With his 25 years of experience in the corporate sector, out of which 19 were spent outside of India, Mr. Sreekumar Pillai never thought he would enter academia. But fate and personal reasons brought him back to his roots in Cochin and he came across the sterling work done by SCMS in the world of management. Impressed by the vision and mission of the institute, as well as the setup of the organization, he decided to join the B School as Professor, Marketing. He has taken to it like a fish to water and is excited about making a difference in students’ lives.
Mr. Pillai’s impressive resume includes a stint with Britannia Industries as a Commercial Manager; in addition, he was a Resident Manager with Conagra MCAPBV, a joint venture company in Rotterdam. He also worked in Cashew Operations in Unito Holding, Director of Legal and Finance of Star Nut and Food International B.V. Capelle A/d Ijssel. His vast experience is now being leveraged as an academic: “I am now focusing on my career as an academician while I await my Ph.D. I also want to get exposure through socially oriented programs.”
A member of SCENSER, the research organization of SCMS Cochin, Mr. Pillai is reveling in the encouragement he has received from the institute. “We have a lot of management developmental programs that we offer to governmental organizations like India Post, Kerala government,” he says. “I am very interested in these programs, which is why I have chosen to combine my teaching with research and social development processes.” Despite these goals, Mr. Pillai’s highlighting achievements are his time spent with students and the brilliant feedback he receives from them.
Clearly, like all the faculty members of the institute, Mr. Pillai is dedicated to the cause of offering a high-quality education to students and making them industry-ready. Discussing the main attributes of SCMS Cochin that enables it to give its students the edge, he says, “Of course, the faculty base is rich in experience. Moreover, the program is industry driven, which ensures that our students keep up with the latest trends and strategies in the real world. This also benefits me as a faculty member of the institute.”
And how does he use his own industry experience for the benefit of the students? Mr. Pillai ponders before responding, “Whatever concepts I teach I am able to relate them to industry experience, which is appreciated by the students. It makes my teaching more credible and students stand to gain a lot out of it. I am also involved with III sessions, an industry institute interaction initiative where we have experts coming to the campus to deliver talks every week. With my network of contacts we manage to draw some big names.”
It’s interesting to know how, according to Mr. Pillai, these initiatives benefit the students. He offers us insight into the present scenario in management education to explain the impact these sessions can have: “We have seen common deficiencies amongst students. Since most of them lack the vision and focus, they get a reality check from industry professionals who have been there and done that. They give students valuable tips and draw them a roadmap of what to expect from the industry. They also learn what the industry expects out of them.”
So what is expected out of future management professionals with a specialization in marketing? Mr. Pillai reminds us of the changing face of marketing in today’s digital environment and also focuses on retail management, which, according to him, is a subset of marketing. “We make things interesting for students through realistic projects rather than just classroom learning,” he explains. “We talk about interactive, affiliate marketing and students need to make the most out of it because that’s the way forward. Marketing in India is getting more sophisticated and you have to be up for the challenges that come along with it.” In his concluding remarks, Mr. Pillai illustrates his value as an educator – and student will surely benefit from his knowledge and industry experience.