INDIA: Prof. Goutam Dutta is probably the first to design an Executive Education Programme in Revenue Management and Dynamic Pricing in India. He has worked with the Government of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Assam for improving road conditions in Indian villages by offering project management training.
Prof. Dutta was also a panel judge of the Prime Minister of India’s Trophy for selecting the best steel plant in India (2015-16). He has been elected as Fellow of ORSI from October 2017 and has been awarded as P.C. Mahalanobis Distinguished Educator Award of ORSI (2018).
From the endless list of his achievements and exemplary performance, the abovementioned was only a glimpse. However, what transcends his multifaceted personality is his diligence and humility. In an interview with Transcontinental Times, Prof. Dutta talks about his journey, the importance of energy conservation, technology-enabled learning, and many other things.
Prof. Dutta’s life journey
Prof. Dutta was born in Jamshedpur, India. In his school days, Prof. Dutta was a sincere and hardworking student. In 1974, he headed to IIT Kharagpur to pursue engineering after a national selection. After completing his graduation, he worked with Tata Steel for 11 years in 3 departments before going to the United States for his Ph.D. During his five years at Northwestern University as a student, he was honored with two awards including prestigious Edelman Award of INFORMS. Along with this, he was the inventor of a user-friendly optimization system.
Prof. Dutta has traveled to 19 countries and taught at various prestigious universities including the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Illinois (USA), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was also a visiting professor at HEC Paris. “I am presently teaching operations research, project management, and dynamic pricing at IIM Ahmedabad. I am passionate about the success of OR in India,” said Prof. Dutta.
When asked what inspired him to work as a professor, Prof. Dutta said, “At my family, my cousin was a professor in operational research. At IIT, I was motivated by Prof. N.P. Rao, and at (XLRI) the MBA school, by Prof. M.A. Vanjour. After my engineering, I joined Tata Steel where I learned the applied side of engineering and modeling. When I went to the USA to do my Ph. D., I was inspired by Prof. John D.C. Little at MIT. I was not very sure of being a professor till 1996 when the offer to teach at the London School of Economics was given at a conference.”
“That time I realized that it is easier to motivate a large number of students in practical aspects of operational research. When I returned to India in 1997, I chose to join IIM Ahmedabad being the most practice-oriented management school in the country,” he added.
“Global issues can be handled through coaching“
Prof. Dutta says that energy conservation and sustainable energy development is the need of the hour. He also emphasized that it could be handled through proper coaching.
“In a small campus like IIMA, the faculty can be a role model in commuting within the campus by bicycles. The second thing, college campuses can use solar energy to the maximum advantage. Once these values are promoted by the teachers, students leaving out of the college campus will be more inclined to use it in their houses,” Dutta enlightened on the several other global issues like women’s empowerment that can be handled through coaching.
Referring to an article by Professor Larson at MIT, Future Class of 21st Century in 1995, Dutta said that Larson suggested the universities and institutes should stop investing in bricks and mortars and start investing in technology-enabled learning.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated the use and effectiveness of online teaching, conferencing, and tutoring. This mode of teaching will continue to grow. Teachers should be used to a hybrid model of teaching where a part of it is in online mode and part of it in class mode. Hence the skill level required by the professors will be of a different nature in the future,” Dutta said.
While giving a message to the young people, Prof. Dutta said that young professors need to find role models in their university and should be willing to undertake research and work on an area they are passionate about.