Gautam Makunda

Gautam Mukunda is an internationally recognized expert in leadership and innovation. He often jokes that his life’s ambition is to have the world’s most confusing resume and that he’s most of the way there. Gautam is a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership, Senior Advisor to America’s Frontier Fund, the author of Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012) and Picking Presidents: How To Make The Most Consequential Decision in the World (University of California Press, 2022), and the host of Nasdaq’s podcast World Reimagined with Gautam Mukunda.

Gautam has been a professor at Harvard Business School and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University. He was Head of Research at Rose Park Advisors, a specialized investment firm founded by his mentor Clayton Christensen that invests using the theories of disruptive innovation. He has published articles in Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Security Studies, Slate, Fast Company, Parameters, Politics and the Life Sciences, and Systems and Synthetic Biology on topics including leadership, reforming the financial sector, military innovation, network-centric warfare, the security and economic implications of synthetic biology, and the TV show Mad Men. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, Atlantic, New Yorker, Economist, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and on All Things Considered. He is the Exclusive Leadership Consultant to U.S. Soccer.

Gautam was a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program and Program on Emerging Technologies. He was a Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellow, an NSF IGERT Fellow, a Next Generation Fellow of The American Assembly, and a Principal Investigator of the National Science Foundation’s Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. He served on The Chief of Naval Operation’s Executive Advisory Panel and as a member of the New England Regional Selection Committee for the White House Fellowship. He was a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was also a Jeopardy Champion.

At MIT, Gautam was the National Science Foundation Synthetic Biology ERC Postdoctoral Fellow resident at MIT’s Center for International Studies. He received his PhD from MIT in political science, focusing in International Relations and Security Studies. He received his AB in Government from Harvard, magna cum laude. Before his academic career he was a consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he focused on the pharmaceutical sector.

Gautam is a member of the board of directors and chair of the Mentorship Committee of The Upakar Foundation, a national non-profit devoted to providing college scholarships to underprivileged students of South Asian descent. He is on the Advisory Boards of Bionic Solutions and Fount Bio. He is an Overseer of the Boston Ballet and a member of the Museum Council of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.