Indian School of Business

An Indian biz school's road to redemption

July 21, 2011: 9:43 AM ET

After suffering a series of leadership setbacks and financial strain, the Indian School of Business now has several reasons to be optimistic about the future, with a second campus coming in 2012.

By Neelima Mahajan-Bansal, contributor

Ajit Rangnekar, dean of the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business

Ajit Rangnekar, dean of the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business

(poetsandquants.com) -- Ajit Rangnekar, the mild-mannered dean of the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business, is looking forward to April 2012 for a whole host of reasons.

For one, the business school will launch its second campus in Mohali. A big bet for the school, the Mohali campus will mark the beginning of the second chapter of ISB's unusual story.

The milestone will also mark the end of one of the most traumatic periods in the school's short history. The institution saw one of its key founders, former McKinsey & Co. managing director Rajat Gupta, become embroiled in a massive insider trading scandal in the U.S. that led to Gupta's resignation as chairman of the school in March.

ISB was Gupta's brainchild, and it was he who brought the academic brains and the corporate forces together to establish the school in 2001. The same case also claimed another prominent ISB board member, Anil Kumar, who has pleaded guilty to securities fraud.

Rangnekar claims the scandal has had no impact on the school. "The important thing is that not a single one of our most important stakeholders -- recruiters, students, incoming faculty -- has expressed concern about the ISB as a consequence of that," he maintains. "We all recognize that these things have happened because of what those people did or didn't do outside of ISB."

As if Gupta's resignation wasn't enough, an earlier scandal pushed Rangnekar, deputy dean of ISB from 2003 to 2009, into the dean's role in January 2010. The school's previous head, Mendu Rammohan Rao, had to step down in the wake of an infamous scandal at the IT company Satyam Computer Services, where he was an independent director.

Those were tough times, concedes Rangnekar. "One day we had a dean and the next day we didn't have a dean," he says. "Also, this happened at a time when the economy was in shambles. So was it unpleasant? Absolutely. Was it unfortunate? Totally. But what do you do? You are faced with it, you have to fight it." More

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