Charting Success: Pankaj Belwariar’s Entrepreneurial Journey at SRM University

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Pankaj Belwariar, Director-Communications, SRM University – AP, Andhra Pradesh

In a realm of entrepreneurship, there exist individuals who not only chart their own paths to success but also illuminate the way for others. Pankaj Belwariar stands as a shining example of
such an entrepreneur, empowering individuals and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, a guiding
principle that has defined his illustrious career. SRM University-AP, where Pankaj’s influence
has left a mark, serves as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship. The
story of SRM University-AP mirrors this entrepreneurial spirit, aspiring to be globally
connected, nationally significant, and regionally transformative, exemplifying not only the
embrace of entrepreneurship but also the pursuit of excellence within it.

Tell us about your journey (personal and professional), when you started your journey in this education industry, how it is going, and what the future plans are.

I am a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, India’s premier institution, and hold a postgraduate degree in management (MBA) from IMT, Ghaziabad. With over three decades of experience in the corporate sector, I have spent more than 25 years in leadership positions within the media and communications industry. Additionally, I have dedicated over 15 years to consulting and devising communication strategies for various private universities and colleges.

During a period when the concept of private universities was unheard of in India, and there were only a few players, our communication strategy focused on establishing trust, instilling confidence, and showcasing the exceptional infrastructure facilities to both students and parents.

With the increasing gap between demand and supply in central and state universities, the attractiveness of state private universities has grown. There was a growing need to craft a compelling narrative for private universities, and in October 2022, I joined as the Director of Communications at SRM University-AP.

SRM is a well-established brand with a presence in various locations, including Chennai, Trichy,
Sikkim, Sonipat, Modinagar, and Amaravati (AP). The Amaravati campus, established in 2017,
has achieved numerous awards in its six years of existence in fields like research, innovation,
entrepreneurship, international collaborations, placements, and higher studies.

With its aspiration to establish global connections, maintain national significance, and drive regional transformation, SRM-AP is leaving a lasting impact worldwide. In my role as the head
of communication, we have successfully built a robust brand identity for SRM-AP primarily
through the effective use of content marketing. By creating captivating, credible, and narrative-driven content, we are shaping a compelling storyline for the institution.

SRM University-AP has earned several prestigious recognitions, further solidifying its reputation. These include ranking as the third-best private university in the country in the Nature Index Ranking, securing the top position as the leading Young Private University in Engineering by Career 360 Degree Group, receiving awards for Excellence in Enabling Research Environment in the field of Science from Assocham, being recognized as the Best Emerging University with Educational Excellence in India by Asia Today, and winning the esteemed Best Brand Award from The Economic Times.

Our future objectives encompass sustaining recognition, striving for academic excellence,
focusing on research and innovation, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, enhancing the student experience, ensuring financial stability, and further improving our reputation and visibility.

Share an insight into any challenges faced while running the organization. What inspired you to get into this industry?

Every organization or institution sets specific objectives to pursue. In our case, we are guided
by a well-defined vision and a strategic framework to achieve our aims. While challenges are an
inherent part of any journey, effective leadership call for a thorough examination of these challenges and the creation of viable plans to overcome them. Fortunately, we have assembled a highly qualified, experienced, and professional team that collaboratively tackles these challenges, propelling us closer to our goals.

It is widely acknowledged that the future of a nation depends significantly on its youth. The way
we shape and nurture the younger generation will undeniably influence the direction of our country. This deep conviction in the transformative power of education and its pivotal role in nation-building is what drew me to this industry. The prospect of facilitating learning, nurturing growth, providing training, and contributing to the greater good of our nation continues to be a driving force behind my dedication to this field.

What, according to you, is the advancement in this education industry in terms of technology? Do you think your adoption of such advanced technologies has brought you and your organization to this elite position?

The field of education has undergone significant technological advancements in recent years, profoundly influencing the operations of educational institutions. Here are some notable

  1. Online Learning Platforms: The proliferation of online learning platforms, Learning Management Systems (LMS), and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has democratized education, making it accessible to a global audience. These platforms provide a wide array of courses and resources, enriching the learning experience.
  2. Personalized Learning: Adaptive learning technology leverages data analytics and artificial
    intelligence to customize educational content according to individual student requirements.
    This tailored approach enables students to learn at their own pace and in alignment with their unique learning styles.
  3. Gamification: Integrating game-like elements into education has made learning more
    enjoyable and engaging. Gamification introduces elements like points, rewards, and competition into educational activities, fostering student motivation and participation.
  4. Digital Textbooks and Resources: Traditional printed textbooks are gradually being
    supplanted by digital counterparts that offer interactivity and the ability for regular updates.
    E-books and online libraries provide access to an extensive array of educational resources.
  5. Collaborative Tools: Collaboration tools and platforms have simplified collaboration
    among students and educators, regardless of their geographic locations. Video conferencing,
    cloud-based document sharing, and collaborative apps are examples of technologies that facilitate seamless cooperation and knowledge sharing. These technological advancements have not only expanded the horizons of education but have also enriched the learning experience, making education more accessible, adaptable, engaging, and collaborative.
  6. Remote and Blended Learning: The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the integration of remote and blended learning models, where technology assumes a central role in educational delivery. These models are expected to maintain their relevance even beyond the pandemic era.

Educational institutions, including SRM University-AP, that have enthusiastically embraced these advanced technologies have often reaped various advantages. These benefits encompass
heightened student engagement, improved learning outcomes, streamlined administrative processes, and an expanded reach to a global audience. These technological strides have unquestionably propelled the evolution of education and positioned institutions as pioneers of innovation in the industry. Nonetheless, it is vital to underscore that the effective adoption of technology is contingent upon sound pedagogical strategies and the capacity to adeptly navigate the ever-changing educational landscape.

Does SRM University have international students? If yes, then please brief us on the admission procedure for international students and the major countries from which most of the students

SRM University-AP boasts a diverse and vibrant international student community comprising
approximately 200 students from a wide array of countries, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and more. The admission process for these international students is based on a combination of entrance exams and personal interviews, ensuring a thorough evaluation of candidates. Furthermore, to support and recognize deserving candidates, the university offers enticing scholarships, including significant fee concessions, further enhancing the accessibility and inclusivity of its educational offerings.

Special Note:

As a leader, my core belief has always been centered on the empowerment and development of
individuals into future leaders themselves. Training, mentoring, and nurturing the growth of others have consistently been my passions. Reflecting on a meaningful experience from my journey, I recall a junior clerk who joined my team 15 years ago. This individual displayed exceptional dedication and a keen thirst for knowledge. Eager to learn and grow, they actively sought opportunities to sit with me and receive guidance. I encouraged them not only to learn from me but also to engage with my team members, gaining insights into various aspects of their roles and acquiring new skills along the way.

Within a remarkably short span of one year, this individual had not only amassed a multitude
of new skills but was also prepared to step into more advanced positions. They embarked on a
remarkable ascent up the professional ladder and eventually transitioned to another organization. Today, they hold the esteemed position of Associate Vice President at a multinational corporation.

On a recent Teachers’ Day celebration, this individual took to LinkedIn to express their
gratitude, acknowledging the individuals who had played pivotal roles in their journey. To my delight, I discovered my name among those mentioned. This recognition was not only heartwarming but also a profound compliment, affirming the impact of mentorship and leadership in shaping the careers and futures of others.

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