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Getting the Most from Your Business Degree: An Interview with NEC Lecturer Vijay Kochar

“The NEC environment gives you the opportunity to test-drive your ideas, develop models, ask questions and network with others who have ‘done it before’, so that by the time you graduate, you have prepared your landing zone.”

If there is one class an NEC student will look forward to each week, it is the one they have with Vijay Kochar. Some will say it is the insights he shares from his 27-year tenure as an executive at Intel Corporation; others will say it is his ‘no BS attitude’ which gives him the calm confidence to tackle any business challenge with ease. But perhaps it is simply his love for learning and his rare ability to end each lecture with life lessons and words of advice for his students.

From strategic management to negotiation, Bachelor presentations to MBA business cases, Vijay Kochar has been an integral member of New European College’s faculty from its beginnings more than four years ago. Vijay feels a deep sense of connection to New European College’s international and entrepreneurial student body. He attributes this to his own upbringing and career: A global citizen, Vijay was born into a diplomatic family in India and grew up traveling the world. He obtained his first degree in engineering and, after a few years of work experience, went on to earn advanced degrees in business, leadership, and strategy from the London Business School, and Interdisciplinary Design from Cambridge University

Vijay’s career dates back to the early days of the personal computer – when Intel was beginning to experience unprecedented growth. He was approached by Intel upon his return from a six-month exchange at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in the US. “The rest is history,” says Vijay. “In hindsight, it goes to show how you can plan everything but there is such a thing as luck and fate. Prepare well, put yourself in positions where good things can happen, and grab the opportunities that come your way,” he advises.

Between 1981 and 2008, Vijay’s international career with Intel gave him the opportunity to live and work in multiple countries, with responsibilities spanning more than 25 across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in a variety of Finance, Sales, Marketing and General Management roles. “It was a great time,” he says, I have had the good fortune and privilege of having worked with many, many outstanding managers, including visionary leaders such as Andy Grove, one of the founders of Intel.

After more than ten years based out of Intel’s European Marketing Headquarters in Munich, working on new ventures and the development of consumer channels for Personal Computing, Vijay made the difficult decision to move on to new challenges.  Thanks to years of experience as a participant in and contributor to Intel’s internal development programs, he knew that teaching would play a key role in his next career move.

“I am an information junkie and technology geek”, says Vijay. “I love learning, sharing insights, and am constantly reading, researching and exploring”. Beyond his teaching commitments, Vijay has founded and runs international design-led ventures in the built environment and personal technology space. “I’ve never seen a gadget I didn’t like”, he jokes.

Vijay believes the value of an education from New European College has much to do with its smaller size and stage in its life cycle: “The experience here is much more personal than in a state school and/or more established institution. The faculty, and administration are much more approachable and flexible. They take individual circumstances into account, especially critical for students entering a new environment. “Plus,” he adds, “you get all the benefits of a startup: Flexibility, without compromising on the quality of the learning experience. For individuals who wants to be in charge of their career and personal development, test drive ideas and design their future life, NEC presents a wonderful opportunity.”

The real value of business school lies in the opportunity it presents to design your future

According to Vijay, the value of studying business in today’s rapidly evolving economy hinges on two key ideas: Build the foundation and develop the plan. “The real value of business school lies in the opportunity it presents to design your future. You need to first build the framework and develop the grammar. But this alone,  while necessary, is not sufficient. The business school environment gives you the opportunity to road test your ideas, come up with models, ask questions, and network with others who have ‘done it before’, so that by the time you graduate, you have prepared your landing zone. The goal [of studying business] should not just be the acquisition of a degree. What matters in the end is the unique value you can offer potential future employers and/or clients – that which is different and demonstrably better than your competitors.”

Vijay Kochar is a technology executive with extensive EMEA leadership experience at Intel Corporation. He has a record of building and empowering diverse, geographically distributed teams for breakthrough results in mature and emerging markets. He embraces change and thrives on continuous improvement through informed risk-taking, positive influence and continuing education. He is multilingual, has extensively traveled and is internationally mobile, and has been based in India, Australia, the US, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK. New European College thanks Mr. Vijay Kochar for taking the time to speak with us!

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