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Change comes with taking risk, his plan to elevate KAIST Business Scho..2010-04-02Hit:2627

“Change comes with taking risk, his plan to elevate KAIST Business School to the best spot in ASIA”

Dean Kumar was successful in drawing high quality students and faculties from all around the world through adopting unprecedented mandatory student exchange program in U.S to USC, which was not well-known and relatively small-sized institution back in 1980’s.

“By the time I started working in 1987, the half of students in USC even had no experience of issuing passports before. However, in 2008, which was nearly the end of my tenure, students from different parts of globe flowed in.” It was back in 2004 when he happened to make a special connection with Korea. “Since 2004, I have continuously brought USC students to Korea for the field trip purpose every year. The reason was because I was convinced that Korea is the country that we should learn from in light of continuous excellent performances made by many Korean companies.” He set his heart to further investigate and research regarding Korea as he entered into his sabbatical year in 2008. Dr. Seo, who is the dean of the entire KAIST, was the person that dean Kumar met during this period. Deeply impressed by the outstanding performance of Dean Kumar made in USC, Dr. Seo proposed him to take the dean position in KAIST Business School. “I am risk-lover because it is the only way to make a change. When I used to work for USC, there were many risks in place as well. In this regard, I thought my propensity would be well aligned with the innovative vision that Dr. Seo possessed.”

Aggressively targeting for Chinese and Indian students

Dean Kumar, who is paralleled to Dr. Seo when it comes to strong and aggressive initiative, is already busy with recruiting talented people from China and India. Over the last October and November, he visited a couple of renowned Universities such as Jiaotong University, Nanjing University, and Tsinghua University and held information sessions in each of those Universities. Besides, he visited Top 5 Indian Business Schools including his alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology, and held information sessions there as well. “The reason why I am trying to recruit students from India and China is that these two are the main countries to which Korean companies are putting lots of efforts to penetrate. Those Korean companies undoubtedly need talented people who can better understand the local market. Since enterprises and Universities are always in symbiotic relationship, it is very important for us to nurture talented people that enterprises need.”

Dean Kumar will adopt a few dual-degree programs with China and India from next year so that students from affiliated schools in China and India are allowed to spend their first year in their own country and the second year in Korea. His ultimate aim is to give them a chance to work as intern in Korea during summer vacation and, if possible, allow them to work full-time after graduation. Also, some French Business schools are interested in making such a deal with KAIST, and he is working on another dual-degree program with one of U.S business school.

Scouting prominent faculties from all around the globe

In last February, Dean Kumar had KAIST Business School students participate in Global Consulting Challenge, hosted by USC. Every year, one enterprise is chosen by USC, and it comes up with a question that will be distributed to students from all over the world. “Even if we were not awarded from the competition, the important thing is that we realized that our knowledge and skills are paralleled to those of students from renowned Business Schools such as LBS, UCLA, and HKUST.” The ultimate goal of Dean Kumar is to make Korean students want to come to KAIST instead of MIT and Wharton Business School.

It takes time to increase awareness and to create brand value. Dean Kumar thinks that it will take at least 2-3 years to completely set up the plan that he is currently mapping out.

This year, Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) came into effect between Korea and India. When asked for an advice for Korean companies trying to get into Indian Market, Dean Kumar said as follows. “Indian market is such a big opportunity for Korean companies. Recently Korea was the winner of bidding in nuclear power contract. Industries such as Steel, automobile, heavy Industry, and nuclear power have very bright future. Companies such as POSCO, LG, SAMSUNG and etc have already made a good move to make good images of them to Indian market. However, the relationship beyond commercial purpose has to be established between Korea and India. Indians know very well about Korean products, but they do not know well about Korea. Especially, we should let Indians know the amazing accomplishment that Korea has made for the last couple of decades. By the same token, Korea should try harder to know better about India whose population is 1 billion and whose characteristics varies across the nation.

Very similar culture that respect seniors in Korean and India

Dean Kumar’s schedule is packed. He wakes up at 6 am and starts his day with playing Yoga. Then, his work starts at 9 am and lasts till 8 pm. After getting off the work, he cooks by himself at home and then makes a phone call to his wife in LA at 10 pm, just right before he goes to sleep. Over the weekend, he does not feel loneliness because his co-workers and PhD students invite him to dinner often. When asked about Korean culture, he said he appreciates respect towards elderly people in Korea since he is from India where similar culture exists. Also, when asked if he is lonely in Korea, he said as follows. “Work is my first priority since I came here in Korea with an articulated mission to make KAIST the top Business School in Asia within 5 years.”

Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )