Mr. Sudheer Sudhakaran, Associate Professor – Marketing at SCMS Cochin School of Business, has had over two decades of work experience, out of which 15 years were spent in corporate environment wearing different hats in Sales and Marketing, Business Development, Distribution Management, Administration and HR Functions. His last stint before turning to academics (he joined SCMS Cochin in 2008) was with Gujarat Cooperative Milk Federation (GCMMF) Limited as a Regional Head in Kerala. But, he admits that throughout his professional career a role in training functions “chased him” – at the corporate office, at the regional office and even at the factory where he was hands on with all the workers and their issues.
That’s how his passion for teaching grew – today he is a man on a mission to offer an innovative learning experience to his students at the institute.
After completing his Masters in English Literature, Mr. Sudhakaran did his PGDRM from IRMA (Institute of Rural Management, Anand). However, in spite of his interest in teaching, his move toward education happened to him by chance. While juggling with the Amul and Sagar brands “My ex-Managing Director just asked me one day to start a Marketing program for employees who weren’t from the marketing field. Since then I have coordinated several programs and given guest lectures at institutes,” he explains.
“But full-time teaching only happened after I came back to my home state of Kerala and saw this opportunity with SCMS Cochin. I knew that if I wanted to be in academics full time, this is as good as it gets.”
Mr. Sudhakaran adds that he was excited about the fact that he was moving from an institution under the patronage of Dr. Verghese Kurien to one guided by Dr. Subramanian Swamy. His role model is the fictional professor Dr. Indiana Henry Jones, Jr., who is able to swing from the classroom into the field and back! “As a professor you need to earn the respect you get,” he says. “The industry experience that faculty members have gives them an advantage because they can complete the classroom teaching with examples and anecdotes. That’s something I intend to build on.”
He then goes on to talk about the learning experience at SCMS Cochin and the different initiatives it has for its students to ensure that they come out at the other end of their two-year academic stint as industry ready professionals. “SCMS is unique because we look at contemporary issues and give ample opportunities to students to move out of classroom learning to go for real life experiences,” he explains. “The Integrated Management Learning Program takes the stage fright out of the students. Right from conferences to workshops, students take part in several initiatives focusing on everything from entrepreneurship to environmental issues.”
Mr. Sudhakaran also talks about different electives offered by the institute, and how building a knowledge base in different streams can actually help the future prospects of students. According to him the industrialists have echoed that “At various points in time, depending on the needs of the business, people have to engage with different teams, or move out of teams for that matter. That’s where your skills in multitasking come into the picture. Moreover, you are expected to adjust quickly and make these mental and emotional switches. The dual-course specializations are in keeping with industry thinking.”
With his own experience in six different verticals that included corporate, factory and territory handling, Mr. Sudhakaran understands the challenges of the industry and what it expects from future managers. He also talks about the opportunities that lie ahead of them, saying, “Today, the business process is more sophisticated and the entire scenario will require new skills of a higher order. A whole new world of jobs will come up and young management students need to take multiple experiences to understand how the new business will function in the future. They can look forward to a bright future if they are passionate about what they do. Concluding on a positive note, Mr. Sudhakaran sees a bright future for new graduates willing to accept a trajectory of domain experiences.