Thursday, June 5, 2008

You're going WHERE? You're doing WHAT?

A reiteration of my last post in my previous (Kenya) blog, explaining in far too much detail what I will be doing in India.

So, I'm moving to India. What I’m going to be doing there is about the most confusing thing I’ve ever had to explain in casual conversation. Recently when most strangers ask me, “so what will you be doing in India?” they quickly regret that they asked. The short answer is “business development consulting.” The medium-length answer is “a business strategy evaluation for a foundation that is investing in rural enterprise development.” I can’t imagine anyone would want the long answer, but since I have for some reason been asked for it multiple times, I have laid it out below. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve taken a job with the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), a business school located in Chennai (southeast corner of the country). I’ll be working for the Center for Development Finance (CDF), one of several action-research centers at the school focused on improving living standards in India, alleviating poverty, creating a middle class, etc. – all those things that give you that “feel good” feeling.

Unrelatedly, a foundation was established in October with the goal of increasing “access to markets” (namely, financial services) to rural low-income households – that whole creation of a middle class thing. They are operating on a skeletal organizational structure and are in need a lot of intellectual capital from similar organizations in the area, and they sought out CDF.

So, in response to this need for strategic services, CDF has just started a new program called the – are you ready for this? – Strategy & Implementation Evaluation Research Unit (SIERU). It will basically be a consulting group tasked with evaluating the philosophical/academic strategies and the implementation plans of its clients. The foundation will be its first client, and it is hoping to attract more in the future as there seems to be high demand for this type of service.

This is where I, finally, come in. The SIERU unit will be co-run by two managers: one on the academic strategy evaluation side (a guy who already has an MBA and just graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard), and one on the business strategy/implementation evaluation side (yours truly). Am I qualified for this, you ask? Not in the least. Am I totally intimidated? Yes indeed.

So that’s it in a very, very large nutshell. I am extremely excited about this career opportunity, and the chance to move to India and join the bandwagon of capitalizing on the potential of such an amazing country.

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