Vijay Govindarajan Biography | Family, History, Books & Facts

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Vijay Govindarajan, often referred to as VG is a well-known figure in the fields of management, strategy, and innovation. VG, who was born on November 18, 1949, in Chennai, India, has carved a distinguished career that has included ground-breaking contributions to the corporate world. Govindarajan’s career is a tribute to his devotion to innovation and strategic thinking. From his early education in India to his stint at famous institutions such as Harvard Business School and his influential role at General Electric. In this article, we delve into Vijay Govindarajan Biography, life, family, history and notable contributions to the academic world.

Quick Facts about Vijay Govindarajan Biography

Full NameVijay Govindarajan
Birth DateNovember 18, 1949
Birth PlaceChennai, India
Education– Chartered Accountancy degree (1974) – President’s Gold Medal recipient
– M.B.A. from Harvard Business School (1976) – Graduated with distinction
– D.B.A. from Harvard Business School (1978) – Robert Bowne Prize for Best Thesis Proposal
Career Highlights– Coxe Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business
– General Electric’s first Chief Innovation Consultant and Professor in Residence (2008–10)
Awards and Honors– Two-time winner of the McKinsey Award for best article in Harvard Business Review
– Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame inductee (2019)
– Thinkers 50 Distinguished Achievement Awards: Breakthrough Idea (2011), Innovation (2019)
Notable Concepts– Three Box Solution
– Reverse Innovation
Teaching Positions– Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1978–80)
– Harvard University (1980–85)
– Ohio State University (1980–85)
– Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College (1985–present)
Published Works– “How GE Is Disrupting Itself” (Co-authored with Chris Trimble and Jeffrey Immelt)
– New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author

Early Life and Education:

Vijay Govindarajan, born on November 18, 1949, in the dynamic metropolis of Chennai, India, began his path to becoming a luminary in the world of management and innovation with humble beginnings. His early life was characterised by a deep devotion to study and a passion for information.Which propelled him to the forefront of global business thought.

Govindarajan crossed a crucial threshold in 1974 when he earned his chartered accountancy degree. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India honoured him with the President’s Gold Medal for his dedication and academic success. This honour, bestowed upon India’s top chartered accountancy student, foreshadowed the spectacular career that lie ahead for the young and ambitious VG.

Vijay Govindarajan’s pursuit of academic achievement brought him to the famous halls of Harvard Business School. Where he embarked on a revolutionary educational journey. He received his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree with honours in 1976. This early stage of his schooling created the groundwork for the strategic thinking and innovative mindset. That would characterise his future contributions to the corporate world.

VG returned to Harvard Business School two years later, in 1978, to pursue a Doctorate in Business Administration (D.B.A.). His commitment and intellectual prowess were recognised once more when he was awarded the Robert Bowne Prize for the Best Thesis Proposal. This honour marked the beginning of Govindarajan’s rise as a thought leader and innovator. Paving the way for a career filled with game-changing ideas and revolutionary insights.

Vijay Govindarajan’s educational trajectory displays not only his academic prowess but also his constant commitment to challenging traditional thinking. His Indian background combined with the world-class education he earned at Harvard Business School would become a driving force behind his distinctive approach to management and innovation. The lessons learnt in the classrooms of India and Harvard would define the trajectory of VG’s brilliant career. As he migrated from his formative years in Chennai to the world arena.

vijay govindarajan picture

Career Milestones: Vijay Govindarajan Biography

Govindarajan began his professional career as an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, from 1978 to 1980. His academic career took him all over the world, including stops as a visiting associate professor at Harvard University. And an associate professor at Ohio State University from 1980 to 1985.

VG joined the Tuck School of Business in 1985 and currently holds the Coxe Distinguished Professorship, a Dartmouth-wide position. Govindarajan has shared his knowledge with future business leaders at Tuck throughout his tenure. He had an impact on overseas institutions as well, having worked as a visiting lecturer at INSEAD’s Fontainebleau campus and the overseas University of Japan.

Govindarajan’s influence grew significantly when he became General Electric’s first Chief Innovation Consultant and Professor in Residence from 2008 to 2010. His cooperation with Chris Trimble and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt produced the seminal study “How GE Is Disrupting Itself,” which introduced the concept of reverse innovation. The Harvard Business Review named this study one of the Great Moments in Management in the Last Century.

Contributions to Management and Strategy:

VG’s thought leadership has received widespread praise, garnering him not one, but two McKinsey Awards for the best paper published in Harvard Business Review. In 2019, he was inducted into the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame for his contributions to management, strategy, and innovation. This award recognised Govindarajan’s career dedication to the advancement of these essential areas of business.

Notable Concepts: The Three-Box Solution and Reverse Innovation

Vijay Govindarajan is well-known for developing the Three Box Solution. A framework that emphasises managing the present, selectively forsaking the past, and simultaneously building the future. This strategic strategy has evolved into a guiding philosophy for organisations attempting to strike a balance between continuity and change.

Reverse innovation is another innovative concept attributed to VG, as recounted in “How GE Is Disrupting Itself.” This concept emphasises the possibility for emerging-market inventions to be adapted and scaled for success in mature markets. Reverse innovation has since emerged as a critical tactic for businesses seeking a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing global landscape.

Vijay Govindarajan’s Awards and Recognitions:

Govindarajan’s significant achievements have earned him two Thinkers 50 Distinguished Achievement Awards, a tribute to his innovative ideas in 2011 and 2019. These honours demonstrate VG’s ability to constantly provide ground-breaking insights that affect the future of management and strategy.

FAQs about Vijay Govindarajan Biography

Q1: What is Vijay Govindarajan’s educational background?

A1: Vijay Govindarajan holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a chartered accountancy degree from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He later earned his D.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Q2: What is the Three Box Solution?

A2: The Three Box Solution is a strategic framework introduced by VG, emphasizing the simultaneous management of the present, selective abandonment of the past, and creation of the future for organizational success.

Q3: What is reverse innovation?

A3: Reverse innovation, as introduced by Govindarajan, is the concept of adapting innovations originating in emerging markets for success in developed markets. It challenges the traditional flow of innovation from developed to developing countries.


Vijay Govindarajan’s path from his childhood in Chennai to his current position as Coxe Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth College has been distinguished by a tireless pursuit of excellence in management and innovation. His game-changing ideas, such as the Three Box Solution and reverse innovation, have changed the way businesses approach strategic thinking. VG’s achievements and awards attest to his substantial impact on the field, cementing his legacy as a thought leader and innovator in the corporate world. Vijay Govindarajan’s thoughts continue to advise and inspire the next generation of business leaders as we navigate an era of continual change.


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