The Journey So Far

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The ISB kicked off its tenth year celebrations coinciding with Solstice, the alumni reunion. A panel comprising various stakeholders of the ISB regaled the audience with interesting and humorous anecdotes on the early days of the School. The discussion commenced with opening remarks by Dean Rangnekar who gave a special warm welcome to the alumni, “the public face of the School” and thanked them for showing their solidarity to the ISB. He also thanked the government, industry, faculty, alumni and staff for supporting the school. He then invited Pramath Sinha, Founding Dean, ISB and MD, 9.9 to speak about his journey with the School.

Sinha spoke about the unprecedented fund raising effort for the ISB where people used their personal commitments to raise funds. In his words, “it was probably the largest philanthropic effort of this scale in India as this was the first time that people were supporting an idea and not an established institution or cause.” He pointed out how the ISB managed to ride the crisis during the dotcom crash which coincided with the first batch joining the School. On the association with partner schools, Sinha spoke highly of Kellogg Dean Emeritus Don Jacobs who was very enthusiastic about the idea of such a B-school. It was his suggestion that the School partner with more than one institution and was instrumental in getting Wharton Dean, Tom Gerrity to also support the ISB.

Dean Rangnekar extolled the foresight of Don Jacobs who realised the emotional importance for his Indian faculty to have a school in India where they could visit and teach. He then invited Shubanu Saxena, Head of Worldwide New Business Development, Novartis to share his memories of how the ISB forged a close relationship with Novartis. Saxena stated that, “The ISB is an institution where the right people got together at the right time.” He spoke of Novartis Chairman, Daniel Vasella’s conviction that a big portion of the company’s leaders would come from markets like India and that they needed to build relationships with institutions that provide leadership. Saxena remembered the excitement and energy in designing the content for the PGP and executive education programmes during the initial Governing Board meetings. “ISB is now known as a superstar with a momentum, identity and standard of its own and Novartis is proud to have been associated with its growth,” he said.

Srini Raju, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Peepul Capital, narrated the account of how Hyderabad came to be the chosen destination to set up the School. Chandrababu Naidu, Former CM of Andhra Pradesh, personally invited the founders to Hyderabad. A group comprising Anand Mahindra, Adi Godrej, KV Kamath, Anil Ambani, Yogesh Deveshwar and others were hosted for breakfast by the CM, who also made a presentation on the advantages of setting up base in Hyderabad. Sinha also reiterated that it was Naidu’s approach, the aura and physical beauty of the area that eventually led to their choosing Hyderabad as the location for the ISB.

Professor Kavil Ramachandran, who was the first resident faculty member to join the School gave an interesting insight into the philosophy of the ISB‘s structure pointing out that it was a synergy of Islamic and Hindu architecture, a synthesis of corporate and industry, and symbolic of the visiting and resident faculty model. He reminisced about the participative culture that existed at the ISB from the beginning where everyone was given an opportunity to build a future and where policies and processes were to be evolved by all concerned.

Kamal Narang, ISB alumnus, Founding Class recounted some of the challenges that the first batch of students faced. He spoke of his personal choice to join “an idea whose time had come” and his dream of wanting to be part of a pioneering story that was unfolding in India. The emphasis on diversity at ISB was a strategy that appealed to him and his classmates. Sinha also acknowledged that “the fact that the Founding Class took a risk was the single most important thing for the ISB.”

Savita Mahajan, Deputy Dean and CEO, Mohali Campus remembered the exhilaration of meeting the challenges in setting up the first executive education programme. Pramath Sinha and she were also responsible for selecting the art that adorn the walls of the campus today. She narrated the incident of how they acquired the sculpture of the boy on the buffalo, which Sinha said “is symbolic of the ISB - a blend of quintessential India and the global.”

Ajit invited Deepak Chandra, Deputy Dean, to elaborate on the growth of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE). Chandra said that given the de-regulated and competitive environment, the CEE realised that the focus should be on providing a world class, global education with a portfolio faculty model. He also reiterated the importance of impacting society which motivated the centre to reach out to philanthropic organisations to fund programmes for people who could not afford them. He acknowledged the dedication of his team who had a common passion for learning and contributing to society.

In his concluding remarks, Saxena exhorted the ISB students to “be bold, pioneering, and fearless and to commit themselves to making the lives of those around them better.” Sinha stated that the ISB could have a much broader impact across all education where it could evolve into a multi-disciplinary university, but built around the same standards and principals that govern it now. “The ISB should be an institution that creates not only business leaders, but also political and social ones,” said Raju. In the years to come, the ISB should create avenues so that it is accessible to people who come from all walks of life. Dean Rangnekar affirmed ISB’s commitment to doing a lot more for the students, alumni, and society at large.

Hyderabad
India