IIM Bangalore Foundation Day 2023

“Embrace a purpose beyond profit and dare to act”: Professor Rebecca Henderson speaks on ‘Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire’

In her Foundation Day lecture, the Harvard Business School Professor says how we need a political, social and cultural, global movement to address huge issues like climate change

“The reason why we need to Reimagine Capitalism is because it is not working for the vast majority of the world’s people. We are driving climate change, and running the risk of untold floods, fires and droughts. We are destroying the ecosystem on which we rely, and this will lead to enormous damage unless we act smartly and quickly”, said American Economist Prof. Rebecca Henderson, Harvard Business School, during IIM Bangalore’s Foundation Day Lecture on, ‘Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire’, on 28th October 2023. IIMB is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year, with a host of activities.

Dr. Rebecca Henderson’s lecture centered on the pressing issue of climate change caused by human activities. She stressed the need for selecting strategies to preserve the planet, emphasizing that the business case for addressing these challenges is growing stronger. The younger generation, employees, and even customers in some industries are demanding eco-conscious products and actions. Companies have a significant role to play in achieving positive environmental and social outcomes, necessitating cooperation within industries to establish measurable, replicable standards that enable customers, employees, governments, and investors to hold firms accountable for their actions.

She underlined that a stable climate is essential for maintaining stability in communities, culture, government, infrastructure, industry, and finance. Climate change signifies not just warmer weather but rather instability, which threatens the very foundations of our existence. Dr. Henderson called for a global movement that transcends political, social, and cultural boundaries to address major issues like climate change. She emphasized that businesses can be powerful allies in this movement and can profit from it, but making money should be a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The ultimate goal of the market is to create a thriving society by adopting a genuine sense of purpose.

Dr. Henderson also mentioned that there is progress in combating global warming, but the crisis must be managed comprehensively, not solely through technology. Achieving net-zero emissions requires a political solution, and it is crucial to balance the free market with effective government intervention. She urged all individuals to recognize their significance in this effort, with the private sector having the capacity to drive change swiftly. She encouraged the creation of shared value, focusing on sustainability, cooperation between firms, and rethinking financial and accounting practices. She stressed the importance of embracing a purpose that goes beyond profit.

In the subsequent Q&A session, moderated by Prof. Sourav Mukherji and faculty from the Organizational Behavior & Human Resources Management area at IIMB, Dr. Henderson advised India to transition to renewable energy sources, which would lead to improved public health, job creation, economic growth, and cost savings.

The Director of IIM Bangalore, Professor Rishikesha T Krishnan, highlighted the institution’s achievements, programs, faculty, students, and alumni over its 50-year journey. He noted the expansion of programs like PGP and PGP in Business Analytics, as well as the significant impact of programs like MGNF and NSR Pre-doc on nation-building. He spoke about the institute’s growing presence in various districts of the country and the increasing number of NSR Pre-doc graduates entering high-quality PhD programs. He also highlighted the growth of entrepreneurship initiatives and the proliferation of educational programs on edX. He commended the strong presence of NSRCEL in women’s entrepreneurship programs, as mentioned by the Hon’ble President of India during her visit.

Professor Krishnan emphasized the institute’s focus on sustainability, noting the presence of electric vehicle charging stations and a Sustainability Taskforce. He also highlighted the school’s high rankings in various assessments.

Mr. MD Ranganath, a Member of the Board of Governors at IIMB, congratulated the institution on its 50 years of excellence and discussed the importance of staying relevant and identifying new opportunities in the coming years.

The event also featured the presentation of Long Service Awards to staff and faculty members for their dedicated service to the institute.

The IIM Bangalore community celebrated its Golden Jubilee with various activities, including an inspiring address by the Hon’ble President of India, the ‘Swarna Twaran’ relay walkathon, and other events, including music presentations, plays, awards, and cultural programs. The celebrations highlighted the institution’s significant achievements and its continued commitment to excellence.