Dialogue with Padmanabhan Balasubramanian

Dialogue with Padmanabhan Balasubramanian..


About the writer
This article is written by Col Rajiv Bhargava, Associate Director, MIGM and Commercials at ISB.  

ISB’s Centre for Learning and Management Practice (CLMP) has launched the Executive-in-Residence Programme, which hosts senior corporate executives at the School for extended periods (one year) or shorter periods (a few months). During their time at ISB, these executives have the opportunity to work with faculty and students, experience the School's research and learning ecosystem, and participate in collaborative initiatives and events.
The First Executive-in-Residence at ISB
Padmanabhan Balasubramanian, is the first Executive-in-Residence at ISB, having taken on this role at the Hyderabad campus in August 2016.  Paddy is a PGP alumnus from the Class of 2005 and a hardcore ‘finance’ professional, having worked at Goldman Sachs for over 12 years. As a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and as part of the Executive Leadership team at the Bangalore office, Paddy's role was to manage the day-to-day activities of risk management and set and execute the long-term strategy of the office.  
In his new role at ISB, he works closely with the CLMP and the Centre for Analytical Finance (CAF). Although his canvas in ISB is broad, his primary focus is on building a bridge between ISB and the relevant stakeholders in the industry. An involved mentor, he can be found on campus any time of the day absorbed in animated discussions with groups of students and faculty. We tracked him down and asked him about his newly appointed role as Executive-in-Residence at ISB.


How did joining ISB as its Executive in Residence come about?

A : I visited ISB in 2015, and during my visit I had several sessions with students and discussions with heads of research centres and faculty members. I also met Prof. Rajendra Srivastava, then the Dean designate. I was taken in by the quality of these academic discussions and found myself drawn towards academia and the idea of utilising my industry experience in a meaningful way. So, when I was offered the position of the first Executive-in-Residence, I jumped at it without a second thought.

What does it mean to be an Executive in Residence?

A : I am the first of many and that allows me to define what it means!  That being said, it means working on specific areas that will contribute to my own understanding of education, research and academics, and also to the School’s executive vision.

What would you focus on as Executive in Residence?
A : As a student, one is focused more on the aspects surrounding the two-way dynamic of teaching and learning. This eventually gets translated into one’s job. As a professional, my inclination has been towards understanding research and its impact on industry, policy and eventually teaching, especially in relation to Fintech. I engage in discussions and debates, and also provide a forum for discussing what should be the role of ISB in Fintech.
What is Fintech?
A :  Fintech means different things to different people.  In financial services, it is about taking capital from those who have it and providing it to those who need it, while adjusting for the risk inherent in those investments.  Any technology that aids, disrupts or transforms this is Fintech.
What way can ISB and Fintech come together?
A : Students come to ISB to learn, to be inspired and eventually build a career in an industry. The key goal of the School is to equip them with the necessary learning to excel as leaders and business professionals. The means to this end is through thought leadership and research. These are the fundamental building blocks that ISB should focus on to develop content for the consumption of future leaders.

Fintech is transforming a large number of businesses in the Indian context; there exists a tailwind caused by digital transformation and India Stack. Intuiting possibilities for future growth, ISB is in a unique position to emerge as a pre-eminent school geared towards Fintech and its applications.

Tell us about your role at the research centres?
A : Along with ISB’s various research centres of excellence, the Faculty and the Dean, I am involved in an initiative to build a strategic state-of-the-art research data platform for the School. Such a platform has the potential to further strengthen ISB’s position in the realm of empirical research. Most importantly, it can potentially enable researchers at ISB to answer questions that are relevant to both policy makers as well as the industry at large. The platform is likely to facilitate research collaboration with outside academic and non-academic researchers without compromising data integrity. Finally, it is likely to enable dissemination of research findings through research papers, newspaper articles and teaching material prepared using the data stored.
Why should students and other professionals care about this research?
A : Over the years, big data and machine learning techniques have become important tools for business professionals. Fintech leverages these technologies in a very fundamental way to impact lives. Students of the next generation will have a much deeper understanding of analytics and its applicability to financial services and related aspects. ISB aspires to have such forward-looking curricula and research is the foundation for developing such content.
What is your advice and message to alumni and others who are interested in

A : I have had a long tenure at Goldman Sachs. This is a transitory phase for me.  ISB has provided me with an opportunity to learn more by connecting with some of the best minds in the world. At the same time, I have been able to contribute in a “mindshare” way to the School, which is quite satisfying. Furthermore, this is a unique way for the School to interact with its alumni. The flexibility of the faculty and senior leadership of ISB is the key driver for such opportunities.