Director Speak: Interview of Mr Anil Sachdev from School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL), Gurgaon

You have said that because of how you see education, you created this new experiment called SOIL. Can this experiment be now critically reviewed for its success or do you think its still early to judge?

It has been a real blessing to have been given an opportunity to give birth to the School of Inspired Leadership. In the last five years, we have created an ecosystem that is unique.

Each of our Programs has been shaped by a consortium of companies, from the 32 organizations that support our one year full time Programs to the 15 that have co-founded the part time “Emerging Leaders Program” to the 11 that serve as Partners for the part time “People Next Program – for HR Leaders” to the 6 that joined hands with our school and MESA (a US based firm) to initiate the three week Global Leadership Program for Senior Leaders. Our school first finds a “market” of companies with real needs and then co-creates the entire learning experience – from curriculum to pedagogy. This has been a very satisfying experience.

SOIL offers a unique “Social Innovation Program” – an integral part of all our full time one year Programs in which student teams work with NGOs one day a week at grass root level on social problems ranging from literacy to health to ecological balance. This develops emotional intelligence and compassion and makes our alumni stand out for their positive attitude and teamwork. This gives SOIL graduates a distinct identity.

What has been your biggest success in this institution?

Perhaps the biggest success of SOIL has been the kindling of the spirit of “higher purpose” and “service to the community” in our alumni. We often hear stories of organizations in which our alumni have gone the extra mile to help those in need. Two of our students have become social entrepreneurs and are spreading happiness to countless others. A few others have created their own business enterprises. When companies like HCL Technology, Anand group, Maveric and many others single out SOIL Alumni for their “perspective and character” , we feel satisfied that our experiment is “working”. Many have offered to give 10% of their salaries for the rest of their lives to build their Alma Mater!

This is very special and is perhaps our biggest “reward”.

You have claimed to be doing something different in developing talent for the industry, but the program is a certificate program. How difficult is it to balance deliverable v/s perception?

All Programs are certificates. MBA is a certificate, PGDBM is one too!

The ultimate test of the “paper” issued by any Institution is seen by the response of employees.

The best global and Indian companies have hired our talent and certified its “quality”. That is the ultimate test! These have names such as Tatas, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, ICICI, Johnson and Johnson, HCL, Mahindras, Schneider etc.

One of the most important questions that candidates might have is – Who is the ideal candidate for your Program? Is there a best fit profile?

The ideal candidate is around 24-25 years old, has got an undergraduate degree in any discipline and has 1- 3 years of work experience and has the basic values of ethics and compassion. Such a person has a dream of making a difference instead of complaining about the state of our organizations/community/country/planet. The person is looking for a “Transformational Learning” experience rather than a short cut to get a better job.

What new learning systems are you personally subscribing to, for developing your students in 2014?

– A new course on “Transformational Industrial Relations” to our students so that they can serve the cause of building work places that have harmonious union – management relations free of violence seen in many companies recently.

– As part of our core courses on “Inspired Leadership” , I am bringing in activities and social workers who are part of new movements such as AAP to expose them to alternative view points and perspectives. We are encouraging our students to work actively in the community to educate citizens of their rights and responsibilities.

– Our students are actively participating in Consulting projects given to the School of strategic nature eg. We have been partnering Mahindra Group in their transformation journey called “RISE” and our students participated in important planning meetings for this initiative. They also were part of an exercise in which we helped the National HRD Network to revisit its “Vision”.

– In partnership with MIP (a top 25 University of the World) of Milan in Italy, we are introducing new courses on “Design Thinking and Innovation” to prepare our students to contribute actively to the Innovation agenda in our work places.

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