By John A. Byrne, contributor
(Poets&Quants) -- When Soumitra Dutta was initially contacted by a search firm about becoming a business school dean, he was instantly intrigued by the prospect. The India-born academic had been a professor of business and technology for some 22 years at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, but he had never served as dean of a business school.
What particularly interested Dutta during that telephone call from a Spencer Stuart headhunter last August was the school in question: Cornell University's prestigious Johnson Graduate School of Management. "I was very intrigued because Cornell is a great brand," says Dutta.
Nearly five months later, after four rounds of interviews via video-conference and in person, Dutta was today named the new dean at Cornell, effective July 1. The university said that Dutta's appointment makes Johnson the first major business school in the U.S. to hire a dean from another B-school outside the country. The school boasts a faculty of 49 full-time, tenure-track faculty along with 40 adjunct and visiting members, 73 corporate partners, an alumni network of more than 13,000, an annual operating budget of almost $70 million, and an endowment in excess of $160 million.
Though this is his first job as dean, Dutta has served in various administrative roles at INSEAD, as head of external relations, executive education, and technology and e-learning. But it is as an expert in innovation in the global economy that Dutta has made his mark. One of his public speaking agencies, the Leigh Bureau, describes him as "a dynamic, charming and confident speaker," who is the author of several books and Harvard Business Review articles.
Dutta, who once did a stint as an engineer at General Electric (GE) in Schenectady, N.Y., is yet another example of an Indian academic named to a top business school post, following in the footsteps of the current deans at Harvard Business School, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, and INSEAD.
As part of Dutta's offer, Cornell agreed to hire his spouse, Lourdes Casanova, who will join the Johnson faculty as a senior lecturer of management. An expert in emerging markets in Latin America, the Spanish-born Casanova currently lectures in INSEAD's strategy department. "The university offered the option naturally because her profile very much fits the emerging markets institute at Johnson," says Dutta. The couple's daughter currently studies at Oxford University. More
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