I’m in India, Helping a Real Company Save Millions of Dollars
By Christina Greaves, MSCM ʼ15
I’m sitting on my bed at a five-star hotel in Chennai, India, in the middle of the Tauber Institute Team Project through the Michigan Ross Master of Supply Chain Management Program. I want to tell you the story of how I got here and how this program is changing my life.
Very briefly, this is how it works: Sponsor companies work with the Tauber Institute for Global Operations to develop projects for which they need help from University of Michigan graduate students in Business and Engineering. You can learn more about it on the Tauber Institute website.
It all started when one of the project applications caught my eye, not only because of the challenge it represented, but also because of the opportunity it offered to travel to four different locations overseas. So when projects were finally assigned after rounds of hearing presentations and being interviewed, I was really happy to see that I would be packing my bags and touring the world for 14 weeks.
My project sponsor is auto supplier giant BorgWarner. One would think a big company like that has everything figured out, but it turns out they have challenges too and are eager to work with Tauber students to solve them. This year they were the biggest sponsor, offering a total of six projects. Mine is focused on completing a supply chain evaluation of three different plants, and deriving recommendations to reduce inventory costs — Pretty cool, don’t you think?
My project teammate (an MBA ’16 student) and I started our summer in Mexico. We spent three weeks working with employees and managers to fully understand their operations, we had a plant tour, productive discussions, and deep dives into their data. We also enjoyed the local cuisine (we ate worms!), did some sightseeing, and visited agave fields and tequila distilleries to get a taste for how that industry operates in the country.
After presenting our initial findings to BorgWarner’s management team in Mexico, we headed out to the second location of our summer journey.
I will confess: There is a dark side to the excitement of an international internship, and it is called jet lag. We left our hotel in Mexico at 4 a.m. on a Saturday, and two stop-overs plus a total of 36 hours in transit later, we finally made it to Chennai at 9 a.m. the following Monday. The whole weekend was gone, and we were exhausted!
It took us a couple of days to adjust to the time zone difference, but the team in India has also been very welcoming and supportive. We worked with them to understand their supply chain model, which, interestingly enough, was completely different from the model used in Mexico. The challenges they face are a different thing altogether.
So here I am now, waist-deep into discovering the differences between the multinational operations of a global company while getting to know new places and new cultures.
We have one more week to go in India before heading out for a third round of sessions in Poland and finally setting base camp in China with our project supervisor. There we will fine-tune and wrap up our recommendations for BorgWarner.
You know, the work is difficult and jet lag isn’t fun, but I what I’ve liked the most is the feeling of being a part of something real — working hard on a project that a real company will deploy to save millions of real dollars. Sure, it’s been a hard and challenging road, but the best is yet to come.
Christina Greaves is a student in the Michigan Ross Master of Supply Chain Management Program. She and her team will share their project results at the annual Spotlight! Showcase event in the fall.