2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Nilam Kaushik, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

Congrats to Nilam Kaushik of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Nilam Kaushik

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

Professor Kaushik is the first female strategy professor at IIM Bangalore, representing a significant achievement in her field. Her dynamic teaching style and ability to inspire students have garnered her a reputation as a highly sought-after instructor, with consistent high ratings from students and peers alike. Combining her deep expertise in strategy with her passion for teaching, she delivers impactful lessons that encourage students to think critically and creatively. She uses innovative techniques such as doodling to convey complex concepts and encourages students to incorporate doodling into their learning process. She also employs role-playing exercises, such as those based on real-world case discussions, to enable students to better understand complex business challenges. These techniques are highly engaging and effective, making her classes a favorite among students.”Raghav Agarwal

Nilam Kaushik, 39, is an assistant professor in strategy at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. 

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada in 2007 and went on to pursue her Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo. 

She is the first female Strategy Professor at her institute. Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, she worked as a Software Developer at BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion) and has a patent to her credit from her work there. She completed her Ph.D. in Management from the University College London in 2019. Nilam’s interests lie broadly in innovation and entrepreneurship. 


At current institution since what year? 2019  


  • Ph.D. in Management, University College London (United Kingdom) 
  • MASc Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo (Canada)
  • B.Eng Communications Engineering, Carleton University (Canada) 

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Competition and Strategy  


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was raised as a “third culture” kid in 6 countries across 4 continents as my father was a diplomat. I was curious about the role that technology played in businesses in the countries that I lived in as well and the nexus of business, government and society. I had taken a course on Technology and Innovation Management in my undergrad and got the opportunity to read Clay Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma”. That is when I first thought of teaching in a business school. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am studying the effects of diversity on team performance. Perhaps the most significant finding from this work is that the performance effects of knowledge and demographic diversity are statistically independent and qualitatively distinct.  

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be a poet or an artist  

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I would say it has to be the creative touch that I bring to the classroom. Through doodles with my cartoon character “Dumpy” I introduce students to concepts and encourage them to doodle as well. In a rather hectic semester, students take some time to unleash their creativity and I am thoroughly impressed with the doodles I have seen over the years. I have often incorporated the best student doodles (with due permission) in my classes. 

There’s a case that I teach on eHarmony, a dating platform, in which I engage students through poetic verse (Shayari or Urdu poetry) to help them appreciate the competitive positioning of different dating platforms. From one year to another, I try to introduce some fun ways of learning.  

One word that describes my first time teaching: Fun 

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:  marathon teaching in some programs 

Professor I most admire and why: Michael Munger, Professor of Economics at Duke University. I love his sense of humor and the choice of examples he uses in his classes to drive learning. I love his expression “God’s special snowflake”! I also admire my mentor Kevin Boudreau for his clear thinking and love for excellent research.  


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? At IIMB we get the crème de la crème of students from all over India who reach IIMB through a very rigorous and competitive process. It’s a delight to teach the future business leaders of the country.  

What is most challenging? Most of our students come from Engineering backgrounds and look for the “right answer”, which in case-based teaching, such as in strategy, is not the appropriate mindset to approach problems. Getting students to think through an options-led approach is at times challenging. Bringing cutting edge research into the classroom while maintaining practical relevance is also something that I try to do while ensuring I don’t get too theory oriented.  

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Enthusiastic  

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: Entitled  

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…Fair  


What are your hobbies? I am an exhibited artist of Madhubani and Warli folk art from India. I paint to raise money for charitable causes. I write Urdu poetry and have recited my poems at public events such as the Harvard Annual India Poetry Reading.   

How will you spend your summer? I would like to spend quality time with my baby and husband. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I generally like places that are offbeat such as Armenia, it has some amazing landscapes and lovely people.  

Favorite book(s): Phatik Chand by Satyajit Ray  

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I loved the South Korean period drama “Mr. Sunshine” – the cinematography, character development, screenplay, and acting are unmatched.  

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? English country music for the nostalgia that it invokes, the themes and emotions generally resonate with me. I also like listening to Indian classical music, it has such a calming effect on the mind.  


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more … talk of sustainability, business ethics, and diversity. 

 In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … making concerted efforts towards running business in a socially responsible manner.  

I’m grateful for … family and mentors.


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