Turning students into thought leaders
Management professor Mahesh Subramony pushes his students to think differently.
Through vibrant, analytical class discussions, Subramony prepares each of his students to be a thought leader. His teaching approach is engaging, involving a mix of case discussions, role playing, data collection and analysis, and discussions on theory.
He encourages his students to dig beneath surface issues – for example, how to increase employee retention – and look for more systemic issues, such as how a company’s culture leads to employee turnover. In the process, he often finds himself learning alongside his students.
“Teaching is a process of co-creating knowledge. While it is entirely possible for us to provide students with sound information regarding content,” Subramony says. “it is their engagement with, and interpretations of, the content that creates knowledge”.
Another important component of his teaching is experiential learning. For instance, in his management consulting course, students work in teams with public and private sector clients to diagnose and solve organizational problems.
Recent graduate Adrian Mascote worked on a project in which he and his teammates were charged with building a program to onboard top-level executives to new roles at Caterpillar. After designing, administering an extensive survey, and analyzing the results, the team provided recommendations to the leadership at that company – most of which were accepted and implemented.
The class was involved in every step of the process, with Subramony acting as an engaged coach.
“He’s the type of professor who guides you. It was like you were at an actual consulting firm. He was open to suggestions. He was never forceful. He let you veer off a little bit, but would say, ‘Maybe look at it this way,’ ” Mascote said.
Mascote, who earned his bachelor’s in management with an emphasis on human resources, said Subramony’s high standards serve students and NIU well: “You can tell he wants the best, and he wants companies to see that the best students come from Northern.”