"I was under the impression that business schools were like an island, where people only interacted with other MBAs. Not here!"
Intensive projects with Indian organizations
The India Lab (I-Lab) combines traditional classroom learning with intensive real-world experience by matching teams of four MIT Sloan students with companies in India to work on a three-month engagement that addresses a pressing organizational challenge. Host companies identify the project focus and work collaboratively with each India Lab team to define the scope, schedule, and deliverables. Recent India Lab host companies have spanned diverse industries and organizations, from IT to rural business schools to online entertainment.
The India Lab Process
Because their travel to the host company happens soon after the spring semester starts, students will select their India Lab projects mid-December. This allows them to have the opportunity to begin connecting with their host company and researching issues related to their project. The official project start is early February and includes an intensive two weeks spent working at the host company’s offices in March. After student teams return, they spend the next six to eight weeks back on the MIT campus to continue working remotely on research, data, and analysis, under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Teams make a formal presentation of their conclusions to senior management of the host company in early May. Host executives sometimes choose to travel to MIT Sloan for an in-person presentation and consultation.
India Lab Opportunities
The range of possible topics for India Lab projects is unlimited. Past India Lab teams have tackled an array of challenges, including developing strategies for internationalization, analyzing data for new market entry, recommending ways to raise capital (domestic and foreign), and advancing sales and marketing.
“At MIT Sloan you have a lot of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. Especially in a place like Kampala where you have a lot of development, entrepreneurship can be very exciting.”
“I knew about American business, but not enough about what’s really become a global economy. … You can read about it all you want, but there’s no substitute for being there and seeing the context and seeing how completely different these [other countries] are.”
“The assistant to the CEO was like our host mom while we were there. She arranged our housing for us, she took us out to her friend’s game farm, and we got driven around in 4x4s. She was just wonderful to meet, and we developed a personal as well as professional relationship with her.”
“It was really rewarding that they wanted to know what we thought. We left there being fairly certain that they will do some of the things that we suggested.”
“Our mission, along with the mission of MIT Sloan, is to both develop leaders who make a difference in the world, and also to make a contribution to thinking about the topic of leadership.”
“We’re very interdisciplinary. Among the faculty in the group are an economist, a political scientist, a sociologist, and an industrial relations specialist. We’ve always made a big effort to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”
“For 35 years, we’ve been studying how companies get value from information. … We try to help organizations take a more holistic view of what they are trying to do.”
“You could talk about watershed management and conservation of energy all you want. But until you put numbers to it and financial analysis to it, you’re not going to get much done. I came to business school to speak that language, speak with people in terms of numbers, financial numbers so that I can get projects done.”
“One of the reasons I came to Sloan was because I wanted to be at a top MBA institution worldwide. But I also wanted access to working with the latest innovations and the highest technology that was coming out of the MIT labs.”
“The conditions in the neighborhoods we were visiting were different than what we realized before getting there. Beyond that, what was surprising was that there weren’t surprises!”
“These companies are really excited to work with MIT students.They reach out to the community to set up these projects and are great to work with. They give us access to all their resources and are very open to us.”
"The relationships that we forged helped us to turn out a better project. We were able to test our hypotheses with the people that we spoke with every single day. And really, I think the friendships that you develop really propel the work that you’re doing."
“Because of the diversity of our backgrounds, when we hit the ground in Tanzania it almost was a natural play where different people assume different roles.”
“I love being in a place that is such a nexus of people and ideas — people coming to learn something new and to define themselves. Being a part of that process is a real honor and a real gift.”
“By training tomorrow’s leaders to manage the risks of the financial system effectively and ethically, we’ll have a fighting chance of surviving even the largest crises.”