Dr. Kulneet Suri, Senior Director of IMS Noida and Alumna of Harvard University (HKS)

Dr. Kulneet Suri

Interview with Dr. Kulneet Suri, Senior Director of IMS Noida and Alumna of Harvard University (HKS)

With an impressive tenure of over 23 years in the Higher Education Sector, Dr. Kulneet Suri has established herself as a distinguished figure.

Her remarkable leadership skills have paved the way for outstanding achievements throughout her career. Currently serving as the Senior Director at IMS Noida, IMS-DIA under UNISON EDUCATION Society, which encompasses 11 campuses spanning Dehradun and Noida, Dr. Suri’s contributions have been invaluable.

In addition to her role in academia, Dr. Kulneet Suri has been actively involved in uplifting women and girls in both organized and unorganized sectors.

She has played a pivotal role in mentoring a team and fostering strong industry-academia relationships. Under her guidance, an industry-academia innovation center has been established, promoting collaboration and innovation.

The International Academic Advisory Board, which she spearheaded, boasts members from 35 renowned universities across the globe, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Notable university partners, such as Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), University of Huddersfield (United Kingdom), and Taylor’s University College (Malaysia), have greatly benefited from her efforts.

Dr. Suri’s responsibilities extend to the development of new enterprise initiatives and overseeing all academic and research activities.

Her expertise has been showcased through numerous articles published in academic and professional journals, covering a wide range of topics in management, organizational behavior, and Total Quality Management (TQM).

She has also authored a book on TQM and five additional books on the English language. Her latest publication, titled “Amazing English,” has garnered significant attention.

Furthermore, Dr. Kulneet Suri is currently engrossed in writing a novel titled “The Unforgettable,” based on real-life experiences.

Tell us a little about yourself

Dr. Kulneet Suri:  I will share some experiences of a girl who grew up in a middle class Punjabi family with constant reminders from my parents that working hard with a purpose is the only way to be able to lead the best life.

My Schooling was done across various states PAN India and this helped me identify and respect diversity from a very early age.

My first job at the age of 12 which I would eventually take up during the summer vacations. It was full of mundane job responsibilities but it taught me to value money and time.

Born to incredible parents, who were professionally conscious, Each summer vacation had to be spent with a purposeful activity which involved learning some new activity and also contributing to society.

This trigger pushed me to work harder than ever and be my best version. Very early in life I was made conscious of the choice to either be an average person or an above average achiever and that set the trigger for a competitive mindset.

I would study till the wee hours, search for every way in which I could fill my knowledge reservoir  to be able to score high and get scholarships because this was the only way to continue my education and realize my dream.

Education was funded by parents till graduation-the idea was to make me self-dependent. I bagged my first scholarship for my post-graduation studies and put my heart and soul into learning the nuances of Management, my doctorate was sponsored-but did not come to me easily.

Each time someone would say-you will not be able to achieve this-I would tell myself.  “I must achieve not for others but for myself-I can’t let myself down”.

All this taught me to be a continuous learner, to uphold my ethics and self-respect. Global education taught me adaptability, being more resilient, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Then came education from Harvard University-Harvard Kennedy School. A whole new world of learnings-challenges for which I thought I was not prepared-but I knew I had to achieve this.

I can never forget the day when one of my Professors at Harvard asked me, “which part of India do you come from-you do half of my work in the lectures?

My responses in the lectures, participation with my batch mates-and hunger for learning attracted the attention of many of my Professors from Harvard University, HKS, HBS.

I have particularly been fortunate to have the President of Harvard University, (Prof) Dr. Lawrence Bacow and Professors of Harvard University mentored me towards being a resilient leader, to never give up and to never compromise on my ethics and self-respect.

I started my career with Corporate but moved to Higher Education sector and have dedicated two decades and more to Research, Marketing, Analytics, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and much more.

I am associated with Coleman Research and Conrad(USA). Have been recognised and am associated with The Harvard College Project for Asian & International Relations.

Back home I am with a couple of Organizations and contribute towards innovative practises in Education, technology and entrepreneurship.

I have received National and International awards at various levels. My contributions to National and International dailies and magazines involve diverse issues.

I have been featured in The Leaders Council, UK and Northern IRELAND, Harvard Business Review.

Can you provide an overview of your role as Senior Director at IMS Noida and IMS-DIA?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: Spearheading two Institutions and being in a leadership role my responsibilities involve making strategic decisions on day to day basis across various departments-ranging from academics to non-academics, marketing-branding, finance, CRC and at various levels which are quite complex in nature.

As a Leader I unlock human potential, nurture staff, students, faculty members and also motivate them towards research and continuous learning.

As part of their activities, I propel students to give back to society-by various activities. Their learnings are futuristic-be it academics or non-academics.

Recently I have launched Accelerating Towards-ZERO Waste campus initiative with IPCA-and IMS Noida will be the first to achieve this Call for Climate Action initiative.

Inviting Industry to Campus for Masterclasses and not just placements is about developing student acumen to be ready for the Industry challenges

What are your primary responsibilities and areas of focus?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: As an effective Leader you are never supposed to create boundaries in work. I work across all departments with a purpose to find solutions to challenges at work and bring in innovative practices, creating opportunities for Institutional growth with expanded creativity, implantation of changes and improvements where and when necessary, critical thinking and laser focus on analytics to help drive best practises are my areas of expertise and focus.

With your extensive experience in the field, what are some key challenges you have faced in the education industry, and how have you addressed them?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: Co-creation of ideas is very important-it involves discussion, debate and allows everyone to feel more vested.

Participation of stakeholders and speaking up where you may think the ideas are risky—brings out the opportunity of productive advocacy and assuage fear.

I have been able to navigate Inclusive leadership, work on Collaborations with Industry, Universities, Institutions to work with knowledge sharing initiatives, invest in people, empower so that it helps the students/staff/faculty to excel. The most important but challenging task has been mitigate process biases for effective collaborations

As a senior leader, how do you ensure the effective implementation of innovative teaching methodologies and technologies within the institutions you oversee?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: So, it is very important to involve people and also to create a value system for them so that they are physically and emotionally prepared for the changes.

Attitude and mindset precedes talent and skills. As a senior leader, like to create the readiness so that there is minimal resistance and maximum readiness to take on innovative practises and make an impact through effectiveness

IMS Noida and IMS-DIA cater to a diverse student population. How do you foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students from various backgrounds?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: Very important question…and the answer is by cultivating Conscious Cultural Awareness during interactions, celebration of multicultural activities, festivals, leveraging the thinking of diverse groups through ideation-this reduces the risk of being blind-sided.

Can you share some examples of initiatives you have led or implemented to enhance the quality of education and student outcomes in your role as Senior Director?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: The first step was to develop a collective sense of goals and objectives amongst all stakeholders-Management, Students, staff and faculty.

Thereon initiatives like pitch decks, peripheral learning, applied learning, infusing value added courses, introduction of cultural and sports clubs for overall development of students, exposure to spiritual excellence with focus on Ethics and morality, Masterclasses by diverse Industry experts, introduction of Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Incubating with the Industry, simulation exercises, Analytics and deep learning.

70% teaching through Case studies is mandatory for rigorous student preparedness and understanding of the Industry requirements.

As the education landscape continues to evolve, what strategies do you employ to stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in education?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: Absolutely necessary! I am a continuous learner which makes me stay centred, energized and updated with so many advancements in education and technology sector.

I speak and participate at various National and International forums. I write frequently, work on being socially connected, read to learn more, I read extensively about twelve books in an year-recent read is INFLUENCE by Robert B. Cialdini, Volunteer for various organizations/disciplines, work on self-imaging.

What advice would you give to aspiring educators and administrators who are looking to make a meaningful impact in the field of education?

Dr. Kulneet Suri: A very meaningful question! So most important is to be able to engage Hearts & Minds-responding to people using warmth, humour, kindness, strength makes them feel welcome and this can be game-changer for you as a leader, be it any Industry, any organization.

To every aspiring educator and administrator I would suggest, an approach that requires practice, deliberation, involve people and define processes for growth overtime.

Your credibility as a Leader will earn you support of people, teams and help you drive processes and innovative practices successfully. Encourage creativity and innovation-be prepared by learning continuously!

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