May 06, 2015

What We Learned: Tuckies Reflect on India Global Insight Expedition (GIX)

Eighteen students traveled to India over spring break for a Global Insight Expedition (GIX) led by Amit Bhattacharjee, visiting assistant professor of business administration, and Sudershan “Suds” Tirumala T’10. Global Insight Expeditions offer students opportunities to travel to a variety of countries to learn how business is done around the world. They learn about each country's unique business environment, opportunities for social entrepreneurship, and the role of business people in addressing social challenges.

These eight students offer their biggest takeaways from their time in India.

Erin Wall T’15 and Jun Jiang T’15

During our time in Mumbai, we paid a visit to Viacom 18 which is a 50/50 joint venture created in 2007 between Viacom, Inc. from the U.S. and India’s Network18 Group. Viacom 18 was a great case study for us on how to customize a global brand for success in a new market. While Viacom 18 imports many programs directly from the U.S., it also tailors much of its content to appeal to the diverse viewership in India. To highlight this, our Viacom 18 host showed us a map of India divided by regions, marked with cultural and language preferences of each region.

By the time we arrived at Viacom 18, we had already noticed the importance of television in India; even in the poorest slums, there are satellite dishes for digital programming on top of each roof. As both viewership and population continue to expand, media companies such as Viacom 18 need to increasingly consider how to create business opportunities and best address the needs of the customers at the bottom of the pyramid. This experience not only helped us learn about the Indian consumer, but it also helped put into context the theories and concepts we learned in our operations, marketing, and strategy courses.

Jaimie Sarrault T’15 and Jorge Seldner Torres T’15

During our stay in Kolkata, we visited a large conglomerate called ITC that began as the Imperial Tobacco Company and has since grown and diversified its businesses to include both hospitality and CPG industries. In the afternoon we visited the ITC Sonar luxury hotel and were blown away by both the presentation given by the organization and the tour of the facilities, including one of the water treatment plants located below the hotel. The presentation started with an exceptional speaker, Nazeeb Arif, vice president of corporate communications at ITC Limited. A great storyteller, he knew exactly how to engage us throughout the presentation, beginning with an overview of ITC’s strategy and its successful eChoupal network, an initiative which has been recognized by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for supporting and promoting agriculture and small rural farm workers, empowering rural women, and providing rural supplementary education. We left the presentation contemplating how it could make sense that a tobacco company is able to set the stage so well for sustainable luxury.

Beyond the engaging presentation, we were able to compare and contrast the culture of an Indian conglomerate, ITC, and other foreign multinational companies we visited throughout our stay in India. In general it seemed employees demonstrated more passion when they worked at an Indian conglomerate. An example illustrating this was the manager of food and beverages we visited at ITC Sonar who started working at the company when he was 18 years old who mentioned that he “could not picture himself working at another company.” This passion for working at an Indian company was something we perceived across our company visits during the India GIX.

Sarah Reynolds T’15 and Christina Pluta T’15

While in a rural village near Bangalore, we visited several local craftsmen including a potter and silk spinners. Both professions have been passed on from parents to children for generations, as is the case with many traditional handicrafts. However, throughout India many of these craftsmen are currently struggling financially and as such their children are not interested in pursuing their parent’s trade. The government of India subsidizes many such professions in effort to keep them alive. 

Our experience talking to the potter and his son proved to be a fascinating exception. When we asked the potter’s son, who had learned the profession, if he was hopeful about his future as a potter he beamed ear to ear and beckoned us to follow. We walked into another potting room filled with clay pots shoulder high. He explained he once received an order for an enormous pot, and was curious what purpose such a huge vessel would serve. So he followed up with the patron and learned it was to be a tandoori oven for a restaurant. This enterprising young potter decided to become an expert at making these ovens-to-be. Now his creations ship all over India and into Nepal. How does he sell his masterpieces? Google of course.

Innovation in India and the ways business is executed across such varied cultural and economic realities was a topic we discussed regularly throughout the trip. This vignette beautifully encapsulated a young generation’s ability to adapt and expand on the body of existing knowledge, thereby making it relevant and available in a global marketplace.

Jeremy Reich T’16 and Kevin Friedenberg T’16

Our second full day in Bangalore began with a set of field visits to help us understand the social dynamics surrounding urban middle-class consumers in India. Splitting into three groups, we had the opportunity to visit a local pharmacy and public hospital, a set of consumer homes, and the Spastics Society of Karnataka, a foundation providing education and care to disabled children.

Our glimpses into the social fabric of Bangalore were eye-opening. All three visits underscored that day-to-day life is a challenge for the average urban middle-class consumer and that institutions are still catching up to support quality of life across income levels. However, they also showed glimmers of hope: a set of hardworking individuals pouring themselves into creating a brighter tomorrow and measuring their progress day-by-day.

The experiences of field visits in the morning and a visit to an electronics company in the afternoon once again reminded us of the many Indias captured within the borders of the country. In the morning, we saw the India of the middle class urban consumer—one characterized by hard work with an optimistic future, where infrastructural gaps served as reminders of the ground still left to cover. In the afternoon, we saw the India of a successful corporation, trying to do its best to help its community—in some cases, the same people with whom we met in the morning—within the constraints of an arguably shortsighted regulatory policy. While the two visits were merely kilometers apart, their thematic distance helped us all begin to see the unfathomable depth of complexity in relating different players in such a dynamic society.

Hear from other Tuckies on their Global Insight Expeditions: Israel, South Africa, Japan, and the Netherlands.


Erin Wall T’15 graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with majors in economics and mathematics.  Before Tuck, she worked in corporate finance at EMC Corporation and at Bausch + Lomb.  Following her first year at Tuck, Erin interned in the Corporate Development Program at Liberty Mutual and is excited to return to Liberty Mutual full time post-graduation.  At Tuck, she has enjoyed playing tripod hockey, co-chairing Tuck Grooves (the dance club), teaching first graders about business as a volunteer for Junior Achievement and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors of New Hampshire!


Jun Jiang T’15 was born in Beijing. She grew up in Southern California and studied international relations and physics at Stanford University. Before Tuck, she worked as an auditor, saving taxpayer money in the California state government. After Tuck, she will be working in investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the technology, media, and telecommunications group.


Jaimie Sarrault T’15 is a second-year student at Tuck. Prior to receiving her MBA, Jaimie worked in automotive consulting in Detroit, serving General Motors’ dealer network planning and investments group as a strategic analyst. Growing up in northern Michigan, Jaimie went on to receive her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in industrial and operations engineering with a minor in international studies. Last summer, Jaimie interned with Intermountain Healthcare where she worked in operations improvement, program development, strategy, and financial impact analysis. Outside of the classroom, Jaimie enjoys Tuck tripod hockey, volleyball, soccer, cooking, and admiring the beauty of the Upper Valley.


Jorge Seldner Torres T’15 is originally from Hermosillo, Mexico. He studied engineering, receiving a double-degree from Tec de Monterrey (Mexico) and Aalborg University (Denmark). Before arriving in Hanover, he was living in the fascinating Mexico City. He started his professional career in the manufacturing industry and then transitioned to commercial banking. This past summer, Jorge interned at CVS’ pharmacy strategy group. At Tuck, he is co-chair of the General Management Club and is an admissions sssociate. Outside the classroom, Jorge enjoys skiing, playing tripod hockey, and traveling to new places. After graduation, he will return to CVS strategy group.


Sarah Reynolds T’15 has taken full advantage of every global experiential education program at Tuck: traveling to India and China for GIX trips, Uruguay for Global OnSite Consulting, and leading a first year project (FYP) with the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa.  She spent her summer internship at Microsoft. Before Tuck, she lived in San Francisco where she thrived working in sales and marketing for an industry disrupting tech start-up. She studied anthropology and Spanish literature at Colgate University and is a Tuck Business Bridge graduate ’06.


Christina Pluta T’15 has over eight years of experience as an investment analyst, covering both equity and high yield corporate bonds. This past summer she interned with an investment bank in the health care M&A practice where she developed industry analysis, co-created the confidential information memorandum, and assisted in material review meetings with the client for the sale of a leading medical device company. She spent her recent winter break on the commercial team at a biotech startup working on various strategic projects, which included creating a competitive intelligence tracking process from scratch. She has a degree in cellular & molecular biology and is co-chair of the Tuck Healthcare Club.


Following undergraduate studies at Columbia University, Jeremy Reich T’16 remained in New York City and worked as a management consultant and—more recently—a strategist for a primary research firm. At Tuck, he is involved with the Revers Energy Initiative and the Center for Business & Society—two groups which, in overlap, represent his aspirations post-Tuck. As a Connecticut native, Jeremy feels at home in the mountains of New England and tries to hike and be outdoors as much as possible.


Originally from Needham, MA, Kevin Friedenberg T’16 graduated from Swarthmore College in 2010 and spent four years as a management consultant prior to coming to Tuck. For his summer internship, Kevin will be working directly for Siemens USA CEO Eric Spiegel T’87 as a member of the business development and strategy Team. He enjoys playing ice hockey, spending time on the Connecticut River, and raising his puppy.