Errol DSouza was appointed as the director of IIM Ahmedabad in January this year. IIM Ahmedabad which is undoubtedly the best management school in our country is a dream college for anyone who aspires for a career in management.
Right from those red bricked walls, the infrastructure, top notch faculties, the other extracurricular activities like forums, student groups and a diverse student base with fresher’s as well as people having work experience from different industries make it outshine in all respects. IIM-A which is considered to be one of the most prestigious management institutes in the country recently got a new versatile director who is also a former mountaineer.
DSouza seems to be quite enthusiastic about his new role and believes that one of the biggest responsibilities as a director is too much engagement with the outer world. He has been associated with IIM-A since 2001 as an academician. He was serving the institute as a faculty and was busy doing his teaching and research works in the institute. However, after being convinced by the selection committee he decided to take up a different path and considered taking up this position of a director. He has been appointed for a term of 5 years and is serving as the director in-charge and dean for the institute.
DSouza wanted to be a mountaineer but fate had some different plans for him and he landed up being an economist and now the director of IIM-A. He had in fact even represented India in mountaineering expeditions in the past and wanted to join Nehru Mountaineering College as an instructor but, he took up his PHD on fiscal policies in India in the short summer break he got during his mountaineering and that served as the turning point of his career. His mountaineering lessons however have helped him evolve as a better person and that learning has also helped him on his professional front as he got to learn a lot about the external world.
DSouza has also worked with University Grants Commission, Indian Council of Social Science Research, Planning Commission and also Reserve Bank of India. This clearly indicates about the rich knowledge and experience he has and what makes him ideal for being the director of IIM-A.
DSouza believes that IIM-A is a very flat organization as everyone here is treated equally irrespective of their designations. Be it a fully-fledged professor, an associate professor or an assistant professor, everybody has access to the same office facilities, same financial as well as secretarial assistance. The most unique factor about IIM-A which makes it outshine amongst most business schools in the country is the academic freedom that this institute offers.
The university offers a very open atmosphere and offers the flexibility to decide your own research areas and focus on them. At IIM-A, they believe that “research is your baby” and the institute pays constant emphasis and strives hard to gain great results on the research front. The university is always keen on welcoming new innovative ideas and no one is ever devoid from any kind of support they need in order to carry out their research. Be it support from the institute in terms of conferences, access to databases or financial funding for research the institute provides it all because ultimately it’s the end results that count.
Another striking factor about IIM-A is that the institute maintains a perfect equilibrium between teaching and research and they work in collaboration with each other. As per DSouza, teaching can never be given 100% unless you are researching about whatever you teach. Research helps the faculties in being engaged, learning new things and the same excitement that the faculties get from learning new things get forwarded to the students.
Sometimes, this also motivates the students in taking up research options and deciding areas where they can enter into research. Without indulging in research, a pure teacher would only be imparting the knowledge they have received and they won’t be offering anything new or innovative to the students. So faculties focusing both on research and teaching somehow impart better knowledge to students than those who are just pure teachers.
Since IIM-A is considered to be the best business school in India it is but obvious that they should have the best faculty, state-of-the art infrastructure and the best brains of the country. Even if two of these factors go down the third one would pull it together. As per DSouza, IIMA still gets the best students through the Common Admission Test and the further evaluation rounds. The infrastructure undoubtedly is world class and the campus is so beautiful that anyone would fall in love with it the moment they see it.
With the new IIM Act now into action, DSouza has also started hiring some international faculty members. He has recently hired faculties from countries like Norway, Germany and USA as he believes in having a global and diverse faculty base. This helps students in getting a knack of global ideas and thoughts and this in turn widens their horizon of learning. Since, faculty is an area where the university struggles a bit so, DSouza hopes the new IIM Act brings up more autonomy especially on the salary front so that the institute can try and bring in more global faculties to ensure greater knowledge base to the students.
The institute has also started emphasizing a lot on global collaborations under DSouza’s guidance. The institute is in fact going to witness its first Nobel laureate visit of Eric Maskin, this year. Apart from him there are many other top-notch people from all around the globe who would be coming and visiting the students and impart their great thoughts and share their rich knowledge experiences. These kinds of collaborations have become possible now only because the institute has starting focusing a lot on the research front. The college was more focused and oriented towards government and country earlier however, under DSouza’s guidance the institute is moving towards a different ray of light and is focusing on being more global and increasing their outreach not just to India but to other parts of the world as well.
More often than not, many of the students passing out from IIM-A are often criticised for being brain drained and in spite of producing some of the best business managers of the country IIM-A loses them out as they leave the nation. But, DSouza has a very positive take on this as he believes that these business managers and not merely students but they are the ambassadors of IIM-A.
When they stay in India they only represent their institute but when they go abroad they act as ambassadors not just for the institute but for the country as well. DSouza in fact hopes for a future where even India starts attracting students from other countries willing to work in our nation which seems a bit difficult at the moment given the present reservations scenario of India. IIM-A also offers dual degree courses for international students where they spend one year of degree in their parent institution and they spend the other year of degree at IIM-A. This is presently done at a very small level as there are hardly 5-6 students coming up from three or four schools which IIM-A has tie ups with. DSouza wishes to see an increase in these numbers in coming future to have a global diversity within the campus.
DSouza seems quite optimistic after taking up this position of Dean for IIM-A and the institute has already started witnessing some major changes under his guidance. He is very enthusiastic and is constantly striving hard in bringing up major changes and innovations for the institute. IIM-A is already the crown of management education in India and with a visionary man like Errol DSouza the institute is going to outshine even more not just in India but also at a global level in the upcoming years.