Chennai: A professor by vocation but still a student at heart.
The sentiment best describes G. Balasubramanian, finance professor at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, who has been with the institute for two decades.
Balasubramanian, 48, juggles consulting, researching, teaching, training and educational administrative work at IFMR—and, seemingly, with great ease.
But one factor that might help make life easier—Balasubramanian happens to be on one of the best-paid teachers in the country. According to the Mint C-fore rankings, IFMR comes out tops, paying a maximum of Rs24 lakh per annum. Its minimum salary—Rs6 lakh annually—is just a fraction lower than the maximum that the Indian Institutes of Management pay their faculty.
Student feedback: G. Balasubramanian at the Institute of Financial Management and Research in Chennai. The finance professor encourages students to make the sessions interactive so he can be sure his students understand the lessons he teaches. Arjoon Manohar / Mint
At IFMR, it is clear the professors are proud of their employer. But Balasubramanian speaks little, especially when asked about himself (not surprisingly, he declined to discuss his salary).
Most of the points he mentions while outlining his journey at IFMR relate to the various initiatives taken by the institute. A little more prodding, and he offers snippets of contributions to the institute.
“IFMR focuses on teaching, training and consulting, each feeding into the other. There is a lot of emphasis on quality of research here,” Balasubramanian says of his experience at IFMR and why he chose this institute over others.
One of the oldest faculty members at IFMR, he has high regard for Nachiket Mor, member of the IFMR board of governors. Subramanian says that Mor was responsible for a lot of the innovative changes at the institute. Mor, formerly deputy managing director of ICICI Bank Ltd, is president, ICICI foundation for inclusive growth. “With his (Mor’s) increased participation, there was a new thrust on research, and new dimensions of finance—like financial inclusion, development finance and micro finance—were included,” he explains.
“Bala” or “Bala sir”, as he is known and addressed by other faculty members and students, started his career as a teacher in the same college that he graduated from—the AM Jain College in Chennai. After a short stint of two years as professor at the college, he moved to IFMR and has been there since.
Ask about what makes him stay on at the business school and pat comes the reply: “Every day is a learning experience at IFMR. The institute provides a good working environment, and one is constantly learning here.”
As the questions come, he looks at his watch and says, “Is it over? I am sorry, but I have some work.”
Posing at the helm of the class, he appears most comfortable and really begins to play the part. To the students gathered around, he makes clear that he wants his sessions to be interactive. He asks students to prepare a set of questions for the next class and says, “There is no point in me taking lessons when I am unsure if all of you have really understood or not.”
Michael Jebadurai, 23, a student, thinks he is one of the best professors at the management school. “He is not textbookish—that, anybody can teach. Textbooks have exceptions, and he will talk about those as well, giving you a clear picture of the concepts.”
Jebadurai’s classmate, Ashwita Somari, 22, thinks he is “one of the coolest guys on the campus”.
Why? Somari doesn’t miss a beat: “He never gets angry!”