Alumni Play Key Role in Facilitating Chancellor’s Trip to India
In the world of economic development, they call it a “soft landing.” In sales, it’s called a “foot in the door.” We might simply think of it as a “welcoming face” to greet and introduce someone to the local culture. However one might describe it, five Pitt alumni in India worked diligently alongside the University of Pittsburgh Center for International Studies (“UCIS”) and the Chancellor’s office to build a week-long itinerary in India packed with high-level visits with alumni, business, academic, and governmental leaders.
“We are grateful to be here and to focus on strengthening the intersections between India and the University of Pittsburgh while advancing key collaborations in the areas of innovation and research,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “This trip is also a wonderful chance to recognize the many teachers, researchers, and students from India who are part of the University of Pittsburgh community and who have contributed to our success.”
The trip included stops in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Telangana, Rishikesh, and Mussoorie. Archana Hingorani (MBA ’86, PhD ’93), Founder, Siana Capital Management, helped lay the ground work for the strategic meetings designed to create and enrich relationships to further educational and research opportunities between Pitt and the various Indian-based entities.
“Creating a strong and personal relationship is not always easy, but it is very important,” said Hingorani. “I am always pleased to do anything I can to facilitate ties between India and Pittsburgh, whether it be a recent graduate finding a mentor or the Chancellor meeting with a CEO.”
Chancellor Gallagher signed several memorandums of understanding (MOU) while on the trip, including an agreement with the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad to explore joint research projects, exchange scholarly publications and reports, and plan joint symposia, workshops, and conferences. The five-year agreement also sets the stage for future faculty and student exchanges and other programming. He also meet with a long list of well-known business and development leaders including Subramaniam Ramadorai, Vice Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services and former advisor to the Prime Minister of India.
In Hyderbad, Rajendra Srivastava (MBA ’78, PhD ’79), Dean of the Indian School of Business and the Novartis Professor of Marketing Strategy and Innovation, also hosted an alumni mixer. India is home to the third largest population of Pitt alumni and the Oakland campus hosts more international students from India than from any country other than China.
“There are hundreds of Pitt alumni living throughout India but we don’t often have a chance to gather and celebrate our alma mater,” said Srivastava. “Along with the celebratory atmosphere, the networking opportunities in the room were endless.”
While in Rishikesh, Aditya Somani (KGSB ’97), Chairman, Everest Tech, hosted the Chancellor and other alumni at his home and toured them throughout the region.
“Pitt is such a prestigious institution and it is an honor to welcome the Chancellor to India,” Somani said. “Alumni networks can lead to so many exciting opportunities to learn, grow, and stay connected with our alma mater; all alumni must host and attend such events regularly and especially when professors and officials from Pitt visit.”
When speaking to the Asiatic Society at the Town Hall of Mumbai, Chancellor Gallagher was informed he was speaking from the same stage that hosted Gandhi, which provided an interesting contrast to his presentation on cyber security in the information age.
To close the trip, the delegation traveled to the Indian state of Uttarakhand where the members visited Pitt’s study abroad program based at the Hanifl Center in Mussoorie. The Chancellor met with several of the 32 students currently enrolled in the program.
At the Hanifl Centre, course options include anthropology, sociology, ecology, and more. Pitt students also have the opportunity to learn about the region by living with a host family in a small village, learning yoga at the birthplace of the practice, and trekking along one of the most important pilgrimage routes in the country.
“My Pitt education prompted me to start asking global questions and provided me the knowledge to further my interest in international business,” said Abhishek Singh Mehta (CBA ’05), Founder and Principal, Blue Lotus Investments. “I have always loved to meet new people and helping to set up the Chancellor’s trip was a rewarding opportunity for me to give back to the University.”