Study Trip to India 2016

India counts as one of the most promising emerging markets for the future. The study trip to Mumbai, Bangalore, and Mysore offered students the opportunity to learn about doing business (in Tier l, Tier ll and Tier lll cities) on this fascinating market both from an Indian and foreign perspective. They obtained insights into the strategies and practices of established players on the Indian markets and also learned about local start-ups. Moreover, the trip offered “deep dives” into the infrastructure, manufacturing and services sectors of the economy. 

The trip was offered in cooperation with Swiss Learning Exchange (SLX). Please find enclosed information on the course/ study trip "Doing Business in India".  

We had an information meeting on the course/ study trip on 25 February 2016 for all students interested in the course. 

On April 22, the study trip participants actively participated in the  discussions on   "India - the new Eldorado" - an event organized by Swiss Learning Exchange.

On May 25, we had a talk by Solomon Prakash, Social Entrepreneur, ex-Country Director, India, Ashoka Foundation - an event with Swiss Learning Exchange ( 17.00 – 19.00 Uhr, Room B205). 

Below the students share their study trip impressions. See also the postings of Swiss Learning Exchange, for instance:

Travel Blog 

University of Fribourg gets a warm welcome in India 

Day 1: July 4 - Mumbai

The first day in India began with a warm welcoming ceremony held in Mumbai by the students and administration of the H.R. College of Commerce & Economics, a top college in commerce of the University of Mumbai. 

Inspiring insights into Indian culture and traditions were provided by Ms. Shamira Abdulla, Senior Lecturer at H.R. College and Mr. Satyadeep Rajan, Founder and President of SLX Switzerland. We also met the principal of the H.R. College Dr. Indu Shahani. 

Mr. Akhil Shahani presented  interesting aspects of the national economy and Indian competitive advantages.

We learned about the Tata growth story from Ms. Kashmira Mewawala, Head of Business development and Chief Ethics Counselor at Tata Capital Financial Services Limited. The advantages of cooperating with NGOs in India were highlighted  by Ms Saloni Suri, consultant at the Asia Society India Centre.

First sightseeing included the Bombay Stock Exchange, Gateway of India, the icon of the city, and the fabulous Taj Mahal hotel. The day ended in a cozy restaurant with delicious and spicy Indian food. 

We are looking forward to continue our discovery of this very dynamic and cosmopolitan city tomorrow.

Anouk & Tatiana 

Day 2: July 5 - Mumbai 

Today, what a good day!

Our second day in Mumbai started with a visit to the ISDI international school of design and innovation. 

We first got introduced to the concept of innovation by no other than the executive director of the school. The lecture went on with insights into Indian consumers. It was interesting to get an overview on both sides of India: the rich and the poorest ones.

Have you ever tried to dance to the sound of Bollywood music? We did it! Thanks to the choreographies of Irfan Hamid we learned how to move like real Indian movie stars. 

After a pleasant Indian lunch, we had the chance to meet Ranjit Shahani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Novartis India. He gave us interesting insights into the pharma industry as well as into trends in the field. Our visit to Novartis continued with two other presentations on social business and intellectual property rights. 

The sky was getting darker, but that didn't stop us from meeting two other successful businessmen: Michael Ederle, Director of Swiss Business Hub India, and  Khurshed M. Thanawalla, President of Oerlikon in India. After learning about the Swiss Indian trade relationship from them, we all enjoyed a delicious Indian meal. 

How many inputs on just one day in Mumbai, we wish you a good night from the traffic jams of the city which never sleeps! 

Alessandra & Ilaria 

Day 3: July 6 - Mumbai 

After the checkout from the Orchid Hotel, in the Monsoon rain, we headed towards the National Stock exchange for our morning session. Since the Indian stock market is a very advanced and highly liquid market, we looked forward to learning a bit more about the financial system in India. A few facts particularly gained our attention. For instance, there is high transparency, rules are relatively straight-forward, and misbehavior by any actor involved in stock trading faces severe punishment

We then enjoyed the warm hospitality of Sika India Limited. Following a short lunch break, we had the opportunity to learn a bit more about Sika in India. 

The CEO and further senior managers shared their experience and their expertise with us. Arijit Basu (CEO of Sika India) highlighted the impact of the demography on business operations. He also brought forward core challenges in the construction chemicals business, such as non-uniform taxation, the vast geography, and regional diversity. 

But the day was not over yet. We took a flight from Mumbai to Bangalore to continue our stunning study trip, learning more about ‘’Doing business in India’’.

Jennifer & Guillaume 

Day 4: July 7 - Bangalore 

After a late arrival in Bangalore, India’s capital for technology, and after a brisk night sleep, we are off again to see our next hosts, the Azim Premji Foundation and Wipro.

Mr. Laksshmi Narayana, the Chief Endowment Officer of the Azim Premji Foundation talked to us about philanthropy in India and about the areas of focus of the Azim Premji Foundation, like, for instance, the eradication of malnutrition or the improvement of education in rural areas. Furthermore, Mr. S. Giridhar provided us with many examples on the difficulties when it comes to measuring the input, output, outcome, and impact of social work. 

We then moved on to Wipro, one of the top IT companies worldwide. After a delicious lunch, we had a talk with top-representatives of the HR department of Wipro. We obtained a deep understanding of what their core business is, of their strategies for the future, and we learned about their HR practices.

In the evening we had a couple of cocktails and enjoyed dinner with Swiss interns in Bangalore.

Alina & Maria Iuliana 

Day 5: July 8 - Bangalore 

We started the day with the bus ride to Swissnex India that hosted us for the day. Swissnex India connects Switzerland and India in the fields of science, education, art and innovation. Here, we had the ability to get into a conversation with two very inspiring speakers. 

 Mr. Ravi Sreedharan, who worked in the corporate world for 23 years and later on served in the leadership team of the Azim Premji Foundation, presented us the new Indian School of Development Management (ISDM). The goal is to create a world class school for management in the field of development. Ravi provided us with a few very strong messages. Among others, he believes that if people do not laugh at your idea at the beginning, your idea is not big enough. 

We then had a talk by Mr. Umesh Malhotra. He began his career at Infosys, but then started Hippocampus, a highly successful pre-school program to promote reading among children. Why pre-school? Umesh himself could go to a pre-school which gave him later the possibility to go to university and therefore get a good job. He wanted to give the same chance to all future generations. 

In the afternoon it was the first time for us students to really get into action. With the support of Mr. Sarath Satyanarayana, a Start-up enthusiast, we developed four ideas to build a start-up. The two important messages he conveyed to us are, first, that you really have to believe in your idea and that you need to do everything to achieve it. But anybody who does a start-up has to be ready to face failure. Second, start-up failure mostly occurs because the team does not stick together. You need to choose your team mates carefully at the right time. 

Tharany & Lara 

Day 6 & 7: July 9 & 10 - Weekend in Bangalore 

A few impressions... 

Day 8: July 11 - A Glimpse of Rural India and Mysore 

The second week of our incredible journey started with a bus trip to our last destination: Mysore! 

Before getting there, we stopped in two villages and visited the pre-schools of Hippocampus (we had talked to the founder of the Hippocampus pre-schools the week before). We met the children and participate in their playful English and math classes. The smile on their faces was priceless, and the passion of teaching that the teachers had was simply amazing.

After leaving the second pre-school, we headed towards the MYRA School of Business in Mysore, where we received a warm welcome by Dr. Shalini Urs, the founder and chairperson of the MYRA School of Business. We then enjoyed excellent Indian food for lunch. 

In the afternoon we visited the Infosys training center, which can train about 14000 employees at the same time and is the largest corporate training facility worldwide. We had the chance to meet Mr. Shaji Mathew, head of Infosys Mysore Center, who gave us insights into the training on the campus. After an interesting discussion, we visited the massive campus itself, where only the best students have a chance to get in. Besides the infrastructure for education, the campus also offers residences, cinemas, numerous sport facilities, food courts, and lots more! 

The day was concluded with a cultural evening of dance and music "Yadukala" by Vid. Dr. Nandakumar and team at the MYRA school of business.


Tijana & Severin 

Day 9: July 12 - Mysore 

In the morning, we returned to the MYRA School of Business.

In the first sessions, Michael Shepherd, Professor from the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University in Canada, visiting at the MYRA School of Business, held a lecture about his personal experience on the topic of “Understanding India for Team Management”, highlighting cross-cultural aspects.

The second session “SME and Entrepreneurship in India” was held by Dr. Sudhender Rao, Professor of Information Systems & Dean. He presented the structure and environment of the SME market in India. Indian SME’s are increasingly competitive as they embrace global best practices while developing their own unique methods. SMEs have developed expertise in specific industries across different states and regions of India.

After lunch, we visited the company Raman Boards in Nanjangud, which is part of ABB India Ltd. Mr. B. S. Balaji, Head of Marketing, provided a broad overview over ABB’s global and local activities in India in general and the activities of Raman Boards in particular. ABB in India has more than 9’000 employees and generates a turnover of USD 1.3 Billions. Raman Boards was acquired by ABB in 2007 and currently reaches a turnover of USD 20 Mio. Raman Boards is a leader in transformer insulation technology. We also had the chance to visit the production units. Most of the production process is highly automated. 

Samuel & Anita 

Day 10: July 13 - Mysore 

Today we woke up at 3:30 am: Ashish organized a trip to the Bandipur National Park, a 874 – sq. – km forest reserve situated two-hours bus travelling time from our hotel in Mysore. 

As you can imagine everyone was sleepy, but the effort was worth it: during the safari we saw a lot of spotted deers, monkeys, peacocks, bisons, turtles, and some of us even spotted a wild elephant running away in the middle of the forest. It was great being surrounded by the green and beautiful environment. Thank you Ashish for this breath-taking experience! 

After another two hours bus ride, we came back to the routine of the past week. Today’s guest speaker was Dr. Sudhindra Seshadri, Professor of Marketing at MYRA School of Business, who told us about his life and the power of the Indian market. Showing the present and the future situation of India’s economy he motivated us to see the big business potential in the so-called Bottom of the Pyramid, in a “Doing Well By Doing Good” way by enhancing the growth of the company and, at the same time, valuing aspects of social responsibility and improving the life of the ones most in need for it. At the end he inspired us to link our work career to social and environmental sectors. 

We then went back to Bangalore. On the bus each group started to work on their business plans, model students!

Filippo & Benji 

Day 11: July 14 - Bangalore 

After a well-deserved 8-hour sleep, we were full of enthusiasm to learn more about the start-up scene in Bangalore. The first stop was Ather Energy which is creating India’s first smart electric scooter. Mr. Ravneet Singh took us through the journey and the strategy of Ather Energy, which helped us understand the values of the company. We were truly fascinated by the energy of this place since we felt that every single employee put all his passion and efforts into the project. As we learned a 16- hour work day is the norm rather than the exception.

After Peri Peri Chicken at a typical Indian-Western fusion restaurant, we were heading to Jaaga Start-up which is India’s oldest co-working community with a focus on solving real world problems and hence, serves as an important incubator. According to Jaaga, learning from each other is key for success in the start-up scene. 

InnAccel, a medical technology innovation platform, was our last stop for the day. We learned about the innovation and development of medical devices specifically designed for the emerging market environment. We even got the chance to talk to several entrepreneurs creating their start-ups at the moment, which gave us important insights into the life of an Indian start-up entrepreneur. 


Bangalore with its unique vibe can totally live up to other major start-up cities around the globe. 

Simon & Yannik 

Day 12: July 15 - Bangalore 

On our last day of our trip we returned to Swissnex in Bangalore.

In the morning we had two hours to finalize the last details of our business ideas, which we had started discussing the week before, and then presented them to start up experts mainly from Swissnex, Satyadeep Rajan of SLX and Marie-Ann Betschinger. Our business ideas covered transportation, waste management, sports and healthcare issues. The presentations were followed by a discussion and every group had the opportunity to get a feedback on how to improve their idea and what were the biggest challenges for the idea to be successful. Mr. Prateek Khare, Head of innovation and Enterpreneurship in Swissnex, seemed to have really liked our ideas. 



After that, lunch was provided by an Indian startup in the Swissnex garden.

For the last two hours Marie-Ann Betschinger and Satyadeep Rajan led a discussion on our study trip experiences in the context of the learning objectives of the study trip. It was an interactive discussion about the culture, business environment, growth strategies and the startup environment in India. When asked about our main key takeaway from the trip, the majority of us highlighted Indian hospitality, the "warmth" of the people and their high aspirations. 

On this note the study trip came to an end with most of us students returning home and some of us spending a few more days in India! 

Alkis & Siril