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Alumni in the news - April 12

Road transport exchange started by three IITB graduates looks to reduce bottlenecks, lead time| Father of mass market GPS is an Indian|Starwood Hotels & Resorts Names Vasant Prabhu Vice Chairman| New kind of green revolution - A T-shirt to help you walk the green mile | Nitin Donde appointed as EVP of Engineering for Aster Data

Three entrepreneurs who graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), have started a road transportation exchange, offering a platform that cuts down the time required to get cargo moving to its destination by three-fourths.

India Road Transportation Exchange (Irtex) eventually aims to cover the entire logistics industry, expanding its initial focus on road freight and becoming an online exchange where truckers can trade their services to transport cargo in a transparent manner. Tripathi and co-founders Nitin Gupta and Saurabh Gupta—who graduated from IIT in 2006—quit their regular jobs and worked on the idea for a year before getting Irtex off the ground. One of their key value propositions is that Irtex helps cut down the time required to arrange the movement of cargo from as long as 24 hours to just 6 hours.

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If you do a Google search for ‘Sanjai Kohli’ you don’t get very much. It even asks you whether you meant ‘Sanjay Kohli’. There’s not even a reference to Sanjai Kohli as the son of F C Kohli; he’s F C Kohli’s second son.

Yet, he is the reason why we are able to use GPS (global navigation system) on our mobile phones and cars. And like his legendary father who is referred to as the ‘father of the Indian software industry’, it might be fair to call the 53-year-old Sanjai Kohli the father of mass-market GPS technology.

Kohli has been short-listed for the European Inventor Award (to be announced on April 28) instituted by the European Patent Office and the European Commission. He’s one out of the total of 12 short-listed, and one among three in the category of inventors from non-European countries.

Kohli said the origin of his interest in GPS lay in the work he did for the US defence sector in the 1980s. Soon after finishing his engineering degree from IIT, Mumbai, in 1979, Kohli went to the US to do his Masters, and then worked in a couple of aerospace companies. In one of these, he was assigned to put intelligence into bombs dropped from planes. At that point, 90% of bombs hit unintended targets. “So we worked on a guided GPS system. We pulled off a successful programme, and soon, all the US military weapons were based on that technology,” Kohli said.

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced today that the company has named its Chief Financial Officer, Vasant Prabhu ('81), Vice Chairman, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the company. Starwood’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Frits van Paasschen, made the announcement following the company’s recent Board of Directors meeting.

“His efforts and collaboration ensured that Starwood did not just survive the global economic crisis, but actually emerged stronger, with our financial house in order, well poised to take advantage of opportunities we expect will arise.”
“Vasant’s leadership and strategic vision were in sharp relief in 2009 as Starwood navigated the toughest year our industry has endured since the Great Depression,” said van Paasschen. “His efforts and collaboration ensured that Starwood did not just survive the global economic crisis, but actually emerged stronger, with our financial house in order, well poised to take advantage of opportunities we expect will arise.”

Prabhu holds an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India. He and his family reside in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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It’s a new kind of green revolution — one that involves a funky T-shirt, a thought-provoking message and a chance to donate money to eco-friendly causes. Say hello to the green T-shirt — one that sells for a mere Rs200, of which 10% is donated to an NGO. The green T-shirt aims at showing the world that it is small steps that can make big differences. “This is about expressing passion for a cause and doing something about it, instead of just sitting and lamenting the degradation of the world,” says Sorabh Sodhani, 31, the brain behind the T-shirt.

IIT Mumbai graduate Sodhani started the online store Toube Bas (a derivation of his petname Tubby Boss) on February 13 last year. “I got the idea of designing T-shirts when people started showing interest in the ones I had gifted to friends,” says this MBA in sports management.

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Nitin Donde has been appointed Executive Vice President of Engineering for Aster Data ... he is a seasoned executive with a proven track record of delivering commercially successful enterprise products on diverse platforms. He has a broad range of experience leading engineering teams at both early stage startups and mature companies with multi-billion dollar revenues. Most recently he was the vice president of engineering at EMC. Prior to his time with EMC, Donde was vice president of engineering and customer service for Intransa, a privately held startup that builds network-centric scalable IP SAN. Donde earned an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Management, University of California, Berkeley. He has a Master of Science degree in computer science from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India.

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Lamenting what they described as the "sad and irreparable loss" and the "untimely demise" of management guru C K Prahalad, Indian American corporate heavyweights in interviews with, recalled fondly how he always found time for the community's initiatives and was on hand to mentor young Indian American entrepreneurs and start-ups be it as a TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) or an IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) alumni parley and other forums where he was a much sought-after keynoter.

Erstwhile chairman and CEO of Citibank and former vice chairman of CitiGroup, Victor Menezes, said, "CK had an original mind and he had a very creative way of looking at things. And, he was able to synthesise his concepts in a manner that made sense and was practical for people to use."

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Mumbai/ Bangalore, March 10, 2010: The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, on its Foundation day, bestowed the Distinguished Alumnus Award 2010 to Sriman Madhu Pandit Dasa (a.k.a Madhusudan Sivasankar), Founder Chairman, the Akshaya Patra Foundation and President of ISKCON – Bangalore.

The institute recognised and honoured Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa for “his contribution to humanitarian services and organic farming”, said the citation. This is the highest honour the Institute bestows on the Foundation Day. The institute honours five alumni every year and the others who received the Distinguished Alumnus awards this year along with Madhu Pandit Das are Dr Nitish Thakor, Professor, John Hopkins University, R.Chandra Shekhar, IAS, Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India, Adil Zaimulbhai, Managing Director, Mckinsey India and Colin H Gonslaves, Founder, India Centre for Human Rights and Law.

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"I had a passion for filmmaking since the age of 12 but there was no support at home as I was a good student! After completing my engineering from IIT Mumbai and Ph. D from Michigan State University, I started teaching in California. I was well settled but somewhere I was feeling incomplete so in the evening I started attending short term courses in filmmaking. I learnt everything from editing to direction and cinematography." says the director Jagmohan Mundhra

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