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IMS Unison University’s SoHM: A modern syllabus and state-of-the-art infrastructure

Engage – the annual corporate meet of IMS Unison University is an annual event hosted by the University to bring together industry and IUU academia on a common platform to foster understanding and synergy with each other. On the sidelines of the event, Akshay Nayak met with Dr Vinay Rana, professor & dean – School of Hospitality Management (SoHM), IMS Unison University to learn about the unique offerings provided at SoHM to prepare aspiring students to be industry-ready

Dr Vinay Rana

Engage the annual corporate meet of IMS Unison University was hosted by the University at Hotel Sahara Star on October 11, 2019. In its maiden effort, the University hosted the event in Mumbai this year. Over 60 senior and middle-level corporate officials attended the event from top companies like Reliance Industries, Tata, Reliance Jio, Vodafone, Zee TV, Siyaram Mills, Indian Express, Vivo Mobiles, HDFC Bank Ltd., Wipro Rediff, Hamleys, Times Now, NDTV, Frames Production to name a few. The idea of the event is to provide a platform where the industry people and academia could interact, brainstorm and learn from each other on how to shape the future of this coming generation.
The event started with an informal discussion over coffee and was followed by an introduction to the event by Dr Swati Bisht, Dean Career Services. This was followed by the address of the Hon’ Pro Vice Chancellor Dr Ravikesh Srivastava who set the tone for the day. He said that there should be strong collaborations between academia and industry for the betterment of future generations. He emphasised on attitude building. After this, there was a series of talks delivered by the senior officials – Divesh Mishra, founder URSA Minor; Shobha Cecil, head HR, Reliance Brands; Satish Datt, creative director, Fremantle India; Sushil Tripathi, head HR, Siyaram Group and Alumni including Sohit Uniyal Batch 2007, Sumit Gaikwad Batch 2010 also shared their thoughts. The vote of thanks was proposed by Pradeep Kumar Singh, senior manager, Training & Placements.
The annual corporate meet of IMS Unison University-Engage New Delhi 2019 was hosted at Crown Plaza Okhla New Delhi on October 19, 2019. The event was attended by over 250 officials from across different Industries and India top corporate houses. The event started with the introduction to the event by Dr Swati Bisht, Dean Career Services followed by the welcome address by chancellor Dr Gurdip Singh and Hon Vice Chancellor Dr Gautam Sinha. The keynote addresses were delivered by some eminent speakers who are globally acclaimed like -Siddharth Luthra, senior advocate, Supreme Court & ex additional solicitor general of India at the Supreme Court; Sahil Nayar, senior associate director HR, KPMG; Richa Jain Kalra, principal anchor and sr producer, NDTV and Kumar Shekhar, vice president, PayU Money.
School of Hospitality Management (SoHM) is the new feather in the cap of IMS Unison University and is designed to meet the exacting standards of modern hospitality education. On the sidelines of the annual corporate meet in Mumbai, Dr Rana in conversation with Express Food & Hospitality decoded the wholesome view that the school is considering to shape their student’s career with their industry committed 4-year BHM (Bachelor of Hotel Management) programme. In Dr Rana’s words, “It is the most concurrent syllabus which we are following and is framed with the consultation of the experts from the industry. The key focus that we are proposing, designing and spearheading in our region is a practical-oriented syllabus that comprises a theoretical and a practical subject which we have guided equally, hence bringing a quantum shift from the original thought. Secondly, we engage the industry colleagues to give their fair inputs on how and what they want from a student. This approach gives us the insight to make the student more employable and industry-ready. Beyond it, nothing magical is required, but only to understand each other on a common note. In academics, an individual’s aspirations are different whereas once in the industry, their aspirations become different. When you are in the industry, your bottom line is profit and when we are into education our bottom line is into providing quality education, learning, etc. East is East and West is West and the two do not meet, but we can, of course, bridge the gap, which we are doing at IMS Unison University’s School of Hospitality Management.”
Speaking about keeping their programme and school updated to train the students with modern-day requirements of the industry, Dr Rana said, that quality professional education is built on four verticals – good infrastructure, industry-ready syllabus, best faculty members, and adding a factor of student engagement activities that translates into employability. “Most of the hospitality institutes have been running on the traditional mindset and have never looked into syllabus revision altogether. Before we opened the college, we looked into the nitty-gritty of everything, right from the syllabus to good infrastructure. I am proud to say that the institute is designed as a working hotel. All the labs and requisite equipment that the hotels offer is in place in the school. This ensures that the student doesn’t have the feeling of being left out when they enter the industry. We also vouch heavily on our well-read faculty members who are the backbone of the institute. They are having a tenured experience in the industry which they blend mindfully with academics for which they are more effective and good motivators. The faculty is also trained in teaching the millennial students by understanding their aspirations and learning curve and then deliver effectively. Also, with the events that we are hosting, the upcoming one being the Great Indian Culinary Challenge (GICC) organised by Express Food & Hospitality, it is going to be an important event for the kind of multiplier effect that it is going to have for our school. It is going to attract the key industry chefs as they will come down to the colleges in the region hence giving a window for the students to interact and learn from them and vice versa. Beyond inculcating of bringing up good culinary talent, this event will have other far-reaching effects altogether. With the GICC moving to tier-II and III cities, they are tapping the regions rightly where the actual talent lies, so most of this raw manpower which has now become skilled manpower, we need to identify through this and likewise other competitions and send the talent forward,” he expressed.
Giving details about the BHM course, he informed that as a part of the BHM curriculum, they at SoHM majorly focus on the four key verticals that make up for the hospitality and the core hotel operations which cannot be ignored altogether. “Herein, we do not have a leaning for one vertical in particular. Most of the time, students are inclined to making a career in food production and F&B services, as the career of a chef lures them. But then, there is life beyond that. In our curriculum, we have taken due insights from the experts and added all those concepts together. Earlier the lesser opted options were the front office operations and housekeeping management. Throughout the syllabus, we have tried to cover some interesting facts such as usage of softwares, other operations, and from time to time we bring in important industry guests who have an international flair and experience who educate the students to not miss out on the bigger pie,” he added.
Echoing views about the reasons for increased attrition level in the hospitality industry, Dr Srivastava said, “With the advent of technological change in almost every industry, it has been one of the reasons why people keep switching their jobs. In recent times, it is evident that the hospitality industry is seeing the application of technology in its core operating areas and hence the curriculum and institutes also need to be on track considering the industry trends. The hospitality sector is booming across the globe and also is rapidly increasing in India. The opportunities are increasing, but if the candidates are having half-knowledge or are unskilled, it majorly leads to attrition. We at IMS Unison focus on the skill and attitude of the candidate for which we have a structured plan to shape their career wisely.”
Replying to a query about the expansion plans to newer geographies, Dr Rana said, “As of now, the University is not looking to set up satellite campuses but Unison Group has planned to upgrade IMS Unison University to a fully residential university in the coming future. It will be executed over the next five to 10 years. It will add another dimension of student engagement on campus wherein you will find the faculty members and the students staying in the campus and extending their learning beyond the classrooms.”

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