Sandeep Sharma is a director and the principal at Adhyayan— a design and technology focused school. Sharma who spent a decade in the US—studying in Virginia Tech and John Hopkins University—returned to Kathmandu to begin something creative and innovative here, which led to the founding of the technology-focused institution. He mentions that the teaching modules at the school are inspired by Stanford University and is working via Google Classroom and Khan Academy to teach students better. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Sharma discusses the oncoming paradigm shift in the education system and what other managers can learn from the management systems applied in the school. Excerpts:
How can digitalisation help students develop life skills that are perhaps not accessible in a traditional classroom?
There is a tool called design thinking that we use to help students deal with real life problems. Design thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the student. The design thinking tool helps students identify empathy and humility. For instance, some students lose their stationery often and through design thinking tool we help them take those lessons that aid them in coping with other real-life situations too. Although I went to good schools in Kathmandu, I realised that I lacked some soft skills. Empathy and humility are the core values that are lacking here and we are trying to instil in our students.
As a new school starting out in a competitive sector, how do you plan to make yourself more visible in the market?
We do have a new management team at Adhyayan. However, to make the school more visible in the market, we are planning on partnering with a lot of organisations such as Karkhana—an education company and makerspace with a unique approach to learning, among other international institutions. We are also partnering with various corporate houses for employee benefit plans so that they can send their children to Adhyayan School. It sounds counter intuitive now, but education institutions, particularly in Nepal, do still rely on word of mouth. And that takes time, you can’t build a name for yourself overnight. Not when you want to bring something new to the market.
How important is right branding for a new school?
We got into the education field only about a year ago and we are sensitive about the new name. In all honesty, setting up our own brand will take a long while; it is not something that can be achieved overnight or even in a few years. We are still waiting for the right time. It is quite a sensitive period for us because students, the parents and locals need to trust us. Once the trust is built, we can go about further strengthening the brand.
What management lessons can corporate managers take from how a school is run?
In every corporation, the core management challenge is people management. If in corporate settings they have employees working directly with the customers, for us, it’s the teachers who are the front face of our organisation. It’s the teachers who are well connected with the students and parents. And for them to become the best at what they do, it is important that teachers continue growing—through trainings and workshops—and through constant feedback. If the teachers are well trained, it won’t take much time for the school to attract good talent from the market. As we all know, talented people are also in search of organisations that they can grow in.
In your field, you are teaching a lot of teachers to adapt to new technologies. What can other industries learn about keeping pace with an ever-evolving market?
Technology can be tough for those who are not well versed with it but at Adhyayan we have older teachers who are willing to work towards developing their technological skills. At the end of the day, it is all about being excited to work on something new, and it is up to the organisation to create an environment that fosters this. For every industry, technology is ever evolving. Today, one cannot survive without adapting to new technologies. So, sooner the industries across various sectors begin adapting to the evolving market—in their own subjective ways—the better chances of future success they have.
What are your top management mantras?
My top management mantra is definitely professionalism and punctuality. They sound overtly simple, but they form the building blocks for ever successful and dynamic career.Published: 2018-08-06 08:38:04