As a second phase of the inaugural Stanford Graduate School of Management (GSB) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM-Bangalore) Link (SAIL) exchange program, 16 students of IIM visited Stanford last week on a seven-day trip. Mukesh Ambani, a GSB Alumni sponsored the visit of the IIM Students.
On the academic front, the students attended classes, talks by industry leaders and presented a joint research project on subjects spanning energy, wind power, day care, health care, and health insurance, Biocon and others on India and the global economy.
Socially, the students mingled with their counterparts at Stanford and others to learn about the culture and its people, a vital experience for students ready to enter a globalized work place. V Srinivasan, Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, who helped design the program for Stanford students, said; " I understand firsthand how the two cultures have vastly different styles of communicating, which unless addressed can lead to serious misunderstandings in the business world.
"Indian executives will rarely come right out and say that they will not do something. Face saving is a very big thing in India," he said. "This is not always a good thing in business, but it can be. It can lead to ways to look for a third way, a compromise."
One of the best things about the SAIL exchange, Srinivasan said, is that GSB students gain not just insight into these cultural differences, but also some good friends in India who they can now call to keep the dialogue going by just picking up the phone.
As part of the exchange, students form teams with two members from each school to collaborate on a project during fall quarter. Work began on the IIMB campus and continues long distance during fall quarter.
On Friday December 9, the students attended a humorous and thought provoking lecture by Steve Wozniak. He said, "Business ethics are not the same as personal ethics, though in my life I have tried to make them the same but that's also the reason why I don't try to run an organization. I have also learnt in business that one should try to get along with people and be nice to them."
Abhishek Dubey, one of the IIM students said: "the main highlight of the exchange program is meeting a variety of people." Chiming on the same note, Andrew Cantor, one of the GSB students opined, "The breath of experiences during my stay in Bangalore was great." The sense of optimism and dynamism in the business milieu in India attracts him to the place and he wants to go and work there." IIM students were impressed with the functional and wide spread Alumni network at Stanford and wished such a body could be replicated at IIMs also.
Abhishek, Andrew, with Ajith and Clay had collaborated to present the study on Day Care Opportunities in Bangalore. Their plan on roping in Malaika Arora Khan and her son as brand ambassadors incited great applause from their classmates. Their findings on need, opportunity and potential of quality day care centers near the software parks for double income couples with kids seemed like a great business venture. They also deduced that a fee between Rs 6000 to 8000 would attract many couples that currently use neighborhood crèches or depend on family elders to take care of their children.
In a casual classroom, milieu students presented the findings of their joint studies on topics commencing with possible knowledge collaborations between philanthropic organisations around the world to mortgage securitization in the Indian market and alternative energy sources in India, health insurance scenario and potential in India and other subjects.
Some of the key differentiators between the IIM student presenters and the Stanford student presenters revolved around their body language, subject expertise and their presentation skills. While the IIM Students scored over their American counterparts in subject matter expertise, the students from Stanford aced their IIM counterparts in presentation confidence. They generously used humor in their talks and projected extreme presentation savoir-faire.
The Stanford and IIM (B) Link (SAIL) exchange program in its 1st year includes a one-week visit by second-year MBA students of the Stanford Graduate school of Business to the IIM (B) campus in September, and a reciprocal visit by IIM (B) students to the Graduate School of Business at Stanford.
Sixteen students from each side are paired up as buddies to start their relationship by communicating over email and collaborating on academic research projects. Visits are organized along three core aspects- academics, business, and social activities to provide cross-cultural learning opportunities for the exchange partners.