Sharing leadership techniques with the world’s largest democracy, the Ross School of Business will once again take its work overseas. University administrators, faculty members and students will collaborate with alumni and business leaders in India Saturday for the University of Michigan India Conference.
The India Conference, primarily organized by the University of Michigan India Alumni Association, succeeds the Business School’s India Business Conference, which took place Nov. 1 in Ann Arbor. Over the last five years, University affiliates have held two conferences annually — one in India and one in Ann Arbor — that showcase the business trends in both countries. With speakers and attendees that represent both demographics, the conferences seek to highlight and connect business leaders.
Business Prof. C.K. Prahalad, who passed away in 2010, initiated engagement between India and the Business School in 1994 before India was recognized as a potential emerging market. The Business School has continued his academic and research legacy in the country through the India Initiatives program.
India Initiatives, which launched in August 2011, connects the Business School with India through opening research, academic, executive education and outreach activities in both Ann Arbor and India. The program works to coordinate Ross-India conferences in both locations and conducts executive training programs in Indian corporations, such as the Tata and Mahindra.
“We’re all in a connected world now,” said M.S. Krishnan, faculty director of India Initiatives. “From a business standpoint, whether it is a pure economic opportunity or an opportunity to (tackle) social issues, India is a great place.”
Unlike the conference that took place in Ann Arbor, the Mumbai conference won’t be branded as an exclusively business conference in an attempt to expand the number of disciplines addressed.
Of the University alumni who have founded businesses in India, most were not graduates of the Business School, Bharat Govinda, secretary of the UMIAA, said in a July interview. The India Alumni Association, through the conference and other networking initiatives, aims to connect alumni from all of the University’s schools and colleges.
“If I was to think of the University of Michigan as a stock, the University is trading extremely below its face value,” Govinda said. “The association tries to break boundaries.”
The conference, themed is “Lead the Change,” will be structured as a series of panel discussions on science, leadership, business management and media. University administrators who will serve as panelists during the discussions include Business School Dean Alison Davis-Blake; James Holloway, vice provost for global and engaged education; James E. Penner-Hahn, LSA associate dean for budget; and Peggy Burns, LSA associate dean for advancement.
University President Mary Sue Coleman will be one of the keynote speakers for the event, addressing the conference on building a stronger connection between the University and India. The conference, which traditionally has been held in August, was postponed in order to coincide with Coleman’s trip to India. Her visit will be the last international trip Coleman will take on behalf of the University before she retires in July 2014.
A.P.J Abdul Kalam, former president of the Republic of India and a scientist known for spearheading India’s nuclear tests, will serve as another opening keynote speaker for the conference.
“After graduation, alumni tend to get distant from the University,” Govinda said. “What the alumni desire out of the president’s visit is just getting to know what is going on in Ann Arbor and the University.”
“We see very little of Michigan in India, and I think it is about time the University does something about it,” he added.