Dr. Ashish Nanda is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi (B. Tech in Electrical Engineering, 1981), IIMA (PGP, 1983) and Harvard (Ph.D., Business Economics). He was a professor at the Harvard Business School for 13 years and the Robert Braucher Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School for seven years before he joined IIMA as Director in 2013. Very early in his tenure, the Institute revised its mission to “educating leaders of enterprises” to communicate a focus on leadership across sectors, the private, public and nongovernment, and across contexts, national as well as international. Dr. Nanda took over at a time when IIMA had built up a lot of goodwill among its alumni and the corporate sector. He initiated a programme, with the help of the Dean (Alumni & External Relations), to reach out to the alumni through meets at the various Chapter headquarters. Alumni reunions on campus were encouraged; every winter saw about seven to nine such reunions. Efforts to raise resources from alumni and corporate entities that had been initiated earlier were stepped up. One reason for this was that the iconic buildings designed by Louis Kahn were in a state of considerable disrepair. A multi-year plan to restore Louis Kahn’s creations was initiated. In addition, planning for new infrastructure projects that included a new School of Public Policy funded by the JSW Group, a classroom complex, student housing, faculty housing, and student sports facilities was initiated, along with a 25-year master plan for campus development. A significant amount of money was raised for these purposes. Alumni and corporate well-wishers also contributed to the establishment of 11 faculty chairs. Plans for setting up engagement centres in Mumbai and New Delhi, with a classroom facility, space for incubating start-ups, and a space to have gatherings, were also initiated.
Dr. Nanda’s tenure was also marked by reviews of IIMA’s long-term programmes, the doctoral, the postgraduate and the faculty development programmes. As a result, significant changes were effected to the PGP curriculum; in 2014-15 the agribusiness programme was renamed the PGP in Food and Agribusiness Management to reflect the growing importance of the food industry. What used to be known as management development programmes for five decades were repositioned as ‘executive education’ programmes, in line with global practice. The internationalization of the long-term programmes through student-exchanges with about 70 institutions was strengthened, and about 35 to 40 percent of IIMA students went to these institutions for a term. The admission procedures for the PGP were also refined to bring in more gender and disciplinary background diversity. A new ‘deferred admission’ scheme—under which admitted students who had no work experience could join after a year of working—was introduced. The PGPX programme was expanded to two sections. A new blended learning long-duration programme, called ePGP, was introduced from October 2017.
In an effort to give a fillip to case writing, a Case Development and Distribution Centre was established. This centre entered into distribution relationships with Harvard Business Publishing and Ivey School. IIMA’s journal, Vikalpa, entered a new phase when the first issue of the 40th volume (January-March 2015) was published as an open-access, online version, in partnership with SAGE. Funds were mobilized to make it a journal that would not ask authors to pay an article-processing fee.
Dr. Nanda’s tenure also saw a revision of the Faculty Performance Management System into a Performance Credit System that incentivized faculty to invest in research and teaching, and through limited tradability, specialize in what they were best at. The focus on research output, based on globally accepted rankings of research outlets, such as SCOPUS, was strengthened, along with the formalization of faculty confirmation and promotion norms. Correspondingly, research funding and support were enhanced in order to encourage participation in international conferences and collaboration with outstanding academics elsewhere in the world. In September 2017, one year before his term ended, Dr. Nanda stepped down as Director, citing personal reasons.