Collaboration at IMT

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Our time in Hyderabad has been spent staying at the campus of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), one of the top 10 business schools in India.  During our time here, IMT has graciously hosted us and invited us to engage with students for an excursion to the handicraft market, a debate on social enterprise, and a cultural event including singing, dance performances, a rendition of Julius Caesar and a lighthearted, arguably talent-less but heartfelt contribution on behalf of the PSU students.

Let me just preface this by saying that one of the most challenging things about the PSU MBA program for me has been group work.  All of our projects are done in teams, mimicking the realities of the corporate working world.  Earlier this week, our collaboration with IMT students deepened as we worked in mixed teams on a social marketing campaign in a local village.  My team looked at issues of drinking water access, and produced an infomercial as our campaign.  On this day, I realized that being on the tail end of my MBA program, I must finally be getting used to navigating team work: Much to my own surprise, I found the experience of working together with the IMT students synergistic, collaborative and enjoyable.  The students here have impressed on all levels with their intelligence, creative ideas, work ethic, and sense of humor.  Before coming here I didn’t realize that interaction with local students was a component of this program, but I am so grateful that it was.  Thank you so much to Archana and the students of IMT.  I’d like to extend an open invitation to our new Indian b-school friends to come visit us in Portland so that we can return the favor of hospitality!

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Contrast is King

From the moment I arrived in Hyderabad, India, the friendliness and hospitality of the Indian people was visible, tangible and welcome. So too the intensity of contrasts, in every respect.

Some students from Hyderabad’s Institute of Management Technology (IMT) gave me the low-down over lunch. They told me about different parts of the same city having different customs, different dress codes, different languages. There are no rules of thumb here, its all about the context you’re in. Everything is here from bejeweled decadence to squalor, and everything in between. Within 20km from the IMT’s flash new campus are villages that go without power for much of the day, and to the bright young people at IMT this is a call of duty to make development more sustainable and equitable for all.

Now that I have come by train some 400km east-southeast of Hyderabad,  I find myself less than 40km from India’s eastern shore in the town of Bhimavaram, and in the company of my fellow PSU students once again – success! While having missed the first full day of field work was a setback, I felt welcomed and intent on throwing new energy and fresh perspective into the mix.

For my first primary research assignment I teamed up with Kate to explore the family and community factors of India’s overpopulation issue. The village we visited was nestled between a stream – complete with small herd of water buffalo – and rice fields. All of the residents we interviewed, with the assistance of some local MBA students who helped bridge the language gap, had some common characteristics: they were working at their home where they lived with their spouse, parent and 1- 3 children; had not completed high school, made between US$90-120 per month; put 20-30% (US$20-40) of that away for a rainy day; and were engaged in producing sickles used to harvest the fields.

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All except for Narsama: 60 years old, no children, making US$50 per month washing clothes. She has three brothers, one of whom she lives with, and who have three sons and three daughters between them. She spends only half of her pay on living expenses. While we asked her questions about her life I was struck by the realization that the purpose with which this village went about its business was not to supply sickles to local farmers or high school graduates to engineering colleges, but to simply be, to exist, to continue.

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Any population restriction interventions that fly in the face of that belief would therefore be seen as a threat to a community’s very existence, and would ultimately fail. One policy we discovered was an incentive scheme rewarding families who had only two children, seeking to strike a balance between continuation of community while addressing some overpopulation factors.

Today, as I awake from my first decent sleep in a while, I’ve made a conscious decision to not look at the schedule. There’s no risk of confusion as to where I need to be and when – I’m already here. In letting go of the need to know, I also let go of any expectations about the day’s activities, and am compelled to be prepared, accepting and grateful for whatever happens. Bring it on.

– Simon

One cup of tea

December 9, 2012 — 8am

I walk slowly from the faculty guesthouse to the campus in the brightening morning light, taking the long route along the road instead of the short cut across the field. A wiry bicycle ridden by an even wirier boy passes me. The boy and I catch each other looking back over our shoulders.

The Institute of Management Technology – Hyderabad campus is only a year and a half old and is still under construction. “The campus is designed according to the asymmetrical architectural rules of vaastu shastra, the Indian equivalent of feng shui,” Archana, our faculty host, informed us yesterday on a campus tour. “This is to improve energy flow.”

As I go through the process of adjusting to local time, 12 ½ hours ahead of Portland, I could use some improved energy flow.

I slow my stroll down even more as I pass through the campus courtyards toward “the mess,” hoping to absorb as much vaastu energy as possible. I’m an hour early for breakfast but my vaastu prayer is answered when Rajeesh, a boy who helps in the kitchen brings me a hot cup of chai as I sit down with my journal and wait for the rest of our class to arrive.

Three more of our students arrived in the wee hours of the morning. Orientation starts at 10am, when we’ll meet some of the Indian business students we’ll be working with during our time in Hyderabad next week.  The pace is about to pick up.

But first, this quiet morning and this perfect cup of chai.

Recharging,

Alison

The chai station in the IMT mess
The chai station in the IMT mess