Professor Nirmala Rao served as the Vice-Chancellor of the Asian University for Women (AUW), Chittagong, Bangladesh, between 2017 and 2022. Formerly, she held various positions as the Pro-Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and as Pro-Warden for Academic Affairs at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Professor Rao took her first degree in Economics at Delhi University in 1979, Masters from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and PhD from the University of London. She has published extensively in the field of urban politics and some of her books include Re-shaping City Governance; Cities in Transition; Governing London; and Transforming Local Political Leadership.
Professor Rao has extensive experience of public service and served as an advisor to a range of bodies including the UK Audit Commission and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). For a number of years, she was a lay member of the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales, a non-executive director of Ealing Hospital NHS Trust and member of the Architects Registration Board. She is currently a member of the Governing Body of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, a Trustee of United World Schools and Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish, University of Cambridge. Professor Rao was elected Fellow of the Academy Social Sciences in 2003 and awarded an OBE for services to scholarship in the 2011 Queen’s Honours list.