Ritu Kalra, a seasoned leader in financial management and investment banking, has been named the University’s vice president for finance and chief financial officer. Kalra currently serves as 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. 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. Her predecessor Thomas J. Hollister, who has served in the role since 2015, will depart on June 30, at which time she will take the reins as CFO and VP and report to Executive Vice President Meredith Weenick, with a dotted line to President Claudine Gay.
“I am thrilled to have Ritu stepping into the VP and CFO role,” said Weenick. “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. Additionally, as special projects adviser, Kalra has been a leader in Harvard’s priorities in Allston, where she has spearheaded the University’s engagement on the I-90 multimodal project, including skillfully 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.”
Before joining the University, Kalra spent 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. In her infrastructure financing practice, she provided strategic advisory services to public and private sector entities throughout the U.S., including designing innovative financing strategies to manage climate-related risks. She advised the state of California in capitalizing a $21 billion fund to mitigate the impact of catastrophic wildfires, led a restructuring of the Long Island Power Authority to create financial capacity to harden the electrical grid following Hurricane Sandy, and created debt financing strategies that leveraged philanthropic capital for land and forest conservation across the country.
As head of higher education finance, she supported Harvard and other universities by developing and executing financing to support university strategic plans. 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.
“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. “I have no doubt she will continue to bring this same leadership to bear as she steps into this new role and, building on the strong relationships she has across the University, will be a thoughtful and highly effective partner in moving Harvard’s mission and priorities going forward in the years ahead.”
Kalra graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s of science in economics, summa cum laude, and the New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with a master’s degree in journalism, concentrating in business and economic reporting. She is a member of the board of the California College of the Arts and holds multiple certifications to teach yoga.