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Exposure to many things gives an edge over succeeding a career. In a jobscape with wide and disruptive opportunities, staying abreast with new things and reaching to resources beyond bounds is becoming the order of the day. This interview with Brinda Manivannan would leave you with insights about Project Management as a course of study and a career choice.

What is the role of Project Management in IT industry, and what are the career prospects?

IT industry essentially works in the project format in teams, and career prospect in Project Management is immense. Every team has a project manager who is responsible for delivering the results and also for the wellbeing of the team members. In a fast paced sector like IT where you get requirements from people who may be from around the globe and are expected to deliver end result in hours, where efficient management of the project by the manager has become crucial than ever. The knowledge of project management is not necessarily restricted to projects in the IT. The skills can be used in any sector.

What level of Project Management exposure you had before you entered the industry? (If it was limited what were the limiting parameters?)

I was fresh out of engineering undergraduate degree before I entered the IT industry. So, my level of exposure was pretty limited as I was in academic settings and I could see a gap when I joined my organisation and had to work on that area to bridge that. The undergraduate degree hardly had any credits given for working in projects, which limited my project management exposure before entering into the industry. The structure of engineering degree is such that it focuses more on the technical aspect of education and leaves a huge gap when it comes to developing the soft skills and project management skills in students.

Why did you choose to pursue Project Management course in a University abroad, what sort of difference you found in them from the ones in India?

After graduating in engineering, I entered the IT industry as a software developer working for an MNC. It being an MNC, I worked for clients based in UK and in Australia. It was during this time that I could observe the difference between the style of project management in India and abroad. Around the same time, I was finalizing on my decision to pursue higher education. So I decided to check the differences between courses offered by Indian institutes and those in abroad. The first thing that I found was that Project Management was not offered in many institutes in India. Those that had the course, was bit outdated. And the other important factor was the course structure which is entirely different from many of the Indian Institutes that I came across.

Something about that differentiating factor (in terms of course framework) that made you decide upon one particular institution though every institution abroad is different from Indian ones

The one important factor that made me choose University of Southampton was the course structure. The course is designed in such a way that, as a potential manager, the student would have adequate knowledge in areas pertaining to project management and at the same time have social responsibility at the core of the decisions made. The course structure involved exploring the latest developments in the field of management. Most importantly, the course was framed in such a way that it encourages the students to find out their style of management by themselves by providing them the right skills through the coursework.

Give a few Indian institutions you feel are at par with the foreign institutions in your field of specialization.

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The IIMs, IITs, FMS, S. P. Jain, NITs, IIFT, XLRI are some of the top institutes that offer world class managerial degrees.

What kind of Industry-institute interaction you had while you studied abroad, that is yet to be inculcated here in India?

One of the modules ‘Organizational Effectives’ was designed to implement our theoretical learnings in real world situation. We were given the simulated business environment used by leading retail giants, where we as a team had to take care of the daily operations and had to make strategic choices to increase the turnover. It was one of the best learning experiences as the facilitator mentoring us was the person who trains managers of these retail giants. In the Project Management module, we had industry experts from various other countries sharing their insights with us. This is the one thing that needs to be inculcated in Indian education system – having the people working in the industry interact with students and share their insights.

A brief on the dissemination patterns in India and abroad, based on your experience

One of the main differences abroad is that the way education is imparted. Universities abroad use the latest technology to give the right kind of student support. Being a managerial course, most of my classes were a mix of theoretical learnings followed by group discussions, strong debates over concepts between lecturers and the students in class hours. The assignments given were on real time topics. The assignments were on the latest business issues. And most importantly, plagiarism is taken very seriously abroad. This is another aspect that not many institutes in India take very seriously.

Studying abroad opens up avenues for being midst a heterogeneous group, how benefitted you stand of this exposure?

Learning alongside of driven and ambitious people in the campus has made me focus more on my goals. This has also improved me as an efficient communicator, and has improved my ability to adapt. The year abroad has given me confidence and has instilled in me a sense of independence and inventiveness.

what should be the attitude of a management student to top the charts, be it while studying or in a career?

To climb up the ladder of success, a management student should have an assertive attitude. At the same time, they should have the ability to adapt and learn, as management is one field which is very dynamic and the decision made yesterday ceases to be valid today. I believe management students should adapt, learn and keep themselves updated on what is happening in the business world.

What are the entrepreneurial possibilities laying with International Management studies?

International Management studies is an amalgamation of various important managerial topics like accounting, leadership, operations, strategic marketing, decision making etc. So essentially, any entrepreneurial possibility available in these areas is open for an International Management student too. But personally I feel, Business Consultation for SMEs, Marketing Consultation, Strategic Decision Consultation are some that require a broad understanding of the business which is developed through International Management studies.

How would you like to contribute back to the Indian industry as a Master in International Management?

I believe the Project Management sector of Indian IT companies is highly neglected as many companies tend to implement the practices developed abroad. But what they fail to understand is that the Project Management concepts developed in the western countries cannot be applied directly to the Indian IT sector as the basic nature of the society is different. This is the reason why the Indian IT sector, with a tremendous potential, is still not performing. The key is to adopt the practices so that they would suit the Indian IT employees and thus increase the productivity. I intend to contribute by working towards modifying the Project Management techniques to suit the Indian employees so that the performance increases.

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