December 8, 2009
Dear Yale SOM Graduates:
Last month, I spent a week in India on SOM business.
I began my week in New Delhi, where President Levin and several other SOM faculty took part in Jeff Sonnenfeld’s first-ever CEO Summit in India, where top business and political leaders met to talk candidly about a wide range of topics central to India and the world economy. I had the pleasure of meeting with some of India’s most important business leaders, including Mukesh Ambani, who runs Reliance Industries, the largest private sector company in India; and Nandan Nilekani, the founder of Infosys, who has been much in the news of late for his role in creating a Unique Identifier for every Indian citizen. I was struck by the enormous convening power of Yale at this event.
My week ended in Udaipur, in Rajasthan, where I visited rural villages deep in the hills, where Seva Mandir, one of the NGO’s that our own MBA students worked with last year in the Global Social Entrepreneurship class, does its work. We visited watershed projects, and rural one-room schoolhouses in some of the poorest and most isolated parts of the area. I spent some time talking with village women about domestic abuse, present day witch hunts, and the power of social enterprise to improve the role of women.
As I flew home, I was heartened by the realization that so much of what we do at SOM — both in the curriculum and outside it — was so relevant to what I saw in India, from the business enterprise, to the public sector, to the important work that organizations like Seva Mandir are doing with the least prosperous of the world’s populations.
It was an amazing trip, and one that perfectly demonstrated SOM’s mission for me.
Sharon M. Oster
Dean and Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship