GIP India: Leaders Big and Small

          Dalai Lama

You know it’s going to be a good day when within the first 30 minutes of being up you’ve “run into” the Dalai Lama.

THURSDAY morning we got up extra early because we were leaving at 8 AM to travel 2 hours on the outskirts of Delhi to visit Navjyoti India Foundation, an NGO which runs a grades 1 – 5 education program for children in the area. The mission of the day was to visit the school and for each of us to guest teach a class in small groups, keeping in mind the leadership principles we had been studying earlier in the week.

It seemed an appropriate omen for the day then that as we were wrapping up breakfast and preparing to get on the bus we learned that the Dalai Lama would be walking through our hotel in the next few minutes. We went to the lobby to catch a glimpse of his holiness and thought something like this photograph would be the best photo opportunity we would have (keep reading to the end to find out how the above image happened!)

Dalai Lama - LobbyDalai Lama in the lobby. Photo courtesy of Amy Kwan ‘15

Shining a “New Light” on India at Navjyoti

Navjyoti EntranceNavjyoti Child Education Program entrance

Until our visit to Navjyoti (which means “New Light” in Hindi) we had spent most of our days in one of the most upscale areas of New Delhi. Our visit to Navjyoti’s school was the reality check we needed to better understand some of the issues India is facing.

Navjyoti was formally established in 1988 by the legendary Kiran Bedi and 16 of her fellow Delhi Police Officers. The foundation was the brainchild of Bedi who throughout her law enforcement career and beyond has been an advocate for criminal rehabilitation and crime prevention programs (such as education of street children, vocational skills for female drug peddlers, and detox programs for drug addicts) as the most effective methods for reducing crime.

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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!

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GIP India: The Inaugural Trip!

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching”–  Gandhi


I loved my experience in “Personal Leadership” with Professor Hitendra Wadhwa back in August. When I learned he would be leading a new Global Immersion trip to India in the Spring I knew I had to enroll.

While “Personal Leadership” focuses on developing self-awareness and connection to one’s own life purpose, the “Leading Others from the Inside Out” India GIP promises a kind of “next level” journey looking at how personal insight, development of ones strengths, and certain techniques enhance our ability to be effective leaders of other people.

But why do we need to visit India to “look inside” ourselves?

The unique backdrop of India connects the course to a nation considering its own place among the leading countries of the world – a developing country in the midst of great change and rapid development while also possessing a strong spiritual tradition and home to one of the greatest leaders of all time – Mahatma Gandhi.

The course promises a way for us to explore our own leadership development as well as learn about the business culture in India by covering material in a novel way for a business school course. During our week in India we will work with a marketing analytics and research firm based outside of New Delhi called AbsolutData. CBS students will work one-on-one as coaches to managers at AbsolutData, helping them to explore their own leadership goals while practicing our own skills in bringing out the potential in others. We have already conducted Skype conversations and email exchanges with our “coachees” to get to know them and can’t wait to meet them in person tomorrow!

In addition to working with AbsolutData we will have the chance to meet several other Indian business leaders and discuss the opportunities and challenges they are facing. More details to come on this later in the week!

The course officially kicks off with a welcome dinner this evening, but I arrived a few days earlier along with a number of other CBS-ers to explore the fantastical city of Jaipur. In just two days we got to explore many areas of the city, thanks in large part to the phenomenal Amy Kwan ’15 who organized a mini-Chazen tour for all of us. #ChazenAmy

IMG_0956 (2)

The group visiting City Palace in Jaipur, India

In addition to having the chance to ride elephants up to the top of the Amber Fort (so cool!), my favorite experience in Jaipur was attending a cooking class at an adorable boutique hotel called Ikaki Niwas. We were warmly greeted with tea and conversation by the hotel owners Jaideo and Devika before our cooking demonstration with Devika where she instructed us in classic preparations of Papad Curry (a vegetarian dish), Halwa (a yummy dessert best served with ice cream), Indian breads, and delicious Masala Chai. Afterwards we had dinner with Devika and had a chance to eat the food we had just made. We also received copies of the recipes to use as inspiration for our (inevitable!) GIP reunion!

image1Cooking class ingredients – so many spices!

It has been an amazing few days so far and I am looking forward to sharing more with you this week about this journey!

– Sophie Hutson, MBA ‘15