Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria Stresses Global Leadership

Conversation with Dean Nitin Nohria
Karen Zhou

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria discusses the changing dynamics of business in a globalized world in a "Conversations with Kirkland" event sponsored by the Leadership Institute at Harvard College.

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria stressed the importance of global leadership skills at an event last night co-sponsored by Conversations with Kirkland and the Leadership Institute at Harvard College.

Nohria, who was rejected from the Harvard Business School MBA program when he applied as an undergraduate from India and consequently enrolled at MIT Sloan School of Management, spoke about the evolution of business leadership in the 21st century.

“Our image of leadership is in so many ways grounded in our understanding of American business leaders,” he said. “As leadership becomes far more diffuse, I think our very ideas of leadership will change themselves.”

“If I were graduating today from IIT [the Indian Institute of Technology] Bombay, I’m not sure if I would still come to the United States for my graduate degree,” he continued.

Liora N. Simozar ’13, one of the event organizers and a member of the Leadership Institute, commented on Nohria’s call for a greater emphasis on globalized business education through Business School curriculum changes intended to increase students’ exposure to international businesses.

“So much of what Dean Nohria said rang so clearly with me about Harvard and the school’s need for globalization to keep up with the rest of the world,” she said.

Previously co-chair of the Leadership Initiative at the Business School, Nohria also stressed the lack of communication at Harvard between undergraduates and students at the professional schools. To foster new relationships between the MBA candidates and students at the college, Nohria reaffirmed plans for a new academic space, called the Harvard Innovation Lab, on the Business School campus.

“What we’re trying to do with the Harvard Innovation Lab is to create a space where people from across the school can trade ideas and talk about how to make amazing businesses out of them,” Nohria said. “We’re also going to create courses on entrepreneurship that will be taught by HBS faculty and will be open to Harvard undergraduates.”

Tiffany T. Niver ’08, the event’s moderator and a first-year student at the Business School, said that the Innovation Lab embodies Nohria’s commitment to connecting the Business School to the rest of Harvard.

“It’s one facet of the University that’s going to get people to start interacting more and rethinking the ways that the University will be able to act more fully together,” she said of the Innovation Lab.

Chelsea Ann S. Yeh ’14, who is considering pursuing a career in business, said that after hearing Nohria’s talk, she was “motivated and encouraged to explore [her] career as a Harvard undergraduate, not to be close-minded, and to make something out of the college experience.”

Addressing potential Business School applicants in the audience like Yeh, Nohria provided advice on crafting a career that is both rewarding and multi-layered.

“Think harder about what your passion is and what you want to do and stop being so obsessed about what your first job is rather than being open-minded about what your career may evolve into.”

—Staff writer Matthew M. Beck can be reached at mbeck@college.harvard.edu.

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