Raj Jain has a distinguished career as an executive at some of India’s largest consumer goods and retail companies, and he will now add media to that mix of industry experience. Jain was recently appointed CEO of the Times Group media conglomerate that among other properties, publishes The Economic Times and The Times of India—the largest English publication in the world. He is currently the CEO of Bharti Retail, a multi-brand venture that includes Easyday stores, and has previously headed Walmart India, served as managing director and CEO of Whirlpool India, and worked for Hindustan Unilever.
Jain recently spoke to Fuqua’s Global Executive MBA students studying in in Delhi. He shared insights on the retail industry, leadership, and the evolving Indian consumer market in a Fuqua Q&A.
Q) You have lived and worked in China and have previously said there are more differences than similarities in how one would operate a business there verus India. Could you provide an example? Additionally, how would someone build the necessary skills for working cross-culturally between these two countries?
I often say that the only similarity between India and China is the one billion-plus population! While this may be an exaggeration, truth is that the two emerging countries are very dissimilar. Starting with the customer, one should remember that China has pursued a one child policy over 25 years. This has had a significant bearing on family structure, the role of women in society, and aspirations of young families. Coupled with rapid urbanization, Chinese cities and urban customers have developed very differently from those in India. For example, a large majority of women are part of the workforce in urban China while this number is in the teens in India. Women at work have a significant impact on, say penetration of washing machines, home aids and many other time/effort saving devices at home. Similarly there is a significant adoption of western wear (for the office) among women in China versus ladies traditional apparel sold and tailored in India. On another note, for various cultural, language and historical reasons most young Chinese prefer working for local companies rather than for western multinationals. This is almost the reverse in India. Understanding some of these basic factors in a society is critical to effectively working cross culturally, much more than language and other visible cultural symbols.
When Matt Friedrick realized his childhood dream of becoming Indiana Jones wasn’t likely to become a reality, he began to look for other career paths with a sense of worldly adventure. He eventually landed at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business where he serves as the regional director for India. In the role, Friedrick develops relationships and partnerships in India that help the school understand the region from both a local perspective and the larger global business landscape.
Friedrick explains more about his role and his interests in this Fuqua Q&A.
Q) What did you do professionally before you joined the Fuqua team?
Immediately before joining Fuqua I was with the University of North Carolina system for nine years, building international programs and relationships. I delivered programs in India, China, Mexico and Denmark. My biggest accomplishment was building a strategic languages program that reached more than 16,000 primary and secondary school students. When I started the program, there were only 323 students studying strategic languages in North Carolina, so I was very proud of this growth. My other proudest accomplishment was building an educational relationship between the state of North Carolina and Maharashtra in India, which allowed high school students in each state to collaborate online around important issues, like combating global poverty.
Many international students attend business school in the United States with hopes of landing a job in the country.
Recently, a group of Duke University Fuqua School of Business students from India sat down with former regional director for India Dan McCleary to talk about how their experiences as MBA students prepared them for careers with companies like Microsoft, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Boston Consulting Group.
An Indian Student Perspective on Business School: Ankit Mehta
About 33 percent of Indian CFOs say the bubble will likely reach its breaking point this year. Slightly more than half of the surveyed CFOs say the impact of a bubble burst would be medium to high.
The numbers jump when considering Asia as a whole (153 CFOs, including India and excluding Japan). Almost 75 percent of surveyed CFOs believe a bubble exists in their countries. Thirty percent of surveyed CFOs believe the bubble will burst this year, and about 70 percent believe a burst would have a medium to large impact on the country’s economy.