Contributing Writer – Urvi Shah

Name – Neeta Acharya

Profession – Professor at NMIMS, Mumbai

Gender – Female

Age – 53 years

City – Mumbai

Industry – Education

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/neeta-acharya-ab6949/

Insights

  1. Teaching is a very rich job. As a professor, my job isn’t just restricted to “teaching”. There’s an array of things I’ve to take care of, like, counselling, research, training, publishing, consultancy etc., which is extremely fulfilling.
  2. If you want to do well as a Professor, I strongly recommend that you pursue your Ph.D. from a good university outside India. Since this degree is losing its value rapidly, doing it from India won’t hold much value as compared to studying from abroad.
  3. Even though there’s a work-life equilibrium if one opts for this profession, there’s not as much financial growth as compared to the corporate world.
  4. As a professor, you ought to keep yourself updated, read up plenty, publish continuously, carry out ample research, etc.
  5. Income as a professor is 5 to 10 times less than your counterparts in the corporate world.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Kumta, a small village situated in Karnataka. A few days after my birth, however, my family and I returned to Mumbai where I completed my schooling, pursued my graduation, post-graduation as well as my PhD. I’ve established a career here too.

What is your family background like and who would you say, had a remarkable influence on you growing up and how?

We were a family of four, my parents, an elder brother and me. My mother was a scientist and my father, a sales supervisor working with a car company.

I’d describe my family atmosphere as a concoction of democratic and authoritative, a perfect balance, really.

Both, my mom and dad had a strong influence on me growing up. They were both pretty content with the way things had unfolded in our lives and tried to find a glimpse of happiness in every situation that we’d ever encountered.

Please give me a summary of your career

After pursuing my Master’s in Management Studies {MBA} from NMIMS, I was selected to work with “Brooke Bond” from our campus itself. As a management trainee, I was sent to different parts of the country to familiarise myself with various aspects of the business whether it was administration, sales, marketing, operations. It involved visiting numerous factories and branch offices.

After this, I was asked to launch a new coffee brand that Brooke Bond had come up with.

Next, I started working with “Marico” as a brand manager for about one year.

Since I was married by then, I had to take a career break of five years during which I taught music to people coming from different walks of life, including a few film stars too!

Because I’d done my MBA previously, I decided to start teaching MBA students at NMIMS, which is my current profession.

Which institutes, according to you, are the best for pursuing this career?

I’d recommend going abroad to pursue your PhD if you want to become a professor. The value of this degree is diminishing, hence, securing a degree from here doesn’t hold much significance. But if you go abroad, it’ll benefit you more, comparatively.

Some great universities are London School of Economics and SOAS University of London, in my opinion.

Pursuing your PhD from India doesn’t make much sense, really. If you were planning on securing this degree 10–15 years back in India, you’d get a job almost immediately. Unfortunately, since then the entire value of this degree is decreasing, pursuing it from abroad increases your chances of becoming a professor at a commendable institution.

What is the expenditure associated with the education/training of this profession, approximately?

First of all, to be able to teach in an MBA college like me, you yourself should’ve pursued this degree. If you’re pursuing your MBA from a renowned institution, you’ll probably spend about 18 lakhs collectively.

Along with that, you’ll have to take into consideration the opportunity cost of leaving your job or studying in a different city/country altogether. So, with all of these factors in mind, you’ll incur an expenditure of about 30 lakhs.

After this, you have to pursue your PhD which will cost you about INR 60,000–70,000 per year. The course may take four or more than four years to complete, so the expenditure varies from person to person too.

If you’re securing your PhD from abroad, like I’d recommended, you’ll have to take into consideration the lodging and boarding expenditures.

Also, in that case, try getting into one of the universities on the basis of a scholarship since the fee structures abroad are incredulous.

How does one manage to enter this field?

After pursuing your MBA from a particular college, you have to apply to universities offering the PhD degree. Every university has certain seats reserved for students who want to pursue this degree. When you apply for a particular seat, you’re required to undergo an exam. If you successfully crack this exam, you’ll be called for an interview. If you’re selected, you’ll officially become a PhD student of that university. Following this, you’ll be assigned a guide who’ll help you with every step in the PhD process.

A PhD usually takes 4 years to complete. Sometimes, it can go up to 7 years too. However, after 7 years, your PhD degree is nullified, and you’re expected to apply all over again.

Once you’ve secured your PhD, you can apply to various universities to teach at.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

Starting out – 60,000–90,000 INR per annum

5 years of experience – 1.5 lakhs INR per annum

10 years of experience – 4 lakhs INR per annum

15 years of experience – 5 lakhs INR per annum

20+ years of experience – 6–7 lakhs INR per annum

The income I earn is more or less the same for every other person in my profession since most of the colleges choose to follow the UGC norms in terms of payment.

Describe your work, please.

I usually take morning lectures that last for an hour and a half.

Apart from teaching, my important responsibilities include research and publication. We have four evaluation patterns within a trimester, hence I’ve to attend to projects, supervise, grade papers, etc.

I also have to attend innumerable meetings where we discuss ample things like how to take a particular project forward, what courses to introduce, etc.

I also have to read up a lot. One course of MBA lasts for 30 hours, so I’m required to read three times more than this, that is, for every hour, I’ve to read three hours!

I also counsel many of my students informally on the basis of their career choices.

During their summers, I advise students on how to go about their summer projects, too.

I spend about 5–6 hours at the university and work from Monday to Friday.

In your opinion, what are some benefits that would encourage an individual to consider this career/job?

Teaching demands less work hours as compared to the corporate world, hence I’m able to give enough time to my family and myself.

Also, teaching allows me to pursue my passion from an array of things such as counselling, research, training, consultancy, publishing etc.

One thing I love the most about this profession is the fact that I’m always surrounded by students! Not only does it make me feel young too, but it keeps me on my toes since questions are always rolling in from all directions.

Can you mention a few challenges that you would want someone to be aware of, if they’re considering this career/job course?

One setback about this profession is the fact that the amount of money I earn is very less as compared to the corporate world which pays about 5–10 times more.

Life as a professor is becoming gruelling since the pressure on us is increasing rapidly.

Also, there’s always the pressure to keep yourself updated, to pursue your PhD, to publish, to make sure your feedback is up to the standard, etc., which becomes taxing after a certain amount of time.

What are some relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?

I think social media marketing is a crucial factor when it comes to this profession.

Even data analytics is important. In my field, we have to play around with and understand customer data, customer relationship management, etc. So, such knowledge is required.

Knowing how to publish is also extremely challenging, so it’s important to transit from a stage of not being able to publish to actually publishing.

What kind of a person, do you think, would be content in this field?

Since teaching comes with its own challenges, it’s important for a person to be passionate about this profession.

In my opinion, a person who loves reading, publishing their work, and imparting knowledge would be undoubtedly content in this field.

If you’re not looking for fast track growth, this field is ideal for you. Growth in this field, in terms of income and your position is gradual, so if these facts don’t bother you, I’d suggest you go for it!

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

I wouldn’t want to change my profession for anything else. I’m pretty content with the way things are unravelling for now. The only thing I wish I could change is the amount of time it took me to complete my PhD. Things went wrong in between which is why my degree kind of prolonged. If I’d finished my PhD on time, I think I would’ve enjoyed the benefits of my hard work, however, as I’d mentioned, the value of a PhD degree is diminishing. It’s more of a compulsion now.

As far as my profession is concerned, I wouldn’t want to alter anything.

What advice would you offer to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

I’d advise you to pursue your PhD from abroad since Indian PhD’s don’t hold much value.

Look for opportunities to publish in some top journals which again, you should do abroad since the environment there is more conducive to publishing.

Overall, choose your career path wisely.