India 2019

Reflections, Relationships, and Building Connections

“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”

                                  -Toni Morrison

In 2010, one of my MBA students delivered a welcome note to the incoming class. He said, “Force yourself to be in uncomfortable situations because you’ll learn more about yourself.”

This was my second trip to India and this time was just as uncomfortable as my last. It was as beautiful as I left it. Colorful as I remembered. Busy as I experienced. And everything about it was perfect. 

Why uncomfortable? Being in unfamiliar territory is terrifying but so rewarding at the same time. I’ve traveled to 15+ countries. Each visit holds a place in my heart and fuels my mind with memories to puzzle back together as I share my story now, tomorrow and moments ahead. 

Aside from the 50+ hours I spend working, on the road, making phone calls, running dashboard reports, planning events, attending those events, interviewing applicants, etc…life as a recruiter is not for the faint of heart. It’s a lifestyle. 

Speaking of lifestyle— think about your current life. If there’s one element you couldn’t live without, what would that be? For a village I visited, grid electricity wasn’t easily accessible. 

Project Chirag, an initiative of Chirag Rural Development Foundation, is one of India’s largest youth-driven initiatives providing solar lighting to villages that have no access to grid electricity. Founded in March 2010 by young students and their faculty advisor, Project Chirag has a clear vision – Light for All.

Can you imagine living day-to-day life without access to electricity?  

The district we went to had 4 villages around close proximity and we installed solar panels in 17/20 homes in this town. Their overall goal is to light all 101 homes across the district. 

Here is the link to Project Chirag website if you wish to read about their work: and a short video from my time at the village. 

If there is one core competency a great recruiter should possess (IMHO), I’d say the ability to build and maintain connections. They are relationship seekers and opportunity givers. I am forever thankful that my career allows me the opportunity to provide people with the chance to better themselves personally and professionally. Not only have I gained a solid professional network, but also a circle of friends and supporters from students, colleagues and faculty.

And what brings people together? Mmm hmmm, that’s right: food! When I travel abroad for work and pleasure, I make every effort to eat what the locals eat and share the experience with fellow recruiters and alumni. One of my favorite experiences from recruitment trips is reconnecting with alumni at their fave restaurants. What’s an international trip without trying their local grub?! And trying it with a friend who can order for you. 

In Bangalore, one of the Willamette MBA students connected me with his sister. My time in Bangalore was tough; I got bit by what doctors thought was a spider. I’m allergic to anything that bites me, so this was no surprise. Except for the fact that it got infected and I was stuck in my hotel room for 2 days. I couldn’t apply pressure as it was swollen and just straight up awful. You can imagine the #FOMO I experienced and I was beyond excited to meet my student’s sister and her friend! What a day: we shopped at Mantri Mall and then they guided me through street shopping and auto riding. Check out the video to see my #Uber adventure!

So you guys, this was my second time visiting the #TajMahal and it was as magical as the first time. And much cooler; the weather called for only 70% humidity this time. Of the New 7 Wonders of the World, I’ve visited 2: The Great Wall of China and The Taj Mahal. The Taj was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife’s tomb, Mutaz Mahal. It’s quite the love story. Childhood lovers, he was from royalty, she wasn’t. His father didn’t approve of her, but love has no limits. She was his third wife and before she died of birthing complications, she made him promise to never marry again. Like, seriously? He loved her so much that he made that promise. Isn’t history beautiful? 

Well, there is so much about this trip that I want to share, but it’s about 7am and I’ve been up for about 22 hours now. For you young professionals out there itching to travel and seek a career that’s fulfilling, my #1 advice is what my former MBA student shared in 2010, and that’s to put yourself in uncomfortable situations (stay safe of course). Then take time to reflect on those situations and ask yourself what the late #ToniMorrison once said, “What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”

Here’s one last video with more pictures and video from India 2019.