Ashok Raj Pandey, who has earned qualifications of Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Boston, Massachusetts, USA and Bachelor of Technology (Hons.) in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India is the Principal at SAIM College. The college offers BBA and MBA (Global Business) qualifications to aspiring career pursuers. In addition, the college focuses on students’ competencies, abilities and capabilities to help them explore a range of ways to acquire a rewarding career. Mr. Pandey has shared his view with College Readers. Excerpts:
SAIM College is one of the top-notch management colleges in Nepal. To what extent do you think the objective of establishment of SAIM College has been fulfilled?
Judging from the market responses in employment of our graduates, our objectives of providing hands-on education to meet the needs of businesses in Nepal, has certainly been fulfilled in many respects. However, when we first commenced our operation, we had our sights on fulfilling the requirements of a sound business education in the entire SAARC region but till date it has not been fulfilled largely since such a lofty objective requires more time.
What are the main reasons behind the success of your college?
There are a few reasons that stand out and let me enumerate them below:
- A very qualified faculty with not only academic knowledge but extensive business experience as well, so that students not only receive the theoretical knowledge but practical knowledge to the extent possible in the classroom.
- A very friendly family like environment that is very conducive to learning.
- Students also have opportunities to apply what they have learned in class through the medium of cases, role plays and presentations that depict real life business situations.
- We also are concentrating on events where students take the initiative and have an opportunity to acquire appealing skills and leadership role that are so important in the real world.
- Finally we have also been establishing connections with corporate houses through training and consultancy which utilizes the services of some of the students and provides a hands-on experience of real life situations even before graduation.
SAIM College has been offering BBA and MBA. Why should students study these courses at your college?
Many of the reasons as why students should select SAIM as their place of study have already been discussed in the previous question but summarizing what was discussed, we boast of the best faculty in both these programs and a concerted effort on the part of the faculty to impart as practical knowledge as possible. We also provide opportunities to students to practice what they learn in the classroom through direct involvement in events like the Entrepreneurship Club, Toastmasters and other notable activities that are carried out regularly in college.
After completing these courses, how do the students shape their career?
We give them the basic tools for success and create opportunities for students for a meaningful career through many contacts we have established over the years both through our own outreach and primarily through the performance of our graduates. We assist them in starting a meaningful career but beyond that it is up to excel.
What efforts has your college made to enhance quality education?
In the BBA program, we have far less flexibility because the course is as per the syllabus and Pokhara University is responsible completely for the final examinations. Despite these limitations, the quality of the faculty and their experience does help in giving our students the best education possible in Nepal. We encourage involvement of students in many activities that supplements their learning in the class room.
In the MBA Program however, we have a lot more flexibility since the second to fifth term are based on internal evaluation and examinations. Hence, we are able to introduce them to cases, role plays, and presentations that enhance a student’s deep understanding of the subjects and opens the door to practical applications in professional life.
Based on your long-decade experience, what should the management course be like?
Management education must be more a “learning by doing” approach meaning that while the faculty provides the guidance to ensure proper learning and that the student gets the maximum out of the education he receives, it is the student that is responsible for actual learning. The more we can encourage the student to work hard and learn with tools like cases, role plays and presentations, the better will be the course and the outcome for our students. We are already doing this in SAIM.
The subject that is lacking in management education today is Production Management. This is perhaps because Nepal produces very little by way of industries and we still have not realized the importance of this subject for the future. We as a nation at some point must concentrate on production as well and when we train our students, we need to prepare them for the future looking almost two decades ahead. It is important to cover a wider range of subjects for that reason.
We are now conducting teaching and learning activities physically in the post-pandemic period. However, we are not sure that the pandemic threats have completely disappeared. In your view, what should the teaching and learning activities be like in the days to come?
I feel that online education is now here to stay, and as the technique evolves further, and the technology starts emulating the experience of the classroom, it will further supplement the physical class in years to come. In future pandemics of the type we have faced, there will be far less disruption in education than what happened in the preliminary stage of the current pandemic when the world was largely unprepared to face the unprecedented situation. The world will be better prepared now with the experience gained from the current pandemic, and the technology of online education that has developed, but uncertainties about the impact of future pandemics will, however, remain since that is a big unknown threat.
You have meticulously observed the management programs of Pokhara University and other universities. What are the strengths of Pokhara University?
PU has an up-to-date curriculum that has been updated from time to time. There is a lot of decentralization of exams and approaches to teaching methods in the colleges for the MBA program. PU also keeps a bird eye view on the qualifications of the faculty who are involved in the management programs.
Could you possibly tell us what Pokhara University should do to deliver its better performance?
PU and its affiliates have one common interest and that is to promote the programs of Pokhara as the best University and with the best programs. For this reason, we need to work closer together and that has not always been the case in the past. However, over the last 6 months we have seen a marked improvement with the Dean of Management making every effort to interact with the students and faculty of colleges to get proper feedback for improvement of the program and its administration.
What would you like to suggest plus-two graduates for their bachelor study pursuits?
Many years ago, a stalwart of Management education, Dr. Govinda Ram Agarwal, writing in the Vasudha magazine stated categorically “While we may not develop with good management, we cannot develop without good management”. This illustrates the importance of management education in Nepal.
Having said this, however, let me also state that management alone will not ensure our long term well being. We need other disciplines too and one that I find very important for a land locked country like Nepal is technology and especially software engineering. We are a landlocked country and everything we send currently must go either through India or China perhaps in the future. We have no control over their behavior. With software exports we send it over the internet and we no longer become a landlocked nation for all practical purposes. We need to also train people for these kinds of industries where our landlocked status no longer becomes a hindrance to economic growth and development. Despite the importance of these other sectors that were mentioned, without proper management none of these sectors can function properly.