Kelley School of Business sending more students to world's emerging markets
Nov. 5, 2007
Students gather for a photo outside government offices in New Delhi
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Tammy Orahood remembers how a week-long trip to India last year reversed the world view for one of her students at Indiana University.
"Prior to going, they were talking a lot about labor issues in class. This one student was talking about cutting costs for the sake of efficiency and she was looking at things through a purely economical, profit-driven lens," recalled Orahood, manager of undergraduate international programs at IU's Kelley School of Business.
"She was a very intelligent student, but she wasn't considering how a management decision made thousands of miles away had a significant impact on people elsewhere. She was only thinking about workers as assets."
Then the class traveled to India, where students witnessed poverty openly on streets. They visited manufacturing facilities and compared them to a factory they saw in Bloomington.
"Through the course of the trip and, seeing how people live and work in India, she came to realize that these workers were the lucky ones," Orahood said. "These people had jobs and, in some instances, had housing. They had seen people living on the streets, literally sleeping, literally bathing and cooking amidst garbage and cows.
"That student came up to me later and said, 'I had never imagined that someone could live in those conditions and be grateful.'"
These are the kinds of global experiences that Kelley School faculty and administrators hope will shape their students, who will graduate into an ever increasingly global business environment.
More than a third of all undergraduate students in the Kelley School will have traveled abroad by the time they complete their studies, including an increasing number of them who travel to emerging economic markets. The school has about 4,000 undergraduates.
"Today, many students travel abroad to developed countries," said Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "The idea is to expose students to rapidly growing markets that are really shaping the future of global business.
"The mission of the Kelley School is to profoundly transform the lives of our students. Life transformation often requires first hand experiences that are dramatically different from students' day-to-day lives. We want students to not just read about emerging market countries. We want them to go and experience them," Smith added.
Many more students will have that opportunity -- and at a younger age -- thanks to a generous $400,000 gift from IU alumnus Ed Hutton, a prominent philanthropist and businessman in Cincinnati. In 2003, Hutton gave $9 million to IU to establish an endowment for a university-wide International Experiences Program.
"It's one thing to read names in a geography book and it's another thing to be there," noted Hutton, a Bedford native, adding that it's especially important that today's young people, including many from small towns, understand the world around them.
Dean Smith's next goal is for half of his students to have significant international experience, through brief educational trips, semesters abroad and ultimately internships at more foreign firms.
Many of America's top business schools, including Kelley, already provide M.B.A. students with this kind of global access. On Friday (Nov. 9), M.A. Venkataramanan, chair of Kelley's undergraduate program and a native of Chennai, India, will lead a group of 50 honors students on a nine-day tour as part of the school's "Emerging Market Experience."
Students will travel to New Delhi and Chennai. They will meet with India's finance minister and other government officials, tour business process outsourcing companies (BPOs) and factories, see the concept of micro-finance in action and visit cultural sites. Sixty students traveled there last year in a similar effort.
Marc Uible, who traveled last year to India, now hopes to study in Shanghai, China. "After traveling on an academic trip to New Delhi, I have really been waiting in excited anticipation to get back to the Eastern part of the world," Uible said.
Students make new friends outside the Taj Mahal
Next semester, about 80 students will receive scholarships in order to enroll in another emerging markets course and will travel to Brazil, Croatia, China and Ghana.
In each destination, Kelley is leveraging ties to people and institutions. IU's Hudson & Holland Scholars Program has taken IU students to Ghana. Kelley was instrumental in establishing the M.B.A. program at Zagreb International Graduate Business School in Croatia. IU faculty members have been visiting scholars at universities there and in Brazil and China.
The business school's M.B.A. and undergraduate programs already have established exchange programs with Fundação Getúlio Vargas, home to Brazil's oldest business degree program.
Alumni also have played an important role. A member of India's parliament is helping students to meet with members of his country's cabinet.
"These are not necessarily new connections," Smith said. "We've been developing these relationships for years in different pockets. This is really just extending them.
"Our long-term vision to develop business relationships with companies, such that the next step would be for students to not just visit there; they would work there," he added. "They'd go into internship programs -- for example in India and China - so they can really experience business practices on the ground in these emerging markets."
Many think of trade when the subject of globalization is discussed, but jobs at all levels are involved, including those in professional fields such as accounting, consulting and operations management.
"These business students need to recognize this, because they're going to have to add value at the type of business that they do," Orahood said. "They can't just prepare tax returns or a PowerPoint presentation, because that can be done cheaper elsewhere. They have to bring something else to the table. They have to find another way to do business ahead of these very competitive, very hungry people in countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Ghana."
Companies currently recruiting at the Kelley School have told faculty members that they highly value students' international experience. Many U.S. employers want people with global experience who can work in operations abroad. Others simply want people who have a better understanding of the world around them.
"If a student has spent six to eight weeks in one of these countries, they really bring something special to their employer when they are hired," Smith said. "It will help them grow up fast. You take a 20-year-old over there and they're going to change very quickly.
"We think that they'll bring an added depth of maturity and worldliness to an employer, no matter where it is."
That's true, said Scott Raichilson, another Kelley student who traveled to India a year ago.
"One of the greatest lessons I learned was to remain calm even under potentially serious situations," Raichilson said. "I also learned, especially from my travels to New Dehli, to keep an open mind and accept the local customs. The combination of remaining calm and keeping an open mind often leads to a more hospitable experience."