It’s fair to say that I was a massive Field 2 skeptic.
After this wonderful, fascinating week in Mumbai it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but if you’d asked me whether I even wanted to come here in the first place, the honest answer would have been no.
I was fixated on all the wrong things: what can you really accomplish in a week? How much can you really learn about doing business in a country in five days? Why am I working with a company on insurance products when I have no interest in the insurance industry?
In the end, none of those things came to matter much. I learned that you can accomplish a lot in one week, that you can learn a decent amount about doing business in a country in a short period of time, and that if you put your mind to it you can pretty much become excited or interested in anything.
For me though, the global immersion portion of Field was about a lot more than all that.
I worked at Goldman Sachs for six years before coming to HBS. In those six years I heard a lot about growth markets (nee, emerging markets). Being the years 2005-2011, I also heard a lot about the financial crisis and the recession, and more still about layoffs and belt-tightening and “sustain and maintain” rather than “survive and thrive”.
It’s all so different here. You touch ground in Mumbai and all around you there’s possibility and opportunity. It’s in the air and it’s on the streets. Driving through one area, our tour guide made a telling observation: “Four Seasons on the right, slums on the left.” That’s Mumbai for you. Much accomplished, more still to be done.
The opportunities presented by this unique historical moment were echoed by the management of my global partner, and everyone else’s here, I’m sure. We could see it as we taxied around town or traveled three hours away to a small town called Nagothane.
And it was exhilarating. I heard a lot about the BRICs at Goldman, but to have the chance to see it with my own eyes and to experience life in its business culture for even a brief period of time was a truly unique and powerful opportunity.
So thank you, Dean Nohria, faculty members and administrators whose vision and execution capacity made this wonderful week possible. Such things are better said with the benefit of many years’ hindsight, but it sure feels like it was a life-changing experience.
Thank you as well to my team mates and cohort mates; it was great getting to know so many people outside of the section, and to reinforce friendships with those from within my section as well.
So forgive the skepticism I had at the outset; it is long forgotten. I’d sign up again in a heartbeat if I could.