June 17, 2019

Janet Liu's Social Impact Field Trip to India

“What better way to test out the practical applicability of all the theory that you’ve learnt – and with an incredible group of change makers!

This course isn’t for the faint hearted – it places you in a complex and chaotic foreign country, meeting and learning from lots of people, all in a short period. But I would definitely recommend it.

The level of local access was amazing.

I learnt a lot about the varying forms of Indian social enterprises, visiting local homes and workplaces to learn about their business models. For example our group was able to attend the Panchayat (local government) meeting in Kannuru, a small village on the outskirts of Bengaluru to discuss water scarcity issues and hear from their perspective - definitely not something that happens every day. Because of Clary’s connections, I learned a lot more about Southern Indian culture and norms than if I visited myself.

And I learnt a lot about myself too – my leadership style, how I work with others, how I respond to and make decisions in chaotic and unpredictable environments.

We knew that we should expect the unexpected and had to be adaptable when plans go a bit awry… for example by working on the business model of our social enterprise in the back of a bus. We had a tight schedule and had to complete a presentation on our social enterprise idea by end of the week. Unfortunately on the way back from a rural village visit, we were stuck on a bus for hours in the middle of a freeway due to a rainstorm. Instead of stressing, we started completing our design process, covering the doors and windows of the bus with colourful post-it notes.

I find I am a lot more nimble in my problem solving approach now!

The concept of jugaad (a word taken from Hindi which captures the meaning of finding a low-cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way) is helping me to approach innovation and strategy in a different way back in Australia.

It is so rare to be able to apply the tools and frameworks learnt in other subjects to real life issues in a complex and foreign environment. The trip has definitely inspired me to look at getting more international experience.

The course was rich with learning opportunities about Southern India’s culture, about myself, and about India’s social enterprise landscape.

Janet Liu (second from left in photograph) - Financial Inclusion Manager, ANZ

Social Impact Field Project – India student (October 2018)


Find out more and register for the next Social Impact Field Trip to India 14-22 September 2019!

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