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Meet the first Indian-origin Dean of Cornell's biz school

Last updated on: January 13, 2012 13:44 IST

Meet the first Indian-origin Dean of Cornell's biz school

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Alokananda Chakraborty in New Delhi

During the course of an interview with CNN last weekend, Professor Soumitra Dutta said he was "intrigued" by the prospect of heading up a business school.

Dutta will take over as Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University on July 1, 2012.

Cornell's Johnson Business School has a 49-member faculty along with 40 adjunct and visiting members, an annual budget of $70 million and an endowment of over $160 million.

Cornell President David Skorton said in an announcement, "Professor Dutta's appointment is a natural fit with Johnson's increasingly global outlook."

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Image: Soumitra Dutta


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Currently, Dutta is the Roland Berger Professor of Business and Technology and Founder and Academic Director of ELab at INSEAD, which has campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

Of course, that wasn't his first tryst with the number one spot. In school, his mother told a newspaper recently, Dutta was a topper throughout. Yes, he has never held the position of dean; but he has held several deputy dean-level management responsibilities at INSEAD, including handling global executive education with total annual revenues of $110 million.

He is also on the advisory boards of several international B-schools while teaching as a visiting professor on several campuses, including Oxford and Cambridge. He also sits on the board of many technology startups.

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Image: Dutta held several deputy dean-level management responsibilities at INSEAD


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Dutta went on to receive a BTech in electrical engineering and computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology and an MS in business administration, an MS in computer science and a PhD in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley.

He has lived and worked in Asia, the US and Europe and has been an engineer with General Electric in the US and Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, in Japan.

A prolific writer, Dutta has written several books and has been featured in all the major management journals. One of the leading 'future thinkers' of his profession, he has a keen understanding of the importance of both innovation as well as good leadership.

He is the co-editor and author of two influential reports on technology and innovation, the Global Information Technology Report, produced by the World Economic Forum, and the Global Innovation Index (co-published with the World Intellectual Property Organisation).

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Image: He is the co-editor and author of two influential reports on technology and innovation, the Global Information Technology Report, produced by the World Economic Forum.


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Indeed, innovation and inclusive growth and how one can lead to the other is an issue that has featured regularly in his recent articles.

This is what he had to say in a write-up in an Indian business magazine directed at future leaders: "The winners in inclusive innovation will reap big benefits in a changing world where the fastest growth in consumer spending is coming from the bottom of the pyramid in emerging markets. However, winning in this new arena will not be easy and cannot be taken for granted by incumbents. Are you ready for this challenge?"

Again, at the Nasscom India Leadership Summit in 2011 he had said that while India is admired by the outside world, the stress should be on equitable distribution of wealth.

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"Our priority should be to bring people out of poverty, to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots," he had said.

But he is hopeful. In another interview he had commented about how innovation was being democratised in India: "What you see right now is a phenomenon of micro innovation. Every single individual is innovating.... The classical definition involved PhD and patents, which were very narrow.

Now, you do not need a PhD for innovation!" Dutta also says that the notion of role models is changing in India. Talking to a journalist he said: "Traditionally, role models in India were limited to film and cricket stars. Thanks to people like Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji, people now have new role models to emulate." We can go ahead and add one more name to that list now.


Image: Cornell University (Johnson)


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