Offshore experiences

Students gain unique insights into one of the world’s largest offshoring markets

By Tamara Johnson, Comm ’14

While the world counted down to the New Year, a group of students poised to begin careers in global IT packed their bags and traveled to India, one of the world’s largest offshoring markets. Since 2008, Marquette Business has offered this biennial, two-week study abroad experience, which this year gave 13 graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to visit IT businesses throughout India.

Accompanied by Monica Adya, associate professor of management, and Kate Kaiser, a retired professor of management, the students were exposed to the inner workings of offshore firms and how they engage with U.S. businesses to execute IT projects. The students met with seven companies: Infosys, Wipro, Impetus, Pacific BPO, IBM, Syntel and Spiderlogic – they also visited the New Delhi Institute of Management.

More importantly, perhaps, the students were immersed in the Indian culture.

“To be able to understand the business relationships in the context of the culture is something that you simply couldn’t do sitting in a class in the U.S.,” says Cheryl Maranto, chair and associate professor of management. “The goal of this trip is to give our IT students a real, on-the-ground, direct observation of a lot of the dynamics of IT outsourcing.”

The students traversed the subcontinent, visiting the famous tourist attractions in Pune and Mumbai. They sat in India’s busy traffic for hours to visit one of the Wonders of the Word, the Taj Mahal. And their eyes were opened literally and figuratively as they walked the streets of New Delhi, where mansions sat perched on one block and slums dotted the next.

“Being exposed to such a different culture, so thoroughly, was definitely a great way to start my career off on the right foot, says Amy Haffner, a Marquette Business alumna who participated in the trip as a student. “Recognizing and respecting the differences in global cultures is critical to being able to work in the global environment.”

These cultural experiences colored the students’ corporate visits, where they spent about a half-day with each of the firms and were given the chance to interact with IT professionals and learn how the U.S. can work more effectively with Indian companies. Students also applied their classroom knowledge, giving presentations about working in the U.S. IT sector and how they are preparing for their careers.

“Many if not most IT departments around the nation do various projects with workers that are off shore,” says Lindsey Livacich, Marquette Business senior. “This experience has helped prepare me for a career because we are becoming a globalized world market and everyone needs to be prepared to work with various nations.”

Kaiser agrees: “The experience of actually being in these cities and having the opportunity to speak with professionals at a senior level is valuable and is something you really couldn’t get anywhere else. Through this trip, students get a better understanding of what it will take to work and communicate with their own IT staff in the future.”

Adya says the experience opens the students up to the similarities and differences in working with a global workforce.

“Before this experience, many students didn’t realize how big the IT offshoring market was in India and how much our companies depended upon global work,” she says.