My Travels to India with the Carlson MBA Program

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

At Carlson, we are continuously reminded of the world outside of our classroom. Through Enterprise projects or opportunities to consult for non-profits, we are constantly pushed to think bigger, better and beyond just the theoretical. 

Consequently, Carlson requires all its full-time MBA candidates to include a global business perspective into their studies. For some, this may mean taking a class that is globally focused though it takes place in a classroom.  But for many, this requirement is fulfilled by travel and study outside of the classroom…and outside of the country. 

Carlson’s Global Institute offers several in-house programs for MBA candidates, some specifically for full-time students but others for both the full-time and the part-time programs. This year, we had the opportunity to travel to Oman and the UAE, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Scandinavia, Ireland and my personal selection: India. 

India has always fascinated me with its vibrant colors, wonderful people, and spicy foods. This fascination only grew as I began my MBA and met several new friends who had spent the majority of their lives in India. But beyond my personal fascination, India also plays a role in the global business economy that simply cannot be ignored.  As a relatively large country with a monumental population, India is quickly rising through the ranks of global economic powers. Increasingly, US companies are outsourcing pieces of their business, big and small, to India and you would be hard pressed to find someone who could deny India’s global business significance.  I had to see all this with my own eyes. 

I must admit, I was very nervous leading up to the trip. I had never traveled to any part of Asia before and knew very few people in my predominantly part-time Global Enrichment program. But I was also terribly excited. I made up my mind to do away with expectations and prepared myself to try something…or many things…that were new. 

India certainly didn’t disappoint. We spent our two weeks there in a blur of site visits to companies like Polaris, United Health Group, Ameriprise and Mu Sigma. We spoke with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and NGO leaders working to disrupt the system and make change. And we got to spend time with civil servants, lobbyists and other influential government officials. 

My favorite day on the trip began with a helter-skelter walk through the shipping docks of Delhi’s major train station. Though we saw how cargo moved and how people traveled, our ultimate destination was the Chintan Recycling Center, located right alongside of the tracks of the Delhi train station. Chintan has made a business out of paying fare wages and providing safer working conditions for those individuals working to deal with India’s waste. A non-profit started by an MBA from Yale, Chintan has re-envisioned the waste management system, developing solutions that are good for workers, communities and the environment. 

After that, we proceeded to the home of the Deputy Minister of NGOs’ home for lunch. She was joined by the former Deputy Minister of Child Welfare, the Minister of Labor as well as the head of one of India’s largest philanthropic foundations. It was truly an all-star cast of individuals.  We were incredibly fortunate to have the time to speak candidly about the challenges India faces and the incredible solutions that entrepreneurial thinking Indians are creating. 

Beyond the incredible experiences it provided, traveling to India also allowed me to expand my network and make new friends. It was wonderful to travel with people outside of the full-time program and learn about how their professional experiences translated to what we saw in India.  Though I unquestionably adore my full-time peers, it was a fantastic opportunity to understand the work experiences of people still very much involved in the day-to-day of the professional world. 

Traveling to India was an unforgettable experience made richer by the connections forged with classmates, business leaders and organizations themselves. I feel that through having this experience, I am returning to Carlson a better businessperson and a better global citizen.