabin after a short wait, and a little time bargain with a fellow visitor. The humble Professor greets us with a kind smile and offers us a seat. Zeeshan is ready with his camera and in one glorious opportunity, out comes my smartphone. I hit record, and our conversation begins, interspersed with his contagious laughter.

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MiiC : Sir, please share with us a little about your time as a student, maybe something memorable from your school or college years.

Prof. Shah : It has been so long, schooldays were so many years back ! You know what happens, when you look back on life sometimes, you tend to forget. I kept changing schools as my father moved to various places in the city. Then I did my engineering from IIT Bombay, then worked for five years and then did my Fellow Programme at IIM Ahmedabad.

MiiC : How was your stint as a fellow programme student ?

He responds with surprising candor and a frank laughter.

Prof. Shah : Initially, I didn’t know why I was doing a PhD. I just wanted to switch from Corporate and here was a programme where they were also offering a stipend and so I joined. But I decided to cross the bridge and do it more seriously than I had studied in my undergraduate years.

MiiC: Sir, you are an inspiration to so many of us. Could you tell us about a teacher who has left a lasting impression in your life?

Prof. Shah: Yes, I have had some outstanding teachers.  For instance, Professor Jahar Saha, he is also a visiting faculty with us. In IIM, I would say, we had teachers who were outstanding in terms of not just what they taught about business in class but about life as a whole. We had Professor Balakrishnan who taught Management Accounting which for lot of people can be very mechanical, but I would say I learnt business from him. I believe the best teachers are those who excite you about life, push you beyond. In engineering back then, we used punch cards for computer programming where you got the result for your codes only the next day. So a single error can ruin it completely.  We had great teachers on this subject as well. Then we had a professor who invited us to dinner at his place. Also we had an out-of-the-box warden who would never visit hostel and would blindly sign any letter or certificate, be it for extension for fees payment or anything at all. So I think people who trust you make a huge difference.  I believe therefore I had a range of teachers who not just taught me business but about a broader way of looking at life.

MiiC : Sir, you have been leading IIMU last five years. Would you tell us about some of the challenges you faced, assembling the team and so on and so forth.

Prof. Shah: I would say the challenges we faced in the first four months were immense. When I took over, I had nobody but I had some ideas. I wanted to give the students here the same facilities that our students at IIM Bangalore had. We had a few things in mind that we put down as a necessity, like great classrooms. CR-1 that you see was done in less than a month. Similarly arranging for fast Wifi, high quality IT infrastructure and then bringing in outstanding faculty were some of the things we aimed at. Being able to deliver these starting from scratch was much fun.

MiiC : Sir, as a teacher how do you deal with students having different vibes and aspirations ? Some may work well under pressure while some may underperform.

Prof. Shah:  I think this a challenge where I have sometimes, though not always, been successful. Say there were two courses I remember two courses very well from my teaching life. In one, I had systematically planned my course. I knew my entire student profile, and I had planned something for every group. So you see, you need to recognize but you shouldn’t target any one particular group. But this requires fair amount of effort but when that effort is put in, it is highly rewarding. The second course that I highly enjoyed teaching was one which I had designed very differently, deciding it would just have my own cases. We met once a week in a two hour class. Every Sunday, they were given a case and the analysis that the students did was amazing. So everywhere I find that as a teacher if you are excited about the course, then students always reciprocate.

MiiC : Sir, as a teacher who has also worked in the corporate what would you say are the challenges and rewards in migrating to the teaching profession?

Prof. Shah : I think firstly you should enjoy working with young people, secondly a lot of patience and thirdly a lot of empathy. For instance, if someone comes and says I could not submit an assignment, you could say I don’t care or you could choose to understand why. Or you could be very strict inside the classroom and once out, understand why and how certain things happen. So, if you have these qualities you would have a fun time, especially when somebody gets back after years and tells you how you made a difference to their lives. Say, just two days ago I had a one hour long conversation with a student who has graduated some fifteen years ago about his experiences then on. I would say in every batch there are always a few students with who I have developed a strong relationship which continued over years.

MiiC: Do you have a personal hero? A real or fictitious character that inspires you?

Prof Shah: I am great admirer of Gandhi’s philosophy. Other than that I enjoy literature, writings of various authors. On one side I read Harry Potter and on another I like Dostoevsky’s characters.

MiiC: Tell us your take on balancing work and life? You being a busy person, how do you manage it?

Prof Shah: I think valuing relationships is the first thing, and then recognizing you need to invest in them. Once you recognize this fact, it will happen. Several of us make this mistake of taking people close to us for granted, and believe they will always understand. You think you will spend time with them at later stage in your lives. But it does not happen. You need to invest time in them.

MiiC:  Sir, your cycling is legendary now! Any other hobby we do not know of?

Prof Shah: Cycling is more of a practical thing! As you know legends are just mythology. I used to go for trekking amid nature once in a while though have not done it much off late, not for lack of time though.  I did one major trek as part of club during engineering, then some in Maharashtra and one in Himalayas.

MiiC : Sir, a question just popped up. Is there any book you read again and again?

Prof Shah: Quite a few, like J.D.Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and Lewis Carol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Some other authors whose works I like are Franz Kafka and Lee Carr.

MiiC: If you had to give us a one line message Sir, what would it be?

Prof Shah: I would ask you to be curious. To me that is the key element. If you are curious in life, you will discover a lot in life, in the smallest of things.

We conclude the interview and talk a while more. The heartwarming encouragement remains with us as we walk out with a lot of thoughts and a treasury of pictures. Zeeshan has not been idle all this time.

The interview gave us an opportunity to bring to you some of the savored moments and invaluable advice from life of an inspirational teacher. We bid adieu to return with many such engaging conversations.

Signing Off!

Rajashree & Zeeshan

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IIM Udaipur welcomes the Fourth Batch of the flagship PGP Programme – Class of 2014-16

Indian Institute of Management Udaipur held the registration and commencement session of the fourth batch of its flagship PGP Programme for the Class of 2014-16. A total of 116 students registered in the new batch comprising of a diverse mix of students from different academic backgrounds and work experiences.

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The students were given a grand welcome to make them feel the distinguished hospitality of IIM Udaipur. The welcome event was orchestrated by the second year PGP students and cheered up the students and their parents with the traditional Rajasthani style welcome.

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Post the registration process, the students received a welcome address from Prof. Janat Shah, DirectorIIMU. Prof. Shah welcomed the students and congratulated them for their efforts which went in achieving the feat of joining an IIM. He addressed the students about the two year transformational journey which the programme offers along with the things which differentiate IIMU with specially crafted pedagogical initiatives like Entrepreneurship / Intrapreneurship, Analytics, Immersion and Social Responsibility.

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Prof. Shah was joined by Mr. Akhilesh Joshi, CEO, Hindustan Zinc Ltd. as the Chief Guest of the Orientation Programme. Mr. Joshi spoke to the students about his journey during his stint at HZL for 30 years. He briefed the students about how the management education will lead to their learning which will help them throughout their career. He specially mentioned students with the guidelines which will help the students to excel in their respective fields with focusing on discipline, passion, excellence, dedication and hard work.

The students keenly listened and discussed their ambitions with Mr. Joshi. The students will be going through a week long Orientation Programme with sessions on Entrepreneurship by Prof. Sunil Handa, FacultyIIMA and Founder, Eklavya Foundation, Ice-Breaking activities and workshops on Case Study Methodology by Prof. L. S. Murthy, FacultyIIMB.

Ten commitments of IIMU!

1. Commitment to Sustainability: Did you know that the infrastructure and activities at IIMU boast of total commitment to a green campus? Exemplified by the DirectorProf. Janat Shah himself, who was the first person to use a bicycle in the campus when it was founded. Today, more than 60% people on the campus including the students, faculty and staff follow that lead.

2. Commitment to Diversity: Did you know that if you want to have a debate in IIMU hostels in your favourite language then you will find a person at least 10 rooms away? The cultural diversity at the campus will amazingly enhance your people skills. And yes, you can always end up in a debate in more than 5 different languages.

3. Commitment to Rural Exposure: Did you know that 100% of the batch gets exposure to Rural India by the carefully designed Rural Immersion Programme? This will help you to be more sensitized and develop as socially conscious managers who can work in future towards collective and inclusive growth of the society.

4. Commitment to Global Exposure: Did you know that 60% of the students in the batch get their visas stamped at least once during their stay at IIM Udaipur? This reflects IIMU’s commitment to make global managers of tomorrow ready to work in diverse conditions and situations, leading global teams and implementing their learnings in the real business world.

5. Commitment to Best Faculty: Did you know that in addition to 22 permanent faculties, prominent faculties from the top B-Schools of India like IIMA, IIMB, IIMC etc. visit to bolster the academic wealth of IIMU? This ensures personalized attention to the students resulting in their better learning, grooming and hence forth, transformation.

6. Commitment to Transformation: Did you know that with specially designed programmes which aim to inculcate values like integrity, honesty, respect, ownership, trust and excellence, you will transform into a better person and manager at the end of two years? With collaborative and focused programmes with agencies like Hay Group, you will develop emotional intelligence and see yourselves developing into leaders more confident of your capabilities and decision making judgment.

7. Commitment to Awareness of Cultural Roots: Did you know that at IIMU you will be celebrating festivals and participating in cultural activities you did not even know about?

8. Commitment to Team Work: Did you know that at IIMU you will be doing so many assignments, live projects and club activities in groups that you will emerge as a leader in team working skills?

9. Commitment to Entrepreneurship: Did you know that IIMU takes a plethora of initiatives to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship? You will get a lot of opportunities under the ambit of entrepreneurship which will help you to pursue your career goal of starting your own business.

10. Commitment to Sleepless Nights: Did you know that apart from the load of assignments and projects of a usual B-School, a lot of other things at IIMU like TT matches, clubs/committees activities and B-School competitions will keep you awake till wee hours every day and you will be going to enjoy it?

Things which differentiate IIM Udaipur – Faculty!

Great educational institutions have faculties and academics as their biggest assets. The most important element which plays a critical role in IIM Udaipur’s objective of imparting quality education is the faculty team at the institute. The selection process of faculty at IIMU is designed to consistently attract the best of the teaching and research talents from the PhD programmes of India and abroad. While putting together the faculty team, the practitioners and academicians are tested for excellent potential in their respective domains. Prominent faculties from the top B-Schools of India like IIMA, IIMB, IIMC etc. also visit to bolster the academic wealth of IIMU.

IIM Udaipur has over 22 permanent and over 30 visiting core faculties contributing to a faculty to student ratio of 1:5.5. This ensures personalized attention to the students resulting in their better learning, grooming and hence forth, transformation. The number of research and working papers published in the journals across the globe within just three years on inception reflect that some of the best management research work is carried out in the IIMU campus.

The faculty incorporates best pedagogical means and practices comparable to those followed in the best B-Schools of world in the development of students. The craft of teaching and the methodologies of deliveries are complemented by the well-equipped infrastructure of the institute and technologies like research tools, digital library platforms, latest journals and Bloomberg Financial analysis & research lab.

The current faculty force includes professors, researchers and consultants with significant experiences in the field of teaching. Senior industry professionals also join the permanent faculty for lecturing the students about their business acumen. Intellectual entrepreneurs who have created enterprises executing business strategies blending with ideas also contribute in the learning process of students in sync with another pillar of the institute, entrepreneurship. The academic curriculum of the institute is overseen by Prof. Jahar Saha, Former DirectorIIM Ahmedabad. The visiting faculty of IIMU has prominent names on the likes of Prof. Jagdeep S. Chokkar, Former DeanIIM Ahmedabad and Co-Founder of Association of Democratic Rights Foundation (ADR) which recently bagged the IBN and NDTV Indian of the Year Awards. Other pioneers in their own rights of different management domains like Prof. Ramesh Bhat (IIMA), Prof. L. S. Murthy (IIMB), Prof. Sunil Unny Guptan (IIMA) and Prof. Janat Shah, DirectorIIMU join the list of faculties teaching at the institute.

Each faculty of the institute is aligned to the goals, vision and values of the institute and dedicatedly prepares the students for responsible positions they would take up in various management roles. All faculty members are always approachable and their guidance and support is available to students and alumni even outside the classrooms for tutorials, live projects, internships, placements preparation, job guidance and clubs & committees events. IIMU possesses the potential of best teaching minds and has a long term aim to become the hub of management research in the country.

Arth – Samvaad 2014 concludes amidst piquant discussions, applauds and cheers!

Finomina The Finance Club of IIM Udaipur successfully organized Arth Samvaad 2014, the second edition of its annual Finance Symposium on 25th January, 2014. The clubs and committees of IIMU give ample opportunities to its students to master the tapestry of learning and holistic development while getting hands on experience in organizing events. Finomina’s constant endeavor remains imparting to the students of IIMU, the latest knowledge from the world of finance. In light of the recent economic complexities and the challenges faced by corporates in financial management, a host of speakers, all leaders in multiple financial services organizations were invited for the symposium.

Panel discussion

The event flagged off with an opening speech from Prof. Janat Shah Director, IIMU who presented his vision for the institute with strong emphasis on research, analysis and entrepreneurship. The umbrella theme for Arth-Samvaad 2014 was Financial Management Cues for the Future, aptly developed around global financial chaos and prominent future opportunities in the sector. The Chief Guest of the event, Mr. V S Sundaresan, Chief General Manager, SEBI efficiently deliberated on the topic progressing through the performance of financial markets in leaps and bounds and how SEBI’s focus has been around Products, Processes and Participants.

Prof. Janat Shah has always been a driving force motivating his students. And IIMU students witnessed a sheer moment of this construct when the Chief Guest was joined by the Keynote Speaker of the event, Mr. Satya Narayanan R, FounderChairman, Career Launcher. Mr. Satya Narayanan R has been a student of Prof. Janat Shah at IIM Bangalore and his entrepreneurial success in leading Career Launcher to the helm among the Educational Services companies of India shows the prominence with which Prof. Janat Shah champions the transformation of his students exalting all of them with his vision. Mr. Satya Narayanan R discussed about the role capital markets can play in influencing the masses and the values like paying back to the society which should lead the businesses.

The event saw two important panel discussions between eminent corporate leaders. The first panel discussion with the sub-theme, “Corporate FinanceDoes Practice Meet Theory?” had panelists Mr. V Srinivasa Rangan, Executive Director, HDFC, Mr. Sourav Mallik, Senior Executive Director and HeadMergers & Acquisitions, Kotak Investment Banking and Mr. Srinivas Baratam, MD, Kriscore Financial Advisors. The discussion was moderated by PGP student, Dhiraj Kumar. The vast experience of these professionals nurtured an engaging and enriching the discussion with various aspects of corporate finance touched upon like conservatism, valuation to the shareholders, gaps between theory and the dynamic world of practice, debt, equity and the challenges of expected returns in the market. The finance enthusiasts of IIMU were equally excited to be in the audience and the panelists instantly struck a chord to inspire the students as role models with their innovative talks, delivering complex financial jargons in a light manner keeping everyone in splits.

The precursors of the final day event were competitions under the title Vitt-Sangram, the Pan India Debate Challenge, Quiz Competition and Article Writing Contest. The participants from leading B-School joined the team from IIM Udaipur for battling their knowledge out in the arena in front of the judges.

The second panel discussion revolved around the sub-theme, “Capital Markets in India: Infancy, Early Adulthood or Mature?” with the panelists Mr. Sandip Sabharwal, Investment Advisor and a Star Fund Manager, Mr. Amit Thawani, Executive Director, Nomura Financial Advisory & Securities (India) and Mr. Imtaiyazur Rahman, Group President & CFO, UTI AMC with the discussion being moderated by PGP student, Naimish Shah. The speakers discussed about the market size of Indian Capital Markets, Mutual Funds, IPO and the effect of GAAR on the Capital Markets.

With the winners

Finomina’s stride to deepen the financial acumen of the students of IIMU culminated on a promissory note with the launch of the 4th edition of Arthaarth, the Quarterly Magazine of Finomina. The speakers insistence on getting the foundation and clarity of concepts in theory right before practise left the students motivated. And the institute’s infrastructure with sophisticated Bloomberg Terminals leaves no stone unturned in shaping the best finance leaders of tomorrow. The event concluded with a vote of thanks and prize distribution to the winning teams from IIM Udaipur and SIBM Pune of the Debate Challenge, as well as a token of gratitude expressed for the event sponsors, Union Bank of India and Indian Bank.

The other participating teams were IIFT Kolkata and IMT Hyderabad. The winners of Article Challenge were IIM Bangalore and IIM Udaipur. And the Quiz Competition was won by IMT Ghaziabad, NMIMS and IIM Udaipur.