Open to out-of-the-box thinking, with a keen sense of identifying and empowering talent, Dr. Arya Patnaik, President, Odisha Management Colleges’ Association (OMCA) and Secretary (GB), Rourkela Institute of Management Studies (RIMS), is an educationist who is eager to embrace change if it promises to deliver overall benefit.
With his astute wisdom and vision, Dr. Patnaik has been a major force in empowering the teaching community in Odisha over the last decade or so. He holds several important positions of responsibility as a member of the Odisha government’s Policy Planning Board, Fee Fixation Committee, Skill Development and the Technical Education Department, He is also a trustee of Sahayog Healthcare and Research Foundation; and also a Member of the Governing Board of various educational institutions and corporate houses. Given his holistic understanding of how educational institutes and the corporate industry can complement each other in taking the nation forward, Dr. Patnaik has for the last several years been focusing on bridging the gap between the education institutes and the industry.
Dr. Patnaik strongly supports the need to impart more training and facilities for teachers, considering that they are the lifeline of any educational institute. “It is they who mould the future of the students; ignite a spark in their minds to aim high in life; and empower and make them skilled to become industry-ready. However, times have changed – technology-wise, industry requirement-wise and students’ expectation-wise,” says Dr. Patnaik. He often stresses “gone are the days when teachers would come to the class, give lectures and students would learn what is taught and be satisfied. Today, students have a lot of expectations; they are not really excited about classroom teaching but smart board teaching. These people are quite tech savvy and expect their teachers to be comfortable with technology as well. Students want more practical exposure than theory, which is fair enough since the industry today also demands skills more than theoretical knowledge.”
To ensure that students are in tune with the needs of the job market and industry, Dr. Patnaik has inspired RIMS team to develop a complete ERP system for the institute, setup a cloud club, Data Science club, Security club, DEVOPP club within the campus, organized Mobile App development that endows toppers with Microsoft certification, and tied up with RxOne, a U.S. based company to provide training to students and faculties on cutting edge technologies. At RIMS, one of the oldest and premier Management and IT institutes of the state, Dr. Patnaik has made a conscious effort over the years to make all faculty members proficient with technology. This proactive approach has yielded great results for the institute. During the COVID-19 pandemic, RIMS was one of the first institutes in the state to start online classes and hold online examinations for its students without any hiccups.
Only recently, after the state government’s notification, physical classes have begun in the Institute. It has been a herculean effort by all the faculty of RIMS to teach, take examinations and declare immediate results, all online through Microsoft Teams, in the past two years. Lauding the faculty efforts, Dr. Patnaik says, “I am extremely proud of the efforts put in by the teaching and non-teaching staff of RIMS during the pandemic to ensure smooth conduct of online teaching. I am more pleased that no student had to face any difficulty in his/her studies.”
Dr. Patnaik believes that empowerment of the students will be a determining factor in the success and growth of the Indian corporate industry in the next 15-20 years and thus, developing a skilled workforce among people with higher education is the need of the hour. As guest speaker at various national and state level seminars, webinars and conferences in recent years, Dr. Patnaik has been very vocal about the need to take advantage of India’s young population through better and higher education and skill development. He is a strong supporter of Hon’ble Prime minister’s Vision on Education and put tireless effort to bring Industries and Institutes to a common platform and create a win-win situation for both.
Empowering those who Empower
Dr. Patnaik has been stressing upon at RIMS and other management institutes, affiliated to OMCA, to help teachers to upgrade their skills by enabling them to do refresher and advance level courses offered by SWAYAM, NPTEL, ATAL FDP and other MOOC platforms in their respective field of specialisation. Such a move has also been advocated by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and other statutory bodies.
The educationist has also instituted a club concept at RIMS, in which industry experts and alumni of the Institute are coming together to impart knowledge and guide faculty about newer avenues in technology and helping them to generate new startup ideas. As a result, the faculty has been involved in real-time research work, mentoring students through each aspect of developing an idea into an actual product or service. Recently, RIMS won an award in the Start-Up Cell category in a competition conducted by Biju Patnaik University of Technology, (BPUT) Odisha. This is a testimony to the fact that the club concept has been a great step and it is empowering both teachers and students. “The idea behind this concept was quite simple – ‘Empowering those who Empower’,” says Dr. Patnaik.
Industry-ready, Skilled Workforce
Having had a very humble upbringing, Dr Patnaik has shouldered family responsibilities. He has shown leadership qualities from his early school days, as head of the NCC boys. He was also part of his school as well as college football team. Before moving to the field of education, Dr. Patnaik spent 25 years in the corporate industry, working with renowned organizations like IDCO Ltd., NICCO Ltd., Thermax Ltd., Monnet Ispat and Alloys Ltd. and M/s Tyazhpromexport, a Russian public sector company. He is still associated with a few firms – Macrosoft Associates Pvt. Ltd. Tatwa BPO Ltd., HSDA Management Ltd.,BGR Medical research Center & Hospital Pvt. Ltd., Cardinal Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. and NEESA chemical pvt. Ltd., - in the capacity of Director. This continuing association with the industry has helped him keep abreast of the job market requirements.
At RIMS, Dr Patnaik has been using his knowledge to help students develop their skills through regular training. For job placement, a lot of impetus is being given to practical training through internships, industrial tours, workshops and consultancy projects. During COVID, the online internships came to the students’ rescue. To give students a feel of the corporate environment, experts from the industry are regularly invited to interact with the students.
“It is high time that academia and industry understand that both are dependent upon each other and their growth and success relies on each other. They need to come together and strategize a long-term plan that is beneficial to them. The objective of higher educational institutes should be to work closely with the industry to ensure that their students are absolutely ready to enter into the job market with the desired skills. While the objective for industry should be to help educational institutes by giving all possible inputs to train students at the college level, so that the need for the same is not required when new personnel are recruited. It makes sense even financially,” says Dr Patnaik.