Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Letters From Trivandrum

by Joyce Claterbos
At Lake Vembanad we had the opportunity to buy fish for our morning snack. Erik, Aaron, and Gordon opted for local tiger shrimp. The cook on our houseboat cooked them for us.

Today we had our first company visit! After our morning classes, we went to Technopark to visit US Technologies Global. Technopark is in Trivandrum and was the first high technology industrial park in India. UST Global is a privately held provider of IT services with facilities in five countries. Mr. Praveen Kumar, Offshore Head of Global Sourcing, described to us their strategy for building organizational vision and supporting innovation efforts of their employees. UST Global has set up three integrated systems focused on supporting innovation. We were able to visit The Apple Tree Lab, “an innovation gym where professionals are invited to experiment without fear of mistakes.” The company also has 'Eureka!',  UST's Idea Management System and 'Open Minds', a collaboration space on the Web.
A few of us had an opportunity to captain our houseboat. Kissan Joseph had his turn at the wheel.
We then visited Veli Tourist Village, a park on a lake. Children often come up and ask us where we are from and want to shake our hands. We had just enough time to make a quick trip to Shanghumughom Beach on the Arabian Ocean to watch the sunset.  (http://trivandrumdistrict.blogspot.com/2010/11/shanghumughom-beach.html) No swimming suits for the Indians here! Women in their shalwar kameez and men in lungis (traditional dress) watched their children play at the edge of the waves. The beach is orange sand and the waves were red as they come up on shore. Beautiful! 
Nick was the first to climb this convenient coconut tree and pick a coconut. He then dropped into the lake after we checked the water depth to ensure it was deep enough.

A busy day! We spent the morning in the classroom studying innovation with Proj. Rajeev Srinivasan. We learned that India was the source of many innovations over time, including mathematics and natural medicine. After lunch we visited Terumo Penpol, a medical products company (http://terumopenpol.com/). We had to don sterile gear to tour the production line. This Indian-Japanese partnership produces 25M blood collection bags a year. Our discussion with Managing Director C. Balagopal covered the challenges facing businesses in India. Terumo Penpol has a very active corporate social responsibility agenda, supporting the causes of blood donation and primary education.

Joyce Claterbos is a marketing lecturer at the University of Kansas School of Business.