Mumbai: Scholar appointed dean of Harvard Business School

Updated: 13 October, 2020 07:56 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Malabar Hill Harvard Business School alumnus Capt. Pramod Salvi talks about the institution's Mumbai connect, with Dr Srikant Datar's recent appointment as its dean

Capt. Pramod Salvi (centre) on Harvard Business School graduation day
Capt. Pramod Salvi (centre) on Harvard Business School graduation day

When Malabar Hill resident Capt. Pramod Salvi turned on his computer on October 9, he received a pleasant surprise in his inbox. "I received an email from Harvard University President Lawrence S Bacow, informing me about the appointment of Dr Srikant Datar as Dean of Harvard Business School (HBS), starting January 2021. It was a proud moment as an Indian and a Mumbaikar," Salvi said.

Mumbai links

The desi boys are flying the flag for India in videsi academia. Datar, in fact, will take the reins from the current HBS dean of Indian origin, Nitin Nohria. Both Nohria and Datar have a connection to the city, and that "makes one cheer", said Salvi. Nohria is Delhi-born and has a B Tech in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, and an MBA from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.

Capt. Pramod Salvi; (right) Dr Srikant Datar will take over as the dean of Harvard Business School in January 2021
Capt. Pramod Salvi; (right) Dr Srikant Datar will take over as the dean of Harvard Business School in January 2021

Datar is a former student of the Cathedral and John Connon School, from the class of 1969, and St Xavier's College Mumbai. Cathedral principal Meera Isaacs said, "Datar always valued what Cathedral gave him. I understand he is in touch with some of his classmates, and he always speaks highly of his school. We incorporated his thoughts on the school in our book launched in 2010, marking 150 years of Cathedral."

Harvard lure

There are a host of other degrees and key academic positions that both held, but they are too many to recount, "this though shows the city connect," Salvi said. Salvi got Bacow's letter about Datar's appointment because he is a member of the HBS community.

Salvi, who graduated from HBS with Batch 43 course of OPM (Owners, President Management Program) from 2010-2013, said of the Harvard lure, "The moment you step foot on the campus, you know you're in a place that's steeped with Ivy League tradition." History whispers in the crevices of its Georgian architecture buildings and "there's a thrill in the air, and leaving the program with a Harvard degree becomes a part of your identity for the rest of your life," Salvi explained. The city businessman added that the brick 'n' mortar edifice talks eloquently about the entire Harvard experience.

Salvi, who is also an accomplished marathoner, said, "While most business schools have one or two buildings, the HBS campus has 34, including five on-campus residence halls and five executive education buildings. The result is the double I, both imposing and impressive."

The reconnect

Recalling Datar's years at HBS, Salvi said, "Dr Datar was senior faculty and associate dean then. We used to meet sometimes at open court yard dinners, a weekly get-together. He struck me as an extremely down-to-earth and helpful person."

Salvi added, "During the pandemic, I have been participating as a member in regular zoom meetings conducted jointly by Harvard-MIT. There are discussions on the vaccine, medical research, the outbreak and the economy, and how education institutions are changing. Dr Datar has been one of the leading expert panellists in these meetings."

"This reconnect with Dr Datar had me smiling even wider when I heard of his recent selection. Let's make some noise for the Mumbai boys," finished the city's HBS alumnus with a laugh.

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First Published: 13 October, 2020 07:41 IST

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