NYU Stern: Leading Change In Higher Education

The First Indian American Dean Raghu Sundaram makes high impact changes.

On January 1st, 2018, NYU Stern appointed the first Indian American Dean Rangarajan Sundaram, who is popularly known as ‘Raghu’.

Prior to taking over as the Dean, Raghu was the Vice Dean of MBA Programs since 2016 and he has been at NYU Stern as a Professor of Finance for over two decades. Raghu migrated to the USA after completing an MBA Degree from the Indian Institute of Management (‘IIM’) Ahmedabad in 1984. 

Upon meeting Raghu, one becomes aware that he is a very ‘effective listener,’ which is a rarity these days. And he also absorbs every spoken word, prior to providing his response. 

Over the past one year, Raghu has innovated several high-impact changes that will have a deep impact on how NYU Stern is positioning itself to be the ‘most preferred Global Business School’ in Higher Education. Lets look at key aspects of the major changes that are currently underway.

NYU Stern has recently launched the Stern Solutions Program. This program seeks to replace the ‘case study’ learning mode, by a more ‘dynamic’ and ‘vibrant’ learning process. A firm believer in Experiential Learning, Raghu decided to pair students with faculty in order to provide them with an opportunity to work directly with ‘real companies’ that are seeking perspectives on how to address difficult business challenges. Various globally renowned companies, such as Mastercard, HBO, the NBA, etc. have participated in the Stern Solutions Program. Each of these entities, were positively impacted by the business implementation-recommendations that came in from NYU Stern’s students and its faculty. As a result, the Stern Solutions Program is now becoming highly popular.

NYU Stern has also launched the first Creative Destruction Lab in the USA. The lab will select 25 early-stage start-ups from the New York Region and each of these start-ups will be assigned mentors from NYU Stern to work on how to make it’s products commercially viable. During the nine months period of working with the start-ups, the lab looks to bring together a larger ecosystem that consists of current and potential investors, successful serial entrepreneurs, MBA Students, and the start-ups’ entrepreneurs. This platform provides hands-on learning opportunities and the MBA Students also earn credits with their participation. Leading corporate companies and venture capital firms are funding the Creative Destruction Lab. 

Given that NYU Stern is located in the heart of New York City, this calendar year, Raghu is also launching two new one-year MBA Programs, which are the Tech MBA and the Fashion & Luxury MBA. Both these programs are very thoughtfully designed to combine profound business knowledge with deep domain industry knowledge. A clear objective is that NYU Stern be known for providing prospective students with a diverse range of options and to also attract MBA Candidates beyond the School’s well-known Finance Program. For example, for the Tech MBA Program, NYU Stern has created an MBA Tech Advisory Board, which consists of leading executives from Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, PayPal etc. who will provide insightful and hands-on knowledge to MBA Students. NYU Stern also has recently established a Fintech Center. 

Incidentally, NYU Stern was the first School to introduce a course on cryptocurrency in 2014. Although, Raghu’s personal view is that cryptocurrency needs to be a ‘currency’ in the first place and a ‘currency’ needs to be a ‘medium of exchange.’ There are very few places that even permit the use of cryptocurrency. Raghu also believes that cryptocurrency may also be an attempt to subvert the process of Government involvement. However, he also says that cryptocurrency has been one of the most interesting economic developments that one has seen in the world and ‘anything’ is possible going ‘forward.’

With respect to Student Diversity, Raghu confirms that NYU Stern will consciously continue to attract International Students, especially since this Business School was founded as a University for the children of Immigrants! On Student Inclusivity, Raghu shares an interesting perspective, which is that Michael Bloomberg’s mother, Charlotte Rubens Bloomberg, graduated with a Degree in Accounting from Stern in 1928, which was then known as the College of Commerce and Business. This was 40 years before Harvard and Princeton even thought about accepting Women Students! Today, NYU Stern had almost 4,000 MBA Applicants and with an acceptance rate of 21%, it is one of the world’s most selective Business Schools. 

Currently, NYU Stern is ranked as the 11th Best Business School in the World and the 4th Best Business School in Finance. 

The aforementioned high impact changes ensure that Raghu will certainly make NYU Stern climb the School’s rankings. When Innovation becomes a key driver, the rankings will only follow. 

In the near future, NYU Stern will also most certainly create a large pool of world-class entrepreneurs!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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