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My EIP Experience

Alex Bouterse had the opportunity to participate in the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP) where he was able to create his own path both inside and outside the classroom.

When I first heard about the Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP), I was immediately interested. Learning how to export and be a valuable asset to a business was exactly what I wanted out of my first internship. I applied immediately to be a part of the OEIP Class of 2017.

Once I was accepted, I began eagerly looking forward not only to the internship but also to the classroom aspect of the program. The class, which focused on making the student the teacher, was unlike anything I have experienced in college. It was challenging being the one to have to prepare a lecture along with three other students from three different universities in the Columbus area. However, with the challenge came the reward of acquiring a mastery over the material and getting to know my colleagues in a deeper sense than I have in group projects for other classes.

In fact, the relationships I’ve made have been one of the most beneficial aspects of OEIP. Between case groups, lecture group, and the final project group I was able to connect with classmates and other professionals in the exporting field more so than any other class I’ve taken while at Ohio State. By getting to know other people through working on projects with them, I was able to learn more about exporting because each person was intelligent and had different ideas to bring to the table.

The things I learned and the people I met in class proved extremely helpful during my time at The Pipeline Development Company (PLIDCO) in Westlake, OH. Almost as soon as I got there, I had to be the expert on things such as export compliance and INCO terms, which I wouldn’t of been able to do without relying on some of the contacts I made in class.

A New-Found Confidence

Logan Cahall reflects on his experience in 2017 Sustainable Business Global Lab, as well as elaborates on his time in Denmark and The Netherlands as a first-time international traveler.

My experience in The Netherlands and Denmark was very valuable to me on many levels. At a surface level, this trip was my first ever time outside of North America, and this taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities for being able to travel and be out on my own. Coming into this program (The Sustainable Business Global Lab), I knew that it was very structured and that I wouldn’t have to worry about things like arranging taxis to get around in-country or trying to find accommodations during my stay, but I still was nervous about my lack of experience being abroad and what I’d do if things didn’t go as planned.

Before my departure, I stressed about things like navigating the airport to get to my connecting flights and about making sure my money was secure as I traveled, as I had heard many things about the notorious pickpockets in Europe. I asked everyone I knew that had experience traveling abroad for their insider tips and for whatever advice they could give. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous as the day of departure arrived, which was an odd feeling for me as I’ve always seen myself as very self-sufficient and independent.

During my first day of travel, I was surprised at how smoothly things went, that simply using common sense to stay safe and get around was all that was needed. As I navigated the airports and made my way to my eventual destination, my confidence grew. As I met up with the rest of the group and got settled in-country, my worry dissipated and my sense of adventure came alive. At every opportunity I got, I was seeking out new corners of the cities we visited, seeing what memorable landmarks or glimpses of history and architecture that I could find, traveling as far as my legs could take me.

 

Beyond this though, relating to the business visits and culture in-country, the trip showed me how companies in other countries differ from those in the United States. I picked up on small cultural differences while abroad, such as how often Danish companies encouraged us to question them and ask any questions if they didn’t explain things properly or there was a significant language barrier in any way.

The trip also encouraged me in that I could move to a European country even if I’m not fluent in the language, as practically everyone was able to speak English and it reassured me that I’d be able to learn the language in-country over time without feeling overwhelmed. Following my trip, I immediately began planning for when I could travel abroad again, and I was also inspired to finally book a trip out West to spend a few weeks backpacking and exploring.

When I look at companies to potentially apply for, whether for an internship or to work full-time, I would now consider a position out of the country, as it’s now something I’d approach with excitement and possibility, where before I viewed it simply as an impossibility, something I never would be able to handle. My trip abroad really informed my view of myself and my belief in my capabilities, and it really sparked my sense of adventure, and I cannot wait for my next opportunity to get abroad and experience more of what this wonderful world has to offer.

 

 

Moments of Fluency, Moments Quite Touristy

Just off the flight arriving in Madrid, Spain, Danny Rodgers shares his first interaction with his host country, which welcomed him with a fellow Buckeye alum from 1976! He describes his first month on the Students Exchange Program, attending Universidad Pontificia Comillas, and putting his language skills to the test.

The adventures of moving to another country.

Welcome to Madrid

Stepping off the plane in Madrid, it still had not registered with me just how far I had traveled. Bleary-eyed and rather tired from my 3 flight jaunt from Chicago to Boston to Frankfurt to Madrid (things we do for a good deal) I set off for baggage claim. We had just spent the last hour or so circling over the Spanish countryside due to heavy storms, so I was quite happy to finally be on my feet and walking. Fortunately, airport processes are rather universal, so collecting my bags and heading for the taxis was a rather straight forward task. This would prove to be where my travel expertise ended as from that point on, I was in uncharted waters. I felt a mix of excitement, curiosity and uncertainty heading out of the airport since this was my first time ever traveling to Europe.

After a couple of tense minutes waiting, my bag to finally showed itself and I set off for the taxis. I walked out of baggage claim expecting to pass through customs but before I knew it, I was curbside. Later did I realize that the passport control I went through half asleep at 6:30 am in Frankfurt was where I was stamped in to the European Union. Lufthansa did a great job getting me this far, but now it was my turn to take over the reigns. First up was finding a wifi connection. The beauty of traveling in the 21st century is that we are equipped with the world’s greatest travel companion: the smartphone. When I’m traveling, the number one must have app I would recommend is Google Maps. I use Google Maps nearly everyday for directions, checking train times, or even reading restaurant reviews. That being said, the smartphone is pretty much just a fancy calculator without an internet connection. Struggling to find any sort of connection, I began walking to other parts of the airport. Not having any luck connecting, I got on an escalator hoping the upper levels may have a stronger signal. On the escalator there was a man a bit ahead of me who was looking in my direction. Did he recognize me? Was he on my flight? I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t take long to find out when he looked at me again:

“O-H!”

“I-O!”

Smiling through the jetlag from our long haul flights

7 minutes into my semester abroad and I run into a fellow buckeye. This is why every buckeye should travel in an OSU sweatshirt; the community of 500,000 living alumni is no joke. I’m a firm believer in good omens, and right then I knew I was in for a great semester. John was a 1976 graduate of the OSU dentistry program and was in Madrid for a conference. We had a great conversation about all things OSU and took a picture to send to John’s friend, a Michigan grad, to prove to her how buckeyes are everywhere.

It’s been just over a month now and Madrid is starting to feel like another home. I have settled into my classes, become acquainted with the neighborhood and feel more confident speaking Spanish. It really did take about a month, as there are many more dynamics at play upon starting a semester here compared to OSU. Whether that be shopping for a Spanish SIM card or adjusting to eating dinner at 9:30 pm, these extra differences made settling in a bit more challenging. Switching to a Spanish SIM card was one of the first challenges I faced. As I mentioned earlier, the smartphone is the essential tool for traveling. Because of this, I needed to set up my SIM card as soon as possible. I started researching my options and narrowed-in on a plan I felt would work best. Now it was time for the fun part. When I walked into the store, I began to worry: What if they don’t understand me? How do you say gigabite in Spanish? Fortunately, I quickly realized I was more than capable of completing the transaction. I left the store with more than just a SIM card, but rather a boost in confidence. These challenges became significantly easier to overcome once I changed my perspective. Instead of looking at them as tasks that are a burden, I viewed them as opportunities to practice Spanish or a chance to put my problem solving skills to the test. That made all the difference.

As I look ahead to the next 3 months of the semester, I know that time is going to fly. With all the logistics of moving abroad behind me, I can now truly begin to make the most of every single day. My number one goal for this semester is to truly step outside of my comfort zone in regards to speaking Spanish. I aspire to use Spanish in my career, and the only way to improve fluency is to practice. Thankfully, every day provides opportunities to use the language, so I believe it is a very realistic goal. Studying abroad is a grand opportunity that has been a dream of mine ever since I set foot in the Study Abroad Expo my freshman year. I’m excited to go into detail in my next entries about everyday life here and how very different it has been.

Thank you for reading and as always, OH!

SGIP Testimonials

Meet our Summer Global Internship Ambassadors below and contact them to hear directly from a student who completed the program in Summer 2017!

Garrett Colburn, Marketing, colburn.42@osu.edu

“Choosing to do an internship abroad was one of my best collegiate decisions. I had great experiences in the business world and enjoyed a life experience that few get to have.”

 

Lauren Sahfeld, Marketing, sahlfeld.2@osu.edu

“This past summer, I had the privilege of spending two months in Sydney, Australia working as a marketing intern for a technology start-up company. Between the actual workplace, countless adventures, and the sheer fact I was living on the other side of the world, it was truly one of the best experiences of my life.”

 

Stephanie Saccogna, Accounting, saccogna.2@osu.edu

“My experience was great. It was full of adventure, stepping out of my comfort zone, and being an adult.”

 

Amanda Conaway, Marketing, conaway.71@osu.edu

“I laugh to myself thinking about those first couple of days where I was a visitor in a place I was so unfamiliar with. But now I am able to walk through London feeling like it is my home away from home.”

 

Lauren Conaway, Marketing, conaway.72@osu.edu

“Students should do this program because for me this opportunity completely changed my perspective on the business world and just my life in general. Being in London taught me more about myself and what I want for my future and I think every student should be able to get the chance to go abroad.”

 

Nick Repasky, Accounting/Logistics, repasky.27@osu.edu

“My experience was exceptional. I have experienced an amazing culture and a unique location within the world which was far different than anything that I have done in the past.”

 

Meghan Xiao, Accounting, xiao.343@osu.edu

“New York City is such an amazing place. There are so many areas to explore. I definitely recommend a Fisher student to intern in NYC.”

 

Tiffany Sheer, Logistics, scheer.33@osu.edu

“Being that I have interned through the program in both Spain and Singapore it has truly given me a worldly look into the business world. Each culture is extremely different and you don’t truly learn that from reading it in a textbook.”

 

Roy Spencer, Economics, spencer.659@osu.edu

“Overall, this has been one of the most rewarding summer experiences I have ever been a part of! From traveling to several different Asian countries to my workplace that has taught me boat loads of information and to the friends that I have made here, I don’t think this experience could have been more rewarding.”

 

Brendan Carney, International Business, carney.211@osu.edu

“Working for Airbnb has been phenomenal opportunity, and being  in a friendly, easy to commute city has been great. I believe what I have been able to do both professionally and socially far outweigh the cost.”

 

Bridget Petro, Marketing, petro.36@osu.edu

“I had an unforgettable time experiencing working and travelling abroad.”
Emily Rings, Human Resources, rings.43@osu.edu

“What I loved the most about interning in Spain was being exposed to a culture that I have been learning about for seven year in my Spanish courses. I was able to see things that I have learned about and was able to practice speaking Spanish with locals which was very fun.”

 

Alexandra Jackson, Marketing, jackson.2609@osu.edu

“Coming back home, I realized the surplus of benefits I had from participating in a summer internship through Fisher. I was able to meet new people, make great connections, and try more food than anyone could imagine! It also gave me real life experience in marketing that I can use in the classroom. If you are thinking about going on the Summer Global Internship Program, GO! I cannot tell you exactly what to expect, but I can tell you that your experience will be worthwhile and you will not regret it.”

 

Tori Miller, Human Resources, miller.7826@osu.edu

“This trip has helped me experience a part of the world that I have never been exposed to and made me realize that I can’t imagine never coming back here in the future.”

OEIP Testimonials

Meet our Ohio Export Internship Program alumni and see what they have to say about their experience as a 2017 program participant!

Basheer Almattar, The Ohio State University, MBA

“The knowledge and experiences that I gained from the Ohio Export Internship Program is remarkable. From the class interactions with classmates, facilitators and export leaders, to real-world internship applications. It has been a delightful journey that impacted me personally and professionally.”

 

Jack Schmeling, Bowling Green State University, Sophomore

“The Ohio Export Internship Program has opened another world of opportunities for me. By furthering my global business knowledge I can move forward throughout the next few years of college as I begin my professional career knowing how to make an impact.”

 

Natalie Bolanos-Cruz, Ohio Dominican University, Senior

“The OIEP has helped me reinforce my passion for international business and trade. I learned about the many components that exporting involves from industry professionals and from my classmates as well.”

 

Kaleb Miller, The Ohio State University, Junior

“The Ohio Export Internship Program has a dynamic, unique class structure with a savvy cohort of future businessmen and businesswomen as not only contacts, but friends. The network I have been able to build because of this internship will be incredibly helpful in my future careers.”

 

Alexander Haberman, The Ohio State University, Junior

“The assignments, speakers, and activities this class offers did more than prepare me for an internship. It was a classroom experience unlike any I’ve ever had before- professional, engaging, and motivating.”

 

Patricia Barreto, Ohio Dominican University, Sophomore

“EIP is a wonderful opportunity to get a feel for what you can expect in the real world. You learn real life skills as well as knowledge about globalization. The flip classroom, student-led teaching method, allowed me to develop the skills of public speaking and handle constructive criticism. Beyond the knowledge and skills, I developed a strong network with the directors as well as my colleagues. EIP is a unique experience that I was a part of and would recommend it to anyone interested in international business.”

 

Samia Alghamdi, Cleveland State University, MBA

“The classroom setting and amazing speakers helped give us rare knowledge that we would’ve spent years to acquire from personal experience. It was an eye-opener on a lot of things that classrooms don’t teach about exporting.”

From a Broken Phone to Having an Audience With The King of Spain: Part II

Grant Buehrer, participating in the Student Exchange Program in Spain, shared his story meeting with the King of Spain! Tasked with a gift and the first question to the king, he puts what he learned at Ohio State to the test as he steps into the room that the king awaits.

This is a continued story for my previous blog post here, and I am excited to share the story of meeting the King of Spain!

The time had come for me to join the group of students set to be a part of the annual private audience with the King of Spain. As we waited outside the university – in formal suit and tie – for the bus that would take us to Palacio Zarzuela, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. I had the chance to strike up a great conversation with a group of outstanding students at ICADE, they were interested to hear about business culture in the U.S.A. and we had a short, yet passionate, debate regarding the role of the United States in the world. At this point my Spanish was starting to sound quite coherent and I was proud of my progress in the first 2 months of the exchange semester.

Once on the bus Marta – the person who aided me in getting my replacement phone out of customs – began to address the group of around 20-30 students. We had known that our meeting would be a casual-style Q&A, but none of us were expecting Marta to ask us to be the first to ask a question. After a few moments of silence following her request for an initial question, Marta called on me to ask a question first. I became tense, but remembered all the great preparation I had received from my time at Ohio State to be ready in this moment. I felt that there was a necessary need to bring a gift for the King, know that he was an active man, I decided to bring a new Ohio State Nike dry-fit hat; it seemed fitting considering I was a long way from home. With question and a hat in hand, I got off the bus and went towards the palace.

The palace was a beautiful place, incredibly regal with fine accents. For a building for nation leader, it was right in line with my expectations in terms of its exquisiteness. As we were waiting for our appointment with the King, we waited in an anteroom and were prepped as to what the proceedings for the meeting would be. I handed my gift over to an assistant to the king, and we began to make a line for our entrance and formal handshake.

After a wonderful procession into the room, we were there. King Felipe VI was very gracious and received us regally. With a firm handshake and a slight bow, I greeted the king with a formal Su Majestad (Your Majesty), it was an incredible experience. Once the proceedings began, time seemed to rapidly pass by. After speeches from the Rector of my exchange university, King Felipe VI, and a single student representative the Q&A had commenced. Without fail, the entire room was looking to me as I stretched my Spanish skills to its maximum. After a minute long speech in Spanish I politely asked the King if I could ask my question in English, I did not want to ask a complex question and receive a response in a language I didn’t have total mastery of yet! He graciously accepted, and provided an incredibly thorough response, I was incredibly impressed by his breadth of knowledge.

He did the same for the rest of the students, each response was carefully crafted and expertly explained. what was most interesting for me was his diplomatic demeanor. One could tell that he was a person who had spent much time in front of the citizens of Spain, and in negotiations with international leaders. There was a lot to learn from having the honor to observe such a well-polished individual.

I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to have met King Felipe VI, and would not have been able to have such an experience without the existence of the Fisher Semester Exchange program. I have much gratitude to both Universidad Pontificia Comillas and The Ohio State University for their partnership. Get out there and go beyond the classroom with a semester exchange!

A Personal Invitation to Operations Global Lab – China

In preparation for 2018 Operations Global Lab, Professor Dickstein reflects on his own experience in Hong Kong and China.

My first passport in the early 70s explicitly banned travel to and acceptance for passage in China (as well as North Korea, North Vietnam, and Cuba).  But with Nixon’s surprise visit in 1972 orchestrated by Henry Kissinger, relations gradually improved (sometimes referred to as the period of “ping pong diplomacy”, reflecting an early exchange of visits) and the door crept open.  Coincidentally, I was in Hong Kong just months after this historic event, and any worries about using my U.S. passport for entry into Canton (now Guangzhou) were dispelled by a U.S. consular official who simply used a magic marker to cross out China from the list of banned countries.  In the years since I have made five visits into China and twice as many into Hong Kong, a one-time British colony until July 1997 and a logistical gateway with its modern infrastructure into all of Southeast Asia.

Going back nearly 10,000 years China was the largest and most advanced civilization on earth.  The remarkable engineering feat of the Great Wall was completed about 1700 years BEFORE Columbus’ voyage to the New World. As recently as the 1270s, Marco Polo was “astonished at the wealth of China”.

This advancement was not sustained due to violent competition for power, the Japanese invasions in the 1900s, and Mao’s destructive decade of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s that further impoverished the population.  The past forty plus years have witnessed an unprecedented pace of development.  Today, China is the world’s most populous country and the largest participant in global trade, with 2015 imports + exports of nearly 4 trillion USD.  (The comparable total for the U.S. in second position is 3.8 trillion).

Our trip provides an opportunity to experience firsthand some of the world’s most advanced infrastructure (airports, high speed rail) and oldest culture.  While Hong Kong may be a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, 100 years of British rule have left an outward, global perspective and a strong rule of law.  In the most recent Ease of Doing Business rankings prepared by the World Bank, Hong Kong is #4 (compared to the United States at #8).

We have taken the inputs of the 2017 participants and enriched the program by adding several days in Beijing, the cultural (as well as administrative) capital of China.  I am very excited to share with OSU students such exciting destinations that resonate in my personal life and business career and, hopefully, will prove an equally memorable event in yours.  While my longevity does not quite reach back to the era of Marco Polo, I continue to view the country with a similar sense of wonder.

If you are interested in international business, cultural uniqueness, or history, this trip will allow you to explore an emerging country that increasingly shapes the world’s political and economic landscape.  Please join us for Fisher’s second undergraduate program in China, a two week exposure to business, politics, culture and even a great deal of fun.

The stereotypes are all true… but all not true

Phil Koch explains how India is everything he thought it would be and completely different at the same time. Phil consulted on a project for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi with two other Fisher College of Business Students during the Global Projects Program in Mumbai, India.

India is a very dynamic and complicated place. In Mumbai everything is fast paced and competitive…like NYC. Everyone has a story to tell and something to prove. The major difference between Mumbai and NYC is that although there is a competitive spirit in both places, people in Mumbai are genuinely hospitable and generally very nice.

When you sit down in any restaurant in India be it Thali, Non-veg/Veg, Mughal, Hindo – Chinese even Tex-Mex, you are almost always ceremoniously taken care of. In many restaurants you are fed copious amounts of food due to the Indian belief of “guests are gods to us”. It may be a bit cliché but this is the benchmark for the very high level of service provided to you in restaurants of all kinds, hotels and even around the office. Unlike the West, the high bar for service in India is not driven by money/promotions but a wholehearted desire from somewhere within to do right by their customer/guests.

Many negative stereotypes about the classification of the whole of India are abundantly recited in the United States by people who truly have no concept of the country. They range from India being a filthy place, to people being smelly, to being uneducated, to being extremely poor, and schemers and on and on. I will be the first to tell you that everything I have just written is characteristic of India, but it does not tell the whole story.

India is still very much developing and as Vikas, my boss in Mumbai, put it, India is a “poor country” overall so the smells, municipal services, literacy rates/education opportunities and levels of average wealth are extremely different when compared to the U.S. The reverse of every stereotype I highlighted is also true within India and within Mumbai in particular. In the same block in Worli Sea Face (high priced real estate in town) I saw millionaires departing their upscale condos in chauffer driven Rolls Royces, Maybachs and Ferraris, where directly down the street was a large complex of lean-to abodes with whole family’s sharing spaces smaller than the average dorm room. This disparity is truly sad and something we do not experience in the U.S., or at least to less of an extent than in Mumbai.

When you exit the airport, “schemers” flourish as many “grapevine learn by osmosis” type of travelers will tell you, but not everyone is grabbing for your pockets and trying to make a quick buck off you as ignorant acquaintances may tell you. These types of people give India and places like it a bad name with sweeping generalizations that can smear its image in the public’s eye. India deserves better than this and definitely deserves a second look from American tourists.

Reverting back to my original point, whether it’s in a restaurant, hotel, on the street or in an Uber, 99% of the time Indian people try to accommodate you as best as they can and make sure your experience is enjoyable. Indians are EXTREMELY proud about India!! They love their country and deep cultural heritage and are always keen to know your thoughts about India/Mumbai/their restaurant etc. They are very welcoming and they look to do anything in their power to entrust that you have a fantastic time in their country (I quite like this and wish the U.S. would adopt such a mentality).

More notes on hospitality: Whether at Vikas’s house (our direct boss), Nirvikar’s Cricket Club (CEO of the Bank), Tanaji’s Yacht Club (OSU Alum & Real Estate Mogul) or Rumana’s home, each of the hosts went above and beyond to make sure we were well fed. Roumana (our landlord in Pali Hill) had the NBAD team over for an Iftar two days before we departed. She invited us into her home and we were able to meet and break bread, actually much bread, with her very awesome and comedic family. For more than four hours we ate delicious, home cooked “Non-Veg” food and had very insightful conversations into Politics (Indian/U.S.), Bollywood and Travel among other things. It is spur-the-moment events like this that truly make travel awesome and experiences unique. Had we not found that particular Airbnb, we would not have had an Iftar (breaking the fast during Ramadan) with an Indian family, we would have missed out on great conversation and would lack insights into true local life. This was a definite once in a lifetime type of activity.

Traveling Expands Your Mind

Emily Oldfield shares her experience on the Global Projects Program in Germany, where she consulted on a project with her team for Media Saturn.

My mom has always told me that “traveling expands your mind.” I understood what she meant by the saying: traveling leads to a better understanding of different cultures. No matter how many times she told me, I simply didn’t understand the depth of the saying until I began to travel. When you are given only a few weeks to see as much of Europe as you can, you pack a lot into your itinerary. Within five weekends, I traveled to six different cities. Planning one trip would include scouring Pinterest for the best sites to see, booking a hotel, buying train or bus tickets, and downloading the native language on our Google Translate app. One of my favorite trips was to Berlin.

Fat Tire Bike Tours name all their bikes so they are easy to find.

We arrived early in Berlin and our Airbnb was not yet ready. We had scheduled a bike tour for most of the morning and afternoon. In every city, we would try to go on some type of tour to earn a better understanding of the area’s history. This bike tour was by far my favorite. Berlin has a deep history and American textbooks only skim the surface. We visited Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and The Berlin Wall. Not only was it informative, but it was interesting hearing the history from someone living in the city. It was a slightly different perspective than the American’s lens.

Buddy Bears are located throughout the city to show unity after years of divide.

By the time the 4 hour tour was finished, our room was ready. One of the girls on the trip found our Airbnb and it was absolutely amazing. We were only staying two nights, but I wished we had more time. There was a balcony where we watched a parade of bikes ride past one of the nights. Lofted ceilings and white walls made it spacious enough for six people to sleep. By this point in the trip, we had spent enough time together to have well formed friendships. Berlin is known for being youthful. This city was full of tiny quarks that made it unique. From the spray paint murals to the green walking man on street lights, you are able to truly get lost in this city. That is perhaps one of my favorite parts of traveling. Aside from those venturing with you, there is complete anonymity. No one expects anything from you. You simply get to go on an adventure and leave your worries at home. Traveling leads to a sense of freedom that everyone needs. This trip has gone beyond words to describe it.

This green walking man is unique to Berlin’s stoplights.
Street art in one of the main art districts.

Deeper than the Desk

Phil Koch shares his experience working for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, where he consulted on a project with two other Fisher College of Business Students during the Global Projects Program in Mumbai, India.

I could not be happier with my experience at National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD). From the multi-million dollar office/trading rooms to the two butlers who made the best masala tea known to man, my experience was great. All kidding aside, the work we did was necessary for the bank to move forward in attaining new clients in India. Albeit on occasion the work was a bit repetitive and even monotonous, I learned a great deal about major Indian Business sectors and who controls them (it’s really only a few guys). Additionally, I did another project where I examined SWF’s (Sovereign Wealth Funds) headquartered in the Gulf Cooperation Council to establish both how much assets under management (AUM) they have and estimate what percentage of that was invested in India (the hard part).

Vikas, my boss at NBAD, was impressed with my analysis and pitched the numbers to the Head Office in Abu Dhabi to start the approval process. He was grateful for my thoughts and estimations on this project as they are directly influencing his line of business. As the CEO put it on the last day, that while the work we did at the desktops could have been done from anywhere in the world, it is what we learned outside our six wheeled English made chairs (standard across most high end commercial banks/trading floors) in the building that mattered most.

Everyone around the small office of about thirty people were willing and truly loved discussing their roles and processes within the company (in depth), but they also enjoyed sharing with us the little things, like where to eat and what to do on the weekend etc. Everyone including Vikas were always available and willing to discuss everything from work, to life in India and beyond with all of us. Nilendu, the director of strategy, is one of the most high energy people I have ever met that preaches positive energy and small problem solving as the way to ease through life. He is a very successful banker (closed more than $30 Billion in funding) who is awesome to be around, runs 100+kms for fun and rocks a Mont Blanc watch for big closings. Vikas and Nilendu are exceedingly intelligent and having conversations with them about anything was a real treat as they know so much about both exceedingly specific and broad topics!

I learned a great deal about banking and real estate from Vikas at and away from the desk. Whether in casual conversation over his daily Flat White or listening to him banter in the trading room, I learned about business and life in India as a whole, that an usual intern would have no chance of learning in a typical, slightly more established organization. Vikas is an exceedingly generous person (sensible given his well-kept real estate portfolio that has increased in value by 15 times over the last ten odd years) who took us out to multiple lunches at some very tasty restaurants and purchased coffee/tea for us on average three times a week. Additionally, he graciously welcomed us into his Malabar Hill home and was always ready to respond to any question we asked with a candid and thorough response.