Education sector needs to keep pace with dynamic industries like sports and e-sports: CP Thomas, Whi- Edexlive

There is no denying the fact that India is a country of the youth. More than half the population here is below the age of 25 today. Such a young demographic brings with it certain trends in the market scene. Growth in sports and e-sports is definitely among those today. Banking on this reality is Whistling Woods International (WWI) who have recently launched their Media Management School of Sports and E-Sports Operations Management. The institute will be offering a one-of-a-kind programme in sports and e-sports management at both undergraduate and graduate levels. 

We got in touch with CP Thomas, the Programme Head at the School of Sports and E-Sports Management, to know more about the industry and what opportunities lie in store for people passionate about pursuing programmes like the ones at WWI. Excerpts from the interview:

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What pushed you to start the school of sports management?
The sports, e-sports and other online gaming businesses in India are growing rapidly and there is a great need for qualified professionals with in-depth knowledge about these industries. The Whistling Woods International Sports & E-Sports Management School has, therefore, been started with an aim to create skilled professionals who will be proficient in carving a rich career in these industries. Both the three-year BBA and two-year MBA programmes are the first-of-their-kind in the country with combined emphasis on the sports and e-sports industries. There is no other programme that prepares students to become job-ready management professionals in both these industries.

What would be the focus areas?
The BBA programme will initially focus on developing various skills required by students aiming to work in professional roles in the industry. In sports, e-sports and online gaming, they will be given an overview of every aspect connected to these industries so that they are knowledgeable about the running of various businesses in these industries. Business managers need broad-based knowledge to function effectively and the programme is designed with a multidisciplinary methodology to provide insight into key areas of the industry. The curriculum is aligned to meet the needs of the industry and provide students with the requisite training to be valuable to any stakeholder in the business of sports. On successful completion of this program, the students will be job-ready and well-equipped to embark on a professional career in the large number of entities engaged in these businesses. Business courses will include Principles of Business Management, Finance, Economic Principles, Marketing Fundamentals, Human Resource Management, Leadership and Governance. 

Were there any landmark programmes based on which WWI’s programmes are based?
Since it is a unique management school focusing on both sports and e-sports, the programmes have been tailor-made to meet the requirements of these industries and create knowledgeable professionals ready to manage businesses. The landscape of the sports and e-sports industries in India is different and very dynamic, and, therefore, it was necessary to take these factors into consideration while developing both the BBA and MBA programmes. The emphasis is on providing students with in-depth knowledge and relevant experience so that they have a great advantage to be gainfully employed and pursue a rewarding career in both sports and e-sports.

What would students gain from the programmes? 
The key advantage for students successfully completing these programmes is that it is a unique one that prepares them to be job-ready professionals in both sports and e-sports industries. The new-age, industry-driven curriculum comes with offerings that will establish a strong business foundation. Apart from providing information and knowledge, it will focus on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. The state-of-the-art facilities, technology and equipment in the WWI campus, and an unparalleled opportunity to enhance skills in multiple areas by utilising high-quality expertise available in WWI across various disciplines will add immense value to the students in these programmes. They will also be provided with relevant work experience and networking opportunities with senior professionals and experts within the industry, which will facilitate easy entry into jobs. Students will also be provided with personalised mentoring to develop and enhance their skill strengths and be assured of job placements on graduation.

What areas do you expect to see growth, with respect to the sports industry? How would that impact the education sector?
With both the sports and e-sports industries on a high growth path, all the functions associated with these sectors will proportionately need more professionals to run and manage the companies and other entities associated with these industries. Hence, 
sports management companies, broadcast and streaming businesses, infrastructure creation, fan engagement, sponsorship and endorsement management, traditional and digital content development, marketing and other activities will all see high demand for skilled professionals. The education sector will, hence, need to keep pace with providing adequate knowledge and experience to students to become successful professionals in these dynamic industries.

How different or interrelated are the domains of sports management, operations and marketing. How is WWI planning to provide holistic learning to its students?
The activities associated with sports management, operations and marketing are different with the functions clearly demarcated for the professionals engaged in these jobs. However, the entire focus for everyone involved in the sports and e-sports industries is to provide professional services to the key stakeholders within these industries and, hence, the functions are inter-related in order to achieve a common goal. To run a successful business within these industries, it is essential that professionals working in these industries have in-depth knowledge about their fields of expertise and their day-to-day job functions. However, the emphasis is more and more shifting towards hiring of professionals who are not only well-versed with their job functions, but also have all-round knowledge of various factors affecting the industries to give them the intelligence to connect the dots and deliver higher levels of performance. 

The programmes in the WWI Sports & E-Sports Management School are clearly oriented to provide this holistic learning. Since these are very dynamic industries, we will be constantly interacting with industry leaders to keep abreast of new trends and equip our students with this knowledge. In addition, continuous interaction with professionals from the industry and hands-on experience with entities within these industries will ensure that WWI students are totally job-ready when they enter the employment market. This all-round approach will provide WWI graduates with immense advantages to get their desired job and have a rich career in the sports and e-sports industries.

What are some of the challenges that lie ahead for you? 
The rise of sports and e-sports within the country, the knowledge about companies and businesses within these industries and the daily exposure to various developments within these industries have ensured that both students and their parents are now more aware about these industries and the great opportunities that they provide. The challenge lies in providing them with more information and elevating their knowledge in order to make an informed decision while selecting management programmes. With regard to this, the fact that we are the only school providing management programmes in both sports and e-sports is a huge strength. We can overcome any challenge or recognition issue that sports management programmes might have because our emphasis on personalised mentoring for each student and assured jobs is a huge advantage.

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