Category: MBA

Incredible India: My Journey to the Emerging Economy of 1.37 Billion People

This post was written by Brett Welcher ’19 (MBA) and first appeared as an article on his LinkedIn profile

collage of photos from Brett's trip to India

Did you know the world’s largest democracy is also poised to become the next economic superpower?

By 2030, India will surpass the United States as the second largest economy in the world—with China reaching the top economic pedestal by 2020 and both countries continuing their nominal GDP growth well into 2050. 

There are several reasons for India’s auspicious growth, including robust private consumption and a rapidly growing middle class. To learn more about this emerging economy, I recently traveled to South Asia to immerse myself in India’s culture and spend time with executives from Citibank and KPMG. I also had the opportunity to take a guided tour of Dharavi—the largest slum in Asia—and witness the country’s remarkable small-scale industrial power, where an estimated 5,000 businesses produce up to $1 billion a year in revenue.

This exciting immersion was part of my MBA studies at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School—Poets and Quants’ “2018 MBA Program of the Year”—and included coursework focused on international macroeconomics and global economies.

My interest in participating in this trip came from a deep desire I had to learn more about India. Since the country’s independence in 1947, India and the United States have formed one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. Trade between the two countries topped $126 billion in 2017 and two-way investment reached $45 billion. Moreover, the United States is home to the second largest Indian diaspora in the world, with an estimated 3.3 million Indians living and working in America. Clearly, the ability to learn more about Indian culture and business etiquette is a vitally important perspective needed today in the United States. 

Having previously traveled to South Africa to study urban revitalization and youth leadership, consulted with an exciting Israeli start-up that’s integrating Artificial Intelligence with global communications, and competed in the world’s largest MBA case competition in Canada, the India trek represented the fourth global business trip I’ve completed as part of my international MBA and stands out as one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.

At Simon Business School—the first and only MBA program in the United States with a STEM-designated option for students in any specialization—we’re trained to evaluate situations through analytical frameworks and economics to see through the ambiguity and formulate data-driven insights. In studying India’s macroeconomics and traveling across the world’s second most populous nation, I came away with several significant insights about this emerging country:

India’s One of the Fastest Growing Economies in the World

Cyber City in New Delhi

In New Delhi, the power of India’s economic growth was observed at Cyber City—a corporate park that houses some of the top IT and Fortune 500 companies in the world.

As a society that celebrates knowledge and innovation, India has transformed itself into a high-tech hub of the global economy. This country has unlocked new discoveries—from fiber optics and high-definition video to Pentium processors and UBS drives—and its robust IT industry and rising startup scene has contributed to lifting countless people from poverty and helping build one of the largest middle classes in the world. 

In New Delhi, the power of India’s economic growth was observed at Cyber City—a corporate park that houses some of the top IT and Fortune 500 companies in the world. It was here that I met with executives from KPMG and was briefed on their work in India. During my two-hour long meeting, I learned that KPMG provides advisory services to both the public and the private sector and is helping India embrace a new urbanism defined by smart cities and inclusive growth.

KPMG is also aligned with the development goals of India and is engaging intimately with the government in areas such as social development, skill development, investment promotion and ease of doing business, financial inclusion, and digitization of government services. Furthermore, the company recently published a white paper entitled “India Soars Higher” to provide a clearer understanding of India’s evolving business landscape. In the report, it highlights India’s macroeconomic stability, improvement in the ease of doing business, and a focused effort on becoming a digitized economy as key factors behind the country’s economic growth and future success.

The Most Sophisticated ID Program in the World

Aadhaar Logo

In Mumbai, the importance of India’s rapidly growing middle-class was further emphasized during conversations I had with executives from Citibank, including Samiran Chakraborty, India Chief Economist, and Shinjini Kumar, Consumer Business Manager. During my visit, I not only learned about Citi’s outlook on investment and productivity growth in India, but was also fascinated to hear about a program called Aadhaar, a countrywide initiative created by the government of India. 

The Aadhaar project aims to provide biometric IDs to every citizen of India, many of whom lack any form of identification. The “most sophisticated ID program in the world” is currently used by almost a billion citizens and is providing access to a wide range of social benefits, including banking services and government subsidies, while streamlining bureaucratic processes and providing Indians with a secure and unique identification number.

The implications of Aadhaar are enormous—for India and potentially the entire developing world. It demonstrates the power of how advanced technology and sound management practices can serve fundamental human needs and improve the human condition. Already, similar initiatives are underway in Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Celebrating India’s Rich History and Diverse Culture (and a $91 Billion Industry)

Brett standing in front of the Taj Mahal

At the Taj Mahal, an immense mausoleum widely considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever created, I learned about the unique and truly remarkable innovations carried out during its 16-year construction.

India is one of the most diverse nations in the world. In area, it is the seventh largest country and with over 1.3 billion people, second only to China in population. Within its geographical confines, stretching from the Great Himalayas in the north to the tropical southern peninsula, there are a dizzying variety of cultures, languages, ethnic groups, beliefs, and lifestyles that few countries or continents possess. The past is ever-present, and centuries-old forts and temples happily coexist with the modern. (Dalal, 8)

At the Taj Mahal, an immense mausoleum widely considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever created, I learned about the unique and truly remarkable innovations carried out during its 16-year construction. One of the more prominent features of the Taj Mahal is its famous dome. Using an architectural innovation developed in Central Asia, the dome is actually of double construction, a design that allows more height. Combining this with its perfectly symmetrical planned building and you have the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture.

To see India’s rich and prodigious symbols of history up close was truly breathtaking. It also engaged my critical thinking as I sought to better understand the historical significance of these sites and their role in driving business today. As one of the world’s largest economic sectors, travel and tourism “supports one in every 10 jobs on the planet and is a dynamic engine of employment opportunity.”

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the direct contribution of tourism to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $91.3 billion in 2017 and is forecasted to rise by 7.1 percent per annum from 2018–2028. In 2017, travel and tourism directly supported over 26.1 million jobs or approximately five percent of India’s total employment.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit in Dharavi

Collage of images from Dharavi

In the beating heart of Mumbai lies a community full of inspiration and pride and a population working every day to show what people are capable of achieving despite adverse conditions.

In the beating heart of Mumbai lies a community full of inspiration and pride and a population working every day to overcome adversity. This place is called Dharavi and is the largest slum in Asia. While many people might recognize Dharavi from the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire, this place is more than an urban district. It’s home to a friendly, welcoming, and dignified population of one million people. 

During my tour of Dharavi, I spent two hours walking through industrial areas, recycling centers, residential homes, and community schools with a local student who grew up in Dharavi. All throughout the tour, I was fascinated to learn about the diversity of small-scale enterprises that exist within this 2.1-square-kilometer area. In Dharavi, there are an estimated 5,000 businesses producing up to $1 billion a year in revenue. These industries include: textiles, pottery, leather, embroidery, recycling, restaurants, and thousands of boutiques.

My visit to Dharavi was extremely positive and insightful and, most importantly, eye opening. It shattered all the stereotypes I had of slums and was one of the best experiences of my life. Despite the extreme poverty that exists, I walked away inspired by the people I met. People who are far too busy making the most of what they have, not dwelling on what they don’t have.

Building Lifelong Relationships with My Classmates

Brett poses with his classmates from Simon

In addition to learning more about the country’s emerging economy and rich culture, it was the time I spent with my Indian classmates that made the trip especially meaningful. Their warm Indian hospitality truly moved me and is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

Empowered by technology, India’s rising population of young people will ignite the next wave of growth. I’ve seen a preview of their vast potential here at Simon Business School, where over 30 percent of the MBA Class of 2019 is from India, as well as some of my best friends in the program. By collaborating with my Indian classmates, it’s allowed me to not only exchange diverse ideas, but also catalyze our ability to learn and go further together.

In visiting the home country of so many classmates I respect and admire—and then meeting up with several of them in Jaipur and Mumbai—I came away not only with a deeper understanding of their background, but a lifelong bond that will be meaningful and substantive long after we graduate.

After doing four global trips with Simon Business School, I can unequivocally state that India has been my favorite one. In addition to learning more about the country’s emerging economy and rich culture, it was the time I spent with my Indian classmates that made the trip especially meaningful. Their warm Indian hospitality truly moved me and is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

Final Thoughts

Several weeks after returning home from India, I am still reliving the inspiring and life-changing moments I was so fortunate to experience. This trip was a remarkable opportunity to immerse myself in an emerging economy, and the perspectives and insights I gained will continue to shape my decision-making for years to come.

India and the United States share a spirit of dynamism and entrepreneurship that will be pivotal in solving some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, particularly in a world that demands adaptability and resilience.

I remain prepared and eager to lead in this new age of global economic transformation.

Advice from the Assistant Dean: Spring Applicant To-Do List

The following blog post was written by Rebekah Lewin, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid

Rebekah.LewinThis time of year we often receive questions from applicants wondering if it’s “too late” to apply or worrying about submitting their application after several rounds of applications are already under review. They express concern that a portion of the class is already reserved and wonder how competitive it will be for remaining spots. 

Don’t worry—if you are a top candidate, you will be competitive regardless of when you apply in the cycle. Don’t overthink the situation, as most top schools have a waiting list to save some spaces for top candidates in each application round. Simon also offers scholarship consideration in all five of our application rounds, which is a huge benefit. 

Here are a few tips that will help you put your best foot forward as a spring applicant:

  • Be confident. Regardless of your reason(s) for applying in the spring, you should be confident in your talent and work diligently on all aspects of the application. Show the Admissions Committee how you will be an asset to the school not only as a student, but as a member of its alumni community as well.
  • Do your research. Be thorough in researching your target B-schools so you understand the culture of the schools and can clearly express why you are a “good fit” for the program. Typically, the essay and interview components are good opportunities to express this to the Admissions Committee.
  • Apply when the timing is best for you. The Simon Admissions Committee will not ask you to address why you are applying in the spring. It’s your decision on if/when to provide this information to us. We understand circumstances change and people are creating new education and career goals all the time—we would love to help you achieve yours!
  • Plan ahead. All of our full-time programs begin in mid-July, so applying in March will provide more time to arrange the move to Rochester if you live outside of western New York.
  • Take stock of your scores. There will be little time to retake test scores or update items in your application after submission, so make sure you are really satisfied with your application items before submitting them for review.
  • Be ready to interview. The interview timeline will likely be compressed given the time of year, so be prepared to quickly respond if/when an offer is extended.
  • Don’t wait to secure your spot in the class. If admitted, the deadline to respond to our offer will likely be roughly three weeks, or possibly even less, depending on how late in the year you are admitted. Make sure you ask critical questions up front so that you are prepared to commit and enroll if you are admitted.

Each year we admit great students in the spring, and this year we hope you will be among them! Our remaining application deadlines for 2019 entry are as follows (rolling admission occurs in between the deadlines):

March 31, 2019 – This is an ideal deadline for international students to target, as it allows your I-20 to be processed earlier and expedites the Visa process.

May 1, 2019 – Final deadline for 2019 entry.

We hope to see you this summer to begin your business school studies. Put the finishing touches on your Simon application—we look forward to reviewing it soon!

Hit the Ground Running: Attend a Pre-MBA Conference

The following blog post was written by Mike Alcazaren ’19 (MBA), who is headed to Amazon as a senior product manager after graduation. If you plan to attend a pre-MBA conference, please contact the Simon Admissions Office at admissions@simon.rochester.edu or (585) 275-3533 so we can help you prepare your application (if necessary) and make the most out of your conference experience. 

Mike AGMAT studying, application writing, and campus visits have wrapped up, and you’ve just accepted your offer—congratulations and welcome to Simon! We’re excited to have you join our community.

When I was coming into the first year of my Simon MBA, I wanted to make sure that I hit the ground running. I expressed this desire to the admissions team, and they suggested that I attend a pre-MBA conference. They helped me register for the 2017 Poets & Quants Pre-MBA Networking Festival in New York City. By the way—I’m also proud to share that Poets & Quants named Simon Business School the 2018 MBA Program of the Year!  

The Poets & Quants Pre-MBA Networking Festival is an annual spring event for MBA candidates headed to leading business schools in the fall. At the festival, you can network with your peers from across schools and make office visits to leading companies. It is a great way to explore new career opportunities including investment banking, management consulting, product management, and other MBA roles. Our company visits included Amazon, Google, McKinsey, Google, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and others. During these visits we learned about career opportunities, company culture, and what a day in the life looks like at each company.

I knew I wanted to use my MBA to propel myself into a career as a product manager or a management consultant.  For others who weren’t as sure, they had a fantastic opportunity to explore new potential career paths and gain insights from folks in industry.

Once the conference ended, many of the companies extended invitations to apply to their internship programs before starting school. Amazon was one of the companies that reached out to me, and I applied to their 2018 summer internship program. I ended up interviewing with Amazon for a senior product manager internship in August. At the beginning of Fall Term I received the good news that I was headed to Amazon for my summer internship!

Many of my other classmates had similar experiences, landing jobs early by attending pre-MBA conferences through Forté and The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. Attending a pre-MBA conference and securing a summer internship opened up a plethora of new opportunities during my first year. Time I would have spent recruiting was now free to dive into other activities to shape my MBA experience, including attending international immersions and joining student clubs and co-curricular activities.

If you’re given an opportunity to attend these conferences, be sure to take the plunge and get your head start!

Things We Love About Simon

With one day remaining until our February 15 full-time application deadline, we figured we would use Valentine’s Day—a day to celebrate camaraderie, friendship, and love—as an occasion to tell you a few things we love about Simon:

  • Our students. Simon students impress us every day—they are exceptionally bright, hard-working, involved, and committed to making an impact on our community. Our students are the heart of everything we do at Simon.
  • Our faculty. At Simon, you will work one-on-one with thought leaders in finance, accounting, economics, management, and marketing. Our faculty will challenge your assumptions, guide your intellectual pursuits, and provide astute industry advice. It’s no wonder they routinely receive an “A” for teaching quality from Bloomberg Businessweek.
  • Our location. Its proximity to New York City and other major metros combined with its affordability—a two-bedroom apartment in a complex is roughly $750 per month—make Rochester, NY, a great place to pursue a graduate business degree. Plus, you’ll get to experience four seasons and all the beauty each has to offer. 
  • Our community. At Simon, clubs, case competitions, and other experiential learning opportunities will introduce you to students across all our full-time programs. You will get to know your peers on a professional and personal level and build a network that will support and enrich you throughout your career.

We would love to have you join the Simon family. Take the first step toward your future business career: our Round 3 full-time application deadline is tomorrow. Don’t wait—apply now!