ABOUT DR. MANU VORA: An expert in quality management field, Manu Vora has over 40 years of professional experience guiding Fortune 500 Companies in leadership excellence, customer delight, employee engagement, and operational excellence. He has worked in chemical, telecommunications, and financial processing sectors. In 2000, he established Business Excellence, Inc., a global quality management consulting firm in Naperville, Illinois, USA.
Please tell us briefly about your journey and the genesis of spark to start in your field?
I joined BHU (IIT (BHU)) in 1964 and developed a passion for teaching and consulting during four years at the campus by sharing subject notes and fielding tough questions from my classmates. After losing my parents by the age of six, I received much help from family and friends. I came to the United State in 1968 as a Tata Scholar to complete my M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. I then received my MBA in marketing management from the Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago.
Concerned about lack of soft skills and quality principles/practices knowledge among IIT students, in 2014, we launched a Leadership Excellence Series with 12 topics at IIT (BHU). This free gift of knowledge transfer project leverages Google Hangouts On Air where session recordings via YouTube are shared widely with 6.5000 students, faculty, and administration at the IIT (BHU) campus.
Further, I served as an Advisor for TEDxIIT BHU Programs in 2013 and 2015 and gave two TEDx talks in 2013. On April 7, 2013 at TEDxIIT BHU on “Leveraging Social Responsibility to Unite the World”, atIIT (BHU), Varanasi campus via video. On April 13, 2013 at TEDxIIT Chicago on “Exponential Power of the Gift of Giving”, at IIT Chicago campus.
Since 2011, I have been leading the IIT (BHU) Global Giving Committee and the team has raised over $500,000 to benefit students, and the Institute. Leveraging my 30 years of conference management experience, I also served in the leading capacity for four IIT (BHU) Global Alumni Meets in 2011-2014.
I have served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) for six years and for my outstanding life-long service to Society, ASQ has bestowed me with five medals and I have received 2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor and 2010 US President’s Volunteer Service Award.
I am serving as an adjunct professor for the last 22 years at various business schools globally teaching operations management and quality management courses. I am affiliated with over 33 educational institutions around the world and taught well over 9,000 people globally through academic teaching and executive training. I have published over 50 articles in professional journals and made over 425 presentations on business excellence and quality management topics at local, regional, national, and international levels. I was invited to be an ASQ Influential Voice and published 40 blog posts.
For over 45 years, I have dedicated my life to community service. In 1989, I established the Blind Foundation for India (BFI) to serve over 15 million visually impaired people in India which accounts for one third of the world’s blind population. BFI team has raised over $4 million to support 120,000 free Cataract operations, distributed over 10,000 Braille Kits to blind children for their education, donated 111 mobile vans for transporting eye doctors and patients, and examined over 750,000 school-going children for their eye sight and provided necessary interventions. So far, over one million people in India have their eye sight checked through the BFI
How do you think your IIT life/education prepared you and contributed to your success?
Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya opened the Temple of Learning at BHU in 1916 with a great vision of preparing students to be technically competent as well as serve the lowest strata of the Society in Nation Building. I have understood the real meaning of Malaviyaji’s mission and am fulfilling it by serving in corporate, academic, professional, and philanthropic sectors. At IIT (BHU), we learned to focus on education and understood the importance of Dedication, Determination, and Discipline. These traits from IIT days have served well throughout my career.
How was the IIT life back then? What activities/instances you fondly recall and will like to share?
The life at IIT BHU was lot of fun – learning from caring faculty, many excursions in North India during campus strikes by Arts and Science students, and building great network of life-long friends.
Your biggest challenges so far in entrepreneurship/academics in US?
The biggest challenges faced in my professional career include subtle discrimination, lack of respect, and glass ceiling. Through assertiveness, hard work, and professional networks, I overcame all the challenges.
What advice do you have for IITians in the US to be successful in their career?
In June 2003, I was invited to deliver a Commencement Address at the Keller Graduate School of Management (my alma mater) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here are key points of my commencement address entitled “Life is a Journey: Enjoy the Ride, and Make a Difference” (it was published in ASQ’s Quality Engineering magazine in 2004):
Be positive and self confident
Be ready to help others
Continue to improve and renew yourself
Exhibit ethical leadership
Learn, apply, and share your knowledge
Maintain the balance between work and family
Make a difference
Harness the power of expectations
Enjoy today – as yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, that is why they call it the present! Take a few moments to smell the roses, as it is soothing for your mind, body, and soul.