Cox Leadership May2011

In May 2011 five groups of students traveled to Europe (Frankfurt, Bratislava and London), Asia (Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai), Southeast Asia (Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai), India (Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai) and Latin America (Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo) with the Global Leadership Program at the Cox School of Business.

Rio de Janeiro

An update from Muzamil, MBA ’12 in Entrepreneurship, who traveled to Latin America with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

What a place. From the moment we landed and saw the scenery, I could tell we were in for something special. The city was alive, people were moving, and it was a much more lively pace than Sao Paulo.

We got into the hotel, and as tired as we were, we had to check out the city. A group of us walked along the beach and found a bar and had a decent, not-so-expensive meal. It was incredibly satisfying! We also met a few locals who showed us some places to go to. We took a walk along the coast. The smell of the ocean breeze was incredibly refreshing. Finished the night off by drinking straight from a coconut out of a straw!

Last day in Rio

What an incredible time in Rio. Today, a few friends and I walked probably 5 or 6 miles. Hotel – Market – Hotel – Copa Cabana – Hotel. The market was incredible, reminded me of the markets in Vienna and Dubai. Prices were reasonable, nothing like Sao Paulo, but not dirt cheap by any means.

Took some really incredible pictures and can’t wait to share them with the class! The beach here is quite amazing, and the waves are unbelievably powerful. Stay close to the shoreline … that’s all I have to say!

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Tango in Argentina

An update from Muzamil, MBA ’12 in Entrepreneurship, who traveled to Latin America with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

Song and I decided to go off the beaten path and eat some Korean Sushi and see a Tango show. The Korean sushi was incredible; for about $20 we ate an insane amount of food – sushi, chicken satay, miso soup, dumplings, tempura and more. This incredible meal was followed by my most memorable experience in my entire Latin America trip – seeing a tango show in the tango capital of the world.

I can’t say that I was expecting what I saw in the show. We went into a small basement in a cafe, tables for about 20 to 30 people. There was live music, a singer, and four tango pairs. The level of passion, tension, and intensity was immeasurable.

We sat in the front row, and we were the only non-natives in the place, getting to see such a special part of Argentina’s culture. Later, we actually saw the dancers and performers after the show – they walked out like normal people, hurrying to smoke a cigarette and catch a taxi home – but they weren’t normal to us!

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Shopping, business and karaoke

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

We are set loose on Mumbai! There is almost too much to do, and most of us haven’t done any reading up on anything. So we’re gonna wing it.

The humidity is daunting. It’s still humid inside the hotel room, so everything we touch feels damp. It’s inescapable. We dress for our company visit, worried that we’ll cut it close and return to the hotel just in time to board the bus. Fifteen minutes later, it’s clear we’ll be leaving plenty of time to return to the hotel and wash up: we’re drenched in sweat.

Jeremy, Erika, Eric, Caroline, Rebekah, and I hop into cabs and start at the Gateway to India – different from the India Gate. One tour site mentions, “impressive, even if it is just another colonial monument.” We take a few pictures, and are not particularly beset upon by other tourists, which is nice.

We wander down the road, based on a map the concierge gave me, to find the Colaba Causeway. We’re staying in the Colaba area of Mumbai, which is not very close to any of the visits we have to make (1.5 hour drive on average they tell us) but is close to all the fun touristy stuff, like Chowpatty Beach, Gateway to India, the Causeway, etc.

We quickly find the Causeway, which is essentially a few blocks of vendor stalls set up along the skinny sidewalk, outside a series of brand-name stores like Adidas, Nike, Reebok. At this point we’re all looking for either specific items or specific people. At one point Rebekah does the smart thing and buys a bunch of small keychains to hand out as gifts without having to make a mental list. I’m looking for a manly gift for my father, who would probably appreciate anything other than a pashmina or silk scarf.

We stop randomly at one stall that is selling much the same as the others: wood-carved animals, marble animals, and a few wooden trays. Caroline gets 3 great wooden trays for a steal, Rebekah gets her keychains, and Erika and I combine forces to get marble elephants. We are all feeling disgusting; anywhere a purse strap touches has a distinct line of sweat on our nice clothes. We grab cabs to get back to the hotel. There are 5 of us (Jeremy broke free at some point) and the cabbie won’t take more than 4. Apparently in Mumbai, piling as many people in as possible is declasse, even for the cabbies. I’m with Erika and our guy gets lost, and of course we’re of no help. But we make it eventually, and run up to cool off, rinse off, and put on a new version of business casual.

Our visit today is to Mudra Group, which does advertising. It’s in an impressive shiny building, and we’re on the 8th floor with a great view of another skyscraper. There’s been a technical glitch so since we’ve arrived early and they’re running late we make a ruckus in the conference room for about an hour before an awesome-looking hippie dude comes in. He shows us a bunch of Mudra ads from his department (turns out we’re in one of Mudra Group’s units called Mudra Max), while talking about the difficulties of marketing to India, because of its diversity. It’s not anything we haven’t heard from other marketing departments, but some of the ads are really funny. It’s also cool to hear from someone around our age who is clearly part of the hipster generation in India. It’s a fun afternoon.

On the way home we’re all discussing the evening plans. Mine start with a nap. Eric, Caroline, Rebekah, and Blake head out to try and find a tea shoppe that last year’s group told us about. They start at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and Towers, one of the sites of the 2009 Mumbai bombings. In the lobby they spy Ratan Tata, which is the equivalent of spotting the CEO of any incredibly major conglomerate like GE, or I don’t even know. It’s a big deal, and apparently they act accordingly by getting giggly and hyper. They then stop at a Chinese restaurant not far from the hotel, to get some appetizers. This turns into dinner, and they give up on the tea shoppe. B

lake calls me at the hotel to try and tell me where they are, and just chuckles at the response to “What’s the address here?” (it sounds on my end like 12 syllables and all consonants). I grab Erika and Jordan, give the info to Stacy and some others, and we all set out in search of “Ling’s Pavilion, like, on a side street behind the Regal Cinemas, not far from the Taj Palace, with a circular doorway.” Believe it or not, we find it and it’s another group dinner, minus John whose ear is still getting to him. I don’t really enjoy the food. It seems a long time since I’ve had Indian food, sadly. But it’s nice to have a night out.

Finally, it’s on to karaoke, where we really outdo ourselves. I choose to make my karaoke debut with a duet with Erika. We’re terrible, but what we lack in talent we compensate for with commitment. The boys do Bohemian Rhapsody. Only two other groups there, so we’re getting up onstage easily. The evening ends on a high note: Eric and Clark sing A Whole New World; Clark doesn’t even need the lyrics screen. Eric searches for, and eventually finds, his falsetto. The accompanying stock footage video is two women frolicking all over some unknown coastal town. When the song finishes, we walk out of the bar as a group to semi-thunderous applause. Thank you Bombay, and goodnight!

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Journey to Mumbai

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

One last visit today in Delhi, and then we’re off to our last stop. Can’t believe how it’s flown by – we’re almost on our last city! Suddenly the list of things I still want to do feels urgent: ride in a rickshaw again (and really film it this time), find postcards and mail to the Class of 2013, eat Chinese food in India …

After yesterday’s long day I’m starting to feel like I’m getting used to things; Rebekah and I really have our routine (she giggles every time they call up for “Miss Keeglee” and then I roll out of bed to start the process of getting ready) and I’m now unfazed by cars passing within inches of our bus, toilets that are porcelain but still just a hole in the floor, and brushing my teeth with bottled water. Even the heat bothers me less. A little less.

Bharti Airtel is not far from Bharti Wal-Mart (of course). We stop for what turns out to be a bit of a long morning of PowerPoints with few breaks. We learn more about Bharti as a brand – which we hadn’t heard much of at Wal-Mart. I missed out on a bit of the presentation to snag some Dramamine, Chlor-Trimeton, and Pepcid from my bag on the bus – poor John L is having ear issues from the rough bus ride, and we’re putting all OTC items available in him to help get him ready for the afternoon flight.

Bharti also hosts us for a lovely lunch, where I get more of my newest favorite, Something dum Aloo. I have yet to figure out what ‘dum Aloo’ means, but I love it. Also, they have naan. I could live on naan forever. Rebekah, Erika, and I stop into the Easy Day to grab some Cadbury Dairy Milk (me) and Masala Munch chips (them). Since Easy Day is the convenience store branch of Wal-Mart, we’re doing it in the name of research. Obviously.

The flight to Mumbai goes relatively easily. Once I get on it. I get stopped at security, and this time the problem is apparently electrical cords, which all get pulled out, along with everything else, and the bag sent back through security. We’re not crunched on time so I work to keep my patience, but I’m getting a bit sick of the Indian version of TSA thinking I’m an international security threat. What happened to Indians wanting to take pictures with me? They even handwrite my name and boarding pass info in a log book before I’m allowed to go. It’s all very ominous.

We kill some time in the airport (Clark and Rebekah try Pizza Hut, and regret it later) and then head down to the gate. At the Indian airports, you go to a “gate” and show your boarding pass and the airline’s tags on all your carry-on luggage, which get stamped as you go through security. Then you get on a bus that drives you to the plane.

I almost don’t make it on the bus- in all the hubbub around neutralizing the threat of my phone charger cable, the security people didn’t stamp my carry-on. I am pulled from the line and sent to a smaller x-ray set-up around the corner, waving to Caplan and Semple as I go by. I take my laptop out again and send the bag through, without issue. They even let me cut the line to get on the bus, where apparently Kayla was ready to start throwing punches to ensure the bus didn’t leave without me.

We’re on IndiGo again and it’s small – again. Poor Eric gets stuck in the middle seat, right behind me. Along with Blake and Jordan, the three make the most uncomfortable-looking row of gents in a plane. Erika, Caroline, and I are in front of them and the six of us spend a good portion of the flight dissolving into hysterical giggles at silly jokes. The heat and compactness of this plane are getting to us.

We arrive in Mumbai without further issues and love the last of our Taj hotels. But it’s HUMID here, even indoors! It’s insane. The drive to the hotel made me enamored immediately of Mumbai – water, shores, skyscrapers, lots of lights. It’s like New York, but TONS more people, buildings, all crammed into every possible nook and cranny. I think I love it already, and I’m not even sure what it really looks like.

While most knock off early, Eric, Erika and I seek out the Not Just Jazz Cafe on the recommendation of Ashesh, our classmate. It’s awesome. Pizza, garlic bread, and karaoke. There are two birthday parties, so the audience is amped up. Erika does the crowd pleaser “Footloose” and Eric, when he finally convinces the guy to pick his slip of paper, pulls out “River of Dreams” and realizes he knows fewer lyrics than he thought. We hear so much 90s grunge I start to wonder if they even know about Ke$ha and Katy Perry. We stay until closing at 1am and then get back to the hotel. Can’t wait to see Mumbai by daylight!

(more…)

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Business in Deutschland

An update from Parth, who traveled to Europe with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

Packed my bags and left for Europe. We will be visiting Frankfurt, Bratislava and London. I am going to talk about the escapades in Frankfurt. The first day in Frankfurt was supposed to be used to rest and get over jetlag, but I wanted to try some German food and experience the local culture. I set off walking around Frankfurt without an agenda. All the people were suited up; I felt so underdressed. I stood in line to grab some local food, which I was craving, and had the same stuff that two people ordered before me. I learned that Germans eat a lot of sausages.

The second day we visited Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharma company that is privately owned. We learned a lot about German work culture and the pharma industry. They are direct with communication, which some interpret as rude, but trust me, they are not.

The evening was special, SMU arranged a bus ride for us to go visit Heidelberg. Later into the night we left to explore the clubs in Frankfurt. However, we were denied entry to a club because we were not suited up, how un-American. But that didn’t spoil our night.

The third day we visited European Central Bank, Deutsche Bourse and Jones Day. ECB was really informative – the most important lesson was that Greece will have to undergo massive budget cuts, and a default is not probable. Just putting it out in case someone wants to buy Greek bonds.

Next we visited Deutsche Bourse and we also got to walk on the trading floor – it was such an experience. This is the only exchange that manages an active trading floor. Jones Day has a few SMU alumni and they were very courteous, and they also help set up a few company visits.

The fourth day was special for me because we visited Kuehne+Nagel, a logistics and warehousing company. I worked on an SAP project for DuPont warehouse, and watching a warehouse in action was amazing.

For people visiting Frankfurt: Pack a few suits, be prepared to have lots of sausages, do not expect people to speak fluent English or smile at you as you cross paths. Business-wise do not try to be too funny, and be on time. And yes – try the wheat beer.

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Epic day off

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

10 am Wake-up call gets me in the shower first, then Rebekah. We’re starting to get our morning routine down to a science and can be ready for breakfast in 45 minutes or less. We make a few calls to rally the troops – only Eric is up (later he admits his chipper response was faked since he was still in bed).

11:30 am Breakfast is over (disappointing compared to Bangalore), and a group has formed. Some want sightseeing, some want shopping, some ambitious souls (myself included) are determined to do both.

12 pmish 12 of us pile into 3 cabs and head to Dilli Haat, the outdoor crafts bazaar. Turns out Sunday is a fabulous day to go driving in Delhi – no one is on the road and we cruise. Our eager driver and his buddies say they’ll wait for us and take us to our next stops.

1 pm Wander the Dilli Haat, looking for a deal. Meander with Blake to get the lay of the land, then snag Rebekah and Erika to help me bargain. Both are excellent in totally different ways, and are already carrying bags filled with gifts. Blake, Erika and I get 3 pashminas and 6 silk scarves for a total of about 5,000 rupees – $110 bucks. Quite pleased with ourselves. The group leaves with toys, scarves and pashminas, carved elephants, mobiles, jewelry, tunics, shoes, and paintings.

Film a gimmick ad just to stand in the air-conditioned plastic igloo and drink a cold Coke. We have to take a sip in front of the camera and then say, “Brrrr!” with a body shake. Erika, Caroline and I give it our MA/MBA best. Blake, Rebekah and Jordan film one that has us in tears of laughter; we’re still replaying it on my camera.

IMG_0629.jpg 2:30 pm Jordan, Kayla and Blake head back to the hotel to lounge around the pool. The 9 of us pile into 2 cabs (our cabbies said they’d wait for us and drive us all day for a set fee) and head for the Lotus Temple. Super cool architecture, kind of boring inside. Feel a bit odd in a house of worship that has entrance and exit times like an amusement park ride. Hope that the swooping birds don’t freak Stacy out.

3 pm Outside of the temple, Erika and I notice a young woman sneaking our picture on her phone. Erika says, “You want a picture with us? C’mon.” We are set upon by a number of Indian tourists taking pictures with us, and we don’t turn anyone down. I could get used to this.

Head to cabbie, and ask him to take us to another temple. It becomes clear the shopping place he wants to take us to is now a requirement of keeping his services for the rest of the day. We agree – a little more shopping never hurt anyone.

3:30 pm Arrive at the Delhi Haat, mostly some junky stuff, but it’s sort of legit – there’s a bunch of Indian women shopping for sari material there. A few folks buy some tea, and jewelry, the rest of us just enjoy the fans. Our driver eats lunch then comes back to get us, and is pleasantly surprised that we bought anything (he gets a commission, of course).

4 pm Arrive Akshardam Temple. HUGE. Disneyland of temples. Long lines, super hot, people are wearing theme tshirts and hats. In the security line, the woman a) places two cupped hands firmly on all our breasts in the interest of national security and b) ties Stacy’s pashmina around Caroline’s waist (dress too short – at the knees) and drapes my scarf over Ashley’s shoulders (tube top). We are now fit to enter. The boys are unbothered in their shorts.

No photos allowed in Akshardam, so we buy postcards. Incredibly intricate, super interesting temple. Not enough time to take it all in, or do the 15-minute boat ride (a 1.5 hour wait) but we get our fill walking around and head back to find our cabbie. A few folks risk the water by eating some flavored shaved ice. (A few regret the decision later, but not as much as expected. Apparently worth it.)

5:30pm Leaving Askshardam, exhausted. Ask our driver Sunil to take us by India Gate just to shoot photos while driving by. On the bridge going over the Yemuna River (which feeds into the Ganges) WE SEE WILD ELEPHANTS GRAZING in the shallow wetlands part of the river. Unbelievable! Sunil pulls over and we leap from the cabs – blocking traffic and prompting a van full of Indian tourists to stop and get out too. I use Caroline’s camera to take pictures and video. Am totally in awe of seeing these animals – not only my favorites, but I’d started to think I’d never see any in India. And was worried when I did, they’d be in servitude. But here they are, munching and trumpeting away. Gorgeous. Feel my trip is complete and I’m only halfway done.

IMG_0614_2.jpg 6 pm Slow down outside India Gate to get yellowed photos in the sunset pollution haze. Wikipedia will have better photos, but at least I can say I was there.

6:30 pm Pay the cabbies for their day of driving and waiting – Sunil asks for only 1200 rupees (about $27), we pay him 2000 ($45) and tell him we’ll call him next time we’re in Delhi. Scamper into the lobby of the hotel and find John, Caplan, and our lost 3 folks hanging at the tea lounge. Overwhelm them with our noise and chatter and show and tell of bargains and photos.

8 pm Dinner with most of the gang at Blue Ginger, the Vietnamese restaurant in the hotel. Not great, but I can now say I’ve eaten pho. Even if I can’t pronounce pho. Caplan and Semple stop in to say hello. Inspired by our pictures of Akshardam they hopped in a cab and tried to get there for the 7:30pm light show, but it was too late to enter.

10:30 pm Back to the room to try and pack all my new stuff into my suitcase. Rebekah and I have graduated to an additional tote bag (thanks Jay, for the wedding favors!) and agree I’ll carry it through security so she can stick with her 2 carry-ons. Crawl into bed gratefully. Day Off=Success.

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McDonald’s India and Agra Fort

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

We were scheduled to have lunch at the Sheraton Hotel, but they “lost” our reservation, or overbooked, or something. In any case, we were not going to be seated anytime soon. We left to find something else, but discussion arose about seeing the Agra Fort. Many of us had thought it was included in the day, but apparently last year’s group added it spontaneously. The majority of us wanted to do the same. A compromise was reached: fast food and fast tour of Agra Fort.

And fast food it was: we stopped at McDonald’s. We all opted for something you can’t find in the States, like McSpicy Chicken (yes, it’s different) or McSpicy Paneer. And, of course, soft-serve ice cream, which has universal deliciousness. The tour company is apparently working on planning a dinner or lunch for us in Mumbai, to make up for the mix-up, but most of us were content enough with some fries and a greasy Mickey D’s sandwich.

We really did tear through Agra Fort, especially since it’s huge. But it’s really interesting, and more intricate, in many ways, than the Taj. The raj who built the Taj Mahal was imprisoned in Agra Fort when his son usurped him, partly because of the cost of building the Taj. It was built for his third wife, after she died in childbirth. So the old man lived out his days in this humungous fort, but they say he rarely left a corner of the fort from which you could see the Taj Mahal. He was buried with his wife in the Taj upon his death.

The heat got us sweaty and rowdy and almost delirious in the Fort, and, following the example of some Indian tourists in front of us, we posed inside a well, and on a few higher levels, which apparently displeased one of the guards. Some might call it “being asked to leave,” but I prefer “uniformed escort through the rest of the monument.” Our guide simply kept stopping to talk more, just reaching the limit of the guard’s patience before moving on. So we still got the full effect. We were all incredibly glad we decided to make the stop.

Despite the extra visit and a tremendous traffic snarl due to an accident, we still made excellent time (if terrifying driving patterns) and were home by 9 pm. We were exhausted, dusty, dirty, and sweaty but cold (I never thought I’d try to hide from a/c in India). It seems to be a common end to our days here in India, and there’s one more thing we always seem to end with: big ol’ smiles.

(But no pictures, in my case, since my battery died at the Taj Mahal.)

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Visit to Taj Mahal

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

HUGE day today, very long and very hot. But totally worth it!

We started out at 6 am from the hotel in Delhi, on a larger bus than usual. Most had snagged their hotel pillows, and, on the advice from last year’s group, brought blankets and cardigans, despite the expected heat. This was great advice, as the air vents on the bus did not close and were blasting inescapable, freezing air the whole ride. After snuggling into our rows, it was a quiet first few hours.

On the road from Delhi to Agra you get a huge slice of India just from looking out the window. We were on highways that often turned suddenly rural as we passed through a village or town. On the road I saw: buses, cars, trucks, tractors overloaded with hay sacks three times the size of the vehicle, cows, horses, dogs, camels, pedestrians, scooters, tuk-tuks, roosters, goats, wild boars, bulls, bicycles, people pushing their overloaded bicycles, men urinating on the side of the road (everywhere), people sleeping on medians, cars going the wrong way down the street, and occasionally in a larger intersection, a policeman standing in the center of chaos, pointing his arms as if he could actually direct traffic.

It really brings home the advice our guide gave us as he narrated one day: “India does things very differently, and if you must have total order, you will miserable. You have to learn to swim with the flow.” I’m not sure if I could do it forever, but for now, it reminds me to sit back and see what happens, enjoying the journey as much as the destination. I can’t say it’s totally zen-like though; the amount of noise and the incessant car-honking (I think our bus driver was the worst offender) made me grit my teeth, and I found it impossible to sleep for any of the 5 hours to Agra.

We stopped at a rest stop briefly for the facilities, and there were snake charmers at the entry. A few of us walked over with Caplan to see, and they brought that snake awfully close to Eric! It wasn’t how I’d pictured; they played their horn but the cobras were already standing up out of the baskets, and they didn’t do anything. My inner animal rights activist, already on edge as I see horses, dogs, and other animals abused and misused all over, was very uncomfortable. Not to mention the poisonous snake about six inches from Eric’s face. I thought I had recorded it but apparently hit the wrong button.

When we finally reached Agra, there was another facility stop while our guide bought our tickets (heads-up to the ladies: this toilet does not have toilet paper!). You can barely bring anything in to the Taj Mahal, so we all just carried our cameras, IDs, and a bit of money. They handed us shoe covers and bottles of warm water, and off we went. There are no fuel-powered vehicles allowed within a certain distance of the Taj Mahal to avoid dirtying it with pollution. We took a short electric bus ride (a few minutes) further down the road, and then walked the last bit in about 2 minutes.

IMG_0576.jpg It was very easy, though we’d been warned otherwise by last year’s group. We’d anticipated an epic hike to the gates of the Taj, leaving weaker classmates by the side of the road as we slogged on, promising to come back for them.

Once you’re inside the gates (but not yet at the actual Taj), you take a few pictures, and if you’re a big group like us, a professional photographer snags you and offers to take a group shot inside. We went inside and did the obligatory group photo and chaos ensued. Indian tourists swarmed our group, taking pictures of us! It was the first time we’d seen it in such an intense rush, though for the most part they kept their distance. Though it occasionally feels intrusive, it’s really not that disturbing, and a few of us with “big-city” training had no problem shoving people out of our way.

It was kind of funny to watch them try to creep into our photos; just as you’d be smiling and posing for your camera in a classmate’s hand, they’d drop it and say, “Excuse me sir!” and you’d realize some random person had slowly inched up right next to you while his friend took a photo!

They love Rebekah here! Everyone thinks she’s Indian, and they probably all wonder what she’s doing with a bunch of Americans. She got asked to take pictures more than any of us – even our blondes. We suggested she stay here in India and live off the adoration. At the least, we’re expecting to return next year and find posters of her everywhere.

The Taj lives up to the hype, even when it’s 102 degrees outside. That’s about all there is to say; everyone has seen the pictures, and it’s even more impressive live. It’s incredible. We all wandered around, and ducked inside, then took a few smaller group photos all around, and the obligatory “I’m touching the top of the Taj” shots (Eric and Clark are great at lining these up). Then the heat really started to kick in (it was 1:30pm by then) and we were all out of water, so we headed back to the rendezvous point. Time for lunch (and more importantly: air conditioning)!

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Confusion: It’s what’s for dinner

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

At the Olive Bar Italian restaurant in IndiaDeciding where to eat tonight pushed us all to our limits. As a group we’ve stayed together for the most part, for dinners and outings, leaving behind only those who opt to stay in the hotel. Tonight some wanted more Indian food, some wanted to try any of the non-Indian options recommended by our Walmart hosts and/or Indian classmates, some just wanted someone else to decide. We ended up all deciding to head to Olive Bar, an Italian place nearby.

The kerfuffle continued when the concierge didn’t really know where the bar was, nor did any of the taxi drivers. Our group splintered as people tried to go back inside the lobby to ask for a map or address, and others hailed cabs with the doormen. Eventually, in a rush, the drivers were given the address by a doormen and we all crammed into the cabs to head out. We arrived to the great surprise of the hostess who advised us to make a reservation next time, but kindly created a table for 14 in the center of the outdoor patio. It was beautiful: small and tree-covered, with gravel floor, and next to the outdoor kitchen, including a big oven. It was hot, but not terrible, and the atmosphere, with only candles outside, was terrific.

I stood to take a picture, and the chef came out and offered to take it for me. We then suddenly realized that we had an empty chair. We had left Stacy behind! No one can figure how it happened, but Blake, Stephanie, and Jordan hopped in a cab to go back to find her. This is when we wished our cell phones worked internationally!

We’ve invented a cross-check system to avoid this situation, though we hadn’t bothered using it for non-school related outings. Each of us has to find our roommate and another assigned partner of the opposite sex – our “cross-gender,” though mine, Eric, prefers “trans-gender.” This way, if an entire room were to be missing, we still wouldn’t leave without them. However, clearly our check system failed tonight! Stacy had already sat down at one of the hotel restaurants to eat, so Blake stayed with her and Stephanie and Jordan returned. We were all sad not to have the whole group, but luckily Stacy had a good sense of humor about it, and said the food she’d eaten was great.

The chef generously selected a few appetizers for our table, and everyone ordered an entrée. The food was not terrific, though it looked beautiful. Eric and I wandered through the Hotel Diplomat a bit, which houses Olive Bar. We even peeked in one of the rooms – it was nice, but no Taj.

After dinner everyone was wiped from the excitement and went straight to bed – tomorrow is the TAJ MAHAL!

(At right, the whole gang at Olive Bar. Well, almost the whole gang….)

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How cars are made, and the Walmart in Delhi

An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:

A big day for our first full day in Delhi. Rebekah and I awoke early, super comfy in our hotel room. Apparently we’re in the renovated rooms, so our room is ultra tech-savvy: everything is push-button (lights, power, Do Not Disturb), and our favorite surprise came with the bathroom, which has walls entirely of glass! Last night I walked into the room and headed straight for the beds, and heard her say “We have a tub!” and turned around – to find myself staring through a glass wall at my roommate in the bathroom. We were quite relieved to find the automated shade that lowers to give privacy. Housekeeping insists on leaving it up every time they come in. We continue to leave it down. We’re close, but….

Again, the breakfast is a great mix of all sorts of foods, though I still miss the Taj Vivanta in Bangalore. We headed first to Maruti Suzuki, where we were able to not only hear from their management, but to take a tour of the plant. They really only played a video for us before the tour, that gave a brief history of the company and its partnership with Suzuki, and a quick overview of the steps of making a car.

We all got hard hats and goggles (and of course, no photography was permitted inside the plant), and were taken through 2 of the 3 sections of car-making (we skipped paint because of the fumes). It’s really quite impressive to see a car made from start to finish; at this plant, a car takes 12 hours to build, 6 of which are spent in paint – the long drying times between coats takes awhile. Every 16 seconds a new car rolls into the storage parking lot, and within 2-3 days, that car is on its way to a dealership.

I was also excited to see an AGV go cruising by, since that’s one of the things my dad’s company makes (though I don’t think for this plant)! Everyone loved watching it go by unaided by a driver or remote control. It’s also funny to be indoors and yet have cars (in various states of completeness) beep us out of the way. And we saw a lot of evidence of what we learned in Operations Management: posters for Kaizen, an Andon log record, and entire corkboards filled with Continuous Improvement suggestions and results of implementations.

After the tour, we went back for some Q&A, which was a bit tough – our host did not speak particularly great English, and so while we had a lot of questions, we often veered down the wrong path, or got answers a bit unrelated to the questions. We left shortly after with new Maruti Suzuki baseball caps and hopped on the bus to search out lunch.

Lunch ended up being the start to an “all-American” afternoon: we ate at the mall, then headed to Walmart. The food court at the mall had both Indian and American food (Subway), and a group of us opted for an Indian buffet/a la carte place, where I discovered Kashmiri dum Aloo, much to my delight. Then I grabbed a soft-serve cone at McDonald’s (for 25 cents) and we went to Bharti Walmart.

Walmart was, by far, the most dynamic visit we’ve had. All of the speakers were incredibly intelligent, great presenters, hilarious and interesting; we were all ready to join Team Walmart by the end! Andrew from South Africa gave us an idea of the retail industry and his opinions, Armando from Mexico (think Mexican Robert Goulet – his mustache was out of this world) spoke about logistics (Walmart organizes delivery from all sorts of vendors, and deliveries often arrive via ox-cart, scooter, Tata truck, or any variation on those themes), another gentleman (name forgotten, oops!) spoke about private labels, and Krishna (or Morley, as he called himself, despite his name badge) finished up.

On the way home from Walmart, we made a stop at the liquor store and caused a bit of stir – 16 Americans walked into a small two-story shop. Everyone bought a little tipple, including a few Kingfisher “roadies” – I even bought some wine! Sula is made here in India, and our guide has recommended it a few times. Guess whose family gets to taste-test white and red Sula?

Posted in Cox Leadership May2011 | Comments Off