November 28, 2016
Contact: Ramakrishnan Natesan

2016 Leadership conference

2016 Leadership Conference – Providence, RI

The IIT Association of Greater New England (IITAGNE) which represents the pan-IIT organization in the region, hosted the first Global Leadership conference at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI on Aug 12-14, 2016.  Titled “Leading transformation for a better tomorrow: Technologies that lift the human spirit” the conference showcased talks by world leaders on a range of topics. The volunteer team consisted primarily of IIT alums from all five original campuses plus a few from IIT Guwahati and Roorkee. IIT Madras was extremely well represented with its alumni working on the Technical Program (Roopesh Mathur, class of ‘94 and Rajnikant, class of ‘81), Registration (Anand Vasudevan, class of ’91), Entertainment (Vijay Kumar, class of ’75 and Venki Nagesha, class of ‘87), Operations (Mohan Mahadevan, class of ’82) and Sponsorship (Dilip Subramanyam, class of ’77) teams. It should be noted that IITM alumni at sponsoring companies were extremely generous with their contributions, including Virtusa Polaris, Google and Dell to name a few.

The conference (www.iit-2016.org) consisted of four tracks - Life Sciences & Healthcare with panels on integrative medicine, healthcare delivery, medical devices, Energy & Environment with panels on renewable energy generation, storage, efficiency, water technology, Frontiers of Technology with panels on IoT, cloud based enterprise, security, AI and Big Data and last but not least, Education with participation by University Presidents and panels on digital learning and democratization of education

The Friday afternoon session was primarily focused on Women featuring sessions on entrepreneurship and technology career opportunities for women and a wonderful session on becoming a person of influence.  Dinner was accompanied by excellent keynote speeches featuring the Mayor of Providence, and IIT Kharagpur alums Drs. Amitabha Ghosh who leads the Mars program at NASA and Achin Bhowmik at Intel. The evening featured entertainment by Sonika Vaid who was a finalist on the TVB show American Idol and other well known, talented local artists, including Vijay Kumar (IITM ’75).

The Saturday program opened with brief talks by Dr. Desh Deshpande (IITM ’73), Arun Singh (Indian Ambassador), Raj Rajgopal (IITM ’82) who is President, Enterprise Technology & Solutions at VirtusaPolaris and Consul Ms. Riva Das. Keynote addresses were then given by Eric Gebhardt, Chief Operations and Platforms Officer at GE Current and Navin Budhiraja, SVP, Head Architecture & Technology, Infosys prior to the start of the technical sessions for the day. At the end of the program, individual IIT campuses organized breakout sessions with IITM and IITB representing the biggest participation. Over 75 IITM alums were present for brief lectures by Professors Ashwin Mahalingam and Mahesh Panchagnula who travelled to the US to attend the conference courtesy of Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi and some gentle prodding by Alumni Dean Nagarajan. IIT Madras Alumni Association of North America (IITMAANA) officers present at the conference (Robert Nathan – class of’77, Andiappan Bala MT ‘92 and Dhinakar Kompala - class of ’79) gave a presentation on the new alumni organization website and its goals and objectives for the future which included reviving and creating new IITM alumni chapter around the US.

The evening keynote lectures were by IIT alums Rajesh Subramanian, VP at Federal Express and Arun Sundararajan, Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business. This was followed by a music concert by Prasanna (IITM ’92).

On Sunday morning, Steve Kaufer, CEO and Founder of TripAdvisor which is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts and Peeyush Ranjan (IIT KGP’95) who is the Chief Technology Officer of Flipkart gave keynote presentations which were followed by workshops in some areas. There was a business plan competition with over 50 entries and a poster completion for college students. Local entrepreneurs volunteered as judges for the business plan competition with significant cash prizes for the winner announced during lunch. Late morning, we had a visit from Miss Rhode Island who is of Indian origin – Shruthi Nagarajan. She will compete for the Miss USA title this fall.

Most significantly, only IITM and IITB featured booths during the conference with the IITM booth featuring the most traffic! IITM memorabilia was on sale with some handouts from the campus. We took the opportunity to photograph various groups of alumni at the booth (see attached). The efforts of Andi Bala to have his employer Johnson & Johnson sponsor a booth as well are acknowledged.

The feedback from attendees and sponsors has been very good and for those of you that missed this opportunity, we hope to see you at the next event!

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