Chief Innovation Officer|
Hult International Business School
• Starting your journey with teaching at Maryland, moving forward to the position of president at UWC and now, the Chief Innovation Officer at Hult International Business School. How would you like to describe this truly inspiring and challenging journey?
≥≥My journey started off with the realization that I did not have enough knowledge about the real world. I joined McKinsey & Co and was appointed as the Engagement manager later. During this time, I developed interest for management and the business world and spent around 12-14 years in the consulting world. After a while, in my mid-late thirties, I came back to the education field to check if I could create some impact with the knowledge I had acquired. I joined Maryland and had been adjunct faculty there for a long time. I felt it was the best place to start off to get a sense of the administration world. To move forward I opted to join Hult because I believe that Hult is a new kind of business school which wants to be different and global. It is the perfect place to build new programs, create new ways of thinking and teaching and develop significant programs like MBA. This is the best way in which I would describe my journey.
•Would you like to share the kind of subjects you used to teach or currently teach at schools?
≥≥Two domains I tend to do most of my teaching are leadership and organizational behaviour. Core areas of my subjects revolve around new strategy, platform economics, and network economics. The first course which I teach in institutions is “Business Insights from Organized Crime – what can business leaders learn from the Mafia and the Yakuza”. This may sound crazy but students actually love this course. Such courses force students to transfer knowledge, which we don’t do often enough. I force them to think about how we are going to apply it in a business context, what could we learn – it’s that act of thinking in one sector and carrying it over to the other sector that’s really hard. So, to sum it up, one of my main fields of teaching is to teach students how to apply the concept. I help them understand the importance of applying their theoretical knowledge in different situations because this is the only way you can bring new ideas into your work life on a regular basis.
•How do you think is the education sector going to transform in the future?
≥≥Global Innovation, a concept that was relatively limited 20 years ago, is becoming very real. I’d love to see, across the next five years, a lot of blended learning. We’ve put in a few billion dollars to figure out what doesn’t work. How do we get hybrid to work in the right ways? How do we get the right kind of new teaching materials? These are major questions that are going to become a huge part of the story in the next 5 years.
•The recent happenings of Brexit and the entry of Donald Trump have created a lot of fluctuations worldwide along with the rise of protectionism. What is your take on the implications of these major events on the future of higher education?
≥≥There have been tons of technologies that have taken us away from the standard ways of being, but we have always figured out new and interesting things for human labour to do. I do feel that these events will have a short run impact on the field of higher education. But in a 5 or 10-year horizon, we are definitely going to see the world come closer together and see technological progress. With the introduction of new technologies, there is going to be a huge displacement of workers. There will be more unemployed labour force and I firmly believe that this is where the education sector is going to play a huge role in helping them figure out the skills for future.
•You have always talked about how online learning alone is not going to work out unless it is a blended framework. But what is your opinion on the impact of the evolution and progress of digital learning on the traditional classroom experience and what do you think about the advancement of this major change?
≥≥I always say that faculty are boring in the classroom. And what is more boring is taking classes through videos. Studies have shown that students spend only 5 minutes watching a 6-minute or 40-minute video. So the question here is how do we become more engaging? Many online learning sites such as Khan Academy and K-12 schools are focusing on this question and I would say these are the new textbooks.
I believe that online learning platforms should focus more on decisions and skill building rather than emphasizing on transferring knowledge alone.
•How do you think your professional experience has influenced the role of a leader you have currently taken up at the university?
≥≥All the career choices I have made till now have a great influence on what I am right now. Through my professional experience I have learnt to focus on one significant question. ‘What sort of problem are we trying to solve?’ ‘Is this even the right problem to be solving at all?’ And I am sure that the roles I have been currently playing at university level would not have been the same had I taken ten-year tenure track faculty path.
•Every inspiring journey has to be a challenging one. Where do you think you faced the greatest professional challenges?
≥≥Talent is something which is essential and having the right kind of talent available is very scarce. How do you find it quickly enough? How do you help cultivate it quickly enough? How do you retain it? That’s been the challenge. The statement made by Moscantor at Harvard that “execution eats strategy for breakfast” is absolutely true. You can come up with strategy, but how do we make it happen? It’s all about talent. That’s tough.
•As you previously mentioned that you love teaching, would you like to share with us what is that you enjoy the most in it?
≥≥Teaching is an amazing profession. The most gratifying feeling about teaching is when people write you a note, ten-fifteen years later, saying “remember that thing you did in that classroom ten years back”, and then they’ll go on to describe some very concrete thing that they walked away with, that’s made a huge difference to them. That is indeed an incredible feeling that you can carry anywhere you go.In addition to this simple yet blissful gesture from students, teaching yields 3 essential benefits:
- Forces me to learn all the time.
- I think of the 25 people in the classroom as 25 teachers and not 24 students and 1 teacher. It is 25 people who are on a learning journey together. The more interesting and stimulating assignments that I create, the more likely we are to come up with new insights that will be valuable to all of us.
- Teaching has been the best source of talent and collaboration for me.
•Success is a skill, and it is something you can learn. If you had to name any 3 successes in your career that you are extremely proud of, what would they be?
- Improving average faculty ratings by more than 25% at Hult International Business School.
- We went from serving 0 to 1500 CIOs in the space of four years.
- Currently with the UWC, we’ve raised $40 million – the goal was $5 million. So roughly 10 times the goal. Here my success has also been building a new curriculum that helps students build soft skills, 21st century competencies around critical thinking, communication, teamwork and collaboration.
•Finally, we would like to know from you, how would you use a platform like Connect2Teach?
≥≥For me, Connect2Teach could be a very interesting way to have a feel for what are corporations interested in. Since I am interested in spending some time out in the marketplace, but daily responsibilities take over, this feels like the perfect platform to have a feel of what is our client in the UK, Bombay or Singapore more interested in at this point. Also I feel that such platforms make it easier for people to close the information asymmetry.