Diplomats transform as ‘Brand India’ ambassadors at ISB

By Team Marcomm Jun 01, 2022

Offering training to upskill personnel is an important part of any good organisation, as it is in the government. This year, as part of the Government of India’s Mid-Career Training Programme, 29 senior diplomats attended the Advanced Management Programme – designed specifically for this cohort by the Indian School of Business.

ISB, which conducted the management module of this training programme, had officers posted in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi and those from Indian missions and posts abroad, attend this programme at its Hyderabad campus, between May 16-20, 2022.

Diplomats execute a multitude of roles for their nation and citizens. They are also often challenged to respond to newer priorities which arise over time. India is witnessing a significant rise in her entrepreneurial mindset. This has triggered the need for diplomats to hand hold Indian businesses with global aspirations and for crafting a renewed global identity for India.

The six-day programme packed essential topics for the senior diplomats, like economic diplomacy, negotiation skills, branding regions or cities, dos, and don’ts of branding a nation, strategy, digital tools in diplomacy, insights from business community, state governments and much more.

The best of ISB’s resident and global visiting faculty were engaged with the delivery of the programme. Few noted personalities from the industry like eminent investor Girish Reddy, Member KKR and Co-founder, Hedge Funds discussed various global investment scenarios and insights from the investment community with the senior diplomats.

Ambassador K Nandini Singla (IFS, 1997), High Commissioner of India at Mauritius, said that attending the Advanced Management Programme at ISB, was a refreshing change for her.

“A nation’s power is derived, in large part, from its economic strength. So, economic diplomacy is a big part of the diplomacy work that we do. This course has been useful in this context since it gives us a peek into the world of business. It makes us look at things differently: from a government policy-focused approach to a business-oriented one.” She said that the diverse backgrounds of the faculty were also beneficial. Some, like Professor Subramanian, have served in the academia, government as well as the private sector. There were others, too, who have set up businesses or are currently invested in some. “It is interesting to listen to their real-world experiences; it makes the learning more practical and impactful than discussing just abstract theories.”

The exposure at ISB was notable for another participant, Ambassador Raveesh Kumar, Indian ambassador to Finland and a former spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. “The best part was getting exposed to several concepts that we are not exposed to on a day-to-day basis. From negotiation techniques, nation branding, economic diplomacy were all relevant concepts for our work. We must try to see how these fit in our regular activities now,” said Kumar.

He also hailed the excellent quality of speakers and said that the post-presentation discussions were the most enriching for him. “I must give due credit to ISB for sending us questionnaires to determine what we wanted to learn from this programme beforehand. While many of those were addressed, I do wish we had bit more time here.”

Senior diplomat Ambassador Pooja Kapur, Ambassador of India to Denmark, is most impressed with the Professors conducting the courses and hailed the structure of the classes held at ISB. She found Dean Madan Pillutla’s sessions on negotiation techniques the most useful. “This programme at ISB fills a lot of gaps for us. The professors here were fantastic. The delivery of the classes happened as Socratic communication. We learnt from not just the Professors but also our fellow batchmates,” said Ambassador Kapur.

“This was five days of outstanding content and great delivery for us at ISB. Attending the programme makes us more credible interlocutors. This was a valuable and timely experience we had. We are carrying back good tales of our time here for our colleagues,” said Amandeep Singh Gill, Executive Director of the Secretariat for the UN Secretary general’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, during his address at the end of the course.

Addressing the batch, Professor K V Subramanian urged the diplomats to use data responsibly to bridge any disconnect about India among the global community. “I must say the engagement with this cohort was at a different level.” He said that India excels in its administrative capabilities, but ISB seeks to contribute more to refine India’s policymaking going ahead.

An open invitation to the attending service officials was also given by the Dean, who asked them to approach ISB for any clarity or guidance they need at any time. “I am confident that we (as a nation) are in good hands. We will contribute to whatever is needed to educate important people from the government. We see ourselves as a resource for India. Please use us, reach out, as it motivates us,” said Dean Madan Pillutla in his closing address.

During the course, the participants were also met by K T Rama Rao, Minister for Municipal Administration & Urban Development, Industries & Commerce, and Information Technology, Telangana State. They were invited for dinner by Her Excellency Smt Tamilisai Soundararajan, Governor of Telangana and Puducherry and Rear Admiral Sanjay Datt, Commandant, College of Defence Management. The cohort also made a visit to the Dr Reddy’s Laboratories facilities and T-Hub during their programme.