Shanthi Rajan, Director - Institution Development, University of Stirling, RAK Campus (UAE)

Shanthi Rajan is a senior HR professional with a cumulative 29 years of experience in the industry and academia. Currently, the Director – Institution Development of University of Stirling, RAK campus and SQA Diplomas, Shanthi has taught in many universities of repute in UAE, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia over the last 12 years.


Spotlight 2020 was initially slated for 02nd April 2020 as an on-campus event, and in came a huge surprise! COVID-19! Enthusiasm had a new version wrapped around dismissal. If this show had to see the light of the day, then it was a big endeavour and an endurance to undertake. That meeting, nonetheless, pessimistic, laid the foundation to tackle this new challenge. ‘That one small step of a man, one giant leap for mankind’ said Neil Armstrong. That one meeting changed the course of the team’s thinking process. What? To board the entire massive event on to a virtual platform! The team of Spotlight 2020 worked tirelessly to make the online event a huge success beyond compare.

Spotlight 2020 team had to reformat the entire event at a massive scale, right from reaching out to participants and to construct a virtual platform and virtual halls for the event. The team also had to rehearse now on a virtual platform to achieve a photo-finish performance of the event, which is vastly different from the event festivities on campus grounds! There were enough hurdles, one taken care, and another shows up more vociferously than the preceding one. The team’s IT lead could hold all of us on board for the entire length. The Spotlight 2020 team with an inventive zest and energy finally made it, and it all culminated into the grand success on 27th June 2020. We had students participating from various Universities, UAE, India and as far from Bangladesh and the UK. We thank every participant for their spirited zeal, motivation to succeed, and their perseverance to win.

Looking back and analyzing the making of Spotlight 2020 and its critical success reminds us of Bruce Tuckman’s 5 stages of group formation. From these came a logical order for all participants to enjoy, listen to each other, learn new things, and share each other’s knowledge. This also motivated the participants to think beyond the paradigms of a taught classroom and to think in terms of working in the real world in the categories of the competition they participated in. The whole idea behind Spotlight 2020 was to bring together students from various Universities to share innovative ideas that they might propose and further present during this event. Yet, to be in the mainstream of fun, frolic, and festive mood of an inter-collegiate national- international event!

The event offered three categories for the participating teams to choose from: Arbitrage, Pitch Perfect and Tech Zest.

The first category was ‘Trading contracts for differences’ (CFD), Arbitrage. Considering the age group of the students and their level of study, this was relatively a difficult topic. These are basically financial instruments speculated in financial markets worldwide and how to take advantage of price differentials for these instruments in different trading markets—our event organizing team members from our faculty of Finance; Mr Sunil CT, Program Director M.Sc. Finance and Finance Lecturer Ms Nishi Joy, had proposed, devised and launched this category to get the best scholars to participate. It was pleasant to watch these young minds perform flawlessly during the event. In the preliminary rounds, more than 74 students participated out of which 20 were shortlisted for the finals. The Star of CFD was Beena Maria Varughese from Birla Institute of Technologies, RAK Campus and the runner-up was Priyanka Awatramani from Middlesex University, UAE.

Trading contracts for differences (CFD), Arbitrage

Pitch Perfect – Social Fintech Business Idea (SFBI), the second category, was a forum to pitch in socially relevant fintech business ideas by combining knowledge and ideas in the domains of finance, technology and business and to give rise to an innovative idea which was COVID 19 relevant. The idea had to be a sustainable, low-cost model with a potential to mobilize domestic savings for long term monetary and other intangible benefits to the society at large. Ms Shanthi Rajan, Director, Institution Development and Ms Nishi Joy, Finance Lecturer from the Faculty of Finance conceived, initiated, and had successfully run this category captivating the participant’s interest and enthusiasm.  Ms Raylene Li and Ms Jess Chen, experts in this area from China, were our esteemed judges. With an overall student registration of 65 students and a total of 23 teams, the best 12 teams were shortlisted. “Spaceon App” team led by Harshi Motwani of Middlesex University, UAE won the Star of SFBI and ‘Project Recylage’ team lead by Savrang Jain from Loyola College, Chennai, and ‘W4W’ team led by Erin Sara Thomas from Middlesex University, UAE won the runners-up.

Pitch Perfect – Social Fintech Business Idea (SFBI)

Tech Zest – this category amplified how technology touches our daily lives. From the days of the world’s first 16-bit commercial computers called DDP -116 to the creation of the first artificial intelligence program called DENDRAL, mankind has come a long way.  This category was to showcase the technological strides we have made in recent times and to encourage and inspire young Undergraduate students to have research-oriented thinking and approach to this field of technology. Ms Archana Pandita, Program Director, M.Sc. Computing and Ms Yashi Singh, Director – Corporate Relations developed the theme of this category. Dr Mario Kolberg from the University of Stirling, UK consented to be the judge for this category. The winning project was ‘Using Computers to enhance Public Safety through Social Distancing in post-COVID-19’ proposed by Yatharth Kher and Aditya Saxena of BITS Pilani, UAE who was selected as the “Star of Tech Zest.” Runner up for the project ‘BookIT’ were Seema Neloufar, Heba Fatime, Gayatri Anushka from Birla Institute of Technologies, RAK, UAE.

Tech Zest

Our appreciation is with all the participants whether they could finally move up to the winner or runner-up spot or not for it was anyways a close contest.  Our hearty Congratulations to all the teams, participants and their mentors whose brilliance showed up in their work and presentations in Spotlight 2020. If there is a will, there will be a way. The grand success of Spotlight 2020 convinced us as a team that this adage holds true when that ‘small step’ is taken with confidence, direction, dedication, self and team discipline, anything can be achieved.

Lastly, our heartfelt thanks to all the panellists who participated in our 3-panel discussions Mr Gordon Leonard, Dr Mario Kolberg, Dr Paul Cowell, Dr Kylie Bradfield and Mrs Jennifer Cowell from University of Stirling, UK, Mr Grant Herbert, Mr Jamie Skinner, Ms Dhatri Kakkar and Mr Gaurav Srivastava; thank you for being part of our Spotlight 2020 journey!

We are the team of Spotlight 2020 – We wanted to ‘’be the difference’’ – We are Stirling, RAK!

More About Shanthi Rajan

Shanthi Rajan holds a Master’s degree with a specialization in Strategic Human Resources Management from the University of Wollongong and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education Leadership (USA). She is an affiliate member of CILT (UK) and a Fellow of Higher Education Academy (UK). Shanthi is a certified S+EI coach from the Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence (ISEI), Denver, Colorado. She is also a certified ICF approved EI Coach Practitioner from NLP Academy. She serves as an Advisory Board Member for a few academic institutions of repute. She has completed her Postgraduate certification (PGCert) in teaching and learning from the UK and her Higher Education Teaching Certificate from Derek Bok Centre of Teaching and Learning, Harvard University.

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