Dr. S.R. Singhvi , a well known name in B-School arena for Marketing, is a Gold-medalist in M.A. (Economics), LLB (Taxation), and PGDBM. He had served for 12 years as a Field Sales Manager in a group of Fertilizer companies; 3 years as Head of Training in Marketing Division at Steel Authority of India (SAIL); 2 years as Manager-in-charge of Corporate Training and Development at Indo-Rama Synthetic Ltd; and 1 year as Director at Asia Pacific Institute of Management. He was on the Board of Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd (IMPCL). In between these careers, Dr. Singhvi was engaged for 17 years in academics at University of Jodhpur (3 years), Senior Faculty (Marketing) in Management Training Institute – Staff College of SAIL (7 years), Professor of Marketing at MDI, Gurgaon (5 years), Professor at IIM, Indore (2 years), Professor at Fore School, New Delhi (5 years) and Professor at IMI, New Delhi (6 years). He has also been a UNDP Fellow at Kellogg School of Management, North Western University, USA. During the course of his academic career, he has extended consultancy, training and education services and has published articles and papers in the areas of Marketing and General Management. Presently he is serving as Senior Professor at IMT, Ghaziabad.
Marketing as a Career : Past Academics or IT Background is not a deterrent
Following is a candid conversation between Dr. Singhvi and Arnab Moitra from CareerAnna Team:
- How do you define good teaching?
Good teaching means that learners learn and get inspired to learn further on their own. You may talk to your students all day long and if they walk away with nothing then that is a problem. When you look at your students and they look back at you – engaged and involved – that amounts to good teaching.
- What do you think are the most important attributes of a good instructor?
A good instructor should understand both the theory and practice of his discipline correctly and continuously update himself. He must be able to relate to each of his learners and learn how to disseminate learning or knowledge.
- What pedagogical changes do you see on the horizon in Marketing discipline?
Understanding of technology and experiential learning is going to get included with the existing pedagogy-mix. Selection of right pedagogy for transfer of learning and keeping interest of the learner has to be understood and innovated.
- How do you engage students, particularly in a course of non-majors?
Majority of my learners come after a gap in continuous education. I try to re-bring them into learning mode, at times by adopting school level methods, showing them the big picture, adopting an integrated approach to teach a discipline and making them curious for exploring further. I set challenging standards for them and raise the bar every time. My own commitment and adherence to fixed schedules also keep them engaged.
- How do you adjust your style to the less-motivated or under-prepared student?
It is quite difficult in our system. The size of the class remains a constraint given the support facility. The trimesters are overloaded and unplanned for extra-curricular activities. Students come with a mindset of functional learning and better employment opportunities only. The less-motivated ones are handled through the design of a system of evaluation and engagement. Under-prepared ones are penalized. Some of them turn up in my office and provide me an opportunity to bring them into the centre of things.
- What are the expectations from a student willing to make a career in Marketing during 2 years in a B-School?
He must be ready to work hard 24×7, possess an attitude to be in market, have a keen sense of observation and not take things for granted. He should have an open mind about assimilating knowledge and raise pertinent questions as well.
- What difference do you see in Marketing as a career in India and abroad?
The difference may be attributed to infrastructural support that varies between India and developed countries. Choices available to the consumer are now getting complex for which managers are not well trained. However, analytics is slowly emerging as an essential skill among marketing professionals in India that would assist in the long run.
- What do you think is the future of Digital Marketing in India?
India has rapidly become one of the biggest social marketing audiences in the world. From Facebook to SlideShare – Indians are everywhere. Indian marketing professionals today have thousands of digital ways to interact with their audience. An audience that consists of digitally proficient students who are accessing their profiles in buses, working professionals who check their mails on-the-way to office, and even housewives who know how to access their online profiles. So, Digital Marketing in India is bound to grow, may be faster with mobile penetration and increasing connectivity.
- What is the difference in learning in Marketing specialization when one studies from a premium institute instead of a tier-2 institute?
Our institutes need to encourage super-specialization in a discipline instead of instructors being jack of all trades in a discipline. Till such time we will find half of the specialization learning only basics of marketing and hardly adding any value to the learner for the benefit of employers. Text book based learning needs to stop immediately. It will be difficult to break out of this structure since faculty writing their own text books and prescribing it for their student has created vested interests as well.
- Quite a few students are reluctant to move to Sales but want Brand Management profile from day one. What would you like to say to these students?
It is sheer ignorance on the students’ part. I have met several executives working in eminent firms. Most of them have a written rule for employees to first show their mettle in the sales division before they can make a transition to a product or brand portfolio.
- Do past academics and IT background hamper ones’ growth in Marketing as career once the initial barrier of placement is crossed?
I do not believe that past academics or an IT background is a major deterrent for a career in Marketing. Once the barrier of placements is crossed, a person will have an opportunity to grow provided one is a quick learner, lateral thinker and has not become stereotyped.
- What do you think is the rationale behind FMCGs being more inclined towards freshers instead of candidates with slightly high work experience, irrespective of their interest in the domain?
It may be because they are aware that candidates with substantial work experience, especially techies, do not fit into their scheme of things. Also, they may find is difficult to achieve a fit between such person and the job responsibilities.
- How do you see the impact of big batch size in MBA colleges?
Even in 1994, after experience at Kellogg School of Management, I had argued with the then HRD Minister to grant a minimum of 1000 seats for an MBA School. I even argued in favor of merging all MBA schools in Delhi and National Capital Region. I believe that only the increased batch size can help advance Indian Management Research and allow us to have super specialist faculty.
- Describe a situation in which you did all the right things and were still unsuccessful. What did you learn from the experience?
There have been numerous occasions when I had experienced such situations, both in my personal as well as professional life. The learning from those experiences was that one cannot really achieve much till one has the authority. I wish I would have learnt it early and had become an entrepreneur.
- Have you ever had a great idea but been told that you could not implement it? How did you react? What did you do?
At times, I have played hide and seek with the system and implemented it since my job always gave me space or I created my own space. But on getting discovered, I would be relieved from my duties. But the search for innovation got me recognition and I have never remained unemployed. My first termination from job was hard for me but after that the industry’s view about it has also softened.
- What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is the recognition that I receive due to my students.