Dr Sriparna Baruah – the Woman driving Entrepreneurship in Northeast

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Meet Sriparna Baruah – Head of Centre for Industrial Extension at the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE)

Nehal Jain | January 27, 2018 18:57 hrs

Dr Sriparna B Baruah is a pioneer in introducing Management Education in northeast India and is presently heading the Centre for Industrial Extension at the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE).

Born in Guwahati, Sriparna did her schooling from St Mary’s High School and went to Cotton College (now Cotton University) for graduation. She further pursued MBA (Master of Business Administration) for post graduation from Gauhati University and did her PhD in Training Effectiveness. From the beginning itself, her focus was on creating enterprising students.

Sriparna has been associated with the field of education for more than 25 years now. She started her career with Management Education, teaching HRM and Personal Effectiveness at the Assam Institute of Management in 1989. Since then, she’s been associated as a visiting faculty with the management department of various educational institutes like Gauhati University, Tezpur University, Kaziranga University, Girijananda Institute of Management and Technology etc among various others. Currently, Sriparna teaches social entrepreneurship at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). She’s also been associated with Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship for around 19 years.

Speaking to G Plus about pursuing a career in the field of education, Sriparna said, “It was mainly because of my primary interest in education that I decided to pursue a career in the field. But, I feel that education is something that I got into by default. I was more interested in management consultancy, but when management education first came in the region in the late 1980s, I took it as a challenge to impart the knowledge that I had gained in the field because when we talk about management education, the challenge is to focus on personality development as a part of education, and that was my core thrust.”

Having been associated with the field of education for so long, Sriparna says that the educational scenario of Guwahati has undergone major transformation over the past couple of years. “I think there’s a lot of awareness amongst students. Their mindset has also changed and I see a lot of confidence and drive to achieve their dreams and excel in whichever field they opt for. Earlier, students were very unsure about their careers but the new generation is very focussed and sure about what they want to do,” she said.

In the same vein, she pointed out that educational quality and internet have had a huge role to play in this change. “In our times, we had access to pretty limited information, but today there is an overflow of information. On hindsight, today’s generation doesn’t have in-depth knowledge on any one issue since they can easily Google the answers of any question. So the reading habits and attention span has really changed.”

On being asked whether Guwahati is at par with the rest of the country in terms of educational quality, she said that Guwahati cannot be called an educational hub like Delhi and Mumbai. This is because education has become a business now. There are a number of private institutions that have come up that market themselves very well. But the quality of education cannot be measured by that.

Sriparna aims to reach out to a wider section of people in the northeast region and help, inspire and motivate more entrepreneurs. With time and experience in the entrepreneurship development sector, Sriparna says that the entrepreneurship space in the region has undergone a lot of changes in the past 4-5 years, particularly because northeast India has achieved stability now. With various government schemes, support systems and policies like Start up India, Stand up India along with incentives, people have now started looking at Assam and the whole of northeast as a region of opportunities and possibilities.

Sriparna has three messages for Assam’s women who wish to become entrepreneurs – think big, be sure about what you want and why you want it, and have a never-say-die attitude.

To carry the message forward, she’s organising the first Assam Women Entrepreneurs' Conclave in Guwahati on 29-30 January. The conclave, that’ll bring together women from all sectors and segments of society under one roof, would address issues and challenges in entrepreneurship, scale up innovative business ideas and document profiles of women entrepreneurs of Assam. It will provide a platform for learning the best practices, knowledge sharing, promoting business and building connections.

"Most of the women entrepreneurs from Assam are engaged in conventional sectors like handloom & handicraft, food processing and beauty & wellness. Exposure is necessary for our women entrepreneurs in other sectors as well, so that they can cross barriers and open their minds towards different business ideas," Sriparna said.

Sriparna expressed the need for more women entrepreneurs saying, “Women constitute about 50% of the total population and so, we as a country cannot really grow unless women start contributing to the economy.”

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