Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

May 17, 2009

Guru Mantra: Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, CEO, Zensar

Dr. Ganesh Natarajan
Vice Chairman & CEO of Zensar Technologies

Dr. Ganesh Natarajan is Vice Chairman & CEO of Zensar Technologies, a Global firm that transforms Technology and Processes for Fortune 500 companies. He is also President of the IT Sector and a member of the Management Board of the 3.25 billion USD RPG Group. He is also the Chairman for IT and ITES, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

An alumnus of IIT Bombay and the Harvard Business School, Ganesh is a fellow of the Computer Society of India and chairs the Higher Education forum of the Confederation of Indian Industries in Western India. He is a member of the Board of Governors of NITIE Mumbai and member of the Executive Council and Chairmen’s Council of NASSCOM.

Ganesh is the author of three McGraw Hill Books on Business Process Reengineering and Knowledge Management and recent publications on the IT industry and inspired leadership. He was recognized by Ernst & Young for exceptional entrepreneurship and has received many awards for outstanding innovation and leadership.

Dr. Natarajan's Blog
Dr. Natarajan's Website

Q. What do you find exciting about your role as Vice Chairman & CEO of Zensar Technologies?
GN - The quality of people we employ and the kind of innovations in services processes and business models we have been able to demonstrate continues to be a major source of excitement. Our agenda for the future is equally compelling and new services we have launched to help our customers do "Impact Sourcing" in recessionary times have caught the attention of many existing and new business partners all over the world.

Q. You have written earlier about the challenges of skills gap in India and you are also engaged with innovative skill development models like Global Talent Track. What are the major trends/opportunities you are witnessing for skill development models like GTT in India?
GN - With fifteen million people joining the workforce every year we have the opportunity to create a new Singapore every year but if we ignore the need to build employable skills in our youth we could be creating a sub Saharan Africa every two years. GTT aims to address this gap by providing a four part solution - Awareness for young students in High School, Employability skills while they are still in college, Employment oriented Finishing Schools through dedicated centers in India, China and other emerging countries and finally the Europe Asia Business Schools which provide the management layer after they get some work experience. We aim to transform the lives of 500,000 aspiring youth in the next couple of years.

Q. You have exceptional ability to multitask, lead and excel with all your engagements. What advise do you have for future managers, who are aspiring for career excellence?
GN - Our biggest legacy as managers will be the inspiration we leave in the minds and hearts of those who have worked with us and whose lives we have touched. Life is short and the mountains we all have to climb are steep and there is no value in being obsessed with one narrow pursuit. With the industrialisation of the internet, the opportunities to reach out to many more people than ever before and engage with their lives and work is tremendous and all managers and leaders must take this opportunity and endeavour to make a difference.
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May 14, 2009

Guru Mantra: Savita Mahajan, Associate Dean, ISB

Savita Mahajan
Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad
Associate Dean- Strategic Initiatives, Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni Relations
Chief Executive- Mohali Campus

Savita has been associated with the ISB since its inception in 2001. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in Economics from Delhi University, Savita did her MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, in 1981. Since then, she has worked in several Indian organisations, including Maruti Udyog Limited, Bharat Technologies, Karvy Consultants, and Intergraph India, in diverse industry sectors, including automobiles, engineering, financial services and software. At Karvy and Intergraph, she was Head of Strategy and Organisation Development.
Savita has carried out consulting and training assignments for corporations and development organisations, including GE Capital, the Planning Commission, the World Bank, and the Tibetan Government in exile of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. She is a member of the GMAT School Advisory Group, which is responsible for providing practical insights into strategic decisions that the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) makes regarding the examination.
Savita is widely travelled, and spent a year at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, at Princeton University, USA, as part of a mid career fellowship programme. Her professional interests include Strategic Management, Institutional Values, Leadership and Organisational Change.

Q. What do you find exciting about your role as Associate Dean- Strategic Initiatives, Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni Relations at the ISB?
SM-As part of the strategic initiatives we explored at ISB, the opportunity to start another campus in North India, at Mohali, Punjab, came up. I am now the Chief Executive for the project responsible for creating a world class facility and planning for the new academic programs to be introduced there. I find building something from scratch, very exciting and satisfying. I like the opportunity to influence outcomes, and shape the institutional agenda.
In handling the admissions and career services functions, I enjoy interacting with bright young professionals, and see them leap frog in their careers as a result of their overall experience and learning at the ISB.

Q. What advice do you have for Indian B-schools who are aspiring to build world class institutions?

SM-There are several ingredients that go into making a world class institution. A lofty vision, strong partnerships (academic and industry), an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset, high quality faculty and students, competent and committed staff. It’s important to think big, and have an inspiring vision that others would like to support. At ISB we wanted to create a research driven, top ranked school—to fill a gap not only in India but the entire Asian region. In 1997-98 when the idea of ISB was conceived there were only two Asian B-schools in the Financial Times annual ranking of the top 100 schools. Now there are many more, including the ISB, which was ranked 15 in 2009.

Q. In your experience, what do you believe are the top competencies required to be a successful educational leader?
SM-I think a good educational leader must have the ability to manage a diverse set of stakeholders with different objectives and expectations—the faculty, students, donors. This is possible only if the leader is able to articulate an agenda for the institution which serves these individual needs while building the institutional brand. The leader should be decisive while being a good and patient listener. The very nature of governance in educational institutions makes achieving consensus on any issue an impossible task. In such a situation the leader must decide in the best interests of the institution and not create a culture of excessive analysis and consequent paralysis!

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May 09, 2009

International Vocational Education: Is Australia Winning?

According to the recent figures released by the Australian Education International, enrollment of Indian students in the Australian universities has increased by 38% as comapred to last year. As on March 09, there were nearly 75,000 Indian students enrolled in the Australian education institutions. A closer look into the numbers reveal two interesting patterns of enrollment of Indian students in Australia:

1. Majority of the Indian students in Australia are enrolled in vocational education and training sector (VET) and not higher education [47,067 (62%) in VET and 22,387 (30%) in higher education].
2. VET sector in Australia is witnessing a rapid growth in enrollment from Indian students (see Table)

These trends are in contrast to the enrollment patterns in the US universities where nearly 70% of the Indian students are enrolled at the master's and doctoral level programs (IIE OpenDoors). According to the IIE OpenDoors report 2007/08, India ranked #1 in terms of total number of international students enrolled in the US educational institutions (94,563) but ranked #7 in terms of students enrolled at the Associate Degree/vocational (1,741) level.
This suggests that Australia bound Indian students have a different profile and need as compared to the US bound students. Australia's attractiveness for the graduate level education seems to be over-rated and Indian students still place a high premium for the reputation of the US doctoral institutions. However, on the other end it also implies that there is a new segment of aspirational students in India, who are seeking international vocational education at an affordable price with opportunities for immigration. Australia seem to be fulfilling this aspiration for a large number of Indian students which the US community colleges have completely missed out. American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) undertook some initiatives including a delegation to India in 2007, but there is a need for much deeper understanding of these trends and how US community colleges can attract some of the top talent from India.
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May 01, 2009

Guru Mantra: Vivek Wadhwa, Duke/Harvard

Vivek Wadhwa is a senior research associate with the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and an executive in residence/adjunct professor at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. He helps students prepare for the real world, lectures in class and leads groundbreaking research projects. He is also an advisor to several start-up companies, a columnist for and a contributor to several international publications. Since joining Duke University in August 2005, he has researched globalization, its impact on the engineering profession and the sources of the U.S. competitive advantage. Detailed profile.

Q. What do you find exciting about your transition from business to academia?
VW. That I am able to make an impact. I have been surprised at how well my management, analytical and communication/marketing skills applied to academia. With the assistance of top academics, I have been able to perform and publish seminal research on a several topics. Each of my research projects added to the base of knowledge and had a major impact. I have been managing a team as large as 52 students, researchers and academics for these projects .

Q. You have conducted some path breaking research in understanding immigration, entrepreneurship and international students in the US. How can India develop a research culture in solving some of its most pressing problems?
VW. Most of my work was done by Indian students! So obviously they have the capability. But Indian institutions don’t encourage them to challenge and explore. We need to free and open up the education system to start with. And then reward academics for breakthroughs and ideas.

Q. What advise do you have for Indian engineering institutions who are aspiring to achieve global excellence?
VW. Look at their reward system. Empower faculty and students to explore and challenge!
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