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Kiran Wadhwa, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, July 30, 2010
When India born Nitin Nohria was appointed dean of the Harvard Business School (HBS) in May, he received a congratulatory mail from residents of Nohar, a village in Rajasthan. The mail read: “You are Nohria, does that mean you are from Nohar. We, too are from there.” On Thursday, Nohria visited India for the first time after taking charge as the dean of the Ivy League business school to expand the school’s ties with India.

“The response from India was so warm. I think it had less to do with me and more with the stage at which India is today in the global economy. It is more like, if Nitin can do it, so can I,” said the IIT-B alumnus who moved to the US in 1984.

An expert in organisation behaviour, Nohria believes that the most solid MBA course is a full two-year programme and not the one-year courses and online degrees. “Several MBA institutes mushrooming with various courses are bad for the quality of a MBA degree. It dilutes the hard work of those who have gone to good schools.”

HBS is looking to set up a classroom in Mumbai in the next three years to give participants a feel of a Harvard classroom. Presently, it has a research centre in India and offers executives a short programme, which is run out of hotels. “We might not have a large physical footprint here, but our intellectual footprint is large. We have done 80 case studies on India and Indian companies. HBS sold 4,29,000 cases to Indian B schools. So, students here are studying cases we have prepared,” said the author of 16 books.

“We don’t want to chase demand here. We want to work with B-schools here. We were the co-founders of IIM-A, one of the best schools in the country.”

Eight per cent of the student population is from India or of Indian origin. In the last five years, 185 Indians have received MBA degrees from HBS. “In my generation, almost all who moved abroad never came back, but as opportunities grow in India, more and more come back.” 

“In my time, you could either be a doctor or engineer. It was in MIT that I discovered my natural talent for management. But the rigour and discipline of studying at IIT was very useful.”