Born to progressive-minded, middle class parents and raised by my maternal grandmother, I received a long list to learn and become adroit. One of them was languages; my native tongue, Tamil; the world language, English; the sweetest language, French; India’s national language, Hindi; the list was endless. I may have not done my grandmother entirely proud, but I owe her my strong proclivity toward world’s languages and cultures. I grew up speaking my native tongue at home, English as the medium in K-through-12, and French as my second language at high school. As an inquisitive school-going lad, I was intuitively guided to focus on historical analysis while my institutional education in sciences and later in Engineering focused on quantitative analysis. The qualitative and quantitative focus has stayed with me all through my life, and has essentially evolved into the study of people and how their desires translated into action. I thought of myself a westerner in an eastern world. For the past decade well-heeled living in the western world, I have assimilated so much more that I regard myself as a truly international citizen of the world.
I need to amply thank my Indian grounding for my attitude.
India presents a picture of unity in diversity to which history provides no parallel. The United States is a nation of nations made up of people from every land, of every race, and practicing every faith. Before this mosaic of cultures I enriched my life through diversity and based my core values. I took the best of the two worlds, and made it one. I became one with a bigger international family. From the chaos of world’s diverse cultures, I gathered up a form.
Outside classroom in my Indian academic life, I keenly participated and won several awards of merit at regional, state, and country levels from playing a South Indian percussion instrument to dramatic and debating events in myriad collegiate cultural festivals and competitions. Never before in the history of my undergraduate school has any team won so many accolades, on the road far and wide. My team did. I played a large role in it. My attitude encompassed a “can-do” thought process. The very same optimism shows today in my way of supporting, rousing, motivating people and my working teams. I need to amply thank my Indian grounding for my attitude.
Because of Indian upbringing, I am better equipped to promote a mutual understanding amongst different cultures and present an opportunity to dissemble intolerance. I have experienced and learnt the historical, social, and religious significance of the idiosyncrasies of other cultures that has enabled me to gain a strong perspective into the aspects of many cultures of the world. Knowledge advances understanding and understanding promotes tolerance. My Indian faith has taught me that tolerance is pivotal as the foundation for developing working relationships with any group that is unlike my own; intolerance can only be resolved with education, and the best kind of education, is cross-cultural experiences. Consequently, I chose Thunderbird over Marshall (University of Southern California) or Simon (University of Rochester) for my b-school immersion because the Thunderbird MBA is a truly global program, a mystical academic experience, and a life changing episode.
Thunderbird not only allowed me to stay unconventional and out-of-the-box, but conferred me with the highest honor at graduation.
General Barton Kyle Yount was the chief of the Army Air Forces Training Command; he supervised the training of two million flyers and technicians on four hundred air fields I learned from my days as Thunderbird Student Ambassador. In the sonoran desert of Thunderbird airfield many Chinese and British fighters were trained for World War II. After we won the war and the general retired from service, General Yount saw the need for global business leaders who could serve as bridges between cultures and bridges between generations. Trade can substitute soldiers with guns to cross borders of nations. In the very same barren airfield, the first exclusive international business school was born. Even today that very vision of the b-school’s founder can be seen in high-echelon faculty, unique b-education programs from Global Supply Chain Leadership to International Political Economy, and amongst T-Birds who represent about sixty countries of the world and keep the spirit real.
To preserve the ideals of the b-school’s first president and founder, the General Barton Kyle Yount Award is given to a graduating student who is considered especially deserving from the standpoint of scholarship, accomplishment, and character. The faculty and executive staff nominate and choose the recipient through voting ballot.
I am not a person who sees things as they are and asks why; I am a person who sees things as they are not and asks why not. Thunderbird not only allowed me to do just that – to stay unconventional and out-of-the-box, but conferred me with the highest honor at graduation. I felt quietly happy for doing my parents, family, friends in Chicago IL and Madras, India proud. The success of an individual is directly proportional to the brilliance and competitiveness of the graduating class. I could not have been I, if my fellow peers were not them. They brought the best in me for which I am very thankful. I am also very thankful to all the erudite and magnanimous Thunderbird professors who did not merely teach me, but who inspired me: Dr. R. Sukumar, Dr. John Beck, Dr. Frank Tuzzolino, Dr. Mary Sully de Luque, Dr. Karen Walch, Dr. Joseph Cavinato, Dr. Stefan Michel, Dr, Gillian Rice, Dr. Kenneth Ferris, Dr. Robert Grosse, to mention a few.
My long-term professional goal is an ambitious one…
My ravenous hunger to lead the transformational changes required for business organizations in diverse industrial vertical fields and to contribute on a global landscape in revenue and value creation that is not only ethical and equitable but also economically and environmentally sustainable could only be satiated by straight up management consulting. So I desired to work as a Consultant and sell business advisory skills to corporations in my post MBA adventures. I was in the middle of interviewing rut with consulting firms; recently I accepted to work for IAC Corp, a boutique management consulting firm headquartered in Paris, France. I work as a Consultant in their North America regional office in Chicago IL. Globalization has wrought pervasive changes in every facet of the business world; my desire was to work on the business side of my technical specialty. IAC provides me an exciting and a challenging career that leverages my skill in competitive strategy and global operations management without abandoning my rich background in engineering; I want to use my current position as a launch pad in the creative and frenetic world of technology and engineering practices to make business organizations effective and efficient. My long-term professional goal is an ambitious one as many interesting opportunities would unfurl. After I successfully instill my commitment toward the savvy consulting role, I want to transcend from a Consultant to that of a Partner in my firm - the natural progression in the world of consulting. Luc Godtler is the partner I work for, and he is already grooming me for the next level.
SCHOLAR INDIVAR DUTTA-GUPTA
ACTIVIST VINITA THAPER