We recently interacted with Dr. Kohli and asked him a few questions about what he thinks of SOIL and overall global phenomena:
1) You have taught in various B-schools and have been exposed to some of the best institutions. What keeps bringing you back to SOIL?
One part of the reason is my own Indian origin, which brings me to this country. India’s growth economy is another added attraction. With a globalizing economy, I find my visits here insightful for me. The third, and by far the biggest part, is the SOIL student body. It is a true pleasure to teach them. They are an eager bunch, hungry for knowledge. They deal with my (rather very) demanding course without any complaints. In fact, they are constantly seeking additional work. You can clearly see the quest for knowledge in their eyes.
2) How do you think, SOIL differs from other B-Schools?
I think it is very different. SOIL has a more holistic philosophy towards education that goes beyond the world of textbook knowledge to one that is founded in theory, but emphasizes application with an eye on doing good for the society. That is a major plus. For example, ethics, which is becoming a big part of business education everywhere is actually one of the core foundation values of SOIL. This is particularly relevant for India, because let’s face it, Indian business is not known for ethical conduct. There is a major need for a new generation of leaders who set an example with their own conduct. And, B-Schools are a great place for inculcating these values; and SOIL is clearly taking a lead in this.
3) Could you share one story during your stay with SOIL that touched you and remained with you?
The one which sticks to my mind did not have anything to do with classroom. It’s about a student who decided to interfere (and protect) a woman who was being molested openly from a likely rape. He could have looked the other way too like so many others, he chose not to. This is the result of creating a consciousness about the right values and the right thing to do.
4) How do you think B-Schoools could make themselves relevant in current socio-economic environment?
I am referring to global economic and political challenges, sustainability, social media etc. We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected in every sense of the word. Businesses cannot just focus on profits. They have to care about the society. So, yes, beyond global awareness and social media, business leaders have to keep an eye on helping the society; and in that respect sustainability is key.
5) What is SOIL doing in that direction and what would you advise them to do more in this direction?
SOIL does have sustainability also as one of its key pillars. The challenge is to translate that into practice. Once students leave school, the demands of the day-to-day business can interfere with the aspirations, so it is important that they stay in touch with their students who graduate, keep them in a (database) fold and bring them back (say) once a year and have a forum/conference on how they have been able to make a difference. This would be inspirational for others; and give SOIL an opportunity to establish themselves as a thought leader in the field. In a nutshell, I am suggesting creating a sharper focus and then following up on it to take the school to the next level.