You’ve had a diverse journey, from legal counsel to now being the Deputy Director of Administration at RV University. Managing a team of 50 members and overseeing various departments is undoubtedly challenging. Please tell us about your journey.
This question seems to be the most asked for me. I started out with legal practice, then to couple of in-house roles in leading MNCs, further in public policy consulting for law makers and finally as of today, in university administration. From the law school days to now, I have found exploring diverse career avenues intriguing and one must feel free to do so. I’m grateful that my law qualification has helped me sail through without any hindrance. There is so much to do in multiple fields and each industry has its own essence which is worth experiencing. In terms of team management, creating responsibility and ownership at each level of team structure ensures effective task dispensation. I would say, managing mindsets of 50/100 odd teammates is the key.
You’ve seamlessly transitioned from a Legal Counsel to University Administration. How do you think your legal background influences your approach to running a university, and have you ever found yourself wanting to bring a gavel to a staff meeting?
Every day at office, I involuntarily end up reasoning the decisions I take from the legal lens. This is most definitely because of my legal training. The policies I make, interactions I have with vendors, collaborations with industry folks etc. are all tied to test of “whether it is legally justifiable or not”. Additionally, it is always fun to bring your colleagues up to speed with the law and to see their startling faces.
As someone deeply involved in non-teaching operations, including infrastructure upkeep and ERP implementation, you wear many hats. Can you share a behind-the-scenes moment or a challenge you faced in ensuring a smooth digitization process for the university?
The National Education Policy of 2020 and UGC’s ODL and OL Regulations of 2020 have emphasized on the fact that varsities shall strive towards automation in their administrative processes and on curriculum delivery while maintaining a world class standard. Implementation of digitization efforts are mostly affected by reluctant acceptance by the end user. Albeit, investment concerns and supporting IT infrastructure remain, the most pressing issue would be the speculative approach to use digitized tools at a varsity. Constant IEC (Information, Education and Communication) efforts coupled with incentives for optimum usage would go a long way towards successful implementation.
You’ve been a part of the legal departments at HSBC Bank and Ennar Fin-Tech before transitioning to higher education administration. How did your experiences in corporate law shape your approach to managing the non-teaching operations of RV University?
A University is also a body corporate emanating from an independent statute or from deemed status of the UGC Act of 1956 having its own legal existence. Statutory bodies such as Academic Council, Senate, Board of Management etc. help administer a University and under its common seal university enters into multifarious contracts usually through its Registrar or an authorised representative. Therefore, whether it is policy preparation, drafting commercial contracts, negotiations, handling legal suits and importantly Internal Quality Assurance as per the norms of National Assessment and Accreditation Council require knowledge of the corporate law broadly.
Beyond your professional accomplishments, we’re curious about your interests outside of work. What’s a hobby or activity you engage in to unwind and recharge when you’re not immersed in the world of education and administration?
I take immense pleasure in savoring cuisines across the country and abroad while travelling. I like to remain active and choose to mostly to go on hikes on the weekend. Catching up with latest current affairs in order to stay up to date is a habit of mine since law school days.
You were a key contributor to Bosch’s BRIDGE program. If you could build a bridge connecting two areas of your life or interests, what would they be, and why do they need a connection?
I believe that there exists a symbiotic bridge between your personal life and professional life. If the former is malfunctioning, the later tends to get strained. Therefore, knowing one’s limitation and drawing respectable boundaries between these two facets is instrumental. Health is a luxury, youngsters need to ensure that they are physically and mentally intact in order to take on everyday challenges.
You’ve studied under the guidance of some influential figures. If you could have dinner with one of your mentors from your legal or academic days, who would it be, and what’s the first question you’d ask them?
I have had the good fortune of working with a senior Member of Parliament, learned Advocates, corporate leaders in the legal industry. The one experience which stuck on with me was when I discharged my duties as the youngest Registrar for a State Private University in Andhra Pradesh. The Chairman of that University (1985 batch IAS officer) and my mentor Sh Bharat Lal Meena’s influence on me has been immense. To put it in fewer words, I learnt to be fearless when daunting challenges stand against you in the administration realm. I would like to ask him despite being a celebrated bureaucrat in the state of Karnataka with over three decades of rich experience in public administration, what keeps him going every day and what’s the secret of his abundant energy.
What’s one thing about you that your colleagues might find surprising or intriguing? What is one piece of advice you’d give to our readers, who are looking for a career in the same profession?
People around find it surprising that a youngster is in the position once held or in position I’m in. I find it surprising too. Without going into the debate of age versus experience, I would say if I’m chosen to be in a role, I’m sure the fitness required for assumption of such role is the first thing that would be assessed and I would have passed it. For young lawyers and readers looking to transition, I would convey that always push yourself towards exploration and trust me it will be fun and worthwhile. Choose to do and be different.
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