As a founder, CEO, or senior executive of many different companies, Ram Sudireddy is used to taking the lead.
So it's no surprise that the member of Harvard Divinity School's Dean's Council is now stepping into the role of co-chair of the Campaign for HDS. A lifelong entrepreneur and veteran of the technology sector, Sudireddy says he has a passion for addressing the "religious misunderstanding" he sees at the root of many global problems.
"Knowledge of religious practices can help people live better, rather than fight each other," he explains. "Harvard Divinity School has a multireligious culture and studies global religion comparatively so that we can understand its influence in the world."
A computer and electrical engineer by training, Sudireddy worked at the legendary Bell Labs before founding several companies of his own, most recently the private venture firm Bayfleet Holdings. He says that his experience in business is actually what drew him to HDS.
"My professional side is all technology: starting companies and building them up," he says. "But I've found that religious beliefs and practices have so much influence on the way that people run an organization and build teams. Knowledge of that can not only help you manage better and make more money, but also to live a better life."
Sudireddy's dedication to HDS extends to the rest of the University as well. A member of Harvard's Global Advisory Council, he helps University leaders think about the School as an international institution. Sudireddy also shares his knowledge of the tech sector and of communications as an adviser to the University's online course platform, HarvardX. Last fall, he joined some of Harvard's most prominent supporters on the committee that oversees the University's $6.5 billion fundraising campaign.
"It's exciting to see how the campaign is coming along for the entire University," he says of his service on the Campaign Executive Committee. "We work together to help all of Harvard's schools meet their goals."
Sudireddy is leveraging his status as a "Harvard citizen" these days as part of the University's renewed emphasis on HDS's campaign goals—particularly the revitalization of Andover Hall, the heart of the Divinity School's campus. He says that the effort is an opportunity to dramatically expand HDS's influence at Harvard and in the world.
"I want to draw students and scholars from across the University to HDS's programs and courses," he says. "I'd like to see HDS collaborate with Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and others. If we're successful in this campaign, we can give leaders in every field religious knowledge that can help them do their jobs in the right way."
—by Paul Massari