A tribute to Prof Sucheta Nadkarni (1967-2019)

With the loss of Prof Sucheta Nadkarni, Newnham College has lost a woman of energy, passion and commitment. Hers was a dynamism equally rooted in clear thinking and accurate data, and the result was a life of remarkable achievement.

Professor Sucheta Nadkarni arrived at Cambridge in 2014, to take up the position of Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the Judge Business School. She became a Professorial Fellow of Newnham College, and was delighted that her portrait hung in Clough Hall, among so many other distinguished women.

Sucheta’s research interests were in strategic leadership and competitive dynamics, as well as gender diversity. She embraced the Women’s Leadership Initiative, initially as faculty lead, becoming the Director of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre in 2017.

Generous, gracious and fun, Sucheta played a key role in setting up what is now the annual Women in Tech Challenge, and sought out opportunities for Newnham and the Judge Business School to work together. Indeed, many of our alumnae who never met Sucheta in person knew her through her Newnham TEDx talk, on gender diversity in the workplace.

Again and again, Sucheta’s students and colleagues have spoken about her ability to push them to achieve more than they had thought possible. She saw the potential in people, organisations and opportunities: after a conversation with Sucheta, all sorts of ambitions seemed not only feasible, but excitingly close. One student described as “a great example of women who hustle – brave and kind.”

She established the Executive Education Rising Women Leaders programme, focusing on supporting women to aspire and achieve in their professional lives, with the goal of fostering the next generation of women leaders. It’s perhaps unsurprising that Sucheta was also Gender Equality Champion at the University of Cambridge.

For all Sucheta’s remarkable academic achievements, it was her personality that made the biggest impression in College. She will be deeply missed. Meanwhile, from Sucheta’s portrait in the corner of Clough Hall, her irrepressible smile still encourages and challenges us.

For a further obituary of Sucheta, focusing on her professional and academic work, see the Judge Business School website.

Cambridge Judge and Newnham College are working together to plan a memorial service. Details will be made available at a later date, once arranged.