I met up with Dean Dipak Jain and the entire Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board in Mumbai, India in early January 2007. Dean Jain brought about 60 members of the Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board on a week long India trip. Senior Associate Dean Kathleen Hagerty and Associate Dean Roger "Whit" Shepard also accompanied them. They spent 3 days in Hyderabad, a day in Mumbai and a couple of days in Delhi where they caught up with the Indian Prime Minister – Mr. Manmohan Singh. Sanjay Shroff – Kellogg alum from Bangalore did a terrific job co-coordinating the trip for the team.
My brother (who works for an investment firm in Mumbai) and I caught up with the team in Mumbai. We had a quick breakfast at the Taj Hotel in South Bombay. From there, we went to the HSBC office that was about 10 minutes away. Mr. Subir Mehra – Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC (also Kellogg alum) greeted us and gave us a presentation about his group. He was followed by 2 other Kellogg alums - Siva Ramamoorthy (Director Sales & Marketing – Intel) and Vinod Dasari (COO of Ashok Leyland) who presented their companies plans with the backdrop of India’s tremendous growth opportunities. I wanted to invite a good friend and an alum - Peter Mukerjea (then CEO of Star TV India), but he was vacationing in Australia at that time.
From there, we proceeded to the star event of the day – lunch meeting with Mr. Mukesh Ambani (ranked #14 richest by Forbes – with a net worth of $20 billion). See link for details http://www.forbes.com/lists/2007/10/07billionaires_Mukesh-Ambani_NY3A.html
We arrived at the Reliance (Mr. Ambani’s company) world headquarters in Nariman Point. His head of business development provided a brief overview of the company’s operations and history. After that, walked in Mr. Ambani. He was dressed in a simple white shirt and dark pants. He then proceeded with a short presentation of his company’s growth plans and his vision of establishing a retail division. The retail story is incredible because he is not just planning to build retail stores, but in-fact also backward integration with distribution channels, transportation, and logistics all the way to the farmer in the field. People who have followed the Ambanis’ know that when they take up a project, they do a fantastic job in setting new quality standards. He then took a few questions. After that, he posed for a group photo. See link here – my brother and I are at the back row.
The team rested at the Taj hotel in the afternoon and then around 4:30 pm boarded 2 buses that took us to the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) facility in Andheri. The trek was from the southern part of Bombay to the western suburbs. It was a huge sprawling campus which was very surprising (in a place like Mumbai where real estate is premium). The CEO of TCS, Mr. S Ramadorai and his leadership team hosted a dinner for us. Mr. Firdose Vandrevala (who was the CEO of Motorola India & Tata Power and now Chairman & MD of the Hiranandani group's real estate firm Hirco) also attended the dinner reception.
We finished dinner around 10:30 pm and then headed back home. It was certainly an honor to be in the company of those folks. The Kellogg team from the US seemed to have a great time in India (almost all of them had never been to India before). I am sure they carried warm memories of this trip. I certainly cherished this day with my fellow Kellogg compatriots. Dean Jain and Sanjay Shroff organized the event extremely well. The following day, they met up with the Prime Minister – Mr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.