We, 20 master students from the Management Department at the University of Fribourg, spent our summer holidays in a very unique way this year. In co-operation with Swiss Learning Exchange, we visited the three Indian cities Mumbai, Bangalore, and Mysore. During two intense weeks we learned about the Indian culture and the best practices of doing business in this growing emerging market.
So there we were, 20 master students in Management from the University of Fribourg, ready and excited to start our once-in-a-lifetime experience in India, the second largest country in the world in terms of population. We had a two weeks journey ahead of us, with the main purpose of getting precious insights into the business opportunities and the challenges that this country offers, without leaving out its peculiar cultural characteristics and traditions.
The first stop of this extraordinary adventure was nowhere less than Mumbai, also known as «Bombay», «the financial capital of India» and «gateway to India», or, as we like to call it, «the city that never sleeps». Three days of full immersion into one of the most vibrant and populous cities in India gave us the chance to taste Indian business dynamics and meet outstanding local and Swiss people who are active in that area.
The Indian market is growing
Starting with a warm traditional Indian welcome in the notable H.R. College of Commerce & Economics, we not only had the chance to meet Indian students, but also important people in the Indian business circles, like Dr. Indu Shahani or Mr. Akhil Shani, currently managing director at The Shahani Group, and Ms. Kashmira Mewawala, Head of Business development and Chief Ethics Counselor at Tata Capital Financial Services Limited, a world renown company. The two main aspects we took away from that day were the significant growth of the Indian market, and the importance of corporate culture values and social responsibility within Indian companies. Interesting and innovative insights were also presented to us by the ISDI International School of Design and Innovation, where the importance of innovation in the country was pointed out, as well as the unique vision of Indian customers, covering the whole range from the richest to the poorest ones.
Of course, we could not leave the financial capital of India without visiting the National Stock Exchange! Here we learned, among other things, about the Indian trading culture – starting with cotton, hundreds of years ago, and the transparency dominating the Indian trading market nowadays.
Switzerland in India
From a Swiss and corporate perspective, we had the chance to visit two of the most important players worldwide in different industries: Sika and Novartis. Both Mr. Arijit Basu, CEO of Sika India and Mr. Ranjit Shahani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Novartis India, shared precious information and insights with us, highlighting the demographics’ impact on the local business, the trends of the two industries and the challenges which come along. Sika India was a special stop during our trip: Without the support of Sika, the University of Fribourg could not have offered this trip to India to us as its students.
Being Swiss students, we could not have missed the Swiss Business Hub India! Its director, Mr. Michael Ederle, presented us the «Make in India» plan and «100 smart cities» innitiative, which aims to further develop India and thus attract foreign investors.
To sum up, Mumbai was a great mixture of several perspectives coming from different sides, which was exactly what we needed as a first plunge into this adventure. Interestingly, there was one thing that was being told to us from the beginning of the trip, which is «India grows on you». Well, already after three days we could definitely say they were right; India does grow on you.__________
- Unifr Students in India – next week: The kingdom of the Wodeyar dynasty