“Walk The Talk” With Dr. Devi Singh, Vice Chancellor of Flame University


(1) You have more than 30 years of
experience in the field of academics and chaired corporate boards of seven
leading Indian companies, what inspired
you to join FLAME?

FLAME is a different kind of a
university. It has been a pioneer in liberal education in India, founded with
the sole objective of giving back to the society by creating an educational
institute of excellence. Its mission is to develop leaders through liberal
education who are not only experts in their chosen area of specialization but
also have a broader understanding of people, society and culture.

The philosophy and ethos of liberal
education and commitment of the founders towards creating an institution of
excellence and national importance prompted me to choose FLAME as a fitting
last stop for my long academic career. After being here for a couple of months
and interacting with my 65 strong diverse faculty colleagues and brilliant
students, I am convinced that I made the right choice and am confident that I
will be able to contribute to achieving its vision.

(2) Given
your experience at Institutes like IIM Lucknow, MDI, etc. what would, you
like to establish for FLAME as a Vice-Chancellor? What are the 3 most
significant challenges you see in your role today?

FLAME was conferred the status of
state private university very recently (2015). Any great educational institution
has to do three things well; create knowledge, disseminate/transfer knowledge
and provide extension services to the society. We have done rather well in creating
a comprehensive liberal education program at undergraduate and graduate levels
and delivering these programs.

The challenges are to attract the
best faculty, create knowledge through cutting edge that is relevant for the
future and connect globally and with the society. We have a pool of 65 full
time faculty members from the best of the universities around the world
including Stanford University, University of Oxford, University of Chicago,
Boston College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Macquarie
University, Vanderbilt University, IITs, IIMs, MICA, JNU, Asian Institute of
Management etc. We have faculty members who also have extensive corporate
experience in senior management positions who can be our ambassadors to reach
out to the corporate world and industry.

We intend to start doctoral programs
from the next academic year and give a strong impetus to research at FLAME. We
have already invited some of the great academicians from around the world to
help us create the research programs. Hence research and extension through
training and development are our next priorities. FLAME University intends to
be a research driven university contributing to society through research,
teaching and training.

(3) Are entrepreneurs destined or
nurtured to start businesses? How does FLAME prepare students to become
competent in the areas of management?

I strongly believe that
entrepreneurs can be nurtured. Creating a strong ecosystem is important. We
hear about numerous start-ups coming up in the past few years in India. It is
not that our nation’s DNA has changed suddenly. It is only that the ecosystem
is finally falling in place. Indians have started many companies in Silicon Valley
for many years now and have been very successful. Even young people from middle
class society with bright ideas need to be encouraged and supported.

It is the role of the educational
institutes to provide know how in terms of identifying opportunities, building
a business model around it, organizing funding, marketing in the initial years,
understanding legal frame work etc. It is the role of the government to create
the entrepreneurial environment by removing hurdles and simplifying the
regulatory mechanisms. Even organizations have started looking at the failed
entrepreneurs as valuable resources to be hired. This reduces the down side for
a bright young entrepreneur. Educational institutions, companies and
Government; all have a role to create this entrepreneurial ecosystem.

(4) How different is FLAME
University from colleges offering similar programs?

Business
leaders need to know beyond the traditional business courses which most
business schools offer. Typical business schools, including some of the top
rated schools in the country stop at teaching functional management courses,
specialization courses in some functional areas and some rudimentary business
communication skills. These might make you a good manager, and fetch you a
decent first job, but these are not sufficient for a business leader who is
expected to transform the nation and the society.

Business
leaders need to understand multiple domains beyond the traditional tools and
techniques of business management. They need a much broader understanding of
the people, society and life at large. They need to study the basics of psychology to understand the
consumers  and employers; they need to
study foundations of sociology to
understand the trends in society, changing social structures and demographics;
they need to understand philosophy
to be able to act long term and maintain calm in the face of adversity;  they need to know  business history to be able
to understand what causes change and how change was managed; they need to play
field games to understand team work
and to understand failure and to be able to rise again after losing; they need
to learn some foreign language to be
able to a global citizen and feel at home around the world; and they need to
learn the nuances of fine and performing
arts to be culturally literate and appreciate the finer aspects of life.

FLAME
University’s MBA curriculum is designed to provide all these aspects in
addition to the deep domain knowledge of management and a chosen specialization.
Additionally, FLAME Investment Lab provides hands on training to understand the
fundamental value of companies and principles of long term investment. FLAME
Entrepreneurship Lab nurtures students to explore their ideas and start their
business ventures.

(5) Who
is an ideal candidate for FLAME? Your
message to all the MBA aspirants this year.

An ideal candidate for
FLAME University’s MBA program has to be passionate, articulate, concerned
about the society, creative, innovative and intelligent. More than specific
qualities, the ideal candidate is someone who is looking for a program where he
can interact with highly qualified faculty members both inside and outside of
the class room, looking for a broad based education, looking to interact with
business leaders, looking for world class facilities in a residential campus
and looking for a cosmopolitan intellectual environment. The ideal candidate is
someone not just looking for a first job but someone who will add and create
value either on his own as an entrepreneur or as an employee.

MBA is a professional qualification and terminal
education for most of the aspirants. They should look for an institute which
can help them to learn for life. It is not just about getting a stamp on the
resume; it is about equipping oneself with skills that last for a lifetime.

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