Dean's Address

The questions for this spotlight interview were compiled by Kaumudi Goda, PGP Co '12, Human Capital SIG moderator and contributed by Vineet Jawa, PGP Co '05, Tech SIG moderator; Praveen Gonabal, PGO Co '06, Tech SIG moderator; Shyaam Subramanian, PGP Co '08, ISB For Good SIG Moderator; Bhargavi V, PGP Co '11, Startup SIG  moderator; Ushnisha Ghosh,PGP Co '16,  ISB For Good SIG moderator.

Dean's Vision for the alumni

What is the Dean's vision on how the alumni community can contribute to the school's development?

I truly believe that the biggest endowment that ISB has is its alumni. I have been here at ISB for two years. I have seen many of you, but not enough. You have been engaged with us on multiple fronts and instrumental in areas such as admissions, placements, leadership and development. Your presence in the classroom has been substantial and, on the placement front, this year, we placed over 900 students in the course of three days. The level of corporate support has been incredible. I would like to thank them and also recognise the incredible hard work and commitment of CAS. We want alumni to come together and consider how they can give back to the School over the next 10 years.
One area of note is outreach and engagement, which can come in multiple forms. There are great examples of how alumni are stepping in to contribute. SAP Labs is helping us incubate 10 companies a year and that’s a considerable investment on their part. This effort was led by Dilip Khandelwal. Padmanabham Balasubramanian was instrumental in getting the Digital Identity Research Initiative, which is examining the impact of the Aadhar card on productivity in both the public and private sectors, off the ground. Hats off to them. Many more alums are supporting the digital transformation of ISB. Here alums are helping us refine and establish roadmaps for the School.
I am encouraging the directors/heads of our Research Centres and Institutes (RCIs) to make sure that we have you on the advisory board. We would like to see your companies engage with the RCIs, which I believe will lead to a richer understanding of challenges and opportunities in the marketplace. For example, the Real Estate SIG can work with the Punj-Lloyd Infrastructure Institute, which in turn can work with both corporate entities and the government on issues related to smart cities, infrastructure financing and the like. Additionally, special interest groups (SIGs) can also be linked to the RCIs.
Another area where your help would be pivotal is Executive Education. Far from being just another revenue source, Executive Education is a crucial brand building tool, enabling senior corporate executives and government officers to “get a taste” of what ISB education is all about. At most leading schools, over 50% of Exec-Ed participants are nominated by alumni. There has been an artificial separation of PGP suites and Exec-Ed programmes. We need to close this gap. Clearly, ISB can go much further if RCIs and affiliated Advanced Management Programmes (AMPs) are supported by alumni and the corporate sector.
There are other specific initiatives that would benefit from your involvement. We have appointed a task force to review and revise the programmes, including the curriculum. Your inputs would be valuable in bringing more experiential learning as well as analytics into the programme and, importantly, your insights. What you have learned on the job and what you think is necessary in today’s job world will be of immense significance.
Finally, some alums have been coming back to us as Executives in Residence and some are involved on the teaching front as well. You could consider the possibility of taking a mini sabbatical from work and staying with us.
Collectively, you guys have a lot of insight, and I really value your feedback. You have been at ISB and you know how this place functions. You are the best people to help the institution understand what changes we need to make to take ISB to the next level.

Multiple Stakeholders - one community

How does the school see alumni across the various silos of different classes and different programmes being forged into one community and sharing knowledge and resources with each other?

The alumni community network, now numbering about 9,600, is growing dramatically — by about 1,100 a year now. This group boasts about 450 CXOs and a similar number of companies started by ISBians. And, thanks to the progress made by alums, ISB is the top-ranked programme in India for MBA-equivalent, Finance, Entrepreneurship and Women’s programmes.
We envision this network developing as a product of the availability of different platforms for alumni to connect. We are developing a one-step Alumni Digital Portal which brings all the SIGs together and connects alumni across programmes and geographies. SIGs share opportunities to meet and interact. We are also connecting the SIGs to the appropriate Research Centres and Institutes (e.g., Healthcare SIG to the Max Institute, and Finance SIG to CAF (Centre for Analytical Finance) and to events such as Artha). The digital portal will be refined soon, so stay tuned. The School has facilitated vertical networking, lateral networking and multi-level networking for alumni. Equinox, our annual learn and connect event, is also a great example of how the School creates platforms for alumni to come together.

Vision for SIGs

What is your vision for the SIGs?

SIGs are the best example of how ISBians can help other ISBians as well as have a greater impact at the national and international levels.
Alumni SIGs are organised by industry and are designed to help alumni in key sectors or industries to network, learn, and exchange knowledge with one another. As a result, SIGs help to connect and integrate the alumni in various programmes. SIGs also have a high level of engagement across geographies. Different stakeholders, such as PGP suite alumni, AMP suite
alumni, and Certificate programme alumni work with industry leaders, ISB alumni, and faculty leaders/ RCI heads to gain experience and maximise stakeholder benefits.
SIGs are for, by, and of the alumni, and are hence an expression of the empowered, self-directed and democratic nature of our alumni activity and programming.

Developing leaders for the future

What is ISB's thinking on developing leaders for the future? What sort of attitudes, beliefs and competencies do we want ISB alumni to demonstrate in order to make a material difference in the world and why? How is this going to influence ISB's programmes?

As future leaders, ISBians need to work together on multiple fronts, especially in facilitating key priorities for the nation — creating jobs as entrepreneurs, supporting drives such as Make in India, and facilitating the digital transformation of business and government. In doing so, we have to do the “right things right”. We cannot and should not hide behind the excuse of “aise to hota hai.” We have to set new performance expectations and standards. We have to drive change for the better.
We foresee increasing collaboration with other business schools and delving into experimental learning. We plan to develop incoming students and alumni through the various learning initiatives of the School to help them reach senior positions in their chosen areas of focus.
We also want to cultivate entrepreneurship, and foresee alumni creating jobs. Not only this, we want to inculcate responsible leadership and, through the HCC Committee, ensure that best practices are followed. There is also the area of social impact that the Net Impact Club and ISB for Good SIG deals with, which we see as a high priority.

Favourite SIG

What has been your favourite SIG activity till date and why?

I hate to take sides!
I appreciate all the SIG activities and would like to express a note of thanks to all SIG moderators. SIGs are busy throughout the year with various activities, events, webinars, etc. that bring alumni together, which is a great way of networking. Our newest initiative is to form and activate the Finance SIG. More than 15% of our alumni are in the finance sector, and our SIGs should reflect this. The Finance SIG is sure to be a success given the resources available to it, in the capabilities of the School’s finance programme and, notably, its Centre for Analytical Finance. Personally, I am quite engaged in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which includes D-Labs. We accelerated or incubated about 50 companies in the last 12 months. More and more alums have expressed an interest in starting their own enterprises. ISB can have a great impact on this front by focusing on go-to-market strategies: scaling up, rather than merely incubating start-ups. We look forward to your support on this front.

SIGs and Research

Is there a way alums can participate in publishing papers in peer reviewed/ industry journals via the SIGs? This would be a great tangible initiative towards lifelong learning.

This is an aspiration we have, and plans have been made in this direction. We hope to develop a mandate for alumni to work with faculty on such articles.
The best way to take this forward would be to connect with our RCIs, which are now very active. Do go to the websites get a glimpse of research initiatives in areas such as innovation (CIE), healthcare (Max Institute), infrastructure and real estate (Punj-Lloyd), manufacturing and supply chain (Munjal Institute), finance (CAF), information technology and digital transformation (SRITNE), family business (Thomas Schmidheiny Centre), human capital and leadership (Human Capital Initiative) and public policy (Bharti Institute).
Those interested in spending some time exploring research opportunities or in writing case studies should contact the Centre for Learning and Management Practice (CLMP).

Alumni and Social Impact

How can we leverage our public policy, data analytics and other courses/faculty/research in ISB to help advance the quality of life of low-income populations in India? For example, Duke's business school has a Centre for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE).

In this matter, the school guides and encourages social innovation, healthcare, education and sustainability via programmes at multiple RCIs. I believe the underlying values have been instilled in alumni during their stint at ISB, and it depends upon alumni what sort of impact they choose to make. Through the ISB for Good SIG, one can hope for such drivers. For example, alumni have founded organisations like The Better India, One Good Step, the Nudge Foundation, etc. The School also works to give such initiatives visibility and a network.