Associate Professor Surinder Kahai admits that he was not always as close to his students at the School of Management as he is today.

But when he sent his daughter to college, he hoped the faculty would look after her throughout her educational journey – and that led to personal reflection on his own teaching style.

“I thought to myself: if I expect her teachers to take care of her, that means I have to do the same with my students,” he says. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have the moral authority to wait for this for her. Since that day, things have not been the same.

Her current philosophy is to take the time to get it right, both inside and outside the classroom, as well as with her family and her photographic efforts around the world.

Kahai’s attention to his students – whom he considers “like my children” – is just one of the reasons he was named one of the nation’s top 50 undergraduate business professors by Poets. & Quants. Another is his prolific body of research, which includes over 7,300 Google Scholar citations. He also received the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2002-2003.

Although he started his college career in chemical engineering (earning his BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology and a Masters from Rutgers University), Kahai wanted to delve into something of a broader scope. He received his doctorate in business administration from the University of Michigan and joined the faculty of Binghamton University in 1991.

During his 30-year career at the School of Management, Kahai analyzed the intersection of leadership and technology through the lens of management information systems (MIS).

Technology has evolved rapidly during this period. As a doctoral student in the late 1980s, he says, “the first thing MIS researchers studied was to explore how we might use local networks. [LANs] in a room to support group discussions. If you are in a group and the leader leads others through technology, how does that shape the interaction and how does that shape the results? “

Later in the 1990s and early 2000s, as the Internet became more and more important in our daily lives, Kahai focused on companies’ use of teams that work remotely – a topic which resonates even more strongly in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic as more people have worked from home.

Today’s internet connections may be faster than ever, but Kahai believes that when managing remotely, nothing beats a good old-fashioned phone call. Supervisor and employee can discuss not only work-related tasks but also catch up on their lives in general.

“A lot of bosses still believe they can get their employees to do more work,” he says. “All they think we need is emails and Zoom, and we’re good to go. They always hold team members accountable for work that may not get done as planned, regardless of the challenges they face at home with the children or other aspects of their lives.

As a teacher, Kahai treats his students the same. For example, while teaching a fully distance learning blockchain course in the fall of 2020, he hopped on Zoom whenever someone had questions, and he even taught some who were struggling to get better. understand the course material.

Towards the end of the semester, a few students stopped by his desk – with proper COVID protocols, of course – to give him a framed illustration of a lonely boy watching from a distant asteroid with an inscription: “It doesn’t matter that you don’t. ‘re not here in person, as long as you are here in my heart. The work of art now has pride of place on a shelf behind his desk.

“If you’ve done something with the authenticity of your heart, it’s not hard for the other person to see,” he says, “even when you don’t meet that person face to face.

Kahai puts the same mixture of patience, enthusiasm and love in his breathtaking photos, which reveal moments spent in national parks and beauty spots as well as cityscapes and iconic buildings. He has an eye for “anything that I can make beautiful”, but more often than not he turns his camera towards the landscapes and the flowers.

Because it sometimes takes up to four hours to get the perfect shot, taking pictures of humans can be tricky. “I can’t expect them to be as patient as a flower or a landscape! He said with a small laugh.

“I am a totally different person when I take pictures. For me, it’s an escape from everything that’s going on in my life. My family have fun taking pictures of me in awkward positions. I don’t even realize what I’m doing – so they’re showing these pics of me, and we’re having a good laugh!

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