Deepika Gupta: An Ever-Glowing Blaze Enlightening the Wisdom Horizon

Deepika Gupta
Deepika Gupta

For an ever-learning mind, even the ocean of knowledge is limitless. With an inquisitively curious brain, the mind will go on gaining novel insights into everything and expanding upon its wisdom.

That is how when Deepika Gupta, after about 12 years with BSE Ltd., joined IIM Bangalore for the Doctoral Programme in the Strategy Area, her mind–hungry for learning –got a chance to relearn and upskill itself, though she in her gracious attitude really thanks her alma mater for grooming her. She adds, “Here too, I had the opportunity to work with really great faculty.”

When Deepika joined the Indian Institute of Management, Vishakhapatnam (IIMV) as Assistant Professor in Strategy Area in June 2018, Director, Prof M Chandrasekhar, showed confidence and trust in her and made her the Coordinator Administration for the Institute in August 2018 (within 2 months of joining the Institute). This role helped to bring out leadership qualities in her and always supported her in setting up certain rules, regulations, policies and procedures for the Institute. “It was a team effort with all the credits going to the Director for his acumen and foresightedness,” says Deepika.

The Learning is Ongoing…

In addition to being Coordinator Administration, she handled various roles during the past four years in the Institute like Chairing the Students Affairs Council, Placements, Internal Complaints Committee, and was RTI First Appellate Authority and had been on various Committees of the Institute since 2018. Since 2021, she is the Chair for Career Development Services and Alumni Relations of the Institute. One of the major objectives of the Institute is to facilitate employment opportunities to each and every student in the flagship MBA Programme of the Institute. The Institute is credited with exemplary achievement of having 100% placement records each year.

Presently, she teaches courses like Competition and Strategy, Business Government and Society, Innovation and New Product Development, Corporate Governance, Legal Aspects of Business, and Strategic Tax Management for various programs like PGP, PGPEx, PGPDGM and others at the Institute. “I also direct, conduct and take sessions in various MDPs/EEPs organized by the Institute” she says.

She likes exploring and bringing out new courses to meet the latest industry requirements. She takes this initiative as a a challenge and opportunity that helps her break her own barriers of limiting herself to the existing knowledge and also helps in pushing the learning curve that should be an inherent part of business management domain

Experimenting with new subjects provides the required length and breadth learnings to the students. For example, courses like Corporate Governance try to inculcate the essentials of the legal and ethical corporate frameworks in the students who are going to be the future business managers or leaders. Through such courses, they should appreciate that business and facets of management are to be strategized within the legal boundaries of an ecosystem. “This helps to broaden not only the students’ thoughts and perspectives but also my learnings and experience. It is a win-win situation for both stakeholders. I believe that anyone who imparts more knowledge, the more it grows and spreads,” she says.

Further, she got nominated as a faculty nominee on the Board of IIMV and continues to hold the position till date, “Which is a matter of pride for me,” she says. She is also nominated by the Institute Board as Chief Audit Executive of the Institute and continues to do so. The main responsibility of Chief Audit Executive is to ensure transparency and accountability of the financials and also strengthen the internal control systems of the Institute. This is essential for ensuring sustainability of the Institute way ahead, especially when he Central Government grants shall cease to exist and the Institute need to be self-sustaining.

She’s currently Vice Chair and Secretary on the Executive Board of the Academy of International Business (AIB) South Asia Chapter. She was Chair of the AIB South Asia Chapter Conference in January 2022 and was Co-Chair for AIB India Chapter Conference in December 2020. Each of these conferences were conducted through electronic mode in the Institute and had the credit of receiving more than 100 submissions and were conducted with resounding success.

She’s the Chief Vigilance Officer (part-time) of the Institute as nominated by Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC), Government of India. “From Feb 2021, I hold the position and ensure that the processes and policies of the Institute are transparent, corruption free and adhere to the laid down CVC manuals, circulars and guidelines to prevent any type of malpractices or corruption in recruitment, procurement and other administrative matters of the Institute.” This highlights the high level of ethical perceptions by various stakeholders and adds to build the goodwill and brand image of the Institute.

She informs, “I also am Director Finance of Sec 8 Company of the Institute IIMV Foundation for Incubation Entrepreneurial Learning and Development (IIMV FIELD).” IIMV FIELD is the incubation and startup hub of IIMV and, “We are one of the fastest growing incubators in the country.” The objectives of IIMV FIELD are

  • To promote, develop and nurture the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation by way of facilitating, enabling, creating, fostering, supporting, funding/investing, mentoring, and managing entrepreneurial efforts, initiatives, endeavours, and ventures.
  • To promote and develop platforms which can provide networking opportunities for prospective and potential entrepreneurs, students, teachers/faculty, researchers, alumni groups, angel investor groups and other like and to enhance possibilities of mutual learning, sharing of knowledge and experiences; cross-fertilization of ideas; exchange of constructive thoughts and dissemination of best practices among such groups.
  • To promote education, research and other programs and activities in creativity, upskilling, re-skilling, re-tooling, incubation, acceleration, innovation, entrepreneurial learning and entrepreneurship development and allied areas of knowledge as well as interdisciplinary studies and domains.

She furthers that they also have a Startup Policy that is inclusive in nature and encourages faculty and students to be part of entrepreneurial activities. This helps the students to understand the challenges, problems, and issues for startups either fundraising, marketing, logistics and others. “We, therefore, do several Capacity Building Programs to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the Nation and specifically Visakhapatnam city, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Regions.” IIMV FIELD has also received government funds through various startup programs like TIDE, DST and others.

Overall, in any role that is exercised, every student should benefit in the form of learnings, experiences, and enhancement of knowledge that may or may not be related to the specific area in management domain alone but in wholesome. It is about building an ecosystem so that the benefits reach each and every person.

She expresses, “Overall, since I joined it has been an enriching and exciting journey till date.” 

The Journey Continues…

Deepika is currently the recipient of Visiting Research Fellowship (2022-23) from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), University of Pretoria, Johannesburg, South Africa (a triple crown accredited Institute).  

In April 2022, she was awarded the C K Prahalad Prashasti for Corporate and Social Strategy 2022 for research focus on Cultural Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property. This award was conferred by ReTHINK INDIA which honoured eminent figures in Corporate and Social Strategy to celebrate their strategic contributions toward Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

In addition, she is really thrilled and excited to be chosen to feature as Cover Story for ‘The Powerful Women Business Leader to Watch 2023’ in this esteemed CIOLOOK INDIA magazine Special Issue 😊 😊. “I think this marks the beginning of the bright journey ahead….”

She graduated in Commerce from Mulund College of Commerce, Mumbai University and then completed a Master’s in Financial Services and Management from Alkesh Dinesh Mody Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai University with First Rank.

She cleared the Chartered Accountancy exams on the first attempt in May 1997 and secured All India 9th Rank in Chartered Secretary December 1998 exams. She received Saraswati Dhanuka Memorial Award for 1st rank amongst female candidates and Ghanshyam Das Saraf Memorial Gold Medal for the highest marks in the ‘Corporate Tax Management – Indirect Tax’ paper in Chartered Secretary Finals.

Later, she completed Post Graduate Diploma in Banking and Securities Law with an overall 2nd Rank from Indian Law Institute (now deemed University), Delhi. She had been a regular recipient of various prizes, awards, and certificates for debates, elocution competitions and others during my school and college days.

She recalls, “I feel blessed to have strict, focused and disciplined learning with great teachers at my school, Sau Laxmibai English Medium School in Mulund East, Mumbai. My father was a Mechanical Engineer from Banaras Hindu University (now IIT-BHU) and my mother with MA and MEd degrees served as high school-teacher. I credit my parents for inculcating in each of the five daughters high levels of discipline, courage, ethics, integrity and deeply rooted beliefs along with full freedom, agility, resilience and flexibility in what we do while growing up. One of my sisters is Doctorate in Pharmacy and other works in Child Education and are settled in USA. The other sisters are Chartered Accountants and one of them works as Chief Manager in esteemed nationalized bank in India”

She began her professional career with M/s Shah and Dhokia, a Chartered Accountant firm in Mumbai and worked for about three years before joining The Bombay Stock Exchange (now BSE Ltd.) as Management Trainee. All the organizations where she worked provided equal opportunity and enough space for growth and learning. She says, “I was designated as Regional Head – North for BSE (when the family shifted to Delhi).”

According to Deepika, IIMV is one of the new generation IIMs, set up by the Government of India in September 2015 in line with the Andhra Pradesh Re-Organization Act, 2014. Under the IIM Act 2017, effective from 31/01/2018, the Institute has become a body corporate and declared as an…

Institution of National Importance

The Institute has started its academic operations in the ongoing construction of its world-class campus of approx. 241 acres of land about 25 kilometres from the present (temporary) state-of-the-art campus in the salubrious Andhra University campus in the ‘City of Destiny’, Visakhapatnam. Even though a new entrant in the Indian Education Sector, set up through statute, IIMV has marked its significance in a span of just seven years. The Board of the Institute has also been instrumental in being supportive and cooperative in timely decision making on various fronts like academics, finances, infrastructure and other support mechanisms.

Continuing its journey towards steady progress and growth since its inception just seven years ago, IIMV has already carved out for itself a niche place in the comity of IIMs, crossing several milestones and maintaining a distinct lead in:

  • Ongoing construction of its world-class infrastructure of IIMV Permanent Campus at Gambheeram, Anandpuram Mandal.
  • Having rich knowledge resources; and modern infrastructure, even in its temporary campus, conducive to learning outcomes of high impact;
  • Having a vibrant student cohort with national character – representing most of the states in India – they excel in academics, co- and extra-curricular activities and regularly win competitions pan-India.
  • Ranked 33rd in NIRF Rankings 2022 (highest among new generation IIMs)
  • Recording top placements among ten IIMs.
  • Enjoying excellent linkage with apex industry bodies like CII;
  • Having all faculty with PhDs from top-notch institutions of India and abroad such as IIMs, IITs and reputed foreign universities.
  • Hosting the largest cohort of women entrepreneurs, after IIM Bangalore, under a special initiative called the Women Start-up Program;
  • Launching the PhD program from the Academic Year 2019-20;
  • Conducting a customized MBA Program on weekends for experienced professionals;
  • Offering (first-ever in the country) a specialized MBA Program in Digital Governance & Management in blended learning mode, under the aegis of and sponsored by the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), Govt. of India;
  • Starting a TIDE (Technology Incubation and Development of Entrepreneurship) Center under the aegis of and supported by MeitY, GOI (only the fifth IIM to enjoy this recognition and privilege);
  • Building the capacities of teaching staff from the engineering colleges across the country, under the Technical Education Quality Improvement Program, sponsored by the National Project Implementation Unit, Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India;
  • Conducting Management Development Programs for top-notch Central Public Sector Enterprises and corporates.
  • Designing, developing and delivering the first-ever Certificate Program in R&D Management for the scientists of Naval Science & Technological Lab; DRDO, GOI;
  • Receiving, on the strength of our credibility assiduously built on strong credentials, an endowment of ₹22.0 Million from an eminent scientist and philanthropist (Dr B R L Row), towards the construction of an Incubation Facility as well as the institution of a Gold Medal to be awarded, year after year, to the best-performing girl student in the MBA program;
  • Reaching the threshold of constructing an iconic permanent campus with the largest area and the highest capital allocation among the new IIMs.

Deepika states, “As our Director says, IIMV is…

A Trend-Setter and Path-Breaker”

Sharing her initial challenges after venturing into the education industry viz-a-viz present challenges, Deepika says that getting an admission as a student or getting selected for teaching or otherwise with an IIM has always been a dream for many. “I am not sure if I faced challenges entering IIM but surely there have been initial challenges after venturing into the education industry.” The education industry is like any other industry. Merit and performances are definitely recognized and awarded. There is tough competition to outperform each other at every level. “Initially when I took over as Coordinator Administration, there were certain non-supportive moments that I experienced within the Institute. ” However, one cannot please everyone.

The efforts and actions speak and performance bars should be set so high that it should become difficult for the others to reach it, cross it or break it. Positive feedback received from various stakeholders highlight the quality of work accomplished. It is a self-satisficing feeling to be a part of the founding family member of the Institute. “It is worth mentioning here that mentoring, trust and guidance of Prof M Chandrasekhar eased out some of the challenges for me.”

The challenges are the same even now. “Now, that I handle other portfolios, I still experience the same challenges that I faced earlier. Sometimes, this is irritating and disgusting but as a leader, we need to adapt forget and forgive strategies. I too had my own lows where certain colleagues behaved differently and suddenly their personality traits changed . Sometimes, it gives a feeling that I am in ‘Big Boss’ House!!” Yeah, true I am an ardent Salman Khan fan 😊 !!

Being an experienced leader, Deepika opines that ‘Technology’ has always been a major force that is transforming any sector. “However, as an Institute, I believe, we understood its maximum potential only during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Though they already had state-of-the-art facilities on their temporary campus, they never thought that they need to transform some of their learning techniques online for the benefit of various stakeholders, students in particular. They spent almost about ‘Rupees One Crore’ to bring the best of the available online technological resources so that they continue to impart quality education seamlessly and without any friction. They also got robust and foolproof examination platforms on board and trained all the stakeholders about how to use them. “We thereby managed all our programmes for almost more than two years without any reported glitch,” she informs.

Though COVID-19 is a story of the past now, they continue to use some of these advancements even today. Some of their certificate programmes and executive education short-term programmes continue on online mode. The Institute is also planning to start the EMBA programme through hybrid mode and, “I think many management schools have realized the potential of technology.”

Various problems faced during the pandemic have helped them gain experiences and these have been really useful as inputs to get the world-class infrastructure set up in their permanent campus. “Technology is the key instrument of imparting education and this is to stay for the future as well,” she feels.

In her advice, Deepika claims that Teaching is a noble profession. “Therefore, I think, that as an academician it is time to give back to society. My advice to the aspirants who are looking to venture into the Management sector as an academician is that…

Be True to Yourself and Listen to your Inner Self

…and the rest follows. Be honest, ethical and transparent. Accept mistakes if committed and do not try to find an escape route to avoid accountability and responsibility.”

The tree that is fully laden with fruits always is rooted to the ground. Be rooted to the ground, be empathetic and sympathetic, and respect your parents and colleagues and success will surely follow. Philosophically, be God-fearing.

Have the courage to speak the truth and follow what the heart says. Do not be part of the herd mentality for the sake of it. “As the former President of India Shri APJ Abdul Kalam had said ‘Love your job to be happy’ I think we should do that.”

As a leader, one should accept risks, do accept them and be courageous to face failures as well. There is no reward without risks.

“My future goals are to continue working in the education sector wherein there are no closures and every day is a new learning.” There is no end to the limits of knowledge and the Institute provides exactly new avenues to continue these steps forward. “I look forward to being more active in research and aim for some top-class publications. With the research fellowship from GIBS, I aim to look into more such opportunities.”

For the Institute, they continue to explore further with their new permanent campus to be operative fully in a few months they aim to look for more programmes, industry connects and other activities to increase their revenues and bottom lines to become self-sustainable.

For enhancing the teaching methods of the Institute, all the faculty are encouraged to participate in various programmes of reputed management schools in India or abroad to enhance their skills so that there is innovation in teaching methods. The course curriculum is revised at regular intervals to maintain quality and rigour for all the programmes. “The students are our brand ambassadors when they graduate. These are the alumni that provide us feedback about what the industry is looking for and how the dynamic environment requires the Institute to revamp our offerings in terms of courses, electives, structures, outlines and delivery. The students should be able to appreciate the learnings and imbibe in themselves these facets that shall help them in their professional careers,” she concludes.