06 Apr 2021 19:34 IST

What drives the new Dean of Harvard Business School

Srikant Datar identifies three ambitions — economic growth, faculty research, and curriculum changes

Srikant Datar was announced as the new Dean of the Harvard Business School in October, 2020. In a wide-ranging interview with the student newspaper The Harbus, he spoke about his three major ambitions for the B-school.

Economic growth

The new Dean discussed the role of business as a force of good in the society. “I’m thinking about equity issues and how we as business leaders can reduce the divisions that remain in all parts of the world. These are moral questions in some cases, and social questions in other cases. But I think what I learned from my listening tour was that these are first order economic issues right now, and if we don’t address these problems, economic growth is going to suffer.”

Faculty research

“I don’t want the research to be only for the journals. I want the research to make a difference in the world. How do we make sure that our research is able to do that? How might we combine different research ideas — on society or digital transformation or machine learning or any other areas — such that the sum of all the research that we do is greater than the parts? Towards this, let me share with you one of the ideas that is emerging. As you know, we have research centers all over the world. It is very likely that our next research center will be set up in the heartland of the US. I come at this from a design thinking perspective, which is that you must have deep empathy and a deep understanding of what is happening, and the best way to do this is by being on the ground.”

Curriculum transformation

“I think there are a lot of interesting things we can do in the MBA program,” he told The Harbus. “You’re already seeing some of that in the required curriculum with data technology. We can do much more on entrepreneurship. Clearly we need to do a lot more around differences and managing with differences, so you will see a lot more on equity issues. And of course, what I’m really excited about is lifelong learning — how when you get admitted to HBS, we should be making a commitment, given the technologies we now have, that we would be interested in helping in the development of our students throughout their lives, not just in the two years that they are here.”

Read the complete story here.