Hunt for IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore directors goes international

The advertisement for the IIMB director in The Economist

The search for a new director for both, The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) and The Indian Institute of Bangalore (IIMB) has gone international. Both the schools have placed recruitment advertisements in The Economist issue dated August 4-10, 2012. This clearly indicates that the schools are on a global hunt for the next director, which could even be an international academician or purely an industry person.

Incidentally, the search for the new director for IIMB ended yesterday. The last date for applications was August 27, 2012 while the last day for applications for IIMA directors post was August 18, 2012.

Interestingly, both the advertisements appear on different pages in the same issue. While the IIMA ad is published in the Appointments section, which is towards the end of the issue, the IIMB advertisement is in the Executive Focus section. which appears in the first half of the magazine.

When asked, a spokesman from IIMB admitted that there has been a conscious effort to expand the search to international shores. A point to be considered though, is that the advertisement in The Economist appeared only a few weeks (days in the case of IIMA) before the application-closing date, while the search for a new directors has been on for some months now.

Thanks to the approved amendments in the Memorandum of Arrangement (MoA) of the top IIMs, the schools can now function independently with regards to appointment of directors. Under the new MoA, the board of governors of the school can suggest three names for the post of director and the HRD minister will need to choose one of them.

In the earlier process, The HRD ministry set up its own search panel to suggest names for the post of director and the HRD ministry then selected from among those only. This often took months since the pace of work used to be typically government style – sluggish.

This new procedure is much faster, say IIM officials.

Dr Pankaj Chandra, the present director of IIMB has been cleared for appointment as Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Dr Chandra who holds a PhD from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA was a faculty member at IIM Ahmedabad before he took over the reins at IIMB.

IIMAs search is on to replace Dr Samir Barua. While Dr Barua will vacate his office in October, Dr Chandra will do so in December. According to reports, IIMA too has a vision of appointing a chief who is a global academician and possibly of Indian origin. The search for both the directors is on, keeping in mind the global challenges of taking IIMs to international shores and bracing the schools for universal challenges ahead.

Sources say that Indian origin may also not be a requisite if a capable global person is found by either or both the schools. “If Indians can become deans of some of the best b-schools across the world, India may do the sam,” said a source.

Prof MJ Xavier, who is IIM Ranchi director, told PaGaLGuY that even when he was being interviewed for the directors post in 2010, there were international persons of Indian origin on the final list. “The HRD ministry is sure that this is one way we can get to compete with global schools and why not.”

Prof Xavier said that an international director will also mean international students which is the need of the hour for Indian b-schools. “Big schools like Harvard and Stanford boast of a huge population of international students. In India, only a few top schools have a handful of international students. An international director can definitely get in the numbers.”

This means, leaving our usual gender and discipline diversity woes behind, Indian b-schools now have another diversity to worry about – international students.

(The article has been edited and republished with additional information and also a change of headline)