Ashok Ranchhod has navigated a diverse career covering scientific research, business management and marketing, to produce a unique skillset that he is now willing to share with aspiring University entrepreneurs. He is exploring digital marketing and the use of gaming in communications as a Principal Teaching Fellow at the Winchester School of Art, building on international experience in higher education from institutions in France, Australia and the U.S.A.
An Emeritus Professor for Southampton Solent University, his life’s work has included 10 years spent building a biotechnology company in Derbyshire and two years directing the Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad (MICA), India’s foremost communications school.
Ashok was raised in Zambia and completed his secondary education in the UK, choosing to study Chemistry and later Geochemistry at the University of Sheffield. He built on this knowledge through scientific teaching and research experience before transitioning into a business environment with the Microplants startup.
He directed the business, which specialised in the cloning of plants, for a complete decade until he eventually oversaw its sale to a larger company.
“I learned a huge amount about business through that company and enjoyed being at the cutting edge of biotech,” he says. “You are living on a knife edge as an entrepreneur, but it is quite exciting. In surfing, you do best when you hit the wave at the right time and in our situation we were a little ahead of the curve. We found this made it difficult for people to understand where we were at to secure funding, so you must think about your markets and how you’re going to develop when beginning a startup.”
The experience prompted Ashok to pivot towards business and marketing in higher education and he completed an MBA from Sheffield Business School which he would later reinforce with a PhD from Nottingham Trent University. He joined the Open University Business School in 1989 and helped to set up a Strategic Management course while working as a Director of the Summer Schools Programme in six years at the institution.
In recent years, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad (MICA) in India, the Université d’Angers, France, the University of Canberra, Australia, and Napier University, Scotland, have all benefited from Ashok’s expertise. As Director at MICA, he managed the teaching of around 400 postgraduate students and commenced a new PhD programme.
Ashok says he is motivated to see people grow and can identify three qualities that he believes will enhance that development. “I think people should be driven by curiosity, always be ready to learn new things and be disciplined,” he says.
As Principal Teaching Fellow in Marketing Communications at Winchester School of Art, Ashok manages several Masters degrees, including a games design course which will be launched in 2018. He also supervises several PhD students and invests some time in consultancy work with small businesses.
“My role meshes well with Future Worlds as entrepreneurs seek to create, develop and run their own companies,” he explains. “Future Worlds is doing something cutting edge in bringing knowledge together to expand people’s horizons.” Ashok will be working with Future Worlds Mentor Gordon Clyne to deliver a series of events for University entrepreneurs in the near future – check out the Engage section soon for more details.
“I can offer a lot of advice for companies that are kicking off in terms of their branding, marketing, business planning and understanding of the marketplace,” Ashok adds. You can get in touch with Ashok using the contact form on this page.
Ashok’s choices of activities in his spare time are almost as diverse as those in his unique career, with hobbies including gardening, yoga and entering triathlons. He is also attempting to re-learn the flute. “If you do interesting things outside of work then I believe you can bring an interesting approach to your work,” he says.