For Dr. Ramesh Bhat, it was like coming back to a familiar space when he returned to SVKM’s NMIMS (Deemed University) as an Advisor to the Chancellor in September 2017, and then more recently, when he was appointed as the Provost (Management Education) and Dean of the School of Business Management, NMIMS.
Dr. Bhat, an alumnus of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Delhi has 38 years of experience in research and teaching corporate finance and health finance at IIM Ahmedabad, University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill (India Programme), IIM Udaipur, IMI New Delhi, NMIMS Mumbai, Institute of Chartered Accounts of India and Shri Ram College of Commerce. His full-time consulting assignments include working with Abt Associates India, DFID India, the Royal Netherlands Embassy India. He is also currently on the Boards of National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) and Basic Health Services.
We managed to get him to spare a few moments to tell Spandan what it feels like returning to NMIMS.
“I was the Dean of the School of Business Management in 2008-2009, and over the last couple of years, I have been contemplating living in Mumbai. Finally, around three months ago we decided to shift to Mumbai and at that time, I think the obvious choice was to come back to NMIMS,” says Dr. Bhat. On the Chancellor’s suggestion, Dr. Bhat returned to the School of Business Management as an Advisor in September. When the current Dean’s tenure came to an end, the Chancellor asked Dr. Bhat to take over the Deanship as well.
Since taking over, Dr. Bhat has dived right in. First on his list of priorities is the review of the curricula. “The process has started. We are revising the curricula in two stages, the mini stage, in preparation for the next academic year starting in 2018. And then, by 2019, we would have completed a major and comprehensive revision,” explains Dr. Bhat.
The planned mini revision may include possible major changes in the ways in which programmes are delivered in the classroom. “We want to introduce more lab-based courses– courses where a live problem with some data or information is given to students, who then have to gather additional information from different sources and propose a solution or suggest a design in a short period of time. This is how students will gain more exposure to the way things are done in the industry and they can develop the necessary problem-solving skills. We also want to have more workshops and more interaction,” elaborates Dr. Bhat.
Besides this, Dr. Bhat’s team is also looking at the manner in which evaluations are done, and at how sessions are conducted vis-a-vis the attention span of students. Dr. Bhat explains, “We are looking at how long students can listen to a professor before they switch-off and what can be done to sustain their attention during lectures. Right now, there are several distractions with everyone being on WhatsApp and Facebook, and as faculty, we need to be conscious of this fact and ensure that our learning process meets this challenge.
Of course, with any new job, there are some aspects of the job that one does not look forward to, and Dr. Bhat is no exception. For him, it’s the administrative work that comes with the job of being the Provost as well as the Dean. To tackle the same, he plans specifically delegation and de-centralisation, in order to rationalise the administrative tasks. Dr. Bhat says, “There is scope for rationalising the administrative aspect of the job. I am trying to figure out which tasks can be delegated—for example, where approval have already been granted but paperwork is still being processed, perhaps can be handled differently. By delegating and decentralisation of administrative tasks, only exceptional things should come to the Dean’s desk for approval. This will free up a little more of my time, so I will be able to focus on more constructive and interesting work. Process revisions are therefore something we are looking into.”
Having been on the outside for 10 years has given Dr. Bhat a unique perspective on NMIMS’ growth over the years. From the new building to its programmes getting restructured, he feels that NMIMS has made significant progress in the past few years. He explains, “It’s a very good feeling to be back here, and to have the opportunity to build on the growth and development that has taken place over the years and to take it forward. Another good thing is that many colleagues and staff members with whom I worked in 2008-2009 are still here, so I very easily started interacting with people and staff, so in that sense, it is like homecoming and it is very nice to be back!”