Q&A: Garth Saloner, Dean, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Q&A: Garth Saloner, Dean, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 19, 2010 19:30 hrs

When over half a dozen international B-schools have already launched their India initiatives, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business says it is in no hurry to do the same. Garth Saloner, the school’s dean, tells Kalpana Pathak how India is important for the school in a different way and programme launches would only be need-demand-based. Edited excerpts:

How important is India in Stanford’s scheme of things?
India and China are discussed a lot as growing economies. In fact other economies including Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda are growing at the rate of 6-8 per cent. Thus the requirement of leadership in these countries is large. One is looking for leaders who can advance the organisations to next level. Managerial talent is in short supply and thus there is tremendous appetite for right kind of leadership. We will address that gap. Also, India is a wonderful place to come and conduct experiments.

What kind of experiments?
Recognising India’s role in the global marketplace, we would be organising annual study trips for our students and faculty to various Indian cities. We have stepped up interaction between our faculty members and students with Indian industries to familiarise them with the ongoing developments in the country.

Any specific Indian sector that GSB is looking at?
Yes. At present its health care. This month our students and faculty will be visiting various Indian hospitals, medical companies, and will also interact with government policy-makers regarding health care issues in India. We would develop new discussions, cases, and research that can be brought into our classrooms.

Does GSB plan to extend its ties with Mukesh Ambani?
I am meeting Mukesh Ambani on this trip to learn more about the new education initiatives and may take a call later. Mukesh Ambani is an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and with him in 2008, we established the Reliance Dhirubhai India Education Fund to provide fellowships to five Indian students. The initiative is doing well. The fellowship covers all expenses of application and attendance to the programme.

What is GSB doing about design thinking, a trend among B-schools?
We are fascinated by design thinking too. We have learned design thinking through our engineering and design school. More and more of this will be seen in years to come. Design thinking has brought a whole variety of innovation at the bottom of the pyramid. For instance, our students went to a village in a sub-Saharan Africa where a number of babies die for want of incubation which cost around $20,000. Also there is no regular power supply to support running of incubators. Our students took up the challenge and discovered a small baby sleeping bag. You apply a gel onto the back of the bag and put that into a pot of boiling water. This product could be sold in the range of $25 to $75 a unit.

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