I have always loved to observe people and culture, and when I travel, I make it a point to interact with people and learn about their lifestyle. It can teach us many things in life. I remember the time when I was in Korea; I was so happy to see the respect people have for the elders. Since I didn’t know Korean, I used to speak English, and at times there were problems in communication. But what struck me was their eagerness to help you out. Though language was a barrier, they will ensure you get the right help. They will even take a 2kms walk with you to ensure to you are heading in the right direction. You see you have things to learn everywhere!
I have always shared a cordial relationship with my professors. I spent more time at my Ph.D. supervisor’s residence discussing research problems drinking filter coffee than in my hostel room at IIT Bombay. When I was working at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, my professor became my friend. Our discussion would go on from Maths to food. That’s how a teacher-student bond should be, right? He would take me to the canteen and describe the ingredients of the dish, and it was great! I learnt a lot from him, though he was like a friend I always respected him and took all of his advices very seriously. Even now when I teach my students, I try to be in their shoes and teach them in the way they understand. There are students who are elder to me, so I make my interaction with them like a guide as well as a friend. It’s fun altogether! We come from different backgrounds and share our experiences together; it thus makes learning very interesting. And analytics has given us a chance to convey our ideas and create some kind of social impact. I had a chance to carry out predictive and prescriptive analytics consulting projects for organizations such as Indian Army, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Mission Hospital, Scalene Works, TVS Motors, and World Health Organization, etc. In these organizations, data is very important; for example, in defence and aerospace sector you are trying to predict which systems will fail as most of the equipments are safety critical.
Today our analytics team at IIM Bangalore is focussed on social problems such agriculture and public health in addition to problems encountered by for-profit organizations. We have an alumnus who has created an app that collects disease data of plants, so using this data we can provide early warnings of the outbreak diseases to the farmers. The primary objective is to create a farm advisory system for farmers to advise on crop selection, crop rotation, fertilizer and pesticide management, etc. since in many parts of India farmers don’t get the right advice. For instance, sometimes potato price goes up and in some days, it comes down, but these farmers are not aware of the supply information. Farmers struggle and incur a lot of loss because of it, which pushes them towards suicides. That’s sad! But now we are trying to work with government and create an early warning system for predicting distress among farmers. Let’s see how this project turns out to be!
My weekends are very hectic, and unlike your weekdays mine are pretty easy and smooth. All of the professionals come for weekend classes, and that’s why you’ll hardly find me partying during this time! But so far life is good, teaching has been a biggest source of motivation. My students with their curiosity to know more keeps triggering me to learn more. When you have someone to keep you motivated, half of the battle is already won, right? Lucky, I am in this case! I believe if you want to succeed at something, you should never turn off your curiosity button. Trust me it will take you to places!
Meet Dinesh Kumar: Analytics mentor, Globetrotter, and Tireless learner.