I have always been a people’s person and I feel good when I can help someone succeed – Dr. Dilip Nandkeolyar

Dr. Dilip Nandkeolyar
Professor,Consultant and Researcher
Co-Chancellor at Commonwealth University
Alumnus of Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines

Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?

Whilst I went to almost a dozen schools around country following my father who was in a transferable Service, I final finished my Senior Cambridge (also known as Indian School Certificate Examination) from St. Xavier School, Jaipur in 1971. But, I cannot forget my stint and school friends from De Nobili School, Dhanbad – that where I really grew up. I then did my B.Sc. (Hons in Chemistry) University of Rajasthan’s Maharaja’s College, Jaipur.  Again a great, institution for learning in 1976.

In our family until then it was a rule that all children – male or female – must do their Post Graduation. However, I was able to convince them that I would be much better off if I gathered some work experience and then did my Post Graduation. Hence I joined Indian Institute of Business Management (Affiliated to Magadh University), Patna in 1985-87 got my PGDM is 1989/90 due to delayed examinations. I then did a course in Strategic Market Management from Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines 1999. I enrolled to do my PhD from L M Thapar School of Management, Thapar Univrsity, Patiala getting my Doctorate in 2014 .

My Corporate journey started in November 1976 with CEAT Tryes and traversed through Vikrant Tyres, Standard Batteries, Suhail and Saud Bahwan (this was Oman), Kalyanpur Cements, Ugra Raj Enterprises, Reva Electric Car, Educe Solutions, E.T. Elec-Trans. From entry level executive to becoming a Managing Director the journey was adventurous and exciting.

I always believed in giving back to society what good things I have got from it. And in line with that I approached the Academia. It is a great sense of satisfactions to inter-act with young and energetic people eager to learn. And so, I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experiences. And as my students and mentee go up their career ladder, I get a deep sense of satisfaction and vicarious excitement. Most of them are in touch with me and I am proud to say that they are doing extremely well for themselves.

Q2. You have worked in both Industry and Education Domain. Which one your like the most and why?

Both Industry and Education have their own set of pains and pleasures. Since one has had a rather successful run in both domains, it is hard to say which one I have enjoyed to the most. Let’s put is like this, whilst Industry experience was creating a society around myself, honing my talent and my learning from it, Education was about sharing those experiences and refocusing on newer dimensions theoretical understanding for the young minds and future of our nation.

In both cases I have had the good fortune of pushing the frontiers of knowledge through innovations and maybe sometimes “jugaad”. I have always enjoyed inter-acting with people and helping them excel and extend themselves.

So frankly both Industry and Education have been exciting and I am fortunate to have been through the route I have in life.

Q3. You are highly involved in career planning and development of your team mates and company. How do you find any problem to solve?

I have always been a peoples’ person. In other words, I feel good when I can help someone succeed.

I do this by spending time with all those who to associate with me – either per force or by choice. With each person, I am able to understand where is she/he coming from and what excites her/him. Next is to find way we could adopt these insights to achieve pre-stated goals. Once this is done we try and set up smaller milestones and review them periodically. This usually throws up issues, problems and hurdles. It is then a question of genuine mentoring/ coaching to empower the mentee to cross the hurdle by facilitating his thinking and by giving him an outsider’s view. So far in about 44 years of my career this has worked very well and my students, mentees and subordinates have come out to be far superior and capable people independently identifying problems and resolving them as the go forward. Such an approach also instills the confidence in them to attempt to see and resolve problems in the future endeavors and so are able to outdo themselves and thus outperform expectations.

Dr Dilip Nandkeolyar

Q4. You are working in various domains simultaneously like Research, Training, Consultancy, and Teaching. How do you handle all at same time? Does it give you mentally pressure?

If you look at each of these, you will notice the source of gathering knowledge and expertise thereof is more or less the same. Since I try to approach each of these functions from a research orientation, I am able to be creative about it. And creativity is never a pressure as it stems from your heart and is what you enjoy doing!

Q5. You have been working in SME sector from many years. How do you see the future of that enterprise in this competitive market?

This is a good question! And it is equally tough to answer. In my experience, I find that most MSMEs are very secretive. It is like a patient going to the Doctor and telling him to cure him without telling him what are the symptoms of his ailment. Given that they are usually stressed for resources and being chauvinistic about their business acumen, they often land into trouble; to the point where even ICU can’t help.

This needs to drastically change as in post Covid19 pandemic. I believe, if MSMEs play well, they will be the real winners and the engines of Indian resurgence. Hence, transparency and humility is going to be very important pillars in their future road to success.

Q6. What kind of hurdles did you face in your journey?

Honestly, I don’t know. All along, as a basic principle, I decided that I will have the humility to learn from everyone high or low. There were times when I was not getting the desired results despite my best efforts. And on many such occasions, I learnt from people who were only remotely connected. I remember one incidence where my team of professionals and I were trying to crack open a market. We tried various strategies and tactics but drew a zilch. Until, my driver advised a very simplistic behavioral strategy. I took it and tried and it worked! So you see hurdles come for only those who are arrogant in their disposition and I believe I am not.

Q7. What is the meaning of success in your terms?

To me success simply means “My Ability to Do What I Want to Do; When and How I Want to Do It”.

Q8. Give some training tips for aspirants to get improvement in their career and business?

I am a very avid follower of the adage – “Follow your heart, mindfully”. This essentially means that one must identify one’s passion and follow it rigorously and realistically, with complete humility to learn. From there, one discovers her/his gaps in knowledge and expertise. Having done that, she/he must singularly go after training and learning ways to plug those gaps. In fact, failures are the best ways to identify the training and learning needs. Challenging self for even higher performance would be the mantra. I would invite all genuine aspirants to read Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull to understand what I mean.

Q9. What do you do in your free time? Do you update yourself in terms of education?

Light reading, watching films and theatre, listening to music, socializing with friends and family are my favorite ways of spending my spare time.

Updating myself in terms of education is, according to me, a very serious part of my work. And, I do it through some serious reading in my area of passion leading to research which I can then interpret for those who chose to associate with me.

Q10. Please share your views on Industry and Academic Collaboration?

There is a huge chasm between what is taught in our Education System and the advances that Industry has made. The lament is that both sides suffer from some kind of knowledge-experience chauvinism. This needs to be very urgently bridged so that Education and Industry become a part of the same continuum that together must stand to serve the society.

Of my own, I try to mentor my students and mentees to see the practicalities of the theories they learn and then get into a research frame of mind to come up with creative and innovative solutions that straddles the academic rigors and the demands of fast changing needs in the Industry. And this is done by encouraging and nudging these enthusiastic young minds to answer just one question – “In doing this, how do I help?”

Q11 Do you anticipate any changes post Covid19?

Why only me, everyone expects many things will change post Covid19. For one, Corporations will learn the value of Work from Home and would rather unblock their capital or fixed expenses locked in real estate and all that goes with it as being a drag. They will learn to trust their employees more and allow them to work from home rather than from expensive commercial spaces. For another, delivery of education will shift not only to online modes but also to a more hands on approach. I feel, over next few years most jobs would start being converted into contractual assignments, necessitating our youth to become ethically motivated entrepreneurs instead of job seekers. Social gathering may have a more home content and hospitality and tourism would need to re-imagine their offerings. Almost everything from the way we live to the way we play to the way we work would experience unprecedented change. The coming generation will have to face challenges hitherto unseen and unknown.  And so education must very quickly evolve to prepare them likewise to play in the VUCA environment.