Establishing The India Desk
Well the India Desk started because when we started thinking about SMU global positioning, Asia positioning, we felt we needed to have some insights into Asia so Arnoud took the China Desk and I took the India Desk. We made the mistake of not simultaneously starting the ASEAN Desk which we are now starting. So the idea was can we reach into the Indian corporates, the Indian academic institutions, and what can we learn from them and how can we contribute in that part of the world so we can then expect them to contribute to our initiatives. Examples of things that we did, we did the first crowdsourcing of case writing in India. We held a case writing workshop in Mumbai, and in collaboration with Tatas, and we invited 22 Tata managers and there were five faculty, six including me. And we took four case writers with us. And out of that one, two and a half day engagement, we wrote 6 cases on Tatas. So that reinforced the already strong bond that existed between SMU and Tatas. They were already taking our interns and so on and so forth so it was easier to sell them the case writing initiative. We partnered with the IITs, Indian Initiative of Technology in Kanpur which is where I graduated from. We already had an MOU in place with IIT Madras. We explored the relationships with Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Ahmedabad; now Calcutta is talking to us, IM Lucknow, the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in Delhi. The Indian collaborations are a little bit tougher, particularly with the top institutions because just as the Singapore government looks at SMU as an investment they have made, particularly for the undergraduate program, if I take the Indian Institute of Technology they look at the government's investment in IIT. And so it's harder to do undergraduate level collaborations, you know particularly with these institutions. It is getting easier to do postgraduate collaborations. We are also exploring things for example with Bombay Stock exchange, to see if we can use them as a point to connect with the industry. We are also talking not just with Tatas, we are talking with the Birla's and so on and so forth. We worked with CII, which is Confederation of Indian Industries. It's sort of a giant India wide chamber of commerce, if you want to think of it that way. And we use them to do programs, for example, in innovation. We are aligning, by the way, with our areas of excellence. So we did a program on Innovation Strategy in Mumbai, in collaboration with CII. And I was there. Some couple more faculty members were there. We beamed in Arnoud and one of our collaborators in the West, Peter Williamson. We brought them in through the satellite and CII helped us get senior level people from Ericsson India and so on and so forth. So it was a very good blend of academic and corporate thinking.