It was a pleasure having lunch today with India’s incoming Consul General Dr. Swati Kulkarni at her home to discuss collaboration between leaders in academia and business from the world’s two largest democratic republics. As an academic and consultant in the area of Organizational Project Management (OPM), which is strategy-implementation through projects, I noted India is the fastest growing market for project management oriented employment in the world. India’s organizations will require 70 lakh new project managers in the next 10 years. Infrastructure will be a particularly active catalyst for project management in India, especially in industries like roads and railways and initiatives like smart cities.
The honorable Consul General can help meet India’s growing demand for capable project management by fostering collaboration between Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, OPM Experts LLC, and the Indian Institute for Project Management (IIPM), which was established in 1989 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in response to cost overruns on large infrastructure projects. Project management has continued to be a national priority under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Having arrived to her new post in America only two weeks ago, Dr. Kulkarni has acted swiftly to reach out to local leaders, demonstrating the Consul General’s proactive approach to diplomacy. Dr. Kulkarni is a career diplomat who holds M.B.B.S. degrees from the Government Medical College, Nagpur in India. She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1995, served as Consul General in Cape Town, South Africa (2012-2014) and as Deputy Head of Mission in Muscat, Oman (2008-2012), two posts pervaded by projects.
While in South Africa and Oman, the CGI witnessed firsthand the importance of large infrastructure projects, especially those involving water. South Africa’s water shortage has become a national crisis, and Oman’s Sultanate has made water infrastructure a national priority of the PAEW, which is currently transforming its Organizational Project Management capabilities using a model I conceived called “OPM3” to cope with rapid industrialization and a growing population base. These are some of the same challenges India continues to grapple. It will be helpful to India for the Consul General to foster dialog within India’s government regarding state-sponsored project benchmarking throughout India using an OPM3-type approach.
Dr. Kulkarni’s husband Mr. Vijay Jayant Kulkarni is a merchant mariner by profession. The couple has two daughters, who are witnessing their mother embark on her diplomatic mission in Atlanta as the first woman appointed to this post.