‘Future is bright for Anthropology students'

Fascinated by the idea of studying humans by the anthropological approach, Mr. G.V Suresh chose MA Social Anthropology over MBA. Today he is proud to have made that choice. He also has an MA in Public Administration and EMBA. Mr. Suresh clears up the myths associated with Anthropology as a good study option.

Post-graduation in Anthropology is not a popular choice among students, especially boys. What encouraged you to opt for it?

One day, I happened to read a paragraph about Anthropology in a sociology journal while browsing in a library. I liked the idea of studying human beings and doing it by the anthropological approach. I guess this is the interest one should have to be successful in the field.

I approached the Anthropology department in University of Madras and took up MA in Social Anthropology, though I secured a seat for MBA in a reputed college.

How do you see the perception of today's generation about Anthropology as a study option?

Anthropology is slowly gaining sheen as a good study option. Till a few years back, lack of exposure to the subject and lack of literature that can be used for the course study pushed it to the end of the list.

Also, Anthropology requires investigation, which we do not easily deploy. But now, students are more inquisitive. Moreover, the recent developments in human history are making people more conscious about the need to study themselves.

Anthropology is being offered under both Arts and Science streams. What is the difference between them?

Anthropology degree is awarded as a science degree when it gets interspersed with the fields of pure science and pertains to human evolution. MA degree is the humanities aspect of anthropology, concentrating more on culture, society, linguistics etc.

What does Socio-cultural Anthropology deal with?

Socio Cultural anthropology deals with social, cultural dimension of human being. The way we do things, why we do them, how have we evolved to do things in a particular way and so on! For example: Mans interaction with super natural, resulting in religion, magic etc is part of this branch.

Tell us about your work.

I worked as a Researcher to do social audits for an NGO (Myrada) in their projects across the country and document the success / failure of different programmes.

Then, I got into GE as an Executive and later moved to handle HR in various MNCs like Birla Soft and Interwoven. Currently I am heading HR and the India operations for Sonicwall.

How is Anthropology related to Management or Business Administration?

In today's globalised, knowledge era Humans are the real focus. Employees come first (to Customers), whether this culture exists in reality or not.

Managing the intended and unintended consequences of this perception is critical for companies and for this Anthropology is required.

What are the areas of Management where application of Anthropology can lead to better solutions?

Anthropology helps you to do an unbiased analysis of any given situation and aids a manager to comprehend things from human perspective.

This results in making better decisions, resulting in good hiring, good policies, and creates informed workforce. A positive attitude can be brought in through the approach.

What are the sub-areas of Anthropology that find application in Management/ Business Administration? Are specialised courses available in India to teach these sub-areas?

Applied Anthropology, Development anthropology and even Physical anthropology find application in management and business. To a certain extent courses are available in India.

How much is a degree in Anthropology valued in the job market?

It is gaining ground. Multinationals and other big corporations are seeing the value and started working with anthropologists.

In fact sometimes candidates with Anthropology background are preferred over MBAs. Recruiters, engagement managers, CSR executives and Ethics Managers are such some roles. So the future for anthropology students is definitely brighter.

What are the other fields of specialisation, Anthropologists can consider for landing challenging and lucrative jobs?

Management, Education, Literature or language studies, Medicine, History, Psychology, Law, Designing, are some of the fields that beg for anthropological intervention.

Is it really necessary to back an Anthropology degree with a degree in some other field to ensure a good career?

I do not think so – but the innate anthropologist in the person will make him probe further resulting in acquiring other specialised degrees!

Nitya Sai Soumya