As a part of their global learning experience, students from The Jon Huntsman School of Business, Utah University, USA, visited India. Prachi Rege catches up with Dustin Ellsworth, one of the students, to learn more about his encounter with the Indian corporate world
1. Why did you choose India as part of your global learning experience?
I have worked in the sciences for several years with students from India. These students have treated me extremely well and were always excited to talk about their homeland. Their excitement coupled with my humanitarian and medical industry desires were strong factors, which led me to choose India over other countries like China and Japan. Not to mention my bucket list items to ride an elephant and see monkeys in the wild.
2. What did you learn through your interaction with personnels from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Aditya Birla Group and Capgemini?
Thanks to the US media, it is easy to get caught up in stereotypes about Indians being good at only IT and sciences. However, in my visit, I was able to see a diverse group of industrious people with incredible vision, who are striving to break through the bureaucracy and corruption that has plagued the country in the past, and which still plays a significant barrier in the present. Their presentations taught us that leaders of these organisations aren`t blinded towards barriers to growth, but are working to overcome these through extremely optimistic and contagious vision revolving around human capital and how to use it productively.
One powerful interaction was with Aruna Jayanthi, Capgemini`s CEO who was level five leader in my eyes. She taught me the importance of being knowledgeable in a range of business activities, because this business knowledge helps one become a more powerful and motivating manager/ leader.
She also accentuated the importance of leading by example and being involved with workers, to allow a beneficial culture to permeate throughout an organisation. Jayanthi`s philosophy, which I completely agree with, is to have an absolute commitment to customers and place them first, if this is done correctly you will be successful and avoid legal and business fiascos like the Satyam scandal.
Another impressive encounter was with the Birla empire. I liked their roots with Mahatma Gandhi and their endeavor to continue his vision of creating wealth and then giving it back to the people. Indians are a collectivist society, which is very admirable and it is apparent in the Companies Act of 2013 and the corporate social responsibilities highlighted therein.
3. How will these interactions help you in your career?
It will help me both in the local and global humanitarian ventures I will be involved with in future. As an American we think we have the solutions to problems when in fact we don`t know the proper solution at first glance, and this is due to differing cultural contexts and other underlying factors. This trip taught me the need to understand social issues from a different viewpoint, which will be beneficial throughout my lifetime. I want to be involved in economic decisions in the future and India has taught me that although the causes of impoverishment and lack of equality can be easily discovered the solution takes vision and having the right leaders in the right place at the right time. I want to be a business leader who doesn`t become trapped by bias or narrowness of thinking.
4. Are there any similarities in the management mantras of the two countries?
I was shocked by the many similarities in the successful management practices that are being followed in the two countries. For instance, several of the executives we met with talked about the importance of having flatter organisations and also of transitioning employee incentives along the lines of Maslow`s hierarchy of needs. In essence, once basic needs are met employees need to be empowered and given ways to move up the ladder.
Indians however, do not question their leaders and the way things are done, which is more prevalent in the US. New CSR mantras following Porter and Kramer methodologies seemed to be more of a focus in India than the US, which I enjoyed learning about. I saw the movement towards customers being at the ear of an organisation. Many companies here stress their value statements.
5. What are the benefits of studying in a foreign country. And for being a manager...
Just as the variety of spices work together to make Indian food delicious, a diverse education experience allows for an enjoyable and applicable learning experience. Going abroad also makes the world smaller. It helps highlight the human element that humans are pretty similar despite cultural and socio-economic differences. The desires of people everywhere are pretty similar, yet each culture takes a unique spin on these attributes and allows for rich experiences. The future business leaders in India, America and even the world will need to understand different cultures, motivating factors, and life aspirations linked to geographical readings that are essential in managing and more importantly empowering workers.