Professor Dr. V Padhmanabhan speaks about how teachers can be learning facilitators, rather than just chalk and talk educators.
Having a faculty with industry experience is increasingly common in management institutes these days. Dr. V Padmanabhan has industry experience, and he sees either industry or management consultancy experience as a supportive tool in teaching at a management institute. He explains, saying, “The relevance of theory and its application can be taught well when coupled with exposure to the industry. It helps me to validate how an in-depth understanding of theory would support the decisions taken by executives. Finally, it helps me impart ideas to students with legitimacy, as well as in motivating them to solidify their concepts. At a more practical level, I have shared my corporate contacts for placements and internships. Those organizations have, in turn, offered placements to our students.”
At GIM, Dr. Padhmanabhan teaches courses like Organizational Behavior, Power and Influence in Organizations, and Conflict Management in Organizations. His teaching and research interests are related to interpersonal relationships in small groups, and he is also writing case studies that explore the individual and group processes in Indian organizations.
With regard to the role of teachers in shaping careers, Dr. Padmanabhan says, “I can talk for myself, I believe, and says that building leadership qualities within the young minds is essential – it would certainly help in shaping their future. So, I make it a point to be available to the students beyond classroom hours.” On GIM’s approach, he says, “GIM does have a mentorship program in which 5-6 students are assigned under every faculty member.”
Regarding his own interests related to interpersonal relationships in small groups, he observes “My teaching interests are related to dynamics that are observed at the individual-level and the manifestation of an ‘individual's self’ in groups. The course is not limited to conveying the importance of exchanging ideas and sharing experiences; it is about facilitating the students to understand the self, her or his behavior, and its consequences while working in groups. Given the importance of working in teams in a corporate environment, these courses will surely benefit students”.
Always one to believe that it is the teacher who ignites interest for a subject and that there is no bad student or a dry subject, Dr. Padmanabhan says “I am aware that I am handling the millennial generation kids, whose attention span is short. Therefore, before they lose attention, I try to generate peak and valley experiences for them. There are no dry or fertile subjects; it is the teacher who makes it such. I do not alienate subjects and the listeners as different entities; my courses cannot be taught unless the listeners become a part of the topics. I use various methods like role plays, experiential exercises, short case stories, visual case stories, and lecture methods while teaching. I think these methods help the students to get involved.”
As an institute, GIM has encouraged innovations in pedagogy. Of GIM’s support, Dr. Padmanabhan says, “GIM is very supportive in giving me freedom and flexibility”. And, he says that other GIM faculty members are also a valuable sounding board for ideas: “I experience very positive interactions with my colleagues. I have gained a lot from my interactions with senior faculty members in our OB/HR area. Particularly, two of my courses, Power & Influence and Conflict Management, were suggested by Dr. CM. Ramesh who is one of our area’s senior faculty members.”
On the USP of learning at GIM, Dr. Padmanabhan says the leadership experience that students gain during their study at the institute is most valuable: “Let the students enter the campus with an open mind to learn; I think the journey with an open mind to learn will help them to reach their destination”. Elaborating on some of the valuable extra-curricular activities at GIM, he says “We conduct interesting workshops for the students like theatre, dance workshop, photography, sketching, clay modelling, and music. The objective of these workshops is to foster creativity, self-expression and to develop empathy. We have very good sports facilities for football, tennis, volleyball, basketball and swimming. These are important parts of GIM’s focus on a healthy campus life.”
Posted on 02nd December 2015