She may be new to the chair, but not to the institute. Being responsible for some of the brightest minds in management education is not an easy task. But she knew it, since she had been teaching at the institute for a few years before she took on the reigns as director. She’s the mix you want in a director – warm and friendly to her students, and yet, means business when she knows a few visitors are there for no fruitful purpose. That, dear readers, is Dr Kavita Laghate, the newly appointed director of the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.

During the meeting, being the cooperative person she is, Dr Laghate was happy to share her ideas with me, going by the extensive experience she has in higher education, especially management. For her, it is most imperative to keep up with the times, for she believes that progress will not be possible without moving ahead. She, is quick, however, to caution that it does not mean virtues have become outdated. That’s where we see the practice of what she preaches.

When I reached the institute and was ushered into the waiting area of her modest and elegant office, it was only a matter of minutes before I was called in, at the mutually decided time. No waiting. And when the student representative enquired whether she should sit through the meeting (since she was ‘technically escorting the press’) Dr Laghate requested her to go and engage in her assignments and project work, indicating that she could take care of her guest!

The greatest learning from the simple person that she is came from seeing her in action, handling a rubbish phone call that she handled with affirmative poise. The caller had a singular agenda – to belittle the institute for a particular decision that had been taken. It was a person of no consequence – as in not related to the institute or any of its students in any manner, and yet, at first Dr Laghate was patient, providing answers to questions and explanations wherever required. When, the conversation got out of hand on the other side, she simply asked the person for his credentials – a simple phone number to get back to him after out meeting was over, and he hung up and fled. That is how she demonstrated moving with the times – plain and clear. Not through being loud or authoritative or talking down, but via simple answers and statements.

It was truly a pleasure to listen to and learn from the enigmatic lady.


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