Our CAP trip has come to an end. It was such a whirlwind experience: completing papers, finals, consulting projects, and case competitions during our last month of our first year and immediately hopping on a 20 hour flight to India. Still no downtime in India—we hit the ground running site seeing and diving into our work at Mahindra & Mahindra.
International consulting is not easy: being in a new, exciting country, many of our days were spent working in an office, meeting with different departments, and working late into the evenings and early mornings to meet our deadlines. We were at the disposal of the client, and it was common to come back to the hotel too exhausted to go out and enjoy the city (though oftentimes adrenaline somehow kicked in and gave us the strength to go out on some of those nights and wake up the next day on 3 hours of sleep). I also learned that consulting can at times live up to its reputation as a “thankless” job—our hosts were most certainly kind and generous, making our work experience as comfortable as possible, but they were also very demanding that our work be comprehensive, robust, and included an implementation strategy. Our final presentation did not quite feel like a weight had been lifted, but rather another opportunity to be given data and feedback to alter and improve our final recommendations. Today, our final day, we are spending in Mahindra’s office, going over our final reports with the client and meeting with client teams so they can learn as much about our recommendations and implementation strategies as possible. They were very gracious and gave us some memorabilia to thank us for our work with Mahindra.
The client’s thirst for information, recommendations, and implementation plans has been relentless, though it reflects their value of each of our projects. Our reward for this hard work over the last 5 months will be the implementation of some of our ideas into a high-profile company—a major automotive company in India (one that is already a leader in supply chain responsiveness), an accomplishment I never would have imagined having had. This was largely due to the clients pushing us towards continued enhancement and refinement of our research and recommendations. Without this push, we would not have gotten nearly as much out of the “consulting” portion of this project; the client is just as invested in this work as we have been, which has made such a critical difference in our experience.
But the reward isn’t in the implementation alone; it has also been in the process itself. We have learned so much about the automotive industry, supply chain responsiveness, and business practices in India. I’ve been pushed beyond my limits of sleep deprivation and working hours to collaborate with fellow classmates to develop cohesive and comprehensive recommendations. We’ve had cross-cultural collaborations with Mahindra employees that sometimes required patience and flexibility. These challenges (while at the time may not have been particularly pleasant) have helped us all learn more about ourselves and how we can better handle these situations now and in the future, which is invaluable in a world that demands globally minded professionals.
My favorite part of this experience has been the bonds I’ve built with my classmates. We have spent nearly this entire 12 days together all the time—in offices, buses, planes, hotel rooms, and buffets (SO many buffets….)—and yet in our few opportunities for free time, we have continued to stay together, share a meal, a beer, or an excursion together. We’ve learned to work together and support each other in times of stress, and keep our spirits high to carpe diem at any given moment—in and out of the office. I really couldn’t imagine getting along any better with a group of 19 amazing people from all walks of life.
But I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here are some testimonials from some of my fellow classmates about our India CAP experience:
Andy said: Mahindra has carefully-considered reasons for everything they do, they are on the cutting edge of innovation, and they staunchly refused to treat us like students on a field trip. We had a steep learning curve, but they invested countless man-hours helping us refine our ideas and our recommendations by giving us direct access to experts in every aspect of Mahindra’s operations. The days and nights began to bleed together as we endeavored to meet Mahindra’s lofty expectations, and I think I got about as much sleep on the long bus rides as I did in our five-star hotels. By the end of the trip, I think every team had at least one idea that could provide a tangible benefit to Mahindra’s organization. Everyone deserves to feel proud of what we accomplished.
Haritha said: This CAP confirmed that I am definitely into consulting and I can live the life of a consultant.
Shivan said: Never take criticism too seriously; you will be thrashed at some point or the other… (It’s about the push and pull of it all) 🙂
Nicole said: I chose to come to George Washington University because of the international business opportunities, and the India CAP offered a unique and rewarding way to gain that experience. Our project added a lot of value to my education, and provided a hands-on learning experience in an important emerging market. I was also thankful to bond with classmates that I have come to call my friends this past year.
I hope this blog was helpful to readers. It has been such a pleasure sharing our experiences with you! –Amanda