By Nimish Shukla, Lauder/Wharton Class of 2015 and member of Lauder’s Hindi program.
There’s a famous Urdu couplet that reads:
Justaji jiski thi hume, woh nah mila
Is bahanne se magar dekh li duniya hum ne
Which, when translated reads:
I didn’t find what I was searching for
But on that pretext, I saw the entire world
I joined the Lauder Hindi track nearly three months ago, spending the last two months with the other Hindi trackers on our summer immersion program. When I applied to Lauder late last year, I was working with a not for profit in Mumbai through the American India Fellowship for Service after a radical career change. Previously, I had spent four years working in energy investment banking with a mid-market firm in DC. While I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with, I found myself yearning for something more. I wasn’t exactly sure what that was, but I knew I wanted more international experience and I wanted to try my hand in the development sector. When I was thinking about business school, I realized the Lauder program was the perfect fit—allowing me an opportunity to continue to build my business understanding and skill set, while also working on improving command of Hindi and incorporating an international scope to the business school education.
The Hindi track spent eight weeks in India completing a mix of Hindi classes, cultural immersions and meeting with business and political officials. We spent the first two weeks in Delhi, and besides the excruciating heat, all settled in and began working on bettering our Hindi. The next two weeks were spent in Mumbai where we had the unparalleled opportunity to meet business leaders in a range of industries including healthcare, real estate, investment banking, private equity and non-profits. My personal favorite was with Mr. Shiv Khemka a Lauder graduate and the Vice Chairman of the Sun Group. Mr. Khemka was able to provide a unique lens for us as a veteran of the Lauder program and as a business pioneer in South America, Russia and now India.
After spending a rainy two weeks in Mumbai we head back to Delhi where we continued to focus on our Hindi classes and meetings with political officials. We were fortunate to meet with M.S. Ahluwalia the Deputy Chairman of India’s Planning Commission, Mr. Shashi Tharoor a famed author and currently the Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Wharton’s own Mr. Sachin Pilot (WG 2002) the Minister for Corporate Affairs. I left each of these meetings with a renewed excitement for myself for my next couple of years at Wharton and for the next several years pursuing potential opportunities in India. Gaining the insight from these leaders in the political space provided us invaluable insight into some of the difficulties India faces and the resulting opportunities that are going to be available to individuals like ourselves.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the last couple of months and quickly realized the opportunity to see India through a new academic framework, meeting and conversing with leaders of politics and business and of course spending time with the four other amazing Hindi track Lauderites is one that will continue to be a turning point in both my personal and professional life. And now back in Philly and starting up classes at Wharton, I’m still a bit unsure as to what exactly it is “I’m looking for” but I’m positive that I couldn’t have picked a better place and program to help me see and better understand the world. And hopefully I’ll be able figure out exactly what it is that I’m interested in looking into for the next several years.