“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” -Galileo
Vijay Setlur is an Adjunct Marketing Professor, freelance soccer journalist and student mentor.
TamilCulture: Did you always know that you wanted to pursue this career?
Vijay Setlur: No, though my mom was a match teacher in south India, I never considered teaching as a profession, at any level. My first exposure to it was when I coached baseball in Martingrove Baseball, the local league, for five years and earned my National Coaching Certification Program Level 1 certification. The opportunity to teach came as a fluke and didn’t materialize until I approached the Associate Dean at the School of Kinesiology and Health Science-Faculty of Health at York University about the prospect of being a guest speaker in one of the courses.
She encouraged me to apply to teach a course and after being passed over once received the opportunity to teach the Sport Marketing and Event Management course even before I was eligible as I hadn’t yet finished my MBA. Midway through the course I approached a professor in Schulich School of Business who taught a similar course, “Tourism, Sport and Leisure Marketing,” to get help preparing the mid term exam. He offered to help, but said he’d be going on sabbatical and asked me if I’d like to teach his class for a year.
That was in 2009 and I haven’t looked back. Since then I’ve overhauled the course and infused an industry-centric approach to education that has resulted in students completing 43 sport marketing consulting projects for 33 companies spanning three continents. At the same time, it has prepared them for career success and encouraged some of them to consider pursuing careers in the sport and entertainment industries. That is the most gratifying outcome of my work.
TC: What would you consider memorable moments along your journey?
VS: I’m proud of my accomplishments to date, but know there is much more remaining to achieve and that constantly drives me. To date, I’ve amassed enough experience in a wide range of fields aside from teaching – communications, marketing and journalism – to be able to withstand any economic downturn. More specifically, though I’m pleased at being able to apply an “industry-centric” approach to business education that has been highly regarded by industry leaders and helped build Schulich’s brand within the sports, media and entertainment industries.
Our students are very talented and it’s gratifying knowing my industry-centric approach, which has them working on challenging consulting projects for various organizations, is showcasing their abilities, and creating a new pipeline for future industry talent. To be able to say I’m helping students pursue their passion and have a direct hand in contributing to the advancement of these industries is pretty cool!
TC: What is your definition of success?
VS: Many people define success in a material way focusing on accomplishments in their career, finances, education and personal/family life. I define success, though, simply through personal fulfillment in achieving my goals and helping others achieve theirs. I don’t have an ultimate goal other than to be regarded by my industry colleagues, family and friends as someone who had tremendous passion for his work, exhibited a strong work ethic, conducted himself with integrity at all times, treated others with respect and applied the Law of Contribution in helping others achieve success with their pursuits.
TC: What advice can you share with those who are considering a similar career?
VS: My advice is very specific, but comes with a simple disclaimer – you must have an interest in teaching. If you like to learn (and believe in lifelong learning), share knowledge, guide others and work to see others succeed then it’s the right pursuit.
Once someone answers a resounding yes to that question then I share my blueprint – 1. Identify the subjects that you’d like to teach 2. Determine the institutions that offer those courses – universities, colleges, etc. 3. Identify the hiring manager, often the department head, and 4. Approach that official with the intent of arranging a face-to-face meeting. The grind doesn’t end there as the competition for limited teaching opportunities requires constant and effective networking and follow-up to stay top of mind to decision makers. As well, I would also highly recommend acquiring experience as a Teaching Assistant, Marker/Grader or Lab Instructor to build a body of portfolio of work that demonstrates a commitment to pursuing a teaching position.
Currently institutions are becoming increasingly stringent requiring PhD degree, but it’s still possible to secure an Adjunct Professor position with only a Masters degree. It simply comes down to having a passion for teaching and adopting the ‘whatever it takes” mindset to secure an opportunity.
TC: What’s a quote that motivates you?
VS: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
TC: “To me Tamil culture is”: