When Dean Bruner traveled to Japan and India recently, he had quite the agenda: extend Darden’s global brand, re-connect with alumni, conduct interviews with the media, meet with prospective students, talk with companies about partnership opportunities, give presentations to chambers in India – and that’s just the beginning.

Joining the dean for the Japan portion of the trip was Les Grayson, professor emeritus and co-chairman of Darden’s Global Advisory Council, and his wife, Olivia. Les was invaluable to Dean Bruner, lending his expertise on all things Japanese after having made some very important introductions for the dean’s visit. The dean and Professor Grayson visited some 15 companies and institutions, promoting GEMBA and Darden’s brand, and had the rare opportunity of addressing 28 representatives of Keidanren companies. Keidanren is the association of big businesses in Japan; its president, Hiromasa Yonekura, is also Chairman of Sumitomo Chemical and a long-time friend of the School. Consecutive translation was an interesting experience for Bob and Les.

Darden has a strong alumni base in Japan, and long-term supporters of the Japan chapter made sure the dean’s time in Japan was well spent. Distinguished alumnus Paul Hamaguchi (MBA ’70) was most invaluable with introductions and gracious helpfulness. Also instrumental were Takahisa Koitabashi (MBA ’93), Shin Furukawa (MBA ’92), Ichiro Suzuki (MBA ‘84) and Shiro Sakamoto (MBA ‘95), each giving invaluable advice and time to the dean. Katherine Alford from admissions accompanied the Dean throughout Japan and India, organizing receptions for alumni and prospective students. The reception in Tokyo was well attended by alumni, and 35 prospective students showed up to learn more about Darden.

Joining Katherine Alford and Dean Bruner in India, Lori Brookins from development helped out with the admissions and alumni receptions in Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai and was able to meet many of our alumni in India, further strengthening our connections there. Her focus was to increase support for the India Fund which will ultimately provide fellowships for deserving students of Indian descent. This was the first time Darden had held an admissions event in Chennai, and more than 40 prospective students attended. U.Va. alumna Jennifer Mcintyre (B.A. ’91), the newly appointed U.S. consul general in Chennai, attended the reception and shared helpful information regarding visa requirements for international students. Receptions were also held in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, all with wonderful turnouts. Darden alumni living in India also showed up in force at these other receptions and were able to give first-hand perspective to those with questions about the Darden experience.

Prominent alumnus V.N. Dalmia (MBA ’84) contributed greatly to the success of the dean’s trip, escorting him throughout India and even hosting a reception for him at his home in Delhi where the guest list included Borislav Kostov, ambassador of Bulgaria, as well as prominent social figures of Delhi. V.N. was also able to schedule talks for Dean Bruner at the Madras Chamber, the Delhi Management Association, the Aspen Institute (Delhi) and the Young Leaders’ Forum in Mumbai. These chamber talks afforded the dean the opportunity to speak about competencies required by today’s youth to be global leaders, how to acquire these competencies, and how to use them to get recruited by the best multinational corporations. Other alumni on the ground in India who lent their support included: Gokul Chandrasekaran (MBA ’10), Akshay Mittal (MBA ‘10) and Alok Vaish (MBA ’97).

By all accounts, the trip met with resounding success, and we have the media hits to prove it. Read an interview with Dean Bruner that appeared in The Economic Times: India is One of the Most Appealing Growth Venues Globally. If you want to find out more about the reception at V.N. Dalmia’s house, read Time to Catch Up, an article in the Times of India. See what Dean Bruner had to say about the job market in India in his interview with Rediff.com.

The dean’s frequent international treks have made a tremendous impact on Darden’s global branding and recognition. In The Economist 2011 ranking of full-time MBA programs, released on October 15th, the Darden School has risen to No. 4 in the world, up from No. 11 in 2010. These are exciting times indeed.