RIP Bala V Balachandran: Management guru who founded Great Lakes Institute, Uncle Bala passes away at 84

A Padma Shri recipient, Balachandran breathed his last in Chicago in the wee hours of September 28. He was 84
Dr Bala V Balachandran (Pic: GLIM)
Dr Bala V Balachandran (Pic: GLIM)

Padma Shri awardee and management guru Dr Bala V Balachandran passed away in the wee hours of Tuesday, September 28. At 84, Bala was the Professor Emeritus of Accounting Information & Management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Founder, Chairman of the board and Dean Emeritus of Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, India.

Born in Tamil Nadu's Pudukkotai, he breathed his last in Chicago. Bala's death will be a great loss to the management education circle in the country. A couple of months prior to his demise, Prof Balachandran kickstarted an entrepreneurship incubator called the Atal Great Lakes Balachandran Incubator (AGBI), supported by the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and Great Lakes Institute of Management. A keen promoter of entrepreneurship and new ideas, on July 1, he said, "Entrepreneurship education has been proven to aid in the economic prosperity of our country. Through the launch of a unique program like ‘B-Plan for You’, the AGBI team looks forward to presenting and equipping the young entrepreneurs with intrapreneurship skills for an accelerated career at organisations that value innovation."

In the 1960s, Bala began his career as a faculty member of Annamalai University. Post this, he pursued his MS/PhD from Ohio's University of Dayton, with a fully-funded scholarship. He then had a teaching career at Dayton, Carnegie Mellon and then at the Kellogg School of Management.

In one of his past interviews with Business Standard, Bala recalls how a near-to-death experience in 2002, at the age of 65 was what prompted him to open GLIM, in a one-acre campus in the outskirts of Chennai. After a multiple bypass surgery, in 2004, Bala opened GLIM, which offered year-long MBA programmes to people

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"Life is a series of ups and downs. Life has the irritating and unnerving habit of throwing at you an 'unexpected' surprise and you are of course 'expected' to deal with it, resolve it and move on. I like to look at these ups and downs as experiences, which are necessary simply to widen your perspective, infuse a certain maturity of thought into your system and finally, through all these experiences propel you to take on initiatives that give you the most satisfaction and enrichment," Bala says in his message to the students of GLIM. And even though his mortal life on earth has just ended, his legacy will surely live on.

Passing his condolences, Dean ISB, Madan Pillutla said, “Professor Bala was a key member of the team that conceptualized and founded the ISB and continued to be a great supporter in realising the vision and mission of the School over the years. A well-respected academic and institution builder, Bala also taught at both campuses of the ISB. His death is a great loss to the academic world, and he will be especially missed by his students who fondly called him ‘Uncle'.


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