"The fact that people like me can come to MIT Sloan and add value, opens up people's minds. It gets them out of their comfort zone, out of their box."
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“The concept behind enterprise architecture is that you have all these machines, you have all these business processes, you have all these people doing things, how do you make sure they all come together and achieve business objectives that make you more competitive.”
“We are very much an action-learning environment. The way to learn leadership is not only through reading cases, not only through learning theory — in fact we don’t want people to regurgitate the theory. We want people to take theory and to live it, use it.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
"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."
“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.”
“I learn from what I do on the outside, I bring it back into my classrooms, and I bring it back into interpreting my research. It informs my research, and my research informs my practice.”