GIP India: Becoming Coaches

It’s been a JAM-PACKED week so far for the CBS crew traveling on the GIP India and there’s a lot to share about the work our group has been up to. Let’s go!

Getting oriented

For those of us who arrived into New Delhi on Sunday morning, we were able to spend the first part of the day on a guided tour of some of the Delhi’s biggest tourist attractions, including India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, and the president’s house. That evening the whole class had our welcome dinner at a delicious restaurant in New Delhi called Bukhara. At dinner we had a chance to meet some of the people who would be joining us at various events during the week, including Professor Wadhwa’s wife and daughter which was a treat!

Time to meet our “coachees”

MONDAY it was down to business. After a morning at the hotel discussing some course material, we were on our way to finally meet our AbsolutData “coachees” face-to-face!

AbsolutData is located in Gurgaon, a city just outside of New Delhi that in more recent years has become a business center for global companies in finance, technology, and industry. We received a warm welcome into the office, and after lunch we played a great ice breaker exploring cultural differences where we were each given a question to ask the AbsolutData employees and in turn we had to answer a question from them. We then compiled our answers to our question with others who had asked the same, and compared our results to those AbsolutData had collected.

The result? Most of the responses weren’t that different!

Though we are from different parts of the globe (especially the CBS students, which together in our class represent over 10 different countries of origin) we share many of the same beliefs and concerns!

We spent the time after that meeting with our coachees in groups of 3 discussing their various development goals (for example, how to be more assertive, delegating, influencing others, and communicating with more EQ) and laying the groundwork for our time together.

Stepping into their shoes

In order to help gain more familiarity with the issues our coachees were looking for guidance on, we split off 1-1 with our coachee and shadowed them as they conducted their business in the office…attending meetings, conversing with colleagues, and executing work. It’s hard for most MBA students to stay silent in a meeting but somehow we managed!

IMG-20150317-WA0001 (3)CBS at AbsolutData. Photo courtesy of Lily Oswald ‘15

With our notebooks in hand and observations percolating, we left the AbsolutData office with the promise to deliver substantive coaching when we met again on Wednesday.


2015-03-16 18.57.44CBS in the illuminated hallway at the Leela

The evening concluded with a lovely reception at the nearby Leela hotel where we had a chance to debrief our thoughts from the day with each other and get to know a few Delhi-based CBS Alums and future ‘17s doing amazing things. It was a great start to the week!

A chance for reflection

IMG_1017 (2)An quote from the Gandhi Museum

TUESDAY we had the chance to reflect as we considered the spiritual traditions and political history of India. We visited the Akshardham (a temple with such high security standards we couldn’t take electronic devices or anything larger than a wallet inside) and in the later morning visited the New Delhi residence of Mahatma Gandhi where he was assassinated in 1948 and has since been turned into a museum.

In a way, the two spaces couldn’t be more different. One is an opulent display of spiritual devotion, intricate sandstone carvings, and gilded statues. It is also by far one of the cleanest public buildings many had EVER visited in India or otherwise. In contrast, Gandhi’s residence is of decent size but even in it Gandhi continued to live extremely modestly.

IMG_1014Gandhi’s bedroom area

But both spaces offered the class the chance to take a quiet moment to stop and experience the unique history of India.

IMG_1033The footpath with stone footprints retracing Gandhi’s final walk to prayer.

Back at the hotel after a lecture and discussion period, we had the honor of hosting Patu Keswani, the CEO of Lemon Tree Hotels  in our class.

2015-03-17 18.10.12Keswani speaking to the class

Keswani shared with the class about his own journey towards developing his philosophy of leadership and the responsibility he feels to impart the same values to his organization. He also spoke to us extensively about how Lemon Tree’s people focus is built around a socially inclusive work ethos, and the company has committed to provide employment and “livelihood with dignity” to “Opportunity Disabled Indians.” This includes:

– Employees with Disabilities (EWDs) including physical (speech, hearing impaired, orthopedic) and mental (down syndrome)

– Employees with Economic Educational or Social Impairment (EcoSoc) including issues caused by poverty, low literacy, and social background.

Professor Wadhwa aptly noted that Keswani is able to “see possibilities in people that others don’t” and that greatly influences his capacity to be a great leader. You can learn more about Lemon Tree’s commitment to employing the disabled in this video:

And for the dog-lovers out there, check out Lemon Tree’s efforts to respond to India’s stray dog problem on the Lemon Tree website under “Pooch Policy.”

Lemontree (2)Keswani with some of the CBS students after his talk

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” – Benjamin Disreali

With so much food for thought, WEDNESDAY was the day to meet again with our partners from AbsolutData to discuss their goals and an action plan for addressing them. We spent the morning preparing for the meetings and when AbsolutData arrived we met  for an hour and half of 1-1 coaching and then an hour for groups of 6 to discuss issues in a group. It was a phenomenal experience! During feedback at the end though both sides expressed how they had been a bit skeptical at first about how much could be accomplished in only 3 days, but we were all impressed by the revelations and change plans we were able to arrive at in the end!

IMG-20150318-WA0011 IMG-20150318-WA0012 IMG-20150318-WA0014 IMG-20150318-WA0016 IMG-20150318-WA0015  IMG-20150318-WA0000

Some of the CBS-AbsolutData coaching teams

It is already Friday morning in New Delhi and my next post will capture the 2nd half of the trip. I look forward to sharing it with you!

– Sophie Hutson ’15

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