By Marc Johnson
In November 2018, the Darden Executive MBA Class of 2019 gathered in India for the final Global Residency of their program. Over the course of the week in Mumbai and Delhi, students had the opportunity to see the impact of the Darden and UVA alumni network in action and the impact that Darden alumni leaders are having in the key industries and opportunities in India (Darden alumni and leadership photographed above). The week-long residency included an integrated look at strategy, marketing and global leadership led by faculty Scott Snell, Raj Venkatesan and Marc Johnson. Students applied their Darden learning to understanding the Indian context and the role of India in the global economy going forward.
During their time in Mumbai, students got out into the city to explore India’s rich religious diversity, understand that city’s history as a commercial center from early days to the present, and learn more about the cities-within-cities and economies that take place in slum areas like Dharavi. They also met with leading executives across a range of industries, exploring entrepreneurship in India today, the service sector, Bollywood and India’s film industry, and logistics, among others. Arpan Sheth (MBA ‘96), Partner at Bain, kicked off the discussions based on a case about the recent acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart and the dynamic nature of ecommerce in the Indian market.
Another highlight of the sessions in Mumbai, coordinated by Darden alumna Smita Sahatpur (MBA ’04), was a panel discussion on financial services and financial inclusion. Darden alumnus Gunjan Shukla (MBA ‘09), CFO of Paypal India, was one of the panel speakers who engaged with the group on the opportunities and challenges in the evolving regulatory landscape for electronic payments in India. Shukla shared his insights from Paypal with the group (and was recently featured The Economic Times ETCFO). Other speakers included Jairam Sridharan of Axis Bank, Pares Rajde of Suvidhaa, and Shridhar Keppuregan of Reliance Jio.
In Delhi, students continued the exploration with insights from two Darden alumni on the ecommerce landscape in India – Alok Vaish (MBA ‘97), CFO of Yatra.com and Himanshu Wardhan (MBA ‘11), Managing Director of Esty.com in India. Vaish and Wardhan helped students gain deeper understanding of how their firms and others are viewing India’s local ecommerce market and also the opportunity to connect Indian firms and markets globally online.
After studying a case on Apollo Hospitals in their strategy course, the students had the opportunity visit one of Apollo’s flagship hospitals in Delhi hosted by Ashok Bajpai (MBA ‘90), Managing Director. The students heard from Ashok on Apollo’s innovative approach to providing world-class healthcare in the Indian market and also engaged with the leadership team of the hospital.
VN Dalmia (MBA ’84) joined a marketing case discussion on Leonardo Olive Oil, a brand that he established in India as a way of bringing olive oil to the Indian market. Dalmia shared his insights on developing a new consumer brand and the dynamics in the Indian retail market.
Students also met with leaders at a range of government and non-governmental organizations, visiting the headquarters of the Delhi Metro Corporation, Confederation of Indian Industry, All India Management Association, National Association for the Blind, and Aga Khan Trust for Culture, among others. Students wrapped up their week with a discussion of government policy related to fostering economic growth with leadership from Invest India, including UVA alum Samir Evan Jain, a senior investment specialist.
The role of Darden alumni as leaders across some of the key sectors in India’s economy who are leading innovation and positive change formed a backdrop to a week of intensive engagement and study by the Executive MBAs during their week in India.