For some students, however, studying abroad or traveling internationally for one or two weeks is not enough. They want something that puts their academic work to the test through real life-application, even as they live and learn another culture.
Krannert alumnus Venu Srinivasan (MSM ‘77), chairman and managing director of TVS Motor, helps meet that demand through his company’s sponsorship of the International India Internship program. TVS, a winner of the coveted Deming Prize for quality management, is the third-largest manufacturer of two-wheel vehicles in India and among the top ten in the world.
Srinivasan, who also has served as president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, knows the value of studying and working abroad from his time in the United States as a Krannert student. He views the internship program as a way for him to give back to Purdue while creating an opportunity for the TVS leadership team to experience managing other cultures, ideas and labor styles.
During their three-week stay in India, which typically begins in May following final exams, students and their teams consult with mentors from TVS on various issues and problems, working daily at the TVS campus to complete their project and present their solutions to senior management.
The program offers exposure to manufacturing, logistics, supplier management, market segmentation and other business processes.
TVS, a winner of the coveted Deming Prize for quality management, is the third-largest manufacturer of two-wheel vehicles in India and among the top ten in the world.
“Students learn how to perform in cross-functional and cross-cultural teams, taking a specific question and seeking to answer it with few guidelines or boundaries,” Pilotte says. “It is a unique, hands-on way of taking the concepts they learn in the classroom and applying them to real-life, global business situations.”
Like Bangalore traffic, the India internship program continues to evolve. To keep the experience fresh and challenging, projects and project assignments change based on the needs of TVS and the interests, strengths and personalities of the individuals in that year’s cohort, who work in teams of two or three.
“I meet with each student, talk to them about their backgrounds, what they want to gain from the experience, and what they are bringing to program,” Pilotte says. “It’s not always a perfect match, but in many ways it doesn’t have to be. There should be some room for learning in the process.”
Students begin corresponding and videoconferencing with their TVS project mentors in March under guidance from a senior member of the Krannert faculty. For the last three years that’s been Suresh Chand, an operations management professor who also has accompanied the students on the trip to India.