It is day 4 since I came back from Mumbai Global Business Experience(GBE).
I am still sinking in how much I’ve learned in a week. There were many moments when I thought that GBE was the highlight of my 2-year MBA. I got to know so many classmates in such a short time and their amazing stories. I got to work with them and to learn from them, be it observing how they handled pressure, how they convinced the team to accept new ideas, or how they approached projects. I realized what a smart yet empathic group of people they are and how lucky I am to work with them.
I also got to know an India so different from what I learned before. I thought India would be very much like China, for both being the two most populous countries in the world, and both having fast economic growth as emerging economies. Therefore I was expecting to see a Shanghai in Mumbai.
But soon I realized that was not true.
On my way from the airport to the hotel, I saw so many temples on the street. I later learned that 90% of Indians are religious. I know this number of people in China may be atheism. I also saw most of Indians on street were wearing Sari proudly. Now when you are in China, unless it is a holiday or a big occasion, it will be weird to wear Tang Clothes, which is equivalent to Sari.
The biggest difference comes from the poverty level in both countries. I don’t know if it is because I was not exposed to similar situation in China before or because India indeed has deeper poverty level. I was surprised to learn people still having to live in darkness at night due to lack of electricity and I was shocked to see a whole family had to squeeze in a tiny and dirty place in the slum.
But I was not overtaken by these. On the contrary, I was struck by Indians’ resilience and optimism, when I learned that villagers are becoming entrepreneurs to sell solar light lamp to their community, when I saw that top talents gave up their high-paid jobs in London and returned to the country to help those people, and when I learned that people living in the slum work very hard hoping that one day they or their children will leave slum and move to the tall building next to it.
At the end of my visit, I realize what Mumbai presented to me may not be the metropolitan city as I imagined; but it gave me something much more memorable, be it the joy of working with my classmates, the hospitality from every Indian we met and the smiles on their face regardless of where they live, and the enthusiasm of social entrepreneurs who believe that they can make a difference in their country.
I believe that this experience will live with me for a very long time. So while I am still recovering from it physically, imagining getting up at 3am to catch a flight to visit the village and preparing presentation until mid-night for most of the week, emotionally and intellectually I have gained so much and it makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Mumbai GBE is just a miniature of my whole MBA life/work. The past two－year has been a growing and stretching experience for me. I’ve constantly challenged myself to come out of my comfort zone, be it learning/enjoying a technically challenging course, working hard to balance between academic and work, or staying open-minded and inquisitive to the world. While sometimes I felt that the challenge was beyond what I could take, but as a proverb says “life will never will give you more than you can take”, in the end I always conquered the challenges and I did it with pride. So if this is not enough from my MBA experience, what else could I ask for?