Women are shaping tomorrow’s future and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to holding a position of leadership. They are pursuing the things they want and seizing the opportunities that come before them. Today, India has more women in Leadership roles than several countries. Statistics speak for itself. Globally, India ranks 3rd for women working in senior administrative positions and businesses, with at least one woman in the senior management role increased to 90%. In India, this stands at 98% Women are highly valued in the education sector as well, and they have excelled phenomenally in the areas of teaching. “It may be true that women do face challenges trying to make their presence felt, but any rule that stops a woman should be done away with. Let’s remember that every WOMAN doesn’t only carry the nomenclature of a MAN in her but has the same capabilities too. Self-empowerment is the need of the hour,” opines Dr Hemlata K Bagla, Dean of Science & Technology (Adhoc) HSNC University and Principal of KC College.
As a leader, Dr Hemlata ensures that she leads from the front where the challenges and the initiatives and proactive approaches she takes have to be hers too. Considering herself to be a part of the KC College team, she lets different people take the lead for different talks. Viewing her role as a facilitator, she shoulders the responsibility of her team as a team member by empowering, trusting, brainstorming, and coming up with new ideas. It’s not about getting good cards but about playing all kinds of cards well, and Dr Hemlata has been dealt with the perfect hand, who she inspires by not being a leader but a team player. One can inspire when one has inspired themselves, and Dr Hemlata finds herself full of innovative ideas, which in turn inspiring her team with ideas and implements them. She explains, “For instance, we are at that stage where our students publish their research papers in college. We call the publication ‘Jigyasa’. We pushed the envelope by moving beyond the realm of only teachers doing research work. A collective idea born saw fulfilment.”
Dr Hemlata feels her real learning happened outside her formal education, outside the walls of the classrooms. Her parents and teachers were instrumental in instilling life’s lessons in her and the confidence she has in any given situation. “My mother taught me never to say “no” to any work assigned to me – for these were opportunities which should never be missed. She taught me to be a silent worker -not brag every time I did something creditable. As I grew older, she then taught me to sift through the demands and say ‘no’ at the right time. My father invested his time in me, giving me the right guidance to set me up for an early start in my career. All of these have shaped me to what I am today,” reminisces Dr Hemlata.
A Team of Go-Getters
Being amongst strong leaders and observing them, Dr Hemlata has been inspired and influenced by various sources. Not just one particular person influences her, but any leader who commands, not demands, authority as the conducive environment they create for optimal productivity is so admirable. She elaborates, “I am so fortunate that I have had such stalwarts who took an interest in my career and moulded me. All of them influenced me in some way or the other. And all proved to be a blessing for me.
My father for one – has been the guiding force in my life. Being an academician himself he gave me the right direction to ensure that my career kickstarted very early in life. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be where I am today.
Late Principal Kundnani was another influence. He was the one who made me promise I would never leave K.C College nor would I think of venturing abroad. He helped set up the nuclear laboratory at KC for me to carry on my research work. It was he who had first recognised my potential in contributing to the field of education. I owe my career at KC to him.
Then Dr L.H Hiranandani who was like a guiding star for me. His advice gave me a different perspective of life – something which I still hold close to my chest. It was simple and yet so profound!! That there will be obstacles in life but we should not be deterred by them. All one needs is the resilience to surmount the hurdles. He asked me to promise him that I will never submit to a situation but will keep my courage going. This has helped me in real testing times.
Last but not the least my husband. He is the wind beneath my wings today. The quiet authority he exudes and his calm demeanour under pressure inspires me. Being amongst strong leaders like him and observing them influences me. It’s an ongoing process -any leader for that matter, who commands authority (not demands it) influences me. The conducive environment they create for optimal productivity is so admirable.
I have seen leaders breaking free from their comfort zones and creating opportunities for themselves to learn. That influences me greatly. That is how I see myself too.”
Changing the mindset and adapting to newer technology systems was very challenging for teachers who were not tech-savvy and had to familiarise themselves with different techniques. This was especially difficult when some subjects depended on the usage of whiteboards. Worse was the fact that they were teaching groups of students without getting continued facial feedback – something that every teacher relies upon. “We are fortunate that we have a set of teachers who went out of their way to help each other, and the transition to online teaching was fairly smooth. I believe that this option is here to stay. Even when we will switch back to physical classes, there will be lectures that will be conducted online,” points out Dr Hemlata.
In all these years of teaching, Dr Hemlata has realized that an institution doesn’t only teach students but teachers too. Everyone in the academic institution keeps learning and keeps growing continuously. Having pursued her PhD while teaching, Dr Hemlata’s significant milestones were the accolades and the awards she received, which she feels belong to the institution as much as it belonged to her. “Throughout my journey – as a research guide, Head of the Dept., then as Vice Principal, and now as the Principal as well as Sr Dean – my greatest satisfaction is witnessing the institution take new flights. All of these moments are milestones for me. For the simple reason that my identity is so finely blended with my college that growth of my college is my progress as well”, states Dr Hemlata.
Revamping according to the Needs
Today changes in higher education are happening at a faster pace, and it is the need of the hour. Gone are the days when we could live in an ivory tower. Now we are literally a global village. We have technology at our doorstep. India is on the threshold of dual degrees for students – the NEP will bring in these changes. The compartmentalization of education is a thing of yesteryears. Today students want the flexibility to enter into one branch and exit from another, which they may realize they are more inclined towards. “That is why our new HSNC University is based on education 4.0. wherein the long run, we will offer our students a buffet approach to choose and pick from. Trust me – a revolution is happening in education. A churning or “Manthan”, as one would say. And I am so proud that we are the facilitators of it,” says Dr Hemlata.
Higher education today must be skill-oriented. It is sad to see that an engineering graduate doesn’t have the developed skills to contribute to the country’s growth. He needs to be trained. Why should there be a gap between the industry and education? Eager to see this once change, Dr Hemlata is doing her best to provide her students with the necessary set of capabilities to ensure that the industry has produced people that promote the growth of society and the country. “I also want to see education as fluid for students. Someone who pursues science should be allowed to pursue music as well. Education needs to free itself from the shackles of tradition. Let’s not decide what a child should or should not pursue or, for that matter, at what pace he should pursue it. Give him the independence to choose,” opines Dr Hemlata.