Friday, August 29, 2014

Workshop at School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad

Nothing beats the satisfaction of sharing time, knowledge and experience with bright young students wanting to change the world. At the end of the 2-day workshop at the School of Management Studies on 'The Champion's Mindset' conducted on August 27 and 28th, 2014, I experienced the deep, deep satisfaction that comes from having put my time and effort to good use. Frankly, it's a feeling that compares with little else.

Prof Jyothi, me and the students
This is the fifth year of my program at the School of Management Studies,University of Hyderabad. It happens mainly thanks to Prof. Jyothi's trust and belief in my ability to handle this vital and critical input to the student. Her belief that investing in a workshop for 2 full days (we even did 3 day workshops for earlier batches) to address the approach of the student to their MBA course and life after that, is commendable because not many administrators seem to get it. She can see the long term benefits of this time which is truly in the interests of the student, because it sets context, provokes thought, asks basic questions and discusses basic processes, all of which recalibrate their approach to their career and themselves. This is not taught to us during years at school or college. Not only is it not taught or discussed anywhere during the course of our study, but the student is expected to set it all in context and figure it out by herself, which is not being realistic. This is not about motivation - it is merely shining light on well known truths and established practices of how to approach and do things well.

Me and most of the students who stuck it out - we sneaked in a picture before Prof Jyothi arrived. 
I know that by merely setting it in context and reiterating processes and high-performance concepts, young people on the cusp of their transition from higher education to careers, can dive deeper into their own resources confidently and achieve greater heights without doubting their ability and capability. It happened to us and happens every time there is a committed teacher. It is here that Prof. Jyothi stands out in her commitment to the students. I am also humbled by her immense faith in my abilities to fulfill her trust and her wonderful way of handling this course - never has she questioned me or my methods nor has she ever tried to put any agenda. Its such a pleasure to work with her.

This year though, we did something different. We got feedback from the students in a before and after questionnaire, thanks to a suggestion by a team from the UGC. I wonder why the thought never occurred to me before. The basic questionnaire we designed dealt with students rating themselves on their clarity regarding career path, knowledge of unique strengths and how to utilise the same, goals, process-orientation to achieve goals, responsibility towards career development and expectations from the course and how they see themselves fulfilling it. At first glance of some questionnaires, there seemed to be a reasonable improvement in terms of clarity of goal and process. More on that after we complete the analytics.

That apart the 2-day workshop was attended by 80 students to start with, from the general and healthcare sections. As it happens always, the lure of long weekends takes many students away and it settles down at around fifty or sixty students. However, I must say that I am highly impressed by the students who attended all the sessions. They showed remarkable resilience, fortitude and commitment, answered tough and searching questions and opened themselves to concepts that took me twenty years or more to understand.

The workshop in a nutshell then. We started Day 1 with questions regarding themselves and their strengths, the need to hone their strengths to position themselves better, goal clarity in the long term, short term and mid term and filtered their long list of goals (dreams and desires included) down to a manageable set of six goals. The picking of an enabling goal, which enables fulfillment of all other goals big or small, and the planning that goes into preparing for that goal took up all of Day 1.

We started Day 2 with a quick look at the 'Mindset' Carol Dweck's wonderful book, which to me makes all things equal between the student of UoH and those from Harvard or Stanford, by using the principles of a growth mindset and purposeful effort. All one needs is the right mindset. We discussed the importance of preparation, planning, process orientation and did exercises based on the students' own past experiences and achievements.

The big idea of the workshop was to
1) focus on product features (themselves) and make them the hero of their story
2) gain clarity on goals and filter them to one enabling goal that will set in process the rest
3) understand themselves in context of what they have achieved, what they like doing, what they want and
position themselves accordingly
4) prepare in earnest for achievement of that goal by using the two main resources of time and energy
5) understand importance of preparation in context of performance and know the process of doing anything or learning anything.
6) by doing all this one improves self-worth which determines the price they can command. 

I prefer feedback from participants directly, however short, because it gives a feel of their reaction. It also gives them a chance to get on stage and do away with any inhibitions regarding public speaking. As always it was wonderful to listen to them. Nothing can ever replace the direct emotion of knowing that the effort has made a difference to someone - a thousand feedback forms written in the most eloquent prose cannot replace that. The sincerity in their eyes, the gratitude in their hearts, the warmth in their voices - these youngsters need all the support that the system can give so they can fulfill their dreams. And what are they dreaming of but a better world for everyone! So idealistic, so wanting to do things for greater good. Hearing them out put the icing on the cake, and I was glad that Prof. Jyothi came and sat through the last couple of hours. We got the questionnaires filled out and took the mandatory picture - only this time in front of the department building. Utkarsh of the second year, he sat through the workshop with his mates last year, helped me out with my camera and took pictures for me. Thanks Utkarsh.

Thanks is owed to Prof. Jyothi for giving me the opportunity again and organising this workshop so seamlessly as always. Research scholars Kiranmayi, for being a huge help during the workshop and Srikanth, for accompanying me to lunch both days. And a huge, big thanks to all the students for sharing their lives, aspirations, experiences and dreams and sticking out 2 days. Much has been learned from all of you and I am deeply grateful for that. Here's wishing you all the very best in your career and may all your dreams come true and more.      

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