Sunday, July 18, 2010


India – An adventure into international business, travel, and myself

I would suggest that any MBA student at any college needs to experience an international business study tour similar to the experience we had in India. I learned a lot about myself, and my own biases, doing business in a foreign place, as well as practical customs and cultural differences in India. I was removed from my comfort zone, and transported both literally and figuratively to a whole new land. A place as diverse as the whole of Europe, with so many different languages, foods, and religions.

The most striking thing to me about India was the overwhelming undercurrent of entrepreneurialism. Everyone, from millionaire real estate developers to street vendors to kids on the street trying to sell travel maps showed me that spirit. Everyone realizes that it is up to them to make their own way, and that no one is going to hand them anything. As such, the hard work at every level is very evident. People are busting their tails to better their own lives and that of their families. This work ethic, and this spirit, is the thing that I will remember the most about India. While I had an amazing experience seeing all of the sites (especially the Taj Mahal), and experiencing new foods, and new experiences; when I talk about this trip years in the future with people who want to know what the real business is like in India, I will tell them about the work ethic, and the entrepreneurial spirit that I experienced.

I was also privy to other more unsavory experiences. We saw a recently hit pedestrian dying on the side of the road because the road systems are certifiably insane. The traffic is unreal, and the infrastructure needs some serious work. We witnessed poverty unlike anything we have ever seen, and perhaps ever will see again. However, in the faces of such poverty, I saw hope. I also found prejudice within myself which I was not expecting. I found myself ignoring the kids on the street, because I assumed they were just going to try to pickpocket me, or rip me off. That indeed may have been the case, but my attitude and prejudice went beyond simply being careful. I was really able to identify within myself something that needed to change. By the end of the trip, I felt that I was able to identify my preconceived notion and effect a meaningful change on my own outlook.

As much learning as I did about myself, I learned just as much or more about doing business in India. I learned about the growing power of the workforce, the increasing creativity being fostered within schools, as well as the dynamic business spirit. Given that I am about to work at Cisco, being able to tour the campus in Bangalore was an amazing opportunity. I feel that having this experience, and being able to draw on the collective experience of so many people with so much international business experience is something that will set me apart from many other MBA candidates at other schools. This experience has changed me, and has taught me invaluable information.

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