Books and Me: Brick by Red Brick – Ravi Matthai and the making of IIM Ahmedabad

Book Title: Brick by Red Brick – Ravi Matthai and the making of IIM Ahmedabad

Brick by red brick

Author: T T Ram Mohan

Books on leadership are dime a dozen. While many of them preach the virtues of leadership, most of the remaining discuss the ‘how-to’. Rarely does one comes across a book which discusses threadbare institution building and the role of the leader in such detail. This book is one of those rare ones.

Entrepreneurship brings firms into existence. But it is Leadership that turns them into institutions. This book is one such brilliant exposition of institution building. It is a double whammy because the leader in this story (Ravi Matthai) was entrepreneurial too. As the first full time Director of the now famous Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), he exemplified both organisational entrepreneurship and leadership.

This book is a must read for every leader. In a country like India where the education sector is looking for reform, we need more leaders like Ravi Matthai. We do not want imitators but people who can draw lessons from his illustrious life and adapt them to their respective contexts.

The book clearly displays the deep interest and research that the author has put in to produce such a non-hagiographic account. Without deifying, the author highlights why Ravi Matthai may have been an exception in the education sector in India. The author brings out a balanced view of his personality making the story both inspiring and insightful. Leaders (current and future) in the education sector must read it for the sake of the future of this country. Faculty have innumerable lessons to draw from the book.

Though this book had been suggested to me earlier, it was only this week that I actually picked it up. It was in response to my search for something light after all the heavy reading and writing I had engaged in. But what began as a slow start in the evening ended up consuming much of the night and early part of next day. I wanted to get to the end. I wanted to know it all. The writing kept my interest alive and left me wanting to know more about the protagonist. I learned how one can lead a complete life, a passionate one and be consumed by it, till the very end. I finished the book inspired and will definitely make it to the Vikram Sarabhai Library soon to read more – works about and by Ravi Matthai.

Leadership is a big challenge today across the world. Our institutions need entrepreneurial leaders, most chronically needed (probably) in educational institutions. The system is crying for renewal. Many more visionary leaders such as Ravi Matthai are needed to resurrect the prized Indian Education system. It is urgently needed considering the fact that we would be educating the maximum number of youth over the next few decades. Who will be their inspiration?

Read the book. Be inspired. Inspire.

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