This week, I have the privilege to interview the director of our MSTM program, Professor Dilip Chhajed. All of us remember him as a passionate teacher with approachable personality and wide smile outside the classroom. Prior to MSTM, he was heavily involved in academic faculty of University of Illinois since 1989. He is one of the founders of MSTM and he witness the transformation during his year as the Academic Director of MSBA in 2005.
Tell us about how MSTM was founded?
If you recall from what I said during orientation, MSTM was previously known as MSBA. When I was the MSBA director, we realized the need for technological management program. This was how the idea of MSTM taken shape.
How was MSTM different than MSBA?
MSTM, unlike MSBA, is more specialized. We tailored courses such as Intellectual Property, Project Management, Supply Chain Management and Managing Innovation to name a few with Technology Practicum as the capstone course and Frontier of Technology as practical engagement. For 2 years now, we have also introduced ‘Graduate Track’ program, available for fresh graduates with working experience of 2 years or less.
In your perspective, how MSTM program can successfully immerse business and management concept into the more technical MSTM students?
A lot of engineers are not familiar with the concept of customer relations, marketing and process management. It is our goal that by taking this course, they are exposed to these theories and able to utilize them in practical projects. Frankly, I believe these (MSTM) courses will benefit students with business background too because it bridges the importance of technological innovation into an array of disciplines. We focus the method of our teaching in recent case studies and this is relatable for students. This ability to relate to the content of our courses helps students to catch the concept of technology innovation better.
How is project management different in India and in the United States?
Of course there are some differences of how projects being managed between these two countries. One very clear difference stems on how establish the labor union. In United States, the structure of labor union is very well established and they have powerful influence in the labor right. India, however, does not have a strong labor union and this lead to more complex legal issues and less flexibility that hinder the duration of project. Another problem arises from maintaining the quality and increase of productivity.
How MSTM students can adapt with the rising trend of sharing economy?
It is all innovation. Innovation sometimes can be confusing term and people often abuse this. Keep in mind that innovation is not only limited in creating a product, but also about making it more accessible and marketable. We see the concept of Zip Car, which at that time seems very innovative and changing the playing field of car rental. All in all, the main theme is how you create the business model to make it works with the consideration that you learn, of course, from the courses in MSTM.
Is there any unique MSTM memory that you would like to share?
Since I have been associated with MSTM program, there are a lot of memories and it almost impossible to rank them. I have to admit what gives me greatest pleasure is to see student at the end of the program, remembering how they were and then watched them grow in that one year, and during that graduation time they came up to me and say that they wish they could stay a little while longer. It was a funny mixture of feelings that they were looking forward to the new chapter in life but at the same time, they were hesitant to leave their MSTM family behind. I personally would like to regard this as a success in our part as their instructors. In a small way, we contribute to making a difference in their life.
Thank you for the interview Professor Dilip!