Endowed Eminence: Dr. Santrupt B. Misra
On 16 August 2017, a very significant executive position of NIT Rourkela got enhanced with the appointment of Dr. Santrupt B Misra as the Chairman of NITRKL. Being a prodigy since childhood and excelling in professional arena of life, he is a man with an exuberant vision of working. After a very interactive session with the faculty members and students, our newly appointed chairman spoke to team MM about his journey in life so far.
MM: Many years have swayed since the young days. After about 26 years of experience in education, training, consulting and executive development how would you narrate your childhood days?
SBM: My childhood was spent at many places predominantly: Nayagarh, Angul, Sambalpur, and Cuttack. I didn’t get any formal education till I was five years old owing to the fact that my father was posted at places, deprived of proper schools, public transport. My education was judged by a tutor who came to our house.
Then we shifted to Angul where I went to a two-room school. That was the place where sun, moon, rain and cows had equal right of access to the class because there were no doors and windows (smiles). My job was that of a ‘safai-mantri’. Reaching school 15 minutes earlier and cleaning the floor for my classmates to sit on was my job. I went to study at Secondary Board High School, Cuttack and completed my matriculation in 1978.
MM: The world sights Dr. Santrupt B Misra as an exceptional academic scholar bearing two masters and two Ph.D. degrees. Can you elaborate about your further education?
SBM: Further education proceeded with my intermediate in arts at Ravenshaw College and B.A (honors) in political science. Then for a brief-while, I went to the School of International Studies, JNU. However, due to certain health issues of my mother I returned and completed my masters in political science from Utkal University where I secured a ‘ first-class first’ position heading towards the best-graduate award. Then I pursued a post-graduate degree in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations (PMIR) from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and topped in my batch.
Then while working, I finished my Ph.D. in Public Administration from Utkal University and received a common wealth scholarship which provided me the opportunity to go to England and complete my second Ph.D. from Aston Business School.
MM: Having pursued a degree in Industrial Relations from Aston Business School, UK and a postgraduate degree in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India. What significant differences do you find between the system of education in India and abroad?
SBM: The difference fundamentally is that Tata Institute’s education involved lots of practical training. Every week I had four days of classroom education and two days I had to work at an industry. This continued for four semesters so, each semester I witnessed a different industry. In short, it gave a great practical orientation.
Talking about Ph.D. in England, it created a strong conceptual and theoretical base. We were supposed to do plenty of literary searches to bridge the gaps in knowledge in our concerned field of study. Then I had to define and present my thesis before my peer group, other professors, my guide and finally the examiner. According to me, the process was a bit rigorous there.
MM: You were elected as a member of the Society of Fellows of the Aston Business School Society in 2007. What according to you paved your way to this platform?
SBM: A year prior to that, the Aston Business school awarded me with a doctor of science: - ‘Honoris Causa’ degree. Honoris Causa basically means that when someone is given a D.Litt or a D.Sc on account of their professional work, they don’t have to write a thesis. So, my alma mater gave me this degree and I feel that all these recognitions come into picture when someone does good professional work in their area of specialization.
MM: In 2009 you were inducted into the Global Advisory Board of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). Can you brief us about your role in this sphere?
SBM: Executive Search Consultants is a global body where the members select the senior people for various companies. Briefly, it is a ‘head-hunters’ association. The advisory board of AESC monitors the professional standards of people globally and relates the searches to different companies and industries. My role was to be a part of the board and make sure that the search industry followed ethical standards in enhancing client relationship and evolved itself as a reputed profession in the sector.
MM: You have been the recipient of many awards like the HRD Excellence Award, Ravi J Mathai National Fellow Award, and Global Leader of the year. What do you regard as the most coveted achievement?
I perhaps believe that amidst all these achievements, the chairmanship of NIT Rourkela is the most distinctive one because it indeed creates a sense of responsibility. Most other awards are for what one has already done but this comes for what one has done in the past and also provides opportunities to do something worthy in future.
MM: Within the Aditya Birla Group, you have transcended yourself from the post of vice president to that of the director-cum-CEO. Up until today, you have dedicated 22 years of service towards this organization. How has been your experience regarding this association?
SBM: Outstanding! You won’t stay at a place for 22 years unless you had the first-rate experience. I believe, and as rightly acknowledged by the commonwealth, Aditya Birla Group has been recognized as the best employer in India, a great place for leaders to work and stands number one Asia-Pacific region and number four in the world. So, of course, it was exciting or else why would have I spent 22 years of my prime years in that company!
MM: What plans do you have for NIT Rourkela down the pipeline as the chairman?
SBM: Well today is my first visit to the institute and hence I do not have any specific plans as of now, but I am formulating new plans. Strengthening incubators, bolstering the alumni network so as to leverage it for sponsorships and fundings for research and internships are something I look forward to. I also aim to increase the partnerships and collaborations with the industries, drawing in more capital for research and building a more conducive climate for academic activities with the professors and support services. Improving teaching standards and developing infrastructure and facilities available are some of the things on my to do list.
MM: How do you balance both your professional and personal lives? Are there any hobbies of yours which pacify you during moments of turbulence?
SBM: I think there is nothing to balance.
I do not see personal and professional lives as two different compartments. They are part of one package called life.
So, I think there is a bit of a person when you do work and there is a bit of work in your personal life. I do not think that I have ever made a distinction between the two nor should anyone. Work is reality and so is your personal responsibility for the family. Hence, you must live with both the realities and it is all a part of the same continuum called life.
As for hobbies, I used to play lots of cricket, collect stamps, read a lot. I like to watch movies, have lots of friends. So that’s a vibrant enough life.
MM: Do you have any message for the readers and students of our institute?
Well, my message is very simple; believe in yourself, work hard and the rest is taken care of by these two elements.