Leading Change in India


Next week, I will be traveling with University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and a university delegation to India, to participate in the U-M India Conference in Mumbai, as well as meet with business leaders and partners to fortify and expand opportunities for Ross students and faculty in India.

India is one of the largest emerging markets in the world and in the coming decades, it stands to have one of the largest consumer markets of any nation. India currently has the 9th largest GDP and 2nd largest population in the world; it is forecast to have the largest population in about 10 years.  With a growing middle class and a bottom of the pyramid segment of the population that demands a totally new approach to value creation and innovation, it is one of the most complex and rapidly evolving markets for business activity. 

It is imperative that business students today graduate with a clear understanding of India and its role on the world political and economic stages. Ross is one of the leading U.S. business schools in India, and our C.K. Prahalad Initiative continues to offer the world’s best opportunities for business learning and research in India.

The late C.K. Prahalad was a brilliant thinker and professor at Ross who pioneered the concept of Base of the Pyramid, the idea that business could make money while providing opportunity for the poorest segments of society. C.K. embodied the Ross mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world, and he was the architect of many of our initial partnerships in India. He recognized the growing significance of India to the global economy decades ago, and thanks to his foresight, we now offer unparalleled educational experiences for students and executives in the country.

For example, each year Ross MBA students travel to India for action-based learning projects with major Indian companies and organizations. Thus far, Ross students have worked on nearly 80 action-based learning projects in India ranging in topics as diverse as mobile payment systems to lean operations. Through them, they develop insight into India’s unique market and acumen for doing business there and interacting with people from different cultures. Faculty also integrate elements from students’ completed action-based learning projects into case studies that are used in courses in Ann Arbor. I have often said that to understand global business, students must experience it. The depth and breadth of our global, action-based learning experiences are key vehicles to develop that crucial understanding.

Additionally, learning opportunities related to India are expanding across Ross programs. For example, we plan to launch a BBA elective in India next year, and each year we welcome a significant number of students from India to Ann Arbor in our BBA, MBA, and specialty masters programs. These students contribute to our global learning environment and increase the diversity of perspectives and approaches among our students. For several decades, Ross faculty have been conducting research on business models for the base of the pyramid market and ways to effectively advance India’s economy, and they bring their insight to classroom discussions throughout our curricula.

Finally, Ross Executive Education offers some of the best executive development programming in India. We launched executive education in India nearly 20 years ago, and we continue to offer custom and open-enrollment programs with major Indian companies such as Tata, Mahindra, ICICI, TVS, L&T and others. 



We expect our fifth U-M India Conference in Mumbai on November 14 will be a platform to advance thought leadership among business and government leaders, as well as students, faculty, and alumni. The conference will explore topics such as technology and innovation in emerging markets, the role of media and entertainment in shaping India’s economic development, and impact investing to promote positive change. The conference in Mumbai is offered in coordination with the Ross India Business Conference in Ann Arbor, which was held November 1.

The many students, faculty, business partners, and alumni who are and have been a part of Ross activities in India inspire me. I am looking forward to meeting some of them as part of this trip and to learning first-hand how we can continue to create mutually-beneficial partnerships and opportunities in India for years to come.

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