Getting to Know Chief Administrative Officer Bobby Srivastava
This installment of the College of Engineering’s “Getting to Know” leadership series features Chief Administrative Officer Bobby Srivastava. His previous role was assistant dean for research, supporting the college’s $140 million research enterprise.
In his new role, Srivastava will be responsible for ensuring financial sustainability and strength during the upcoming period of expansion and growth in faculty, students and research. He will lead development and implementation of the $300 million annual college budget and long-term projections and forecasts for college-wide strategic initiatives. He also will serve as principal advisor to Dean Ayanna Howard and college leadership on all financial and resource allocation matters.
College of Engineering: What excites you most about your role as chief administrative officer (CAO) and the work you’re doing?
Bobby Srivastava: Leading our financial strategy is what excites me the most given the trajectory of our college over the next decade. This is a very large organization, so to counsel our senior leaders on how we can get to where we need to be is an incredible privilege. I am also so grateful to work with such a talented and committed team of business professionals within the College of Engineering. They deserve so much credit for how well they have navigated very challenging university-wide implementations, and I’m really humbled to be their leader. Marie Mead (former executive director of finance and chief of staff) left big shoes to fill, so I hope I’m able to meet such high expectations.
CoE: What do you see as the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity?
Srivastava: Our greatest challenge is that we have so many opportunities. We are a player in so many different initiatives that we have to ensure all of our energies are linked to Dean Howard’s vision and our strategic plan. The College of Engineering is going through a transformation that will lead to record-level growth in enrollment, faculty size and research expenditures. At the same time, we need to have a learning and innovation environment that is diverse, inclusive and high-quality. My job will be to ensure that we aggressively pursue our objectives and maintain excellent stewardship of our financial resources along the way. While some may say the work is too daunting and the goals are too ambitious, they sort of have to be if we’re going to do anything impactful.
CoE: Speaking of impact, what’s the most impactful job you’ve had?
Srivastava: This current role as CAO is already shaping up to be the most impactful job I’ve ever had. However, prior to joining Ohio State, I was the founding business manager for two charter schools aimed at closing the achievement gap in communities where there was no access to a high-quality education. It was the most difficult work I have ever done, and to see KIPP Columbus thriving a decade later serving thousands of students is incredibly rewarding. The experiences I gained from KIPP accelerated my leadership and skills in ways I never truly appreciated until I transitioned to Ohio State in 2012.
CoE: Is there an accomplishment or accolade you’re most proud of?
Srivastava: Getting the phone call from Dean Howard to serve on her leadership team is a moment I will always remember. I knew early in my Ohio State career that being a CAO was something I wanted to pursue someday. I also knew being the CAO for the College of Engineering would be no handout, and it would require humility and hard work to accept critical feedback, advance my skills, pursue my MBA and MPA at night, and build trust within the college community. I’m continually grateful for the mentorship and professional experiences that have led to me to where I am today, and to Dean Howard for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. Now it’s time to do the work and deliver!
CoE: What’s your favorite part of being a Buckeye?
Srivastava: The opportunity and the community. The opportunity comes from all that Ohio State has done for me and my family. If I think about it, Ohio State has given me a stable career, an advanced education for free, access to world-class health professionals for my wife and I when we needed surgeries, and my two sons were born here. What other organization can offer that to a single employee?
The community is incredibly special. Whether you’re an employee, student or alumnus, being a Buckeye means you’re a part of a lasting tradition that spans generations. That sense of belonging brings me immense pride.
CoE: Do you have a favorite mentor?
Srivastava: No one favorite, but I have been incredibly fortunate to have bosses that invested in me and shaped my leadership style. Scott Osborne, Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, and Marie Mead are three people that I have learned so much from. While they have taught me so much about how to be an executive leader, simply being in their presence and observing how they lead teams has been invaluable. Similarly, I’m learning so much working with Dean Howard. She is one of the most grounded, fierce leaders I have ever met in my entire career. Watching her lead this college is nothing short of a master class.
Perhaps it’s strange to call your spouse a “mentor,” but my wife helps me navigate this wild and crazy life every day. I look to her often for guidance and wisdom whenever I’m sorting through my challenges. Her partnership has helped me become a more effective leader at Ohio State and within the community.
CoE: What about favorite hobbies or interests outside of work?
Srivastava: Right now we are in the thick of youth sports, and nothing brings me more joy than seeing my sons outdoors participating in activities. Whether it be swimming, baseball, or just playing in our backyard, I know this time doesn’t last forever so I’m trying to enjoy this stage of parenthood before my kids become too cool to hang out with Dad.
I love spending time at my gym. I have gone to Friendship Fitness for almost 11 years, and I’ve learned quite a bit about myself from pushing through challenging workouts, and building meaningful relationships within that community. It has been one of the most important places in my life to clear my mind so I can give my family, my friends and the college the best version of myself.
by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications | email@example.com