Raja Roy

B.E - Production Engg, 1991
Interviewed By: 
Pallavi Guha

The “King” of Many Trades
“Jack of all trades, master of none,” has been a popular proverb since eternity. However, with the changing times, this proverb is gradually losing its significance.

Individuals are increasingly finding themselves adept not at one and many roles and responsibilities. Much of it has been possible because of the digital evolution, the keypad has empowered individuals like never before. Not to forget individual intent and capacity. In the 21st century, the jacks of many trades are also masters of many, thanks to the substantial life skills imparted by their teachers and families.

Unaware to us, there are many, who possess multi-faceted skills. One such individual is JU alumnus Raja Roy. The name Raja translates to “King.” Conforming to his name, this king is the master of many trades. Professor Raja Roy teaches Managing Technological Innovation in Drexel University while researching the reasons for American firms’ failure in manufacturing industries, such as machine tools and robotics. But this is not his only avatar, Raja frequently dons the hat of a singer, theater actor, and a photographer. Raja has acted under the direction of Sudipta Bhawmik, Soumendu Bhattacharyya, and Nupur Lahiri, and is currently involved in the upcoming production of Indranil Mukherjee’s “Rong Naao Tumi.”

When asked how he manages such diverse roles, Raja said, “I would attribute this to my education at Jadavpur University.” A Production Engineer from JU, Raja feels the intangible learning from the professors was a strong motivation to inculcate other interests. “I remember accompanying one of my professors to Madhusudan Mancha for theater shows and discussing a variety of topics with him, while having “lebu cha” at the stairway to the theater. This encouragement of knowing things beyond the stipulated coursework, coming from an engineering professor, who commanded respect because of his involvement in cutting-edge research, and not merely because he was a professor, shaped my thoughts. Some of our professors also encouraged us to attend social science classes.” The profound learning was that creativity, and research, does not happen in a vacuum, and definitely not happen through rote learning —rather it’s a culmination of various external and internal factors that affect and mold a person.

Raja candidly discusses how he and his cohorts “cut” (mass bunking) classes to play football, cards, or just to chat with friends. Sometimes his professors would walk to the football ground to ask Raja and his friends to attend the class, “Now, with the role reversal, I try to sustain the humility of my Jadavpur professors,” says Raja. Whenever Raja is in India, he makes it a point to visit his professors and catch-up on their research.

What would Raja be if not a professor or engineer? When asked this question, Raja promptly replied, “If I were a teenager in Kolkata now, I would form a music band.” So what is Raja busy now apart from his research on industrial robotics and teaching graduate students? Says Raja, “I am part of a musical band, “Protidhdhoni,” which is the endeavor of a JU alumnus, Rishi Bhattacharjee.

Raja takes music lessons from Partha Sengupta, also a JU alumnus. He takes classical music lessons from his cousin sister, Shilpi Chattopadhyay, the granddaughter of Sri Ramkumar Chattopadhyay. In the past, he had taken music lessons from Mitali Bhawmik, also a JU alumnus, and from Jayeeta Ghosh. Apart from that, he and his 10-year-old son enjoy nature photography, especially in remote locations, such as Alaska, and biking along the Delaware River trail near New Hope, PA, or along the Tammany Trace in Louisiana.

The informal and closed knit community of Jadavpur University East Coast Alumni Association gives an opportunity of socially networking to the JU alums of East coast. Many readers may have known Raja Roy as a professor of Drexel University, but this gives the JU community to know him better as multi-talented individual.

A quick look of the Professional Achievements of Raja:
BE Production Engineering - Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India 1991
MBA International Marketing - Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi, India 1995
Ph.D. Strategic Management - University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA 2003