Dr. Abhishek Kumar earned his Ph.D in Management from Pondicherry University. Prior to joining Anant National University, he was an Assistant Professor at Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu wherefrom he also completed his MBA. He is an Economics graduate from the University of Calcutta. Before joining academia, he served in leadership positions across media (ABP), banking (Yes Bank) and telecom (Bharti Airtel Ltd) businesses for nearly a decade.
Dr. Abhishek Kumar’s current research work examines how theories of space, material imagination and design processes shape design discipline. He offers them as a course titled design dialectics. The other topics of his interest include phenomenology of design, product ontology; media brand personality, and leadership behaviour. His most recent oeuvre consists of a phenomenological conceptualization of product, cipher as the entity that resolves subject-object split, and construction of a scale to measure brand personality of business media brands. He spends much of his personal and professional time wondering about the sublime content in human endeavours and discover ways to theorize them for further study.
His work has appeared in several top management, economics and design journals such as Economic & Political Weekly (EPW), Vikalpa- The Journal for Decision makers (IIMA) and Management and Labour Studies (MLS), Journal of XLRI. He has presented papers at University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, American Marketing Association’s Summer Educators Conference, Chicago, USA and World Congress of Philosophy, Beijing China. His articles are published in newspapers like The Hindu and The Telegraph and he is often quoted on issues of leadership and managerial performance in The Economic Times.
His understanding is fashioned by a close reading of the works of Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault. His method includes dwelling upon the aesthetic content of the matter at hand and is a heady mixture of the sensuality of D H Lawrence, iconoclasm of Bernard Shaw, tragic appeal of Thomas Hardy and delightful rigor of Thomas Mann.
Dr. Abhishek Kumar was born in the family of teachers. His father Late Bal Krishna Barnwal was Masters in Hindi literature and after teaching at Ramkrishna Mission School in Deoghar, Jharkhand qualified Bihar Public Service Commission to become District Employment Officer at Jamshedpur. He passed away in 1990 when Abhishek was in class X. His mother Sheela Rani retired as a teacher from a school run by Tata Steel. His sister Anima Barnwal is an IRS officer and is currently posted in London, UK. He is married to Lieutenant Colonel Rajwinder Kaur and is blessed with a daughter Gauri.
Education, Institutions & Cities
Jamshedpur, Tata Steel and Schooling
Pune, NDA and becoming of Man
Though a short stint as cadet at National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla in the Hunter squadron, the time spent there instilled in him a sublime sense of responsibility towards his country, fellow men and more importantly a courageous attitude towards life and work that was to be seen later in his choices of professions. NDA Khadakwasla has cultivated in him a taste for the sublime that originates from our duty as a soldier and as a patriot.
Calcutta, Seminary and Reading
The 3 years that he spent at the Calcutta Students’ Home of Ramakrishna Mission Belghoria, Calcutta, the teaching he received from K B Kundu, the Professor of Economics at Calcutta University, the love for French language and culture that he acquired at the Alliance Française, Calcutta and the deepening and widening of his interest in economics, English literature, political science, philosophy and theology constructed his aesthetic sensibilities, the ability to look at a thing from an inter-disciplinary perspective and more importantly fashioned his objective and inclusive outlook towards life. Calcutta and its sensibilities, be it Marx or Santana, have given him an outlook towards life with a distinctly western character.
BIM-Tiruchirappalli, MBA and Structure
While Calcutta instilled in him a western way of life that included love for food, western cinema and music, the two years at Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirappalli brought him face to face with the question what is the meaning of being an Indian. The deeply-held assumptions of belonging to an ancient civilization were animated and the millennia-old culture and language opened before him sights and sounds that were at once alien and yet his own. The structuring of thought that accompanies any business education lent to his personality a controlled disposition that indicates equanimity and solidity at the same time. The mental structure that he was able to develop here created slots in his mind that were related yet diverse. It is here that he demonstrated ability to create organizations in the form of clubs/committees like Zetetica, BIM HR Club and Old Curiosity Shop (BIM Book Club).
Bharti Airtel Limited
As HR professional, he contextualized employee engagement to a vision for HR that is development and meaning oriented. His stints at Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Calcutta won him love from friends and esteem from colleagues and seniors. Bharti Airtel Ltd. gave him a platform to start his career in Human Resources. The principle basis of which is understood as enhancing instrumental quality of human beings to serve the purposes of an organization.
At ABP, he played two roles, that of HR and of Business Manager, The Telegraph in Schools (TTIS) a 16-page weekly educational tabloid. He played a key role in rejuvenating the brand TTIS, launched several brand extensions like TTIS Radio, TTIS Magic, TTIS Books, TTIS Jobs, TTIS Films and TTIS Connect, in increasing the circulation from 30,000 to 78,000 and brought it out of red. He also strengthened the brand of student tiger reporters who contributed to the newspaper with their articles, interviews and photo essays.
YES Bank Limited
The time spent at YES bank taught him to manage people and processes to ensure customer service delivery, RBI compliances and monthly budgets across several product categories. It also included being the public interface for the branch service area. He managed the branches at Faridabad, Gurgaon and Saket in New Delhi. YES Bank completed his integration with the formal economy in a most earthy way. The daily grind of money matters lent a quality of studied caution to his way of approaching any issue.
Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM), Tiruchirappalli
BIM became once again his port of call. He reinvented himself this time as an academician. He completed his doctoral studies in the area of brand personality from Pondicherry University. Here besides being an alumni-faculty he also led several efforts in the areas of placements, space design and development, management development programs, students clubs and committees, branding and PR for the institute. The time spent here enabled him to cultivate a stillness of mind that enabled him to delve deeper into and explore a topic for a long period. It also gave taught him the art to hold listener’s attention by stimulating his mind and in the process stretching it beyond his own recognition.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla
Although he spent only 3 months here, the impact this institution had on him was deep and long lasting. Here he was formally introduced to philosophy in general and German idealism in particular. He began applying philosophical theory and structures to his field of marketing and management to make them come alive in a way that nobody had foreseen. He began his explorations with aesthetics and logic but was led forward by the apostles of ontology, phenomenology and hermeneutics.
Anant National University, Ahmedabad (AnantU)
His interest in aesthetics found its expression in the course he taught on product design and innovation which brought him to AnantU. He is currently Associate Professor and Director Staff Training here. He teaches courses related to design, marketing and communication. Anant National University is India’s first Design University; established as a private university in 2016. It is committed to nurturing Solutionaries, people who are revolutionary in their thinking, but solution-oriented in their approach.