Academic and author Dr. Spinder Dhaliwal is a recognised and leading expert in her field. She is currently a Director of Post Graduate Programmes at the Westminster Business School. Spinder has written extensively about the Asian business community and compiled Britain’s Richest Asians for 6 years reflecting her long held interest in the field. Her book, Making a Fortune – Learning from the Asian Phenomenon (Capstone) has been noted widely. She wrote the influential study “Silent Contributors – Asian Female Entrepreneurs and Women in Business” which highlighted this important, yet often neglected, issue. Her report for Barclays Bank entitled, ‘Asian entrepreneurs in the UK’ received much attention.
Could you please describe yourself in a few sentences?
I am currently the Director of Post Graduate Programmes at the Westminster Business School. I am passionate about motivating people and trying to get the best out of them. Students have so much potential and talent, they need to aim high with their studies.
What is your area of academic interest and which courses were you involved in?
My area of academic interest is Entrepreneurship. I have helped many students develop their business plans and some have gone on to run successful businesses. My research area is Asian Entrepreneurship and Women in Business.
Could you please tell us a bit about your new role as a Director of PG programmes?
I love my new role as Director of PG Programmes. It enables me to work with a wide spectrum of people across the University and beyond. My task is to oversee the quality of our PG Programmes and ensure all aspects are running smoothly. I will also deal with any student issues and the wider publicity and marketing of our programmes both nationally and internationally.
What was your first job? What did you learn from it?
I grew up in a corner shop which was a family business. I watched my parents work long hours and was often working with them. It instilled a work ethic in me. It also meant I had to deal with people from an early age.
I have written for the Asian papers a lot, and compiled the Asian Rich List which charts the progress of high growth UK based Asian entrepreneurs. My first ‘proper’ job was as an academic at Roehampton University where I set up the Centre for Asian Entrepreneurial Research.
What did you do in your career before coming to Westminster Business School ?
I was heading up all the Entrepreneurship modules at the University of Surrey Business School. I particularly enjoyed working with the MBA students, they had so much experience. I taught a lot overseas in glamorous places like Barbados, Mauritius, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Could you give us a little insight about your current book “Making a Fortune – Learning from the Asian Phenomenon”
For two decades, entrepreneurs have been eulogised in the popular press. At a time when real heroes are hard to find, it is the entrepreneur, the dynamic go-getting risk taker, who has become the hero of free enterprise.
It takes in businesses from manufacturing to finance, from food to hotels, from pharmaceuticals to fashion. It includes first-, second- and third-generation achievers. It provides the definitive guide to ‘who’s who’ in the Asian business world.
Through case studies and analysis of both personal and business issues, the book illustrates the triumphs and challenges facing these individuals, how disasters were overcome and how they fought against the odds to be outstanding role models for anyone interested in business or making money. It tells a story of grit and determination to succeed, and draws out the lessons so anyone, whether budding or existing entrepreneurs, Asian or not, can learn from these amazing individuals.
What advice would you give to the students who would like to start up their own business ?
Do your homework carefully. Make sure you understand what you are getting into. Learn from others but make your own decisions.
There is a big debate about if one is born to be an entrepreneur or can it be taught, what do you think?
This is a good question and one that has been debated for decades. Some argue that you have to be born an entrepreneur – if so, then we need to find these born entrepreneurs and then give them the resources (land, labour and capital) to be entrepreneurial); if it is learnt, then we need to know what skills are required and teach people these. I think some aspects can be taught but unless you are self driven, they are not of much use.
If you were asked to give one piece of advice to students who are considering going into Post Graduate study what would that be?
I would urge students to make the most of their time. It is an intense period of study, but such a privilege. They should manage their workload effectively, and make the most of the University resources. It’s a great way to meet people who will be life long friends or even business partners in the future. They should always keep focused, and keep their mind on the future. A Masters degree can take you far, it is worth making every effort to do well.
How do you relax out of work? What are your interests/leisure activities?
I travel a lot, do yoga and write for the press when I can.
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