Uday Salunkhe, group director of the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai and Bangalore, is a well-known face in the education sector. He is the chairman of Ad Hoc Board of Studies in Management Courses of Mumbai University and chairman of the Local Management Committee of Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA)—a SAARC initiative. Recently, WeSchool organised one of the biggest design innovation workshop at its Mumbai campus where more than 350 students from across India took part to engage with MIT researchers. In this interview, Salunkhe tells FE’s Abhishek Chakraborty that a teacher always needs to be ready to adapt and learn. Excerpts:
How did this idea came up to hold the Design Innovation Workshop with MIT?
Design and innovation are so deeply ingrained in Welingkar’s philosophy and pedagogy that a handshake with MIT Media Lab was possibly the next most logical step in the direction. With an innovative and designer mindset, one creates new solutions, products, services, processes and/or business models. This is a seminal step towards achieving our dream of mentoring futuristic leaders with a coherent and tactical approach towards problem solving.
Adding design into the equation changes the focus of management education as design is a broader and holistic way of addressing issues by providing options previously unavailable. With design and innovation as our driving principles, it has been our constant endeavour to provide newer avenues towards achieving excellence. And it was great to have the experts from a world renowned institution, sharing inputs and helping the participants give shape to their ideas.
So for these six days you too were a student …
Absolutely. A teacher has to remain a learner.
How can this workshop help students?
Well, start-ups are still a long way for these students. However, the process these over 350 students undertook here in the six days would sensitise them. It would also give them the needed confidence. And not least than 10% will go with full blast to be an entrepreneur. Though possibilities of failure will always be there, early warnings will help these students in their work.
You are providing a PGDM course on design thinking…
We were convinced about design thinking and we wanted to get down to that thought process of prototyping first. Though we already had PGDM course earlier, it was with different specialisation. But when it comes to innovation, it can’t be one-dimensional. So we looked at a T-shaped mindset, where the breadth of the “T” is heterogeneity, diversity, different specialisations and the depth of the tree is inclination. So we started the programme as a prototype first and then in a full-fledged way.
Is the Indian education system on the right track?
We are gradually moving on the right track. People have started realising that we should get into activity-based learning. So the schools, colleges that are picking up this trend is a good sign. What is needed now is that teachers should go to the marketplace to see and learn what is happening there. For example, if a sandwich-walah sells 500 pieces of sandwich in a day, there must be some value in it. So teachers need to understand the market first and then educate the students. Such approaches are needed.