www.collegedunia.com | October 13, 2020
Prof. Sajith Narayanan is the Associate Dean of FLAME School of Communication, FLAME University, Pune. He is an excellent teacher of branding, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship with a wealth of experience in industry and academics. He became an entrepreneur at an early age when he set up a communication consulting firm, Plink Solutions, after graduating from MICA.
In this interview, he shares the learnings from his experience in entrepreneurship, marketing and academics. He encourages students to look at the positive transition to these extraordinary times and to succeed through hard work. He mentions the rising opportunities in the field of communication management and how students can plan for it. Read what he has to say in his interview here.
How do you strategize the key programs in your university?
“Students are encouraged to engage in a wide variety of subjects to gain varied perspectives”
FLAME University is grounded in the idea of liberal education, a method of learning that transcends the hierarchical distinctions that occur between disciplines and unveils the inherent harmony in learning. Students are encouraged to engage in a wide variety of subjects to approach a topic from different points of view. The programs in FLAME School of Communication aim to ensure the holistic development of our students while ensuring that they are well qualified and adept to work in the complex world of communications. Specializations in Advertising and Branding; Digital Marketing and Communications; Film and Television Management; Communication Studies; and Journalism are offered. The aim is to prepare students to succeed in their career of choice while leading purposeful lives. We have designed a unique two-year MBA (Communications Management) program that prepares them for advertising, media, digital, entertainment, and communications industries. We offer a rigorous academic program, updated curriculum, liberal education courses, extensive industry participation, athletics, and lively student activities in a residential setting on our picturesque campus.
You have been an integral member in numerous start-ups in your early days. How does that help in running such a big institute now?
“Taking a day at a time while working towards long term goal is the key to success”
An entrepreneur has to market his/her business idea not only to customers but also to employees and investors. Moreover, they have to achieve this while working on shoe-string budgets. They compete for the consumers’ mind-share along with established brands in their category that spend billions on marketing. All this makes marketing a start-up amongst the most challenging tasks to undertake. Every day was a new challenge. Working in ambiguity, taking a day at a time while working for the long term goals, and getting others to believe in you and your ideas are critical to growing start-ups. I suppose this grounding has always kept me in good stead through my role at FLAME University.
Understanding audiences and making an impact through story-telling is what you will see as the common thread flowing across Advertising and Branding, Digital Marketing and Communications, Film and Television , Communication Studies and Journalism areas of Faculty of Communications. The vast experience with different start-ups has helped me understand well these specializations and evolve them into a cohesive unit in the Faculty of Communications at FLAME University.
Please tell us more about your blog on Innovative Marketing and about your Facebook page?
“Learning transcends classroom; digital platforms complement and aid continuous learning”
The Innovative Marketing Blog and Page were started as a continuous learning platform for students of my Innovative Marketing course. This course itself has evolved from my experience with marketing start-ups, SMEs, and brands in the social sector. This course trains students to evolve innovative marketing strategies and enables them to use them effectively to market their offerings at low-budgets in a competitive market. Students take up a guided project where they undergo the entire process from identifying opportunities in a segment, developing a marketable solution, naming and developing a brand, and creating a low budget go-to-market plan using innovative media and strategies. Such an evolving action-based learning course led to the need for a platform for current and past students to share and discuss new innovative marketing ideas and strategies. This led to the page and corresponding blog to enable participation of students beyond and after their course, which got wider viewership.
What is your philosophy of leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
“I succeed when my students and team succeed”
At FLAME School of Communication, we promote, nurture, and develop independent thinking. As a person responsible for the FLAME School of Communication, I would like to provide an environment that encourages students to explore new ideas in content and form. It is essential to be open to new ideas and to provide them with a favourable environment to experiment and re-examine ideas continuously. As a teacher, I'm driven by the growth and progress of my students. Nothing beats the joy of seeing them succeed. I want to think I'm approachable and motivating, especially for my faculty and students.
How does the curriculum of FLAME School of Communication, FLAME University imbibe the best practice of the industry that are relevant in the real world?
“The curriculum trains students for demanding careers in marketing and communications”
FLAME School of Communication has amongst the most comprehensive and up-to-date programs in Communications Management for those looking to make a career or start a venture in advertising, media, entertainment, digital marketing, and specialized marketing.
We have a futuristic outlook. We are not limited by conventionalism and are always looking to incorporate the latest developments in the classroom. Through interactive sessions, industry engagement, action-based learning, live projects, and exposure to the latest tools, we ensure that our students stay ahead of the curve. The field of communication is exceptionally dynamic. We aim to familiarize our students with it before entering the real world through courses, workshops, competitions, and simulations.
The program provides students with a foundation for general management, a comprehensive understanding of marketing and communications, and then a wide range of choices in each of their specializations. We have recently revised our curriculum. The feedback from the industry, alumni, students, faculty, and academicians have been incorporated to deliver an extremely robust program that caters to the growing communication industry.
- Advertising and Branding specialization has courses like Brand Planning, Consumer Insight Mining, Media Planning and Buying, Semiotics and Storytelling, Innovative Marketing, Luxury Brand Management, Corporate Communications, Sports Marketing, and Media management among others among others.
- In the Digital Marketing and Communications' specialization, students can opt from multiple courses. The courses include Social Media Marketing, Biddable Media, Digital content creation, Emerging Digital Technologies, Data Science, etc.
- Film and Television Management specialization will offer courses like Business of Entertainment, Film Making, TV Programming, Channel Management, Artist Management, Producing films, etc.
- Besides these, students are encouraged to choose from the liberal education electives like Psychology, Contemporary Dance, Visual Arts, Theatre, Critical thinking to widen their horizons.
- The first year courses like - Marketing Management, Communication Theory, Research Methods, Consumer and Audience Behavior, Decision Sciences, Organizational Behavior, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Business Communication, Economics and Operations Management - prepare their foundation.
Across these courses, they participate in assignments where teamwork, managerial communication, and critical thinking is emphasized. We believe that competition and cooperation are essential for the growth of the individual. Our academics are competitive, enabling students to outperform themselves to stand out among their peers. At the same time, we have group assignments and team-based cultural activities that bring together students and sensitize them to take care of each other's interests. Through the courses, co-curricular activities, clubs, and extra-curricular activities the program gives them lifelong skills by imbuing the spirit of inquiry, winning and losing, learning to respect fellow human beings, and providing holistic management education focused on the communications industry.
Any suggestions you would like to give to the current youth and the aspiring students?
“Adapt to the changing needs of the industry and see yourself excel in these unprecedented times”
Every single person is unsure about the times ahead of COVID. These are times of disruption. This daunting challenge could become your most significant opportunity if you invest in yourselves. While your previous generations are still adapting to the new way of working and living, you will be learning and working in it from day one of your careers. Adept at digital skills, virtual teamwork, and at ease with ambiguity, you are well poised to participate in this networked digital world. Therefore, make the most of it and make a mark in your area of interest. The communication industry is booming. To join a top UG-PG program in this field, prepare yourselves by engaging in courses, projects, and internships in this field that allow you to learn and showcase your skills.