Harvard appoints Indian-American Ritu Kalra as VP Finance, and CFO

Ritu Kalra, new VP for Finance and CFO at Harvard. PHOTO: @harvard.edu

Ritu Kalra, a veteran in the field of financial management and investment banking, was named Harvard University’s vice president for finance and chief financial officer, June 6, 2023. Kalra is currently Harvard’s assistant vice president of finance and treasury and special projects adviser.

As VP and CFO, Kalra will oversee all aspects of financial management, including long-range planning, annual budgeting, endowment fund spending policy, treasury, and financial accounting and reporting, a press release from the University said.

Her portfolio will also include research administration, strategic procurement, capital planning, and risk management. Overall, she will lead multiple financial departments with a full-time workforce of more than 200 people.

Kalra takes over from Thomas J. Hollister, who has served in the role since 2015, and leaves on June 30.

“I am thrilled to have Ritu stepping into the VP and CFO role,” Executive Vice President Meredith Weenick is quoted saying in the press release. “Since joining Harvard in 2020, she has provided exceptional leadership and been a trusted adviser on an array of financial matters and University priorities. Her Harvard experience, coupled with her track record as an innovator in private sector banking and finance, positions her well as a leader who will continue to build on what has been strong stewardship of the University’s finances in recent years.”

In her treasury management role, Kalra oversees and advises on the University’s capital structure, including the critical role of forecasting debt and liquidity needs, and managing cash operations and investments, Harvard said.

The University also credited her as special projects adviser, for leading Harvard’s priorities in Allston, where she has spearheaded the University’s engagement on the I-90 multimodal project, including leading the partnership between the University, the city of Boston, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Kalra also serves on the Presidential Committee for Sustainability.

“Harvard’s ability to forge collaborations within and beyond the University, across a breathtaking breadth of disciplines, doesn’t happen by accident,” said Kalra. “It requires a rare and sustained marriage of strategic leadership and executional excellence. Tom Hollister has been instrumental in kindling this marriage across the organization, and I look forward to working with the broader University community to build on this essential partnership to advance the academic mission.”

Kalra’s past experience includes 18 years at Goldman Sachs, where she held several progressive roles culminating in managing director and served as head of public sector and infrastructure finance for the western region, and as head of higher education finance nationally.

As head of higher education finance, she supported Harvard and other universities by developing and executing financing to support university strategic plans, the University said, noting that her work included leading public-private partnerships to enable additional on-campus student housing, royalty monetizations, financing the decarbonization of universities’ energy infrastructure, and general balance sheet optimization.

“Through rigorous analytics around debt capacity, operating budget impacts, and capital markets opportunities, she advised universities across the country on projects with both strategic and financial implications,” Harvard said.

“Ritu is very skilled at aligning strategic thinking with operational and organizational context, and that unique ability has been evident since she joined the University,” said Harvard Corporation member Timothy R. Barakett, who will become treasurer of the University on July 1.

Kalra earned a bachelor of science in economics graduating summa cum laude from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She has a masters in journalism from New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, concentrating in business and economic reporting.

She holds multiple certifications to teach yoga.



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