“I want people to open their hearts. You can be in the business world, but at the end of the day it is all about hearts connecting,” declares Chandrika Tandon, who was one of McKinsey’s most formidable deal makers, before she quit to try and create economic well-being through education and spread love, light and laughter through music.

Tandon, who applied her business skills in academia first at the New York University, helping it climb up the rankings in a big way, is now focussing her energies on creating the Boyd-Tandon Business School at her alma mater, Madras Christian College in Chennai.

A view of Madras Christian College in Tambaram

A view of Madras Christian College in Tambaram | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B

On Thursday, the philanthropist — who along with her husband Ranjan Tandon had donated $100 million in 2015 to NYU’s engineering school (it was renamed NYU Tandon School of Engineering) — will be in Chennai to lay down the nuts and bolts for the MCC Boyd Tandon School of Business, which she says is scheduled to start soon. “We have the AICTE approval, the building, the bursar, the dean, the advisory council in place,” she says.

Re-imagining MBA

The multifaceted leader, who is a Grammy nominated singer, and Founder and Chair of Tandon Capital Associates, talks about flipping the classroom radically at the Boyd Tandon B-School and re-imagining the MBA.

Tandon, older sister of former Pepsico Chief Indra Nooyi, is big on convergence in education, bringing together the arts, commerce and science streams, and also instilling ethics and values. “The goal is to not set up any old business school. Here is the chance to offer a sense of ethics and social responsibility, and bring the values that MCC is known for to a business programme,” she says.

Musical Journey

Even as she is on the phone engaging with MCC alumni to get involved with the MCC B-School project, she is also on a musical journey, promoting Ammu’s Treasures — a 35 songs, 21 chants album, she just released. Ammu is what her grandchildren call her and the album’s genesis lies in the songs she hummed to her grandchildren.

Tandon, whose musical repertoire is wide and whose earlier album Soul Call was nominated for the Grammy, describes Ammu’s treasures as an expression of intergenerational love. “I went to Prague and sang it to the Ukrainian children at the refugee camp. They wanted hugs. And none of us spoke English. My mission is to take Ammu’s treasures and sing with families,” she says. “I don’t want to sing ‘for’ families but ‘with’ them,” she emphasises.

Ammu’s Treasures, she says, is her attempt to create an unconditional feeling of love. Ammu, she says, is a delicious word that means sweetness, happiness and purity. “The album is an attempt to remind everyone about the Ammus in our heart and that we need to express the Ammuness.”