At 88, XIMB Founder and Past Director of XLRI, GIM Wants to Start Yet Another Institute

Photo Credit: Marian Institute of Health Care Management

In jest, Fr Romuald D’Souza is often referred to as the founder of founders. After serving as director of XLRI Institute of Management, Jamshedpur and starting both, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar and Goa Institute of Management, this 88 year old now wants to start a wellness institute in Goa. He has already submitted his plan wth a full-drafted curriculum to the Goa University and is impatiently awaiting clearance. Fr Romauld, obviously does not know when to retire and even after GIM, served as member of various academic organisations, like the Association of Management Development Institutes of South Asia, the All India Board of Management Studies, the Executive Council of the Goa University and the Academic Council of Utkal University. Last year, he was awarded the Padma Shri award for his contribution to Education and Literature. But just about nothing can stop this octogenarian from dreaming big.

PaGaLGuY managed to get a few minutes with this rather young-at-heart professor.

Is it true you want to start yet another institute?

Yes, but not a management institute a wellness one. I have put the proposal to the Goa University. What I have in mind is an institute that deals with psychoanalysis, neurosis, psychological treating. Today, our children and youngsters have immense personal and social problems and seem to be unable to solve them due to various factors. And suicides are also on the rise. We have to re-orient our education system and bring together a support system which consists of the family, and others so that children who have problems can find help. My institute, if it happens, will seek to address these issues.

(Fr Romauld is also a professional member of the Academy of Management (USA), International Council of Psychologists and the American Psychological Society. He teaches Business Ethics, Management of stress, Psychometrics and Organisational behaviour.)

Does a management institute not excite you anymore?

No, it is not like that. It is more what the society needs at this point. Our youth and children need critical help and there is no study course that looks at this issue seriously. Education is to help people solve problems they encounter in life. Education should tell you whether your life has a purpose.

Have you noticed a change in the type of students who opt for an MBA these days?

Students, now-a-days have to learn to learn management. They do an MBA to get a job in management. But unlike earlier, there are other issues that have gained importance now. I sincerely think that a Public Policy Institute needs to be set up to train people in geo-environmental issues. There has to be training at all levels. Public Policy should be connected to management more now than every before. Government per se cannot ignore business and vice-versa.

But the government sector is often not the first option for MBA students when it comes to jobs?

Yes, government jobs are not as attractive as corporate ones. That is because the government also has not changed its style of functioning over the years. If well-educated people get into the government, things will change. Salaries will also get higher if the two come together more often, there will definitely be better running of the government.

The issue of faculty crunch which was prevalent in your time still exists?

It is very simple. Pay faculty more. Why will people opt to become faculty in management institutes when the pay is so less and the vocation not well-defined. Teaching methods have to evolve and teachers need to move with the changing world and its needs. If institutes keep the larger picture in mind, they will attract good faculty.

You have a huge role to play in XLRI’s success? What did you do?

It all happened a long time ago in the 80s, there is nothing specific that I can remember. The institute was run in a stereotype fashion, the way most institutes are run, by the rules. What I did was I got the faculty involved in every aspect. We decided not to go by the rule-book and change learning and goals according to the time prevalent then. We decided that if we have to bring a change in the institute and the students, we will have to change ourselves. Luckily for me, my faculty members were good and always willing to change and go along with the changes in the environment

And how was the XIMB experience?

We started from scratch. There the government gave me land and all other possible help. But my biggest challenge there was getting good faculty. So I devised a way to do it. I made a list of all people who were doing their fellow programmes in big institutes like IIM, A, B and C and took them on. They had just completed their PhDs and were in a mood to do something different. They worked with my students and faculty and that helped generate fresh ideas and a good joint effort. As a team, we worked hard, never thinking of what time of the day or night it was. None of my faculty ever thought they were doing a job and that helped shape the institute. As for the students, for the first batch I took everybody who had applied, except for those who were really hopeless.

And how did GIM happen?

I came to Goa in 1993 to rest since Goa is my hometown. But my faculty from XIMB pushed me to start an institute, so I started one here. First I operated from a single classroom in the Law College and then from a hospital building. The government was helpful and thanks to a lot of corporate people, I was able to find place for my staff to stay in a rest house close-by. Those days were hard, since unlike XIMB where the idea was the government’s to start a management institute – here it was mine. But like I said I have always had the best of team and friends and they helped me fulfill many of my dreams.