Dr Jaskiran Arora ,Dean - School of Management, Dean - Education Quality, BML Munjal University

The gender gap has diminished and continues to do so as the years go by. With more women joining the workforce and men picking up responsibilities that were ‘traditionally’ meant only for women, we see a change in recent times. Working women are no longer a rarity and are now accepted as an integral part of the working force. Indian organisations have experienced a steady increase in the number of women employees, and this pattern is bound to continue in the future as well. With this in mind, Dr Jaskiran Arora, the Dean of the School of Management and Education Quality, BMU, joins the list of one of the most influential women leaders in Indian education in 2022. She says, “In the education sector, the proportion of women workforce definitely better, but the glass ceilings are still a stark reality we need to work on. Change – is the greatest challenge and opportunity people face today. Change forces a company, an industry, or even an entire nation to adapt in order to survive and succeed. Women’s ascent and increased influence in previously male-dominated domains have begun a paradigm shift.”

Diversity is key. To accomplish this, Dr Jaskiran believes that we need to provide women with more opportunities that often went to men in the past; companies need to hire and promote women into sales and management positions and encourage women to be a part of the corporate and the education sector. “We need to create awareness and opportunities, provide a safe working environment, design promotion and retention policies for a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” she adds.

As the Dean of a reputed institution, Dr Jaskiran has faced all odds to get where she is today. With great leadership skills and unique philosophy, Dr Jaskiran learnt how to be fundamentally responsible for providing academic leadership, working with students, and enabling them to become a better version of themselves. This involves curating a safe ecosystem that is an engaging and immersive ecosystem for the students to explore their limits. Dr Jaskiran’s philosophy includes student-centricity and imparting industry-relevant training. At BMU, the faculty emphasise designing an industry-relevant curriculum. They innovate and collaborate with the industry to co-create and impart knowledge that would anchor students with an understanding of not only the subject but the practical application of the subject.

Experiences enhance our spectrum of awareness and knowledge, and we tend to use that as a step towards advancing towards our goalpost. The University’s focus is on experiential learning, where the experience and expertise of each one of the faculty come into play. As a faculty herself, Dr Jaskiran has grown with BMU and at each step, as the institute has evolved, so has she. She put the knowledge and best practices that she accrued over the years across some of the best institutes and working systems in the world to use in her current role as dean. “The art of learning from our successes and more from our misses makes us more agile in the ever-growing and evolving system.  Like any other sector, education has taken a quantum leap in the last few years. Our experiences and learnings come in handy in keeping ourselves relevant, topical and ahead of the curve,” Dr Jaskiran shares.

Shaping Her Personality

With the humble approach to leadership, Dr Jaskiran says, “It’s not for me to consider myself a leader; it is for me to set an example for others to aspire to.” According to her, leadership is all about demonstrating the potential that is often reflected in how we conduct ourselves, personally and professionally. “Leaders inspire; leaders show the way, and most importantly, leaders always assume responsibility. My accessibility, accountability and ability to attract, enable, empower and retain the best and brightest talent improves the agility of not just the institute but also the generation who are learning. That’s what I inspire and aspire for.” she explains.

Growing up, Dr Jaskiran wasn’t a hardworking student. Though sharp and intelligent, she used her skills and energy in everything other than academics. Her parents and teachers nudged her to put it into her studies, but she never listened. However, during her undergraduate program, Dr Jaskiran’s friends would request her to explain the complex accounting problems they could not comprehend. This challenged and pushed her to work harder, unconsciously leading to enhanced learning agility. “I started to enjoy this journey, which ignited my spirit to know further and learn more. There never has been a looking back. From academic excellence to cracking professional exams on the first attempt, I realised that if an egg breaks from within, a new life begins, but if forced open from the outside, we get nothing but a scrambled egg!” she explains. Now, as an academic leader, she constantly endeavours to explore and create an ecosystem that excites and enthuses the students from within. One can’t direct the students to be lifelong learners; they have to be inspired to be one.

Laudable Leadership

The vision of the School of Management is to nurture ethical, empathetic, and articulate leaders to benefit businesses and society. With the mission to excel in the dissemination of management education and empower students to face the challenges of the volatile business world, and lead them on a path of personal transformation to become global leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs with high cognitive skills and emotional quotient, BMI is determined to instil in students the ability to impact.

To deliver the promise, the School of Management has designed a formal course in transformational leadership named Personal Journey of Excellence. Besides the many skill courses offered in the school, this course tracks each student’s personal growth story. Starting from the Emotional Quotient and Personal Effectiveness to Networking, Workplace Ethics, Presentation, and story Telling etc., this 2 – year course in the MBA program becomes instrumental in bringing about the true transformation in the student. Similarly, to become empathic leaders, a course called- Sankalp helps the students become more sensitive to the rural challenges, leverage management knowledge and set up social enterprises to positively impact the socio-economic situation of the villages.

Creativity and innovation are about shifting the paradigm of thoughts and vision and seeing, assessing and delivering beyond the large canvas. At BMU, the curriculum is designed to encourage students to have a holistic perceptive and futuristic mindset. “Our learning cornerstones are based on experiential learning, the exposes the students to the real-time challenges of the workplace. A flexible academic structure and innovative instructional design and delivery allow our students to acquire inter and multidisciplinary learning and exposure,” explains Dr Jaskiran. At BMU, the faculty focus on Outcome-based Education, which is based on students achieving predefined goals and outcomes based on their course. They believe in transforming students into innovators, thought leaders and entrepreneurs. The interventions to do so varies from teaching formal courses like Accelerating Creativity and Innovation and Bringing Ideas to Market to providing the students with an ecosystem that is thriving and promoting an entrepreneurial learning mindset. Running a fully functional incubator, and inviting entrepreneurs to talk and inspire students, are a few steps in this direction.

Looking Deeper

Being a Dean, Dr Jaskiran starts her day early, ensuring that the start of the day is a date with herself. Meditating and reminding herself of her calling in life, i.e., becoming an enabler. What follows during the day is the action – the first half is usually about students, curriculum and flowing and absorbing the buzz of the university. The second half is spent deliberating and strategising with the team and other faculty members on making learning more interesting, engaging, experiential and meaningful for the students. The drive to and back from the campus to home usually is hearing the TedX talks and gurbani on to keep her in high spirits and elements.

The education system, like all sectors, is evolving. And Dr Jaskiran believes we need to have a connectedness through an interdisciplinary approach,  focusing more on experiential learning that fosters creativity, problem-solving and innovation. “If I could change one thing in our education system, it would be sensitising the teaching fraternity that education is more about reflection rather than memorising concepts,” she says.  If the plant does not flower, do we question the flower, or do we try to find if the plant is getting enough sunlight, water and manure or if it is the right weather for it to bloom? Similarly, if a student not shaping up into a positive contributor to the community, who is at fault – the student or our ecosystem? “As the creators of the ecosystem for our future leaders, I wish to provide the students with the most fertile space to grow and thrive in,” Dr Jaskiran explains.

Access to information and trends is at our fingertips in today’s digital universe. As a Head of an education institute, Dr Jaskiran keeps herself subscribed to all relevant literature from across the globe. Being an active member in the thought leadership space, reading, interacting and sharing her thoughts on various social media platforms, and publishing in peer-reviewed research journals and popular press media articles keeps her posted on peers and the educational sector.

Her Inspiration

Many say that you need a village to take care of a baby. When it comes to careers and education, it is the same. Some find it difficult to name one or two people as role models or influences in their life. Dr Jaskiran is no exception. At every stage and in every real, there have been people who have motivated and encouraged her to evolve as a person, both personally and professionally, including her family, teachers, colleagues and friends. “Their sheer tenacity to handle the acute adversities of life, to their resilience of balancing diverse responsibilities with such ease and élan, to adapting and adopting to the ever-changing diverse and challenging professional ecosystem, that I feel more than one influence in shaping me to be the professional I am,” Dr Jaskiran shares.

One imperative skill set for imparting and driving education with impact is compassion. Though not scientifically proven, one school of thought believes that women are more nurturing and compassionate. So, Dr Jaskiran believes that women bring in the way of working, which is both result-oriented and pragmatic, and at the same time, create an empathic culture and work toward the institution’s long-term success. “I would implore all the women passionate about education to go for it! To be able to make a difference to the society that we live in and to the generations yet to come, no other sector than education provides you opportunities in abundance. It is your resolve to touch lives that matter the most,” she advises.

For More Info: https://www.bmu.edu.in/

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