20 Jul 2020 20:27 IST

Railway buff Raghuram alights at retirement station

As strategic, inclusive leader, outgoing Director exemplified personal humility, say colleagues

The faculty at IIM Bangalore paid rich tributes to outgoing Director Prof G. Raghuram, whose term came to a close today, while welcoming Prof Rishikesha T. Krishnan as Director of the B-school. Prof Krishnan was earlier a professor of strategy at IIMB before he took charge at IIM Indore as director for the last five years.

Prof Krishnan said he had known Prof Raghuram since 1991, when he joined IIMA as a doctoral student. “All credit to him for managing the transition of Directors in such an efficient and seamless manner,” he said, adding that IIMB will always have a special place for Prof. Raghuram.

Dean Faculty Chetan Subramanian welcomed the gathering, virtually. “His boundless energy and his willingness to reach out to colleagues, especially on contentious issues, are remarkable,” he said. Listing Prof Raghuram’s achievements as Director, he said 23 new faculty had been hired during his tenure, four new research centres had been set up, a PhD in Entrepreneurship has been launched, two inclusive programmes such as the NSR Pre-Doc and Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship programmes had been designed, the PGP BA (Business Analytics) has been launched, and the school had enhanced its national and global rankings (NIRF, FT, QS, MOOCsLab).

Strong legacy

Prof K. Kumar, Dean, Alumni Relations and Development, thanked Prof Raghuram for leaving behind strong legacies for the school such as setting up of the Former Faculty Forum, starting the practice of honouring faculty during Guru Purnima, and the IIMB History Project. Lauding him for handling all matters, including the pandemic, with equanimity, he credited Prof Raghuram for believing in “taking everyone along”.

Prof Avinash Mulky, Member, Board of Governors, IIMB, recalled his 46-year-old association with Prof Raghuram. “We admire your eye for detail. Even as a student, you read every case! Your firm belief in the faculty-driven nature of this institution and your participation in every committee meeting show us your vision. You took the lead in transitioning from the diploma programmes to the degree-granting programmes. You also took the lead in setting up the new campus by starting the construction of the Management Development Centre (MDC).” He lauded his passion for the railways.

Prof Rajendra K. Bandi , Member of the IIMB Board of Governors, lauded Prof Raghuram for extending whole-hearted support to the NSR Pre-Doc, a one-of-its-kind programme in India. “Prof Raghuram’s connect with former faculty colleagues is remarkable. He set up a forum and made it possible for us at IIMB to recognise their contributions.”

Resilience, adaptability

AR Ramesh, who has been working with the IIMB Director’s Office as Special Officer since 1989, said Prof Raghuram is the seventh director he worked for. “Resilience, adaptability and energy are his hallmarks. Apart from Professors J. Philip and N.S. Ramaswamy, no other director had such a large office staff and this is because he is involved in so many initiatives and makes it a point to meet everyone who seeks an appointment with him. He cycles to work, travels by train and uses economy class by air, revealing his simplicity.”

Prof Padmini Srinivasan, highlighted Prof. Raghuram’s “zero-plate waste” initiative for making everyone on campus aware of the need for responsible consumption and remarked on his connect with students, be it his ‘bhangra’ with them (the video of which went viral) and his happy participation in the ethnic meal events at the hostel, also serving food to the students.

Madan Mohan Raj, Chief Programmes Officer, Executive Education Programmes, called it a privilege to work with Prof. Raghuram. “An outstanding people manager who listened with empathy, your clarity of thought and vision helped EEP make the strides it has over the last three years,” he said to Prof Raghuram. He also recalled the Director’s passion for infrastructure and the railways and said his excellence in these domains served the institute well.

Open-door policy

Prof. Venky Panchapagesan, Chairperson, NSRCEL, said: “Prof Raghuram’s ‘open door’ policy and his attention to detail are very inspiring. His desire to achieve consensus when unanimity is not possible is also admirable. He always nudged us towards achieving better outcomes.” Prof Dalhia Mani, faculty from the entrepreneurship area at IIMB, recalled anecdotes from a four-day journey for alumni meets with Prof Raghuram. “He is so gracious and kind, and he made me feel very comfortable. He even drove across cities for the meetings. He ensured there was no bureaucracy when we had to get things done.”

Prof. Shankar Venkatagiri, faculty in the Decision Sciences area, and Chairperson of the IT Facilitation Committee, said he had deep respect for Prof. Raghuram’s ability for closure of tasks and focus.

Responding to the speakers, Prof Raghuram thanked them all and said everyone had been “overgenerous in their praise”. Observing that travel and meeting people are things that he intrinsically enjoyed, he said it was not really a challenge for him. He was grateful for the opportunity to lead the school, especially at this age and stage of his life, and for the support he received here. He attributed whatever achievements were listed to the fact that IIMB is an ongoing institution and many of them had seeds sown much before his tenure.