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!

Reflecting on India: Great Memories and Unforgettable Experiences

1929786_2901117841083_6513644370311218490_nOur week in Delhi went by incredibly fast, but left everyone in GIP India (Leading from the Inside Out) with new learnings, great memories, and lasting friendships. From our welcome dinner to our final goodbye at the Taj Mahal, each experience taught us a little more about ourselves as global leaders and India’s vibrant culture. I’ve picked out some highlights below:

  • Exploring New and Old Delhi: Prior to our welcome dinner, GIP India went on a tour of the city. Together, we explored Jama Masjid, Lotus Temple, and Humayun’s Tomb while learning about the landmarks along the way and India’s rich history. This was the first time I got to meet a number of my classmates, and we enjoyed bonding over our mutual respect and admiration for Delhi. We ended the day together at Bukkara over delicious Indian food to kick off our program–we were definitely spoiled on this trip!
  • Meeting our AbsolutData coachees for the first time: As mentioned in some of my previous posts, one of the things we got to do during GIP India was mentor a manager from from AbsolutData on topics including how to have difficult conversions, inspire/influence others, change others’ behaviors, etc. On our first day, we were able to go to the office to meet our coachees in person, while also shadowing them to see their management styles in action. It was a day for information gathering and conversation that would inform how we structured our feedback later that week.


  • Learning about the life of Gandhi: Prior to our trip, Gandhi had been an important figure that we discussed in class as a leader who harnessed the power of leading from the inside out. On the second official day of the program, GIP India visited the Gandhi museum and had a dialogue with the head of the museum.
  • Meeting Kiran Bedi and working with Navjyoti: Meeting the “femmspirational” Kiran Bedi and working with the women of Navjyoti was probably the highlight of my week. Dr. Bedi created Navjyoti to empower women through skills building, focusing on economic independence and education to achieve this. The women we met were truly inspirational and had overcome such adversity to gain the position they and their families have achieved today.

Now that I’m home, I can’t help but miss the time I spent in Delhi with GIP India and thank Chazen, Professor Wadhwa and our wonderful TA Sreya for such a great experience. For those of you checking out this blog to pick which program you’d like to take part in, I highly recommend Leading from the Inside Out. The skills I’ve gained from this course will follow me as I continue to develop as a leader.

Thanks for reading! Signing off.

Ting Ting Guo ’16

GIP India Spring 2016