“Being proactive is the key to building future leadership and sustainability”, emphasised global stalwarts at the 12th Leadership Conclave of IITGN

“Being proactive is the key to building future leadership and sustainability”, emphasised global stalwarts at the 12th Leadership Conclave of IITGN

The 12th Leadership Conclave (LC) of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) was held on January 09, 2024. The prestigious annual event hosted about 40 eminent thinkers, industry stalwarts, academicians, venture capitalists, and startup mentors from India and abroad to brainstorm and recommend strategic actions for the far-reaching growth and expansion of IITGN.

The external participants included academia/industry leaders from Silicon Valley, USA; Bankworld Inc, USA; KAAJ Ventures, USA; University of South Florida, USA; ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal; Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand; IIT Kanpur; IIT Bombay; Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata; Nasscom Center of Excellence; among others; and alumni of IITGN who have become startup founders. They were joined by around 20 members of IITGN’s leadership.

At the beginning of the Conclave, Prof Sushobhan Sen, convener of the event, provided highlights of discussions held in the previous Leadership Conclaves and how those inputs have contributed to taking forward the Institute.

Prof Rajat Moona, Director, IITGN, welcomed all distinguished guests and lauded the contribution made by participants of all past Leadership Conclaves in the growth of the Institute and said, “IITGN has grown from about 90 students in 2008 to nearly 2400 students today, and in this journey of growth of our Institute over the years, there have been a lot of contribution and guidance from the Leadership Conclaves and the Academic Advisory Councils. Many of the ideas shared by the distinguished experts through these meetings have given a unique identity to IIT Gandhinagar for its academic innovations and leadership programmes. In the times to come, we want to take up many more activities and programmes and take benefit of the change happening in the country so that we all can progress together. As Gujarat is also moving into various newer sectors such as semiconductors, we are working towards supporting this new technological opportunity.”

After the opening remarks and preliminary discussions, the event progressed for further deliberations in five parallel sessions with a diverse set of experts in each of the five groups, followed by in-depth discussions on the ideas recommended for the five focus areas mentioned below:

1)      Creating Leadership for Academia

2)      Revenue Growth for The Long-term Sustainability of the Institute

3)      Continuous Engagement with the Government

4)      Mission-Oriented Fundraising for Infrastructure

5)      Fostering Industry-Academia Partnerships

For the development of leadership among faculty members to take on administrative responsibilities in academia, it was recommended to allow it to grow organically and groom willing young faculty members with a spark for it and understanding of human values since the early days to become the next generation of leaders. As leadership is also about people management and empowering them, the person/s should be able to work with and get the maximum out of people even while having a difference of opinion. It was also highlighted that faculty members are ingrained leaders, and the Institute must promote value-based leadership.As IITGN continues to grow in all spheres, it is critical to review and augment sources and models for revenue growth, as well as pursue mission-oriented fundraising for such a large-scale infrastructure to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Institute. In this light, the conclave participants suggested hiring specialised professionals for fundraising from various sources, including naming opportunities for alumni/donors and CSR funds of industries; planning ahead and building a strategy for different areas of excellence; proactively approaching people and telling your success stories; and developing new full-time and part-time courses for students and professionals at various levels. It was also highlighted to evaluate and identify future trends and work towards them, and find a white space of opportunity where the Institute has a stronghold to reach out to some of the top higher education institutes for partnership to gain further edge over others.  

During the discussion to have more continuous engagement with the government, the members advised to engage retired government officers, scientists or industry professionals to leverage their connections in particular sectors in a larger way. It was also emphasised that some significant projects should be pitched to relevant departments or ministries and government industrial agencies, and more publicity forums should be created to generate more awareness about your work and expertise.

Towards fostering industry-academia partnership, the panel members batted for identifying focus areas the Institute wants to be known for in the industry circuits, proactively advertising them, setting targets to get desired results, running executive programmes and conferences to bring leaders in direct contact with the Institute, and improving proactive engagement among faculty and industries and offering solutions to their challenges faced by them.

The conclave ended with summary remarks on the fruitful discussions by all invited members.