An Indian Immersion

Students pose for a photo near the India Gate, a monument that commemorates Indian war dead. The students spent a week learning about the interplay between business and culture in India.

By Frank Radosevich II
April 4, 2013

This spring break, 10 Bradley undergraduate students spent their week away from campus somewhere warm and sunny—India.

The students visited three cities in the country they had been studying as part of an International Business course on doing business in India. Their trip featured a factory tour in Delhi, an introduction to the quirks of working on the subcontinent and exposure to the splendor of Indian culture and history.

“India is incredibly important in the business world and seeing how it operates is very beneficial,” said international business major Rachael Sanchez. “Being there is entirely different than simply learning about the country. It was a great opportunity.

Sanchez, a junior from San Diego, said the trip opened her eyes to gender biases in the office, economic disparity in society and the everyday lives of a different society. She added that the trip has also sparked her interest in working overseas, especially in India.

“It’s a culture shock for sure,” she said. “But now knowing what it’s like living in India, I have a real sense of what it would be like working there.”

Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Rajesh Iyer, who taught the course and is originally from India, said the class strikes the perfect balance between studying India’s rich history and its present-day business clout. The first half of the course focuses on the country’s ancient civilizations and dynasties before transitioning to India’s modern role as an economic powerhouse.

Iyer said the trip abroad is key for experiencing the perceptions, beliefs and values that influence business in India.

“It’s like learning to swim. You can’t learn it from a book; you have to jump in the pool,” he said. “By traveling to India you become embedded in the culture and students get much more out of the class.”

The students visited cultural sights but also met with local businesses. They spent time at the Parle Products Ltd. biscuit factory and at Balaji Institute of Modern Management, a top-ranked business school in the town of Pune where they spent the day talking with students about Indian culture and businesses. In Mumbai, the group visited the Reliance MediaWorks Ltd., a major film and entertainment services company.

Overall, the visits gave students a deeper understanding of how Indian culture and history influences the pace and character of deal making in India.

“Business has a slower pace in India. Time isn’t valued the same as it is here,” said Jenny Rudnicki, a freshman international business major from Minneapolis. “They like to get to know you first and not just jump right into business.”

Although the nation of one-billion-plus people can be an overwhelming experience at times, Iyer said he was impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and curiosity for their new surroundings. “You get to appreciate India a lot more by foot," he said. "The students represented Bradley very well."