Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta. Sambamurthy accepted the prestigious award on November 14, 2021, at IIM’s Diamond Jubilee Lecture and Distinguished Alumnus Award 2021 Ceremony in Calcutta.
Manish Thakur, professor and dean of new initiatives and external relations at IIM Calcutta, introduced the Distinguished Alumnus Award, which is the highest honor the institute bestows upon alumni.
“This award is our modest way of honoring those alumni who have made significant contributions in corporate leadership, academia, entrepreneurship, public policy, and philanthropy,” said Thakur.
Sambamurthy, who received his MBA from IIM Caluctta in 1983, is one of four alumni who received IIM’s Distinguished Alumnus Award this year.
“As young, bright minds, [these awardees] helped us grow as an institution, just as they grew during the two years that we were together,” added Thakur. “We learned from them as much as they learned from us.”
In the award presentation, Sambamurthy was heralded for his outstanding contributions to the field of academia through excellence in teaching and research. He was recognized for his leadership in transforming WSB’s undergraduate and MBA programs, launching new master’s programs, and enhancing the School’s corporate outreach and engagement. He was also celebrated as a leading expert in corporate strategy, innovation, and transformation in the digital economy.
“I am extremely humbled to join the long pantheon of others who have won this award,” Sambamurthy said in receipt of the award. He shared remarks during the ceremony, reflecting on his career since graduating from IIM.
“In these 40 years, I have had many successes but many failures, too,” said Sambamurthy. “What I have come to learn is that when you stare into the dark abyss of failure, you find your character far more than in the glare of success.”
Sambamurthy encouraged those embarking on their own career journey to remember the power of community, to live a life of integrity, and to have fun along the away.
“The two most important words are ‘integrity’ and ‘fun.’ It is up to us to live a life of integrity and give back,” he said. “At the same time, we need to seize the moment and enjoy the company we have.”
Sambamurthy, who joined WSB in 2019 after serving as Eli Broad Professor and associate dean of the MBA and professional master’s programs at the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, has been recognized through numerous other awards for his contributions to teaching, research, outreach, and mentoring. The Association of Information Systems honored him with the LEO Lifetime Achievement Award. He was selected as distinguished fellow of the Information Systems Society at INFORMS, and he received the William Beal Distinguished Faculty Award—the highest honor accorded by Michigan State University. In November 2021, Sambamurthy was named among Wisconsin’s 34 most influential Asian American leaders by Madison365.