Lakshmi Balachandra is a leading expert in improvisation, negotiation and entrepreneurial pitching. She is Fellow in the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she examines the impact of gender on entrepreneurial success in acquiring early-stage funding.
Her research investigates the applications of improvisation and trust in negotiation and entrepreneurship. Her dissertation on entrepreneurial pitches and trust development in angel investors was awarded both a Graduate Research Fellowship from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and a Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Her paper on improvisation and leadership was awarded a Barry Armandi Best Student Paper award in Management Education from the Academy of Management. Her research has been published in The Journal of Business Ethics, Negotiation Journal, and Negotiation and her work has received a wide range of press including Businessweek, Chronicle of Higher Education, the Financial Times, Harvard Magazine, Inc. Magazine, India Abroad, and Reuters.
Dr. Balachandra has taught courses and international programs to students and executives on entrepreneurship, negotiation, improvisation, and leadership. She consults to a wide range of companies including Goldman Sachs, Genzyme, Novartis, Shell and the CIA, and frequently guest lectures in several courses at the Harvard Business School. She teaches a course she designed on improvisation and leadership at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
In her professional career, she has been intimately acquainted in multiple aspects of entrepreneurship. She has been an entrepreneur – she opened and operated a retail specialty toy store in California upon graduating from college. And she has worked in entrepreneurial finance as she spent seven years in venture capital and in mergers and acquisitions investment banking with firms in Boston, Massachusetts and San Diego, California.
While working for the largest women-owned, women-focused venture capital firm in the country, she founded the Women’s Venture Capital Network, the first network of its kind in the country where she organized, created and managed numerous networking events and educational panels for women professionals in the industry. During (and in-between) her professional career in finance and entrepreneurship, Dr. Balachandra has also been a professional stand-up comedian and improvisational comedian performing in comedy clubs across the country.
Prior to joining Babson College, Dr. Balachandra was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and a Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Harvard Extension School. She has also taught at Boston College and UCSD Rady’s School of Management. She received her BA in Environmental Studies and Economics at the University of Chicago and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. She has a PhD in Management from Boston College.