Alumni @ IIMB: Dean of Alumni Relations & Development – Sourav Mukherji, FPM 2002

Sourav Mukherji teaches post-graduate and doctoral level courses at IIM Bangalore. His expertise is in Organization Design and his research interest is in the area of sustainability and inclusivity. He has worked with IBM and Oracle in product management functions (1993-1998) and for the Boston Consulting Group as a strategy consultant (2002-2003). Professor Mukherji is an avid follower of sports, is an amateur runner and explores means of transferring lessons learnt from sports to management.

Professor Mukherji’s research interest is inclusivity and social enterprises – businesses that address the needs of the poor in a financially sustainable manner. In this domain, he has published several case studies and papers in academic and practitioner-oriented journals. He also received UNDP Fellowship for in Inclusive Business Models and Villgrow Fellowship for Research on Social Entrepreneurship.

Professor Mukherji was recently appointed to the position of Dean of Alumni Relations and Development, starting in May 2022. He discusses his viewpoints and experiences as an administrator and educator in this interview. He also goes into great detail regarding the value of alumni involvement and the office’s long-term objectives and strategy.

Can you please tell us about yourself? About your journey as a teacher and an administrator?

I joined IIM Bangalore in 2003. This is my 19th year as a teacher at IIMB. Throughout my time at the institute, I’ve held a variety of administrative positions, including Dean of Academic Programs, Founding Chairperson at the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Chairperson at the Centre for Management Communication, Chair Professor of Excellence, and now Dean of Alumni Relations and Development.

Overall, my experience as a teacher has been quite interesting and instructional. If I were to express it in words, I would say that being an educator has given me two privileges. First off, IIMB has very high-caliber pupils. They challenge the ideas that are being offered to them and are very engaging and inquisitive. Even after 19 years of teaching, I continue to encounter fresh inquiries from my pupils that I had never considered before. This makes my job interesting and motivates me to put in more effort.

Secondly, the institute also offers professors a great deal of latitude and opportunity for experimentation. So, even though I’ve adhered to teaching Organization Design, my area of specialisation, additional areas of research and interest include Social Entrepreneurship, Inclusive Business Models, and Corporate Social Responsibility. Students have always responded quite well to programmes centred on socially responsible business models, and the opportunity to try out several courses keeps the process exciting.

Overall I have learnt much from my students and continue to do so.

What are your long-term goals and plans for the IIMB Alumni Relations Office as the new Dean?

My primary objective right now is to concentrate on the institute’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration in 2023. The institute cares deeply about its stakeholders, it’s graduates, and wishes to connect with them all in whatever capacity.

Also, I want to connect with as many alumni as possible and have a current database of the group’s members. We’ll be hosting an event in the upcoming year, and we intend to invite and involve all the alumni of the institute.

The long-term goal is to increase alumni involvement. Here, I’d want to go into a little more detail about how important it is for alumni to stay in touch with the school. IIMB is an enabler and a value-added platform. The platform’s strength lies in its large user base and connections with its alumni and hence becomes more valuable for all its members. In economics, this is referred to as Positive Network Externalities.

IIMB is not merely an enabler, it is a value-added platform. The value comes from us being a top business school. People in their early or mid-career stages are likely to have many professions, necessitating opportunities for lifelong learning. Since it is our area of competition, IIMB stands out there extremely strongly.

IIMB as an institute and brand is continuously working to deepen its roots in the domain of management by accreting, recreating new knowledge and disseminating it in a way that is relevant to our students and alumni. We are always open to providing a solution or a roadmap to a solution, should our alumni ever have a managerial problem/ issue. Alumni can also connect with the office if they wish to get in touch with another alumnus for personal or professional aid or guidance. For example, it can be as simple as looking for accommodation references while relocating.

The importance of an emotional connection for alumni cannot be understated. A candidate’s journey at IIMB is transformative, and he or she becomes a torchbearer of its culture and heritage for the rest of their life. The institute makes every effort to uphold the pride and confidence displayed by its alumnus.

The purpose of the Alumni Office is to assist the institute’s stakeholders, its alumna. The office will do everything possible to listen to the members’ concerns, provide them with solutions, and offer support as needed.

Why according to you is Alumni Relations important and How do you plan to enhance the relationship even further?

On the one hand, we are aware that as an office, we only serve as facilitators and that the institute is only equipped to do certain tasks. It’s excellent that Alumni Association has a vibrant existence and presence all around the world. We are quite happy that these groups have set up Chapters in important cities and turned them into separate legal bodies. These chapters host meetings, lectures, and activities, etc. To expand their alumni network and foster connections, they are also contacting the global alumni community. We encourage these organisations to use their additional resources to further their influence.

The Alumni Office, on the other hand, is vital to maintaining the relationship between the Association and the institute and figuring out how it may continue to be useful and act as an officiator. In order for the Alumni Association to be relevant to its stakeholders, the alumni office must empower and assist it. The alumni are socially connected within their own networks (Batch) and communicate via various social media handles. Our office’s aim is to help these groups stay engaged and connected, and will be happy to support whatever way we can in order to continue operating.

At the end of the day, I again insist that we are an educational institute and our strength is in creating and disseminating knowledge. That’s where we play our biggest part.

IIMB will celebrate its Golden Jubilee in 2023. What are the plans for it and How can the alumni community contribute or be a part of the event?

The alumni will play a major role in the Golden Jubilee celebration. We make an attempt to stay in touch with all of our alumna, as I’ve already mentioned before. We are considering holding a massive event where we interact with all the alumni who we are in touch with. This event may go on for 24 or 48 hours. We are also considering events where we may reward alumni who are already part of our network for inviting other members who are not. The problem that all institutions face today is that their database only contains a tiny portion of their whole membership, and the majority of the records on hand can have out-of-date contact information, such as outdated phone numbers and email addresses.

Any activities we hold will be based on the idea of all of our active alumni connections that will generate enthusiasm and excitement. We would also invite various alumni association chapters to conduct and hold activities/ events that may build up to a cumulative sizable gathering or event on campus in October 2023. We also ask alumni for recommendations and ideas on what they think we should do that is engaging for them and also appropriate for the celebration.

What is your take on driving Alumni Engagement?

Different people’s definitions of engagement may vary. For some, it can signify an emotional connection, while for others, it may be a way to get feedback on current company demands or market trends. The role of the Alumni Office is purely functional. It can add value and be useful at the same time, which can provide a platform for connecting and bonding. It’s impossible to tell which of these components of bonding and connecting is more crucial because they might both be needs and goals for different people.

How can the institute offer value to my life is the question that every alumnus should ask themselves. It can just be to keep in touch with classmates, or it might be to get advice on upcoming business trends like cryptocurrency or emerging EV markets. We may not be able to offer solutions for everything, as an office, but we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Your message for the alumni community.

I’d like to remark that since engagement is a two-way street, both the institute and the alumni must travel it in order to foster positive involvement. I kindly request that alumni update their contact information with the alumni office so that the institution can continue to get in touch with them. I also want alumni to add fellow batchmates and alumni who are not already included in the database. Tell us what we can do for you; we’d love to hear from you, and we’ll do our best to make it happen. In addition, please let us know if you would want to support the institution in any way so that we can assist you further.

Lastly, let the transformational adventure continue.