MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: This April, Ivey Business School student Alexandra Schneidman landed in India for a lowdown on the working of large Indian conglomerates and customer dynamics in Asia’s third-largest economy.
While Schneidman completed her internship at one of the businesses of Ernakulamheadquartered Muthoot Group last month, David Chen, a student of MIT Sloan’s management programme, is close to wrapping up his India project on renewable energy, which he has taken up with the Green Initiatives team at Infosys.
Schneidman and Chen represent a growing tribe of foreign scholars of top institutes such as Wharton School of Business, Insead, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan and Ivey Business School who see India as an entrepreneurial destination and want to understand the dynamics of large local businesses, some of which are familyrun.
“The internship project gave me a broader view of how companies operate in India, which is one of the crucial emerging markets,” said Schneidman, who is part of a batch of 40 students from Ivey’s international business class that has interned at the various businesses of the Muthoot Group.
Schneidman, who’s received her first lessons in gold loans, added, “We are used to a more standardised working environment in the West, but learning from India, where things are more volatile, will help me in my future managerial roles.”
Jinyuan Cai, another Ivey scholar, had interned in this part of the country for a better understanding of how emerging markets develop and what it takes to succeed in these economies. This is the first time Ivey Business School, Canada, has sent its international business programme students for internship to India.
The institute is keen on partnering with more Indian companies for similar programmes. “India is a market of great curiosity to people outside of India. It is important for our students to have the experience of living and working in this key emerging market,” said Darren Meister, director of Ivey’s MSc programme.
“From an educational perspective it is a memorable experience.” Chen from MIT Sloan said, “India is a fairly complex market and I wanted to understand the dynamics and the association between government and businesses here, and how Indian companies are run.”
Megan Milazzo, an MBA student at Kellogg School of Management, picked up her internship project with a social enterprise start-up, Project Dharma. Milazzo, who plans to work in brand management, sees India as the next source of growth for several brands, and feels a first-hand exposure to rural consumers and a developing market is necessary for an understanding of the challenges and opportunities.
The Kellogg School of Business offers fellowships to a select group of students through the Center of Research Innovation in Technology. The fellowships are located in Africa and India.
MIT Sloan has two-semester programmes that have students working with and at Indian companies and start-ups. These programmes include MIT Sloan India Lab, MIT Sloan GlobalHealth Lab and MIT Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory.
“India’s dynamic growth in a relative short time period and continued interest in supporting and developing its entrepreneurs, makes it very interesting to the students at Sloan who share a passion for creating new technologies and new businesses,” said Michellana Jester, director of Action Learning Program at MIT Sloan School of Management.
At Wharton School of Business, typically 1-2% of the students in a class take up Indiabased assignments either for the summer or at graduation, with an aim to know the market and network.
“Anecdotally, we have more students visit during their time in the MBA programme with an eye to working there at some point post-graduation. Many of our MBAs look to work in India in the PE and Technology spaces,” a spokesperson for the institute said, adding that students have visited companies in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore and have been primarily centered in the PE /VC space.
Brian C Kenny, chief marketing and communications officer at Harvard Business School, said, “In order to be effective, our students have to be as comfortable in Mumbai as they are in Mexico or Manhattan. The only way to inculcate that is by sending them to places where they are pushed out of their comfort zone.” It’s a win-win formula for Indian companies too, as it presents them an opportunity to get fresh global perspectives on projects and plans.
“The quality of study they have done throws open a new perspective on how we look at our business. Even if the association is for a brief while, it’s a great value add,” said George Muthoot George, Executive Director at the Muthoot Group. The group has played host to interns from Columbia University, Brown University and Tuck School of Business, among others.
“It provides a great opportunity to showcase what we have here so that foreigners do not have a closed mind for India. One day these students will be global business leaders and keep India on their investment horizon and continue interaction with Indian companies and entrepreneurs here,” George added.
IT major Infosys has a global internship programme called InStep for undergraduate, graduate and PhD students from leading academic institutions that attracts talent to intern with the company, to learn about both India and Infosys. “Through the programme, we are able to get the best minds from global schools to work on internal projects,” said V Ganapathy Subramanian, head of strategy and planning at Infosys.
This kind of association also enables employer branding among some of the best business schools around the globe. Some of the interning students also later come on board as full-time hires.
“There is also possibility of full-time hiring where there is a good fit between the intern’s career aspirations and the positions available in the respective geographies,” said Subramanian. Some of the overseas B-schools from where Infosys gets its internship applications include Kellogg, Chicago Booth, Wharton, MIT Sloan, London Business School and Cambridge Judge.