Headshots of Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan and Dr Kirti Ruikar

Pictured: Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan and Dr Kirti Ruikar

University appoints its first-ever Special Envoys for India to develop new relationships and build partnerships

The University is delighted to announce it has appointed two Special Envoys for India.

Following an internal recruitment process earlier this year, the institution has selected Dr Kirti Ruikar and Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan to undertake this new and exciting leadership role.  

Reporting to the International Strategy Management Group (ISMG), the Special Envoys will be responsible for leading the University’s Regional Strategy for India and will work closely with the Vice-Chancellor to develop relationships with major stakeholders and partners in the region.  

The appointments play a key role in delivering the International Engagement and Impact Core Plan, which forms a part of the University’s strategy Creating Better Futures. Together and aims to meet our aspirations to be a leading global university.  

Loughborough is proud of its longstanding links with India. In fact, the first-ever student from India to study here graduated in 1937 and each year the University welcomes hundreds of Indian students to both of its campuses.

The University already collaborates with many Indian universities, including IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, and IIT Madras. It also works in close partnership with high-profile Indian commercial organisations such as Bajaj Auto, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles. 

Working as a Senior Lecturer based in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Dr Ruikar is Programme Leader for the BSc Architectural Engineering and Design Management degree. She specialises in the fields of computer-aided design and engineering, ICT, knowledge and information management, collaborative working, building resilience, e-readiness and e-business.  

She commented: “I am very excited to take up this role as I see it as an opportunity to represent the University and showcase our capability and our strengths internationally. This leadership role provides a fantastic opportunity for my personal and professional growth, and I am humbled and honoured that I will be joining hands with esteemed colleagues from Loughborough University in delivering our collective vision to Create Better Futures. Together.  

“Over the years I have led research, teaching and enterprise partnerships with leading institutions in India and now I will be able to grow these relationships beyond our School to include the wider University. This ambassadorial role provides me with a platform to be a role model to future applicants, especially women. As a female from an Indian background, in a STEM area that is largely male-dominated, I understand the challenges that women face. Of course, the fact that this is an opportunity to further connect my two homes – the UK and India, is the icing on the cake!” 

Professor Vaidhyanathan is an expert in Advanced Materials and Processing who leads the Advanced Ceramics Research Group and chairs the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering’s Industrial Placement Committee. He has received more than 45 grants totalling over £30.5m and coordinates the Loughborough-Asia Materials Partnership (LAMP) programme promoting teaching and research links with India.  

He added: “I am extremely delighted and honoured to take up the position of University Special Envoy to lead and foster collaborative research, teaching and enterprise links between Loughborough University and Indian institutions and industries.  

“This is a great visionary initiative from the University to strengthen academic and industrial ties between the UK and India, that is fittingly recognised in our India Strategy. Hopefully, with my internationalisation and interdisciplinary experience, I will be able to utilise this wonderful opportunity to create meaningful, mutually beneficial partnerships between these two great nations with an incredible history of innovation, knowledge sharing and friendship.” 

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings said: “Building on our international ambitions is crucial to delivering the University’s new strategy, and having a vibrant and creative approach to how we partner with other countries around the world will be key to delivering that. I’m really excited about the appointment of our first two Special Envoys and look forward to seeing how they can work both here and in India to maximise the exciting potential we have out there.”