Phone: 612-624-5551
unews@umn.edu
24-hr number: 612-293-0831

Advanced Search

This is an archived story; this page is not actively maintained. Some or all of the links within or related to this story may no longer work.

For the latest University of Minnesota news, visit Discover.

Feature

A student standing in from of an historic building in Bangalore

U student Perteet McSween spent two weeks in Bangalore through the Carlson School of Management's India Seminar. (The photo above was taken outside the Maharaja's palace in Mysore, a town about 200 miles from Bangalore.)

India Inc.

By Anne Rawland Gabriel

From eNews, September 15, 2005

With offshoring becoming as ubiquitous as the Post-it note, the Carlson School of Management's new India Seminar is providing students with an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve.

"In the future, it may be best for your marketing department to be in the United States, your IT to be in India, and accounting in the Czech Republic," observes Mitch Helle-Morrissey, who is on track to graduate next year with an MBA. "The seminar helped me envision what's necessary for creating a global business that uses resources from anywhere in the world."

The India Seminar begins on campus in the fall, using traditional classroom methods to expose students to the challenges of managing across boundaries and distance. During its final two weeks, the program moves to the rapidly developing international offshoring hub of Bangalore--India's silicon valley--for an up-close education on what offshore outsourcing looks like, what it does for a company, and what it means for the local community.

"Ten years ago Bangalore was a retirement community," says seminar participant and MBA student Sridevi Srivatsan, a native of India who lives in Edina, Minnesota. "Now, the demographics are completely different. There are acres and acres of new office buildings, malls, restaurants, and upscale housing."

Mani Subramani, an associate professor of information technology at the Carlson School, developed the seminar. He realized how critical it was for his students to understand the issues related to outsourcing and be prepared to deal with it in our increasingly global economy.

"I was teaching a master's course on managing and IT (information technology), and over the last couple years, I kept getting the idea that students didn't appreciate the complexities of the changing economy--specifically IT," Subramani says.

"In the future, it may be best for your marketing department to be in the United States, your IT to be in India, and accounting in the Czech Republic," says MBA student Mitch Helle-Morrissey.

Much of the work being done through offshore outsourcing is in IT, and that is what most of the general public is familiar with. The media has extensively covered the fact that oftentimes a company's 24-hour help lines or 411 operators are actually working in a country on the other side of the world. But there is a wide range of activities that can benefit from this practice, says Subramani, and that is what he wants his students to realize.

The focus of the seminar's field component is visiting with senior managers at about a dozen outsourcing firms of various sizes. The outsourcers range from call center providers to research and design facilities. "Through the on-site visits, I learned what happens behind the scenes day-to-day," says Srivatsan. "I have a better understanding of how the internal policies and practices of outsourcing providers affect the U.S. companies that hire them."

A senior database administrator for data storage provider Seagate, Srivatsan is seeing immediate benefits to her employer and her career. "I already work with one offshore team," she says. "And I want to expand my involvement to multiple offshore teams."

IT capital

Bangalore is the capital city of the state of Karnataka in southern region of India. It is the fifth largest city in India, with more than 6 million people. According to local folklore, the name Bangalore derives from "Bendakalooru" or "the town of boiled beans"--a name given by King Veera Ballala when a woman there gave him a bowl of boiled beans after he found himself lost in a forest.

Source: Ministry of Tourism, India.

Seasoned international traveler and MBA student Sarah Larson was struck by the influence of culture on business. "For example, there's very little litigation in India compared to the United States," she says. As a result, expenses for legal resources are significantly reduced, along with policies and procedures necessary for staying out of court. In addition, Larson detected an aversion to mass layoffs. Instead, performance standards are prevalent and staffing levels are fine-tuned to meet performance goals.

Helle-Morrissey, a software engineer for Reuters, noted the personal sacrifices required to accommodate a global employer. For instance, Indians must work from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to collaborate in real time with their U.S. counterparts. "Plus, they receive vacation for U.S. holidays that they know nothing about," he says. "[Conversely], when everyone else is celebrating an Indian holiday, they have to work."

Clearly, seminar participants come away with a wealth of insights. For some, there's also a new academic bottom line: Learning to manage across cultures and time zones isn't optional anymore.

"International management courses are no longer auxiliary," says Helle-Morrissey. "They're now a core element of staying competitive in a global world."

To learn more about the program, see India Seminar.

Related Links