First impressions of India

So the day finally arrived early on Saturday morning we were in Berlin on our way to the airport, the atmosphere was electric with the excitement and the nine hours on the flight seemed to fly by. We had a good Indian movie on the plane, as our final exposure before being immersed into the real Indian culture.

Soon after midnight (Sunday morning India time)-we arrived in Bangalore. There was a slight delay with the baggage (we kind of waited about an hour!). But hey, I am from Africa and it was in some ways just like home. You could see the ‘westerners’ in our party getting a little impatient as we waited on the baggage collection rack.

As we stepped out of the airport we were welcomed by our hosts and led to the bus. On the way walking past the rows upon rows of the famed 3 wheeler India taxis-I have attached a photo that captures the transportation situation. These 3 wheelers known locally at auto rickshaw have become a hit with the students and people are opting to use these over conventional taxis (quite an adventurous bunch we are!).

After a well deserved rest, we had a welcome reception lunch at the hotel where we were welcomed Indian style-with the silk cloths,incense, and an indian dance performance. We were then served a variety of indian dishes,an array of choices and flavours. WOW!

Later in the day,we had an introductory tour of Bangalore where we were taken through the history from the origins of spice trade,its use as a British military base up to its current role as the ‘silicon valley’ of India. We also attended a service in a local Hindu temple.

What continually amazes me is Indias role as a land of contrasts,next to an amazing modern mall,could be a not so attractive building.The wealth and then the poverty,but one perception I got is that people are content and getting on with their day to day lives.

The bright Indian style outfits worn by the women everywhere are just lovely. Many of us have done a bit of shopping and bought some lovely indian outfits.

Here in Bangalore-the ‘silicon valley’ of India-we visit some companies in the IT sector to get some impressions of how business is doing here and pick up some learnings.Next we proceed to Pune the ‘Detroit’ of India for some industrial and manufacturing exposure.Indias industrial sector is on the up and many car manufacturers are setting up here.

This promises to be an exciting and awesome cultural experience.

Field Trip to Incredible India……..

Marcello spoke about China visit yesterday; I am on the team going to India for the International field trip. Some time ago, we were given the options to choose a preferred field trip destination-China or India and I think everyone got their first choice. I haven’t been to either of the places so any would have been fine.  

Incredible India .With a population of over 1 billion, India is a pool of diversity-it  peoples ,cultures , languages and of course the big entrepreneurial drive of its people .We are visiting companies in manufacturing ,IT and banking sector. During our ten days there, we will travel between Bangalore, Pune and then finally to Mumbai. 

 I was in the team for Banking and we have done some extensive research on the landscape in India under which these businesses are thriving. With a significant proportion of India’s population living in the rural areas-how is the banking sector tailoring products and developing distribution channels for this market segment? Some Indian banks riding on the successes at home have even moved on to go international and set up in the West. Interesting stuff, particularly for me, as someone coming from a developing country (I am Zimbabwean and I worked in the banking sector at home before moving abroad). 

This promises to be an exciting trip from both an academic and cultural perspective. More news when we return in July.

TABD-making history!

We had the golden opportunity to host the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue at esmt. The members were the movers and shapers in the world of healthcare and politics. All the big pharma CEOs, IT industry lords and politicians were to be found in the building. MBA students were simply instructed to stay on our floor and out of sight!

As a follower of global events and an interested party in the HIV/Aids pandemic killing millions aorund the world I felt compelled to do something to remind the vip’s!

Concerned about being jailed I enquired from the college whether I would be breaking college statutes or polizei laws by mounting a picket line at the entrance to the building-just in case I needed to be bailed :-).The good professor advised me to write a letter instead mainly because he could give no guarantees!

Getting supporting signatures was a challenge as some felt  the effect would be negligible. Some viewed participation in anything against the authorities as criminal. I, for one have experience dealing with fear. At some point people will show their true colours. It was surprising that some feared more for the college’s reputation than good ol’ prof did!

At the end of the conference, I was overjoyed when an announcement was made in the US by Bill Clinton that a deal had been secured to allow two Indian pharma companies to produce and distribute cheaper drugs. The commitment had been here made in Berlin prior to the announcement. We had all played a part.

Fly fly away

Yesterday we had to be up in the wee hours of the morning to get on the train to
Hamburg for a corporate visit to EADS. Yes that’s right the home of AIRBUS and the famous A380.It is all indeed larger than life. We first had a presentation of the company strategy and its various businesses then after lunch we had one of the test pilots take us on the tour round the facility for the A320 plane assembly .It was just awesome. Some robots working away here and there;  then some tasks too intricate to leave to robots alone which require human intervention. Being a conservative chartered accountant, I never thought I would find myself considering a high technology career, but this stuff is pretty exciting and I was attracted. After all ,they do say you can be anything you want to be,so why not.

 

 I mean, you see some of this on documentaries on TV but nothing compares to the experience of actually standing in the huge plant and seeing the fuselage(outer interior shell of plan)Did you know the fuselage is only 3mm thick? . It is then that you realise the marvels of modern science. All in all a very exciting day, pity we didn’t get to test drive the A380.

Alphas vs Betas

Imagine for a second you are a trader and the only thing you enjoy in life is precisely that: exchanging items to meet your own agenda. But then, you are sent into a foreign culture, where hugs and questions about your family seem to be the only things other people care about. How would you feel in such a situation? Wouldn’t you just like to ask these people: what’s the purpose of your life? How come you are “wasting your time” caring about other people, when you could become millionaire?

Today we had a very interesting excercise in class, where alphas and betas, two completely different cultures, met each other and tried to decode what the other culture was about. The excercise was not only exciting, but it also taught us something we tend to underestimate about the global world we live in: there are unspoken rules in any culture, and unless we as foreigners manage to decode them, it will be difficult for us to be properly understood as well.