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Great students make a great institution
Dr. Pramod Kumar (President, International School of Business & Media) tells Sushmita Yadav about his belief in giving the students at ISB&M an open, friendly, and non-regimented environment for their overall development
International School of Business & Media (ISB&M) has grown rapidly in the last few years. Dr. Pramod Kumar, the founder and President of ISB&M, is a Ph.D. (Organizational Behaviour) from IIT Bombay and during the course of his career journey, has had a successful stint at IIM Ahmedabad. He was also the former Chairperson - Placement at XLRI Jamshedpur and Ex-Director at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (Pune). Dr. Kumar also works as a consultant for over 80 companies worldwide. He has authored over 100 research papers, cases and management games.

Q. You have had fruitful associations with IIT Bombay, IIM-A and XLRI. Tell us about your journey in the field of education.
A. Each of these institutions taught me some great lessons in my growth as a professional. IIT Bombay and XLRI were my best learning experiences. At IIT, I learned that superior professional standards cannot be achieved by making compromises even if that makes your journey tough. You need to pace your progress at a level that drives you towards your objectives. Impediments and pot holes are your natural friends in your journey. All will never agree with you, only some will: you need to learn to win over those who don’t agree with you. You give people their space if you want to make friends; differences are more real and logical. A “No” to your request can be disappointing but can never mean disrespect. I have truly grown as a person and a professional at IIT Bombay. XLRI brought out in me a great teacher, trainer and consultant. Professional rivalry with colleagues helped me raise standards at all initiatives and responsibilities that I undertook. It was a great experience in learning to exercise peer leadership and decision making as I went about handling my responsibilities as chairperson placements, research and OB area.

Though my stint at IIM-A was very short, it provided me some great role models such as Prof. Pradip Khandwala and Prof. Ramadhar Singh. IIM-A, IIT Bombay and the Psychology Department of Allahabad University taught me the meaning of scholarship as the greatest asset of a professor which has been a source of self-esteem to me.

Q. How did you get yourself associated with ISB&M?
A. I founded ISB&M in the year 2000. My great turnaround experience was at the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management: it taught me a great deal about institution building, resource planning and impacting lives and careers of students. This was what led me to set up ISB&M.

Q. What was the vision and mission of ISB&M when you started the institute?
A. My vision was to provide world-class education to change the lives and careers of India’s youth through business and enterprise driven education. I also wanted to maintain the spirit of responsible egalitarianism and demonstrate superior professional competence. My mission was to develop well-rounded professionals who could work in a global environment with comfort. I also wanted to develop superior quality networks with quality educationists and professionals in the corporate and social arenas.

Q. What were the challenges that you faced during the journey? How did you encounter them?
A. The initial challenge that I faced was that of resource mobilisation; I did not have the required financial resources. I financed it with my consulting income and also took a loan. Then there was the problem of how to build self-esteem and culture of a high-profile institution among our students. This was my greatest challenge because only great students make a great institution. I wanted to see them embark on journeys to successful careers at a fast pace. I was personally involved in training them on behavioural issues. We also positioned them into some great companies for internships that provided them with the quality of benchmark they needed.

In January 2001, I met with a serious accident that put me out of office for 5-6 months. But I had a great team of faculty who, in my absence, took upon themselves the task of carrying forward the job with a high degree of commitment. Prof. YG Choukse took upon himself the mandate to perform the required duties with great attention to detail. Also, our students in the first batch demonstrated a great deal of courage, confidence and conviction: No wonder they are in great careers today globally. They cannot fail and truly deserved to succeed. The worst of all impediments came when the first batch was passing out in 2002. It was the time when the economic recession happened, and was compounded by 9/11 attacks in the US. With perseverance, we focused on the non-IT sector and we did succeed.

Q. For any institute to be successful the onus lies with the faculty. What kind of faculty members do you look for ISB&M?
A. Faculty, library and technology are the key drivers for any institute. We look for faculty members who have had exposure to good educational institutes such as IITs, IIMs and good US and UK universities. We do not look for teaching machines. We want faculty who have interest in knowledge and scholarship: Those who have an interest in students and are themselves open to learning.
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