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An Educator’s Journey and Insights

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With an experience of 37 years in the teaching profession, Prof. Dr. Leena Chatterjee, retired in 2021. Celebrated and decorated, she ranks among the most popular faculties at IIM Calcutta. She has recently joined at BITSoM.

Accidental Educator

Prof. Leena Chatterjee never thought she would become a professor. Both parents were professional social workers. She learned the value of “being helpful”. Her father encouraged her to read books in sociology and psychology. She was encouraged to reflect to make an informed subject choice in college.

The seeds of self awareness were sown. Leena gave up on her decision to study English Literature and graduated in Psychology. She got a masters in social and organizational psychology. After a year of working in the social sector, she went on to do her PhD at IIT Kanpur. A chance to teach a batch of IIT students turned into “a life altering event”.

A Star is Born

Leena realised her love for teaching after going through a tough time as a rookie lecturer in IIT Kanpur. Unable to control her class, she left abruptly. Her professor would not let her give up. She prepared, studied and channelised all her energy to learn about her class. She made her classes interactive and in a few weeks, she started experiencing a sense of flow while teaching. Prof. Leena was born!

In life I have always felt, you learn so much from challenges and failures but the issue is to persevere, be persistent. 

– PROF. DR. LEENA CHATTERJEE

Teaching at IIM Calcutta

Leena wanted to teach at the IIMs or at the IITs where the professor can choose their own syllabus, design their own curriculum and not be bound to any university. There was autonomy to design courses, and taking initiative is encouraged.

She designed a course called “Organisation of Self”, one of the most sought after courses at IIM Calcutta. The interactions with her students were as much a learning experience for her as for her students.

If you have a passion for what you do, and we are energised by it, it creates a positive energy for the rest of the audience or the class.

PROF. DR. LEENA CHATTERJEE

Prof. Leena Chatterjee teaches students through role plays, engaging with them and being creative in the classroom. Her professors in LSR, Delhi sparked her interest in the subject. She adopted some of their teaching methodologies, to go beyond the teaching perspective and make the subject more relevant to the student in keeping with the times and organisational needs. 

She has created and executed programs for women to further their corporate careers, and unlock their sense of confidence, self-worth to achieve their potential. 

Learning Mindset

Prof. Dr. Leena Chatterjee’s life work is about self awareness and developing a Learning/ Growth Mindset. Leena is invested in her students’ journeys in continuous self improvement. She wants them to learn to embrace change – a lifeskill is today’s world. She talks about how everyone changes in different ways and is a survivor of change. “Nobody ought to be a victim of their past. You always keep growing, what needs to be channelised is how you grow”. Leena tells her students, “Everyone is a work in progress”. She made students question themselves towards a positive change. She helps students work on themselves. 

Self Growth

The most important point of self-growth is introspection and catching ones hypocritical behaviour. The ability to understand there is conflict between what the heart decides and what the mind says is crucial to identify areas of growth. Personal habits are one of the main reasons why people tend to have emotional baggage. People want to be in control and dislike the anxiety of coming out of their comfort zone. You should question yourself and keep learning. 

Learning is about personal mastery. You should keep looking for new areas to learn.

Prof. dr. Leena chatterjee

Coping with Change

A lifelong learner, Dr. Leena Chatterjee learned to tackle technological challenges while teaching online classed during the pandemic. After missing the face to face dynamic and the energy exchange in a physical class, she pivoted. She reframed the situation by thinking that she wanted to deprive herself and her students from the learning experience. Upskilling herself with a Harvard program, learning to conduct interactive sessions with polls and discussions, she is committed to ensure students are engaged during online learning. 

The pandemic is an opportunity to develop grit, strength and persistence. She says as a teacher is strict about timelines. The pandemic has taught her to be more sensitive to on-ground challenges, while driving effectiveness in her class. The awareness of the technological, resources, time management, etc. made her change tack in her last year in IIM Calcutta. 

New Beginnings

After retiring from IIM Calcutta, Leena is now faculty at BITSoM. Her mandate is to help students identify gaps between where they are and where they want to be. She intends to help create learning opportunities through a personal development plan for each student.

The student can own the learning arc by identifying gap areas, access resources while becoming self aware, agile and a learner. for life  She laughs while describing herself as a live example of change, i.e. moving from Kolkata to Mumbai, a city she has deep personal ties with. 

Inspiring Change

Prof. Leena Chatterjee consults with corporates. She plans to write a book on management of self in organisations. She wants to share insights and techniques of managing self and building emotional intelligence. She is focusing on developing interpersonal skills like managing conflicts, relationships, and persuasion. She wants to equip employees who get demotivated by office politics, bosses, etc. to uplift themselves and stay engaged.

Prof. Leena Chatterjee wants to encourage people to manage their careers effectively and deal with the twists and turns through the life work journey. Her book will also focus on women who try to balance work and life, a topic extremely close to her heart.

Listen to the full interview on our youtube channel lumierelightandinsight

Juili Dharmadhikari
Juili Dharmadhikari

~ Research Intern, Lumiere

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