On Campus

'Great institutions are built on intellectual, emotional capital, not physical infra'

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on September 02, 2014

The chief guests, Subroto Bagchi and Vinita Bali, at an event in Bangalore to celebrate 10 years of the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, released a book, Global Mindsets, Indian Roots, which is a collection of select speeches on leadership. From left are Founder Bala V. Balachandran, Vinita Bali, Subroto Bagchi, Mohan Lakhamraju, Vice Chairman, Great Lakes, and S. Sriram, Executive Director of the B-school.

A building of an institution is not just about the physical infrastructure as it matters only so much. More than the physical infrastructure, you need intellectual and emotional infrastructure and that money can’t buy, said Subroto Bagchi, Chairman, Mindtree.

Bagchi, along with Vinita Bali, former MD of Britannia Industries, were the chief guests at an event held recently in the leafy environs of the Taj West End, Bangalore, to kick off a multi-city celebration of a decade of the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai.

In his speech, Bagchi said Dubai has among the world’s best physical infrastructure, “but the next Booker prize winning book won’t be written out of Dubai. It needs the intellectual infrastructure; there is some magic. If you look at the universities and institutions that are in the top 100 list, it’s not about the physical infrastructure.”

Bagchi also quoted the founder of the Aravind Eye Care System, Dr G. Venkataswamy, who said the success of the globally renowned eye care hospital it runs is because one needs to have the “joy of doing something beautiful.” Also, Bagchi added, one can only do so much, as for great institutions to be created, one must also have a slice of divine intervention. “Whether it’s a great company or institution, whatever you do you has to have the blessings of a higher power,” said Bagchi.

Mindtree’s articulate Chairman, a successful author himself, referred to a book by a former financial journalist, What Works by Hamish McRae, where he talks about the top 100 universities in the world and a common thread to all of them is that each is a 100 years old! The pedigree he pointed out, gave them the rich intellectual capital. “So, welcome to your first 10 years and you have only 90 to go,” said Bagchi to Great Lakes founder, Bala V Balachandran, to much mirth.

In her talk, Vinita Bali, said that while one should be ambitious and aspirational, one should also learn to be compassionate as a manager. “In a world that is getting increasingly wired in all kinds of ways, one of the things I’ve learnt is that there is no substitute for understanding, compassion and empathy at the workplace. We are talking about consumers and customers and vendors who also happen to be people. While technology makes us efficient what makes us effective is that wonderful combination of knowing what is the right technology and the right behaviour, and what is the right way of interacting with people,” she said. While an MBA is a good starting point, the real learning comes when one leaves a business school and starts interacting with a large number of stakeholders.

The two chief guests for the event released a coffee table book, Global Mindset, Indian Roots — Thought leadership and beyond, to mark Great Lakes’ 10 years of existence. The book is a collection of select speeches on leadership delivered by global business and thought leaders during their visits to Great Lakes.

Founder Bala Balachandran, in his speech, said that Great Lakes opened its doors in 2004 in makeshift accommodation in Chennai and moved to its LEED platinum-rated green campus in 2009. In 2014, the B-school received the Association of MBAs accreditation, the youngest B school in India to receive this global accreditation. Along the way, he said, the B school has taken up several academic curricular innovations such as Karma Yoga, a leadership experiential programme to give students first-hand experience in applying leadership qualities to solve real world community problems. Several alumni of the B-school of different vintage were also honoured with mementoes and recalled with nostalgia the good times they had at the institute.

Published on September 02, 2014

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