During Spring Break, 14 Bradley undergraduate students discovered the grandeur of the Taj Mahal, extreme wealth and extreme poverty side by side, and the business potential in India. Their trip to Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi was part of Dr. Rajesh Iyer and Jim Foley’s course, “Doing business in Indian culture.”
“We were told that India is a country of contradictions,” said KRISHA KUCHARSKI ’10. “It is just so diverse and so different from any other country that I have visited that people really need to go there to even begin to understand it.”
The two faculty members started developing the idea of a trip to India as part of Project Asia. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Project Asia seeks to examine the developing businesses in Asian cultures and how companies can work together across cultures.
A group of Bradley Executive MBA students went to India as part of a graduate version of the same class in 2008, but the March trip was the first time an undergraduate Study Abroad program traveled to India.
Dr. Iyer, assistant professor of marketing and a native of Mumbai, was impressed with the students’ level of responsibility. “They knew they were representing Bradley and America,” he said.
The idea to go to India came from a meeting Jim Foley had with Caterpillar officials to discuss the progress of Project Asia and its success in China. Foley is the director of the International Trade Center and NAFTA Opportunity Center at Bradley. “With India’s fast-growing role globally, we needed to be well positioned to offer students opportunities to understand the business opportunities India represents, but also the challenges,” said Foley.
“Now that I have been immersed in the Indian culture,” said SARA KOCHAN ’09, “I feel as though I have a better understanding of their values as applied to business and life, and perhaps if they know I have been to their country, they may be more comfortable with me.”
The students visited tourist sights — and even ran into Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (fourth photo at right), who played young Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire — but they also worked with businesses. They spent time at the Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. biscuit factory; and at CGN, a business performance consulting firm based in Peoria. They also had a chance to “run with the Dabbawalas” in Mumbai, a business that picks up food made at home and takes it to businessmen.
The group also visited the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) in Chennai, where they spent the day talking with students about Indian culture and businesses (shown top right).
Dr. Iyer, who speaks four Indian languages and can understand four or five more, returned to India shortly after the trip to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with VIT and the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. The document establishes an ongoing exchange program between Bradley and the two universities.
“Doing business in Indian culture” is the third expedition of its kind from Bradley and the second with Project Asia; Bradley also has offered business classes in Mexican and Chinese cultures.
To read more about the trip to India from a student’s perspective, visit bradley.edu/hilltopics/go/india.