Reflections on our trip

James Williams ’17

Our last few days in India went by in a blink.

Here’s a group photo of us in the lobby of the ITC in New Delhi:


I think our trip to India gave us a much better sense of what operating in an emerging market might be like.  From the largest of conglomerates to the smallest of start ups, the businesswomen and men that we met were uniformly confronted with the necessity of making mission critical strategic decisions without troves of data.

One of my favorite insights from the trip related to how one could best capitalize on India’s favorable secular tailwinds.  This person had concluded that since at many times market multiples account for (or more than account for) the underlying growth rates, that one might do best by building their own business.

For many reasons this was an incredibly rewarding trip.  Spending time with executives from a wide array of businesses was immensely educational…maybe I should do that on ALL of my trips abroad…

Thanks for reading my blog!

We Love India

James Williams ’17


Before I forget – most of the photos in this post were taken by Isabel Lacambra ’18 who as you will see has great taste and takes wonderful photos.

We left Mumbai on the 1st for Jaipur.  Our hilarious tour guide Adil explained that Indian towns founded by Hindus end in pur while those founded by Muslims end in abad.

I’ve had a fantastic time so far and am grateful not only for the opportunity to visit this beautiful country in a way I certainly could not on my own but for all of my wonderful classmates whom I would not have met otherwise.

Here’s a picture that I love of the group.


After an exciting evening and beautiful afternoon in Jaipur we took a 5 hour bus ride to Delhi.   I mention the length of the ride because while it was an exhausting trip we have had a great time on many of our bus rides.  The aisle has served as a dance hall and karaoke stage and I’ve gotten to bond with many fellow CBS’ers by sitting beside them between one place and another.

Here’s another photo of the group.  Notice Orgil Sedvanchig ’17 in the back row being non-compliant :).


I am sure that I am not alone in the difficulty I experience trying to describe this place to family and friends who inquire.  On my first day all I could say was that it was “intense.”  I’ve gotten a bit better at articulating how India makes me feel but it is still a work in progress.

  1. India is a place of beautiful colors.  chokni-dhaniumbrellaschokni-dhani-2
  2. India makes me really happy and sometimes really sad.  .   street-scene street-scene-2

At the risk of ending this post on a low note, a lot of India reminds me of how fortunate I have been.  Unequal access to resources breaks my heart.

At any rate, this trip has been immensely educational and broaden my horizons.







Making Memories in Mumbai

James Williams ’17

I think I speak for everyone when I say that one of the most fun parts of this trip has been getting to know classmates whom we would have otherwise not met.

Well, we had another great day today.

After a quick lunch:lunch

we it made to Tata’s corporate headquarters where we met with the company’s chief ethics officer.  Tata was founded in the late 19th century and has been a leading Indian conglomerate for sometime.  The business does about $100 B USD in sales every year with 70% of sales coming from overseas.  Our conversation ranged broadly from the challenges of executing in foreign environments to compensation philosophy but focused mainly developing a sustainable culture across Tata’s many different business units.


We spent sometime walking around Colaba Causeway after our meeting before heading to the ocean to check out marine drive.

Here’s a photo of the Queen’s Necklace:


Here’s one of Anindya Dutta explaining how business customs differ in India:


Well – it is almost midnight and I have to be up at 7 for another exciting day.

Tata for now.

Amazing Mumbai

James Williams ’17

The gang is all here!


We had a wonderful first night in Mumbai.  This is a photo of about half of us on the roof top of the Four Seasons – a truly beautiful downtown Mumbai property.  The large building in the background is the St. Regis, where we are staying.

Here’s another silly photo of us in an elevator!


We had dinner at a fantastic – some might call it devastatingly delicious – Chinese restaurant before calling it a night.

This morning we were fortunate to have a meeting with Ronnie Screwvala.  For our vast stateside readership, Mr. Screwvala is an Indian media mogul.  He founded his own broadcast channel called UTV during the earliest days of Indian TV privatization.  Since selling his business to Disney in 2012, Mr. Screwvala has allocated the majority of his time to scalable philanthropy and PE style investments.

Mr. Screwvala was very generous with his thoughts on what makes a good mentor (someone who can ask you 10 interesting questions every time you meet them), the direction of Indian media (print still has room to go, VOD is a challenged space) and how we might better ourselves in general.

We went for a nice drive along the ocean (see below)


before meeting with Reliance’s retail group.

Here’s the team, “looking fly” as the youngsters might say:


This was also an incredibly educational meeting and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite meeting between the two.

Not only did we learn about Reliance’s JV structure a ton about the retail landscape in India, but we got to hear about Reliance Jio’s push into the telephony space and learn more about the Ambani family.

Well – if you can’t tell from my effusive writing, we had a great day today.  I’m almost too exhausted to go to the surely fantastic dinner we are going to have tonight.  Almost.




Good Morning Mumbai

James Williams ’17 / India

Good Morning!

I woke up in Andheri (a suburb in Northern Mumbai) at an Airbnb this morning.  At dawn (thanks to jet lag), I took an Uber to the St. Regis to meet Liz Gao ’17 who arrived at 4:00 am from China.

I was happy I got up so early today for two reasons:

  1.  I beat the traffic.
  2. I got to watch the sun rise and the city wake up:dawn-in-mumbaiAbove is a photo I snapped from the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.

Dawn is an interesting time in all cities and Mumbai is no exception.  I got to watch shops open up and quite a few people jogging.

Well – we are off to the Prince of Wales museum to check out some fine art.

Our trip officially begins tonight at 8:00 pm – I can’t wait.

India? Indeed!

James Williams 2017

Hello – this will be the first of a series of blog posts documenting our Chazen trip to India.  Jerome Chazen is a great man and I am thankful for the opportunity he helps provide to CBS students looking to gain a more worldly view.

This Fall semester was a blast (as is every semester at CBS) and went by too fast!  I’m at home now in California.  Here’s photographic proof:  james-and-grandma

This is me and my grandma.  No, she’s not coming with us to India unfortunately!

I spent the summer as a stock analyst researching and writing about Indian media:  Star, Zee, Doordarshan, Sun TV, Tatasky, Den, SITI and of course the film industry!  I thought it was fascinating and was elated to have won a spot on this trip.

I’m really excited for all the company visits we are going to have and expect them to be immensely educational.  I’m all packed and flying out soon.

I wish everyone safe travels and can’t wait to see them in India!