Consulting global companies, adviser and board member of more than a dozen start-ups, delivering lectures around the world, and winning accolades year on year at one of the world's best management graduate school, where he teaches executive education and management. Meet Karan Girotra, Professor of Technology and Operations Management at INSEAD, France and he is just thirty one! Karan belongs to the brigade of young overseas Indians who are leading change in the world.
Having graduated from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 2002, Karan went to United States to pursue higher education. He went on to complete his PhD in Managerial Sciences and Applied Economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and later founded a firm, TerraPass, before moving to the world of teaching. His area of research and interest has been business model innovation, new venture management and operations management.
“This area is a key management challenge in emerging as well as developed countries. Innovation is what will help create local multinationals and great opportunities. And if you look at the needs of our nation, a lot of the innovation that we require is not so much about technology but about business model innovation,” says Karan. And this is what excites him about this field.
He adds that India has seen a lot of business model innovation especially by local companies and local arms of global enterprises. The introduction of small sachets of shampoos by Hindustan Unilever is a classic example of a multination innovating the way it sells its products and in the process gaining a bigger market share.
“There are lots of interesting examples of innovation by Indian firms and across sectors. In Information Technology domain you have TCS and Infosys which developed the business model of labor arbitrage which led the huge IT outsourcing industry we see today. In the micro-retailing space which involves managing a lot of small retailers, the dabbawallahs of Mumbai stand out and are an example of a very efficient logistics system. And most of these innovations have come not from a top to down approach. A unique brand of innovation comes from India to deal with the environment and this has been widely acknowledged across the world,” he says.
To take the innovation to next level, Karan feels that we need to speed up the processes, make system more transparent and offer more support to SMEs. “The India opportunity is strong. We have large human capital and intellectual capabilities, perhaps, unlike any other place in the world. We must deepen the culture of innovation and take it down to the school or college level,” he concludes.