Professor Ramesh Behl is the Director and Professor of Information systems at International Management Institute (IMI), Bhubaneswar. With over 29 years of teaching, research and consulting experience in the areas of Information Technology and E-Business, he has worked with the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and The Statesman newspaper in New Delhi.
Author of 18 books, 15 case studies and more than 45 research papers of national and international repute, Behl has lectured at various international universities in Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, China, Germany and Thailand. He is the recipient of “Outstanding Academic Award 2010” from SAP (Systems, Applications and Products), South East Asia, Japan; Best Professor in Information Technology as part of Asia’s Best B-School Awards presented by CMO (Chief Marketing Officer Council) Asia at Singapore in July, 2011, and many other recognitions.
Tell us about your association with IMI, Bhubaneswar?
My association with IMI started 18 years ago and I have seen the Bhubaneswar campus come up since it was conceptualised in 2009. I took over the reins of IMI-Bhubaneswar in 2012, and thereafter, my priority has been to build this institution into one of the top business schools of eastern India and to ensure that it always stays ahead in terms of imparting quality and industry-oriented education to its students.
Where do you see the institute placed in comparison to others offering similar courses?
In the present scenario, most higher educational institutes are spending too much time on branding and positioning, and are not focusing on quality education. Branding and positioning have to be backed by high quality delivery and I feel that’s where we are better placed when compared to others. For ensuring this, it was important to have a faculty of international standard, who keep themselves abreast with the latest developments and also take keen interest in research and executive training. It was also important to maintain a work balance between graduate programmes, MDPs (Management Development Programmes) and research, so that faculty is not overburdened.
What are the challenges you face?
The top-most challenge for business schools today is to stay ahead of the curve in terms of knowledge creation and dissemination. The process of knowledge creation has become faster. This has resulted in faster obsolescence. Therefore, business schools have to endeavour to keep themselves updated and impart quality, industry-oriented education.
The challenge, on one hand, is to manage the stratospheric expectations of students, while on the other hand, it is to groom them and make them employable. Efforts need to be put on alignment of the course curriculum with the industry’s real (not perceived!) requirements as well as grooming in terms of positive attitude, confidence, passion and communication skills.
What are your future plans for the institute?
Teaching, training, research and consulting are the four pillars of quality education and we are trying to build a holistic business school riding on these traits. The institution works very closely with the industry and actively seeks the participation of industry leaders in the development of course offerings and to take up research in emerging areas. In a very short period of time, the institution has built strong affiliations with the Indian industry within Odisha and across eastern India. IMI, Bhubaneswar, makes concerted efforts to expose students to knowledge and learning from the industry. In the “Business Thought Leadership” series organised by IMI, eminent executives from the industry are invited to address the students and engage in discussions. The institution also facilitates student exchange programmes with several premier international business schools. These exchange programmes provide students with the exposure to the working styles and learning culture in other countries.
What do you feel about the present education scenario?
Education is ever evolving and there will always be changes even in a short period of time. New methods of effective imparting assumes priority and, accordingly, outdated takes back seat. Education is primarily based on three powerful concepts i.e. creation of knowledge, dissemination of knowledge and application of knowledge. In the present day scenario, the aim of most private institutes seems to be profit-making whereas governmental institutes are lacking professional competency. Most of these institutes are just teaching-oriented and that’s why most of the graduates from these institutes lack the cutting edge.
Government and industry have to come forward in building the knowledge society. Finding good faculty is tough, and Government needs to take necessary initiatives in this direction.
How frequently do you interact with students on a one-to-one basis?
Interactions for me are always a meaningful exchange of ideas, values and thoughts. In a way, you can say interaction is a very important means of learning. Therefore, I try to never miss an opportunity to interact with students, faculty and staff. Open house discussions are held with students at least once a month, apart from formal and informal discussions.
How content you are as an educationist?
I have been an educationist for the past 29 years. So, teaching is ingrained in me, like blood in the body. At the end of the day, I get a lot of satisfaction after taking a class and interacting with students. I am here to impart the knowledge I have gained over the years.
Have any of the books you have read changed the way you look at life?
Some of the books that have inspired me are Change Your Thoughts — Change Your Life by Dr Wayne W Dyer; Gandhi — An Autobiography by Mahatma Gandhi and No Greater Love by Mother Teresa.