A candid description of my trip from NYC to rural India and finally to U. of Michigan, Ross School of Business. Go Blue!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

India....3 times a charm!

Welcome! This is my old blog from before business school (during my first trip to India) that I decided to relaunch. So much has happened since August 2006 but that’s a whole other story. The reason I am back in India (my love and my nemesis) for the 3rd year in a row is to research a company called Jaipur Rugs for Dr. CK Prahalad. The ultimate goal is to publish a case study on the company in some sort of reputable publication such as Harvard Business Review. As mentioned in my first blog entry ever, I mentioned CK Prahalad’s book and he was actually one of the biggest factors in my decision to attend Michigan for my MBA. Now 2 years later after taking a class with him, I was given the fortunate opportunity to work on this case for CK alongside three of my classmates: Nina Henning, Marion Ntiru and Shara Senior. This is an amazing opportunity and we are working hard right now to learn as much as possible about the company. We are meeting with the family and all other executives, going out to the rural villages to understand the Jaipur Rugs supply chain, and even videotaping everything which we’ll edit later into a really cool PBS-style piece (I knew all that time spent making Follies videos would pay off someday!). But more on Jaipur Rugs later…..

So I arrived in India late Sunday night. After collecting my luggage I took a cab right to Gurgaon, also known as the sprawling call center/mall city that is located just outside Delhi. We decided to stay there for the night since it is right off the Jaipur-Delhi highway and we were leaving for Jaipur first thing in the morning. Driving into Gurgaon brought back a ton of memories, as I lived there for a few weeks just last year during my Michigan MAP consulting project. The whole city is like a wild wild west of sorts- it is developing at rapid speed with fortune 500 businesses setting up shop and a dozen malls all next to eachother lining the main strip. Those friendly Indian voices you hear whenever you call American Express Customer Service are based in Gurgaon, and IBM, Intel, PriceWaterhouse and countless others are too. The city has grown so fast that the infrastructure can’t keep up- the roads still suck and there are blackouts all the time- so all these gigantic malls run on generators most of the time! The biggest mall I have ever seen in my entire life opened up there right off the highway recently. I remember taking the bus into Delhi from Jaipur 2 years ago and seeing the newly broken ground for this mall. Then I was there last year when men were working 24/7 on it, and this time it looks like Ambience Mall has finally opened. The Indians certainly do like to do things to excess.

At the hotel I met up with the other girls, and we attempted to sleep off our jet lag in preparation for the 4 hour ride to Jaipur, Rajasthan in the morning. The next day, I of course got my usual “welcome to India” with a nice accidental nut ingestion at breakfast. I have no idea what I ate but my lips swelled to Jolie size and I had to shoot myself with an Epipen then spend the morning in a bumby car ride to Jaipur. Nice, huh?

We reached Jaipur in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel which is by far the nicest I’ve ever stayed at in Delhi. The company we are studying made all the hotel arrangements and they did an amazing job! A CK Prahalad project certainly comes with a much better budget than a non-profit MAP! It’s great to be back in Jaipur and to stay in luxury, particularly since the last time I was here I managed to bring a hotel cockroach hiding in my luggage all the way back to America with me (it was still alive too!).

I think this is enough for a first entry and I am way behind already- we are traveling quite a bit and I also had a bout with Delhi Belly that took me a few days to recover from. But I really can’t say enough good things about Jaipur Rugs. The company was founded and is currently run by Mr. N.K. Chaudhary, a sweet, caring man who is big on self-reflection, self-improvement and who is rapidly creating a world class carpet production company that is really profitable yet also extensively socially responsible. I have never seen anything like it before. Now I understand why CK really wanted us to focus our case study on Jaipur Rugs and get out to the villages to see each piece of this impressive operation. More to come……



At 12:53 PM, Blogger Anish Goyal, India said...

Read about your experiences in India. nice ones!!
this one particularly reminded me of my 3 great years spent in Gurgaon. but lately I heard the roads are not sustaining the traffic volume.

and well, Jen, I am applying to Ross for MBA '09. just wondering could you give me some insights into Ross.


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