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Between Classes & Office Hours: A Candid Conversation with Prof. Mukesh Sud

On a cold winter morning as Prof. Sud takes a break to enjoy his fruits, we got a brief opportunity to have a candid conversation with him to get to know him better

Mukesh Sud is an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a Visiting Faculty at the Department of Entrepreneurship, Ashoka University. 

A fun fact about Prof. Sud is that he is an avid cyclist

We recently got a chance to have a chat with him about the various aspects of his life.

Here is what he had to say:

How did you begin teaching at Ashoka University?

It was really happenstance. I joined IIM Ahmedabad in 2015 after returning from the US. I would often come and spend weekends on campus with my daughter who was in the founding batch. On one such visit, I was invited to speak to the students about entrepreneurship. One thing led to another, I met the founders who saw a synergy between my experience at liberal arts universities in the US and the program here.  I have now been offering at least one course every term for the past 6 years.

How different are students here from those you have at Ahmedabad?

Oh, very different. MBA students at IIMA are typically focused on a job. Many of them have student loans that they need to pay back and a job is the only way they can do that. Many will consider entrepreneurship maybe 5-10 years later. Others may become intrapreneurs that are entrepreneurs within the companies they work for. Alums tell us that having an entrepreneurial mindset is one of the necessary skills that we must teach our MBA students.   

Are students here like the ones you taught in the US?

Yes, in some ways and different in others. Both here and in the US, liberal arts students enjoy trying out a number of courses before deciding what they would like to major in. At Ashoka, students are very concerned about their careers, and the jobs they will get after graduation. Students in the US, unless they have a loan, go with the flow and treat college as a time to enjoy themselves and be away from their parents. We used to joke that at Fairfield U, where I previously taught, the faculty, the administrators, and the Jesuit priests would all claim that students were drawn to the university due to what they offered. When students were polled about why they had joined the answer was a reality check for us all. It was Fairfield’s reputation as a party town and the nearby beach that was the main draw in attracting students.

Which do you enjoy more- teaching here at Ashoka or at IIMA?

Both give different types of satisfaction. At the Institute students are drawn to my elective after they have got jobs. They want to pick up skills like design thinking that will be needed in the corporate world. Here at Ashoka, students would like to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset which they feel will help them in whatever they do whether in a job or in launching their own ventures.  

 What changes have you noticed in the students over the past 7 years?

A lot! The students are more focused and more competitive. I pull my daughter’s leg that she was fortunate to be in the founding batch. With the increased competitiveness she may not have been able to get admission today. She of course is quick to reply that the initial few batches laid the foundation to make Ashoka what it is today.

What is your area of research?

Broadly an entrepreneurial mindset. Lately, however, I have changed the kind of research I do. Rather than writing papers that get published in scholarly journals, I have written a book. Our research papers are only read by academics. There is so much hidden away in them that can help our students as they navigate their careers. Along with Priyank Narayan from the Centre, we have just published a book which describes six practices that will enable people to leapfrog to the future they want. The book, also called Leapfrog, has been published by Penguin.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka