Principal speak: Working and learning go hand in hand, says Krishnan, associate dean of University of Michigan
He says that they start on a module of escaping the past and building the futureUpdated: Mar 01, 2019 15:20 IST
MS Krishnan, associate dean-executive education at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, who was in the city, spoke about leadership, executive education programmes and more in a chat with Anjali Shetty. Krishnan threw light on the association of the University with India and what makes them stand apart.
Tell us about University of Michigan’s association with India
The University of Michigan and India has been connected for a very long time. Sanskrit was introduced in the university in 1897, after which languages like Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and Tamil were introduced. The first scholarship for women from this part of the world ( Michigan or India) was established in 1916-1917. The initial engagement with India started in the early 90s with the foresight of (late) professor C K Prahlad. He saw India as an opportunity which no one else saw back then. He was also responsible for initiating the chief executive officers (CEOs) Forum in 1993 to target Indian CEOs. Over time, it was realised that you can motivate CEOs too.You need to get in touch with next level people to implement ideas. That’s what led to global programme for management development in 1995 to focus on general management, leadership development, strategic human resource management and functional expertise.
How do you see India as a player in this market?
India is the best place for you to be now. From the business and economic side, there is a huge opportunity. It also works as a great research lab with socio-economic issues, diversity gender and caste. The other important dimension is the social impact that it creates. For businesses to see how they can contribute to society or see how everybody is a consumer, this is the right place. Also, on an individual level, if you are aspiring to be a business leader, it is a fantastic opportunity to be exposed to Indian companies and markets. For the past 10-15 years, we use Indian companies as case studies and have created cluster projects for our students to come to India and work. The digital transformation is coming in and things will get more exciting going forward, for companies to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
What qualities should a leader possess?
I think today if you think of leadership, then you should be aspiring with a vision. You could be wrong and it is fine, but you have to have a point of view. The rate at which things are changing, you have to be open to learning. Working and learning go hand in hand. The half cycle of business model is shrinking. You have to be open minded and keep questioning your own actions. You have to be bold and take risks, but not without discipline.
What according to you is the USP of Ross School of Business, University of Michigan?
Our modules are a combination of what can be changed within the framework and what can be brought in from outside. Primarily, change has to be from within, it cannot be thrust from outside. Hence, we start on a module of escaping the past and building the future.