As Ashish Nanda, the newly appointed director of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, prepares to take over on September 2, 2013, excitement and optimism at the institute is palpable. Nanda, currently a Harvard Law School professor will bring a few important aspects to the table. He has published several case studies and Harvard Business Review articles, apart from surveys and empirical analyses in major global publications. Also, as an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and IIM-A alumnus, Nanda is familiar with the IIM-A campus and the country.
Known to be soft-spoken, yet determined and disciplined, Nanda might be able to blend global experience with the IIM-A culture. A Robert Braucher Professor of Practice, faculty director of executive education and research director at the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, Nanda teaches professional services in the school's J D Program. He is faculty director at Harvard Law School Executive Education and is also involved with executive education courses at Harvard Business School.
Nanda is a recipient of the Henry B Arthur Fellowship, the Center in Ethics and the Professions Fellowship. He was a gold medalist in IIT-Delhi (where he pursued electrical engineering), as well as in IIM-A.
Before joining Harvard Law School, Nanda was a Harvard Business School faculty member for 13 years, where he taught professional services in the master of business administration programme. Before going to Harvard for a doctorate, he worked for five years with the Tata Group, as a Tata Administrative Services officer.
"He is extremely systematic and thorough in his work. He never had to find time and was effective in allocating work and deciding how to do it," reminisces S Manikutty, Nanda's 1983 batch mate and former faculty member at IIM-A.
Ask others at the campus and the response is unanimous---Nanda's international experience would be the key. "All IIMs are running low on internationalisation. We, in fact, score low marks on internationalisation in global rankings. This could now be challenged with the appointment of Nanda. Also, IIM-A has a pressing need to enhance its research quality, which is where Nanda's Harvard experience will count a lot. We are sure IIM-A can do much better under his leadership," said a member of the board of governors at IIM-A, on condition of anonymity.
Nanda's predecessor at IIM-A, Samir Barua, is credited with helping the institute record profits. "The institute is now well-off financially. Nanda will have to work on improving the corpus. He knows the institute culture and yet, has worked in a different setting. He can, therefore, bring international implications to academics. However, he will have to establish a good faculty governance system at IIM-A and make the institute attractive for foreign faculty," says Manikutty.