20 faculty members complete the rigorous NEN’s EEC module to become India’s first qualified entrepreneurship educators.
“The entrepreneurial mystique? It’s not magic, it’s not mysterious, and it has nothing to do with genes. It’s a discipline. And, like any discipline, it can be learnt.”
|What is EEC?|
|EEC is a faculty development course that provides a rigorous foundation in entrepreneurship content and innovative participant-centered learning methods, to help build a world-class entrepreneurship faculty in India. This 5-module course spread across a year includes entrepreneurship concepts and content, participant-centered teaching methods like case method, simulations, projects, outside-classroom activities and tools for developing programs on campus.|
Management Guru Peter Drucker’s famous words may reflect only part of the truth—for it takes both discipline and passion to make entrepreneurship work—but this aspect of ‘discipline’ has been largely ignored in the Indian context. Until recent years, entrepreneurship in India was considered a trait—something one was born with, or had the passion for, to be taken up only if you were cash-rich, lucky, brave or perhaps foolish. Hardly anyone considered it a ‘subject’, something that could be taught and enhanced through training and education. Very few Indian universities had courses in entrepreneurship, and even these courses were dependent on boring, voluminous books for information.
In March, 2006, National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) turned change-maker with its unique Entrepreneurs Educators Course (EEC), designed to build a pool of world-class entrepreneurship faculty in India. The EEC was developed and taught by leading faculty from around India and the world, in partnership with Stanford University’s Technology Ventures program, and IIM-Bangalore. Faculty from Stanford University, Columbia University, London Business School, Scottish Institute of Enterprise, Babsons College and Thammasat University in Bangkok were enrolled for EEC.s
Today, more than 250 faculty members from universities across the country have signed up for EEC. But back in 2006, only 20 teachers chose to take the road never traveled. In June 2008, these 20 pioneers have become the first-ever faculty members in India to be officially certified as qualified entrepreneurship educators. And it didn’t come easily. They started entrepreneurship cells for students; introduced new courses on entrepreneurship; and organized over a thousand entrepreneurship-related events in their campuses. Most importantly, they fostered the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth.
At first glance, these professors may seem unlikely revolutionaries. Some are experts in marketing and finance management; a few teach human resource management and engineering; one is a hard-core researcher in life sciences! Only two of them have had past brushes with entrepreneurship.
According to them, it was the countless experiential experiences they shared at the EEC modules that made the difference. Radha Iyer, Senior Lecturer, K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research gives her thumbs-up to the content and the teaching methods, which resulted in her “everlasting love affair with entrepreneurship." “Being on the other side of the classroom has never been so much fun. The international faculty’s teaching methods were of global standards—innovative, participant-centric and very doable,” she explains. “The methods were so hands-on that I would implement them in class the very next day,” adds Dr S N Soundara Rajan, Dean, Management Studies, Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai.
Their batchmate, Dr Gayatri Saberwal, couldn’t agree more. She should know. Dr Saberwal, faculty scientist at the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore, had “zero exposure to the world of business” when she joined the course. “I imagined the course to be very tough. I didn’t know the jargon. But despite
the gamut of information, the materials were condensed into bite-sized forms, and this made the subject interesting,” says Dr Saberwal, who is now an expert in analyzing business plans. “NEN didn’t just show me the moon, but also gave me a ladder to reach there,” she adds.
Even for seasoned entrepreneur Atul N Bharat, EEC was an eye-opener. Shares Bharat, who runs his 11-year-old corporate training and recruitment company, along with heading corporate affairs and training at IPS Academy, Indore: “I was always driven by instincts while running my company. The EEC made me realize the diverse elements that build a successful business venture. I have now not only matured as a teacher, but a businessman as well.”
Meanwhile, Prof Vasanti Venugopal, faculty, Commerce Department, Mount Carmel College enjoys the buzz EEC’s fun exercises have created in campus. Cross-disciplinary in nature, the concept of entrepreneurship has excited students from all backgrounds, from commerce, mathematics to sanskrit. “When we started the E-Cell in 2006, 120 students signed up. This month, the number rose to 1,000,” she says.
Prof Narendra Joshi, Assistant Professor, Fr C Rodrigues College of Engineering has also noticed a growing interest in entrepreneurship even among new students. “EEC has helped us make the optional course on entrepreneurship so attractive that the number of students enrolled has risen from 10 to 200 in two years,” he says. “It has helped me become an effective mentor for young students who want to become entrepreneurs,” adds Sumit Roy, Senior Subject Matter Expert in Seed Infotech Ltd.
Dr Arya Kumar, professor at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, has the last word. “Teaching is an exercise in entrepreneurship itself. There is a lot of room for creativity, innovation and change. That is my biggest learning from EEC,” he says.
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