December 22, 2010
School of Business, Coimbatore
Several MBA students recently attended a very special event at Coimbatore on December 4. Below is a first-person account by Anitha Kaveri, second-year student.
As we walked in to the building of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Coimbatore, we knew we were there to pay tribute to Dr. C. K. Prahalad, a brilliant management thinker who passed away earlier this year. What we didn’t realize was that we would also attend the inaugural programme of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Coimbatore Chapter.
From a video presentation, where we heard Dr. Prahalad speak in his mother tongue Tamil, we learned that the C in his name stood for Coimbatore. We listened as he recounted happy memories about his childhood in Coimbatore. He spoke about India with optimism.
Next we heard Mr. Manickam of Coimbatore speak. As one of Dr. Prahalad’s first Indian students at the University of Michigan, where Dr. Prahalad taught Business Strategy, he had several interesting things to say.
“This was the man the world respected as a leading management guru,” he stated. “But to us, his students, he seemed like a very down to earth person. I was very lucky to be trained by him. I gained so much from that association.”
Mrs. Jas Grewal, co-founder of TiE San Diego and former CEO of TiE Global who spoke next, reminisced about the time she and her husband spent with Dr. Prahalad and his wife Gayathri in San Diego, where they lived.
“Dr. Prahalad’s dream was to start the Coimbatore chapter of TiE,” she recalled. “This is fulfilled today.”
“He thought out of the box, challenged the obvious, loved the nation he hailed from, aspired to dream,” Mrs. Grewal stated, paying her tribute to the man who made the blueprint for TiE and was its chief mentor.
“He was an achiever, simple, humble, easy going, had that permanent smile, was always well dressed and fresh, generous, polite and punctual.”
Mrs. Gayathri Prahalad, who was also present as special guest for the occasion, spoke next. Having met her husband while pursuing a Masters degree in Education at Harvard University, where he was also enrolled for his doctoral studies, she had spent many decades with him.
Recalling the time when they were newly-weds, Mrs. Gayathri recounted how Dr. Prahalad spent his weekends at the Vellore hospital, helping them make their processes better.
“Entrepreneurship is never easy,” she told the budding entrepreneurs in the audience. “It begins with an unshakable belief – a dream for your country, town or the whole world. You should have the courage to dream and fulfil those dreams. If you fall you must get up and move on!”
Finally, Mr. Suren Dutia, co-founder of TiE San Diego and former CEO of TiE Global addressed the audience. In his talk, Mr. Suren explored a changing India.
From his presentation, we also learned that TiE was the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship in the world.
“What is needed today is enormous creativity,” he emphasized. “The sectors of biotechnology, medical tourism and pharmaceuticals are going to do immensely well. So is clean energy. It will all happen if we want it to!”