It is not very often that management students get an opportunity to learn from a scientist with over three decades of work experience, including the Ministry Of Defense. SCMS Cochin School of Business has made that possible with the presence of Prof. V. Rajagopal, who also has a stint with Centre of Science and Research to his credit. The professor of Quantitative Techniques, who holds MBA and LLB degrees, talks about the importance of practical training for students and how the institute prepares them for the professional journey ahead.
However, at the onset we discuss Prof. Rajagopal’s own journey from an industry professional to an academic, and how his expertise helps students. “I never thought I’d become a teacher, but I really enjoy it,” he tells us. “My experience was mostly in infrastructure management and I also worked with the Kerala Government science and technology department. I have worked in different industry sectors and interacted with professionals from various fields. I hope and try to share that experience with my students at the institute.”
Ask Prof. Rajagopal about his own experience with SCMS Cochin, and he doesn’t hesitate to list the institute’s merits: “I am keen on doing my PhD and I had heard that the institute encourages research, which interested me to a great extent. Of course, the reputation of SCMS Cochin is impressive and I can say that my relationship with the institute has been cordial. I have had no reasons for complaints, something you can’t say, even with corporate houses.” He further adds that the institute looks after its own, be it the faculty members or students, which is endearing.
However, Prof. Rajagopal is also the first to admit that there are challenges along the way. While in R & D he could set his own pace, but in his current position he has to be prepared for the fact that things can hectic for an academic. As far as the students of today, he says, “I feel that there are many students who are not in it for learning and gaining knowledge but mostly concerned about employment prospects. It’s a challenge to try and change that mindset and to cultivate an interest in learning. Regardless, we strive to optimize our resources and give them the best education possible.”
Faculty members at SCMS Cochin try to do that by employing new-age teaching pedagogy to make things more identifiable for students. Prof. Rajagopal sheds light on his own teaching techniques, saying, “Whether I am teaching statistics or ethics, I try to relate the concepts they are learning to current scenarios and things happening in the industry. But if you have to offer a certain quality of education, it begins with the kind of students you select. SCMS Cochin is quite particular about quality, right from that stage to the placements.” Prof. Rajagopal stresses this last point, which says a lot about the quality of the students at the institute.
To offer practical training to his students, Prof. Rajagopal also recently took them on an industry visit to Volvo. There are several such industry visits organized by the B School to give students exposure to varied fields. And, as Prof. Rajagopal explains, they are an important experience for students: “The Volvo trip was a big learning experience for them because they realized that you can’t compartmentalize management education; it is a sum of all activities and different streams overlap at one point or another. We have about three to four industry visits every year, which means plenty of exposure for the students.”
Prof. Rajagopal also talks about the Industry Interface sessions with experts and their influence on students. He believes that in addition to classroom learning, such experiences help students network and can have an impact during the placement season. “Things get very competitive when recruiters come over for placements,” he explains. “You can’t deny the fact that employers are looking for industry ready professionals. The focus of education at SCMS Cochin is to groom professionals who can also make a difference to the society.” These concluding words say a lot about Prof. Rajagopal’s desire to be a part of the process of educating tomorrow’s leaders – this dedication translates into a rich learning experience for students at the institute.