MBA students expand global business acumen while exploring India

February 06, 2023

MBA students stand in front of the Taj Mahal in India.

It was the opportunity to explore the world’s fastest-growing economy in person that inspired Tyler Park, MBA ’23, to join Quinnipiac’s recent MBA in India global learning cohort of students.

“I chose to go to India because for me it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Park. “The India business environment is drastically different from the western world.”

During winter break, 10 students from the university’s MBA program spent 12 days exploring India and studying how economic, social and political issues affect international markets. 

“We visited a start-up company called Fable Fintech, which provides end-to-end border payment solutions for financial institutions,” said Park. “The company has a very energetic CEO who emphasized that to create a good product or service, a company needs to have the people and the idea before the technology side of things. He was so full of energy that after his presentation, I wanted to work for him!"

Led by Professor Mohammad Elahee and Director of International Student Services Sarah Driscoll, the group visited business houses and locations throughout Delhi, Mumbai and Agra, studying the rich traditions and vibrant culture of Indian history and daily life.  

“Our business relationship in the future will grow more with non-European nations, and particularly with countries in South and East Asia and Africa,” said Elahee, who has spearheaded more than 20 student global learning trips during his career. “India recently overtook China as the largest population in the world. And while China has evolved to become the manufacturing hub of the world, India has emerged as our global IT service capital. Indian businesses are experimenting with many innovative approaches to fight climate change. We can learn new techniques for ensuring sustainable development from India.”

With its robust economy, India has attracted tens of thousands of new businesses and has evolved as a strategic partner to the U.S., economically, politically, diplomatically and to some extent, militarily. According to Elahee, there is also a growing percentage of U.S. Fortune 500 companies led by Indian CEOs, especially in the big tech sector such as Google, Microsoft and IBM. By April 2023, India will become the most populous country in the world.

“With a large population and growing economy, it is very important that our MBA students learn about India, its industries and culture, as they will undoubtedly encounter Indian businesses and people in their future careers no matter what industry they pursue,” said Driscoll. “By seeing India first-hand, visiting a variety of businesses, and immersing themselves in the culture during our visit, our students had an invaluable experience that will help them to be more globally minded, in business and beyond."

Visit highlights for the group included sampling the local cuisine, shopping in markets and touring famous cultural heritage sites like the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar and the Red Fort. Their time in India also included meeting with representatives from a variety of companies as well as faculty and students from university partner Jindal Global University. While traveling, the group also navigated a 17-hour flight, jet lag and the chaotic city traffic.

“The minor challenges were all part of the experience. The group was really great at going with the flow and adapting. I was pleasantly surprised by their curiosity, open-mindedness, flexibility and willingness to try new things,” said Driscoll. “I am proud of this group of students for stepping outside of their comfort zones in India.”

The group also visited with representatives from key industries and examined the regulatory reforms and environment that continue to open India’s global economy. The trip included exposure to life in the country’s major cities as well as rural villages so that students could experience the various intersections of economy and society.

MBA students studying in India pose for a photo.

“One of the aspects that impacted me the most is witnessing the pride that Indian citizens have in their country and culture, as well as their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Driscoll. “One of the trip highlights was the Mumbai ‘at-dawn tour’ where we visited a newspaper distribution site and various markets for fish, flowers, fruit and vegetables, all between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. It was such an interesting window into the local culture and incredible to see that the city was bustling well before we would have typically woken up. I think everyone gained so much perspective and knowledge from this experience, and they were all grateful to have taken part in this trip.”

It's a sentiment echoed by Julia Stracquadanio, MBA ’23, who says she will miss the group dynamic and closeness the QU cohort shared while traveling together throughout the country. Among her favorite moments is the farewell dinner in Mumbai on the last night of the trip. While the program was personally enriching, she also credits Quinnipiac for helping her gain an employable edge by requiring an international experience as a part of the MBA curriculum.

“I think it’s very important to be exposed to new cultures so that you can build an appreciation for learning how different societies conduct business,” said Stracquadanio. “For example, we learned that gift-giving is very important in India and that it’s not a part of workplace culture to debate how things are done. It can be seen as questioning authority, not innovating. They may be subtle differences, but it’s a sign of respect to learn how decisions are made and when it is appropriate to assert your opinion, especially in cultures where these views are innate and deeply rooted.”

For Grace Aversano ’22, MBA ’23, touring one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, in person was an experience of a lifetime. But it was the people that made the trip remarkable and rewarding in surprising ways.

“I feel I was the most impacted by the kindness each person we encountered in India showed us. From the restaurant workers, hotel employees, students, and professors at Jindal Global University, to any person we encountered on the street, kindness was always exuded,” said Aversano. “I am so grateful for the genuineness of the people we met during our time in India and feel it was these people who made our trip so special and memorable.”  

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