As one of the first universities to enter the Indian market as executive trainers, the University of Michigan began offering open-enrollment executive education programs there in 1994.

It didn't take long for some of India's largest companies to sign on, including Tata Group, India's largest business group, with products and services in more than 150 countries and operations in 100 countries across six continents.

M.P. Narayanan, the Robert Morrison Hoffer Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Finance at the Ross School of Business, credits the late former professor C.K. Prahalad for launching U-M's executive training program in India. 

"He quickly realized that we needed to equip Indian executives to compete globally," Narayanan said. "Not only will Indian firms have to adjust to competition from international firms entering the Indian market, but they will also now have the opportunity to explore external markets to create value for themselves."

As faculty director for some of the Ross School's training programs in India, Narayanan has been involved in executive training there from the beginning when India started liberalizing its economy in the 1990s.

"On a conceptual level, training executives in the U.S. is very similar to training executives in India," he said. "But we needed to customize our programs to prepare Indian executives to compete in a global marketplace. U.S. companies were already global, so we had to make Indian companies as informed and competitive. We've reached a point where you don't see differences between Indian and international executives in their thinking and approach."

The (late) C.K. Prahalad

Prahalad, who taught at Michigan Ross from 1977 until his death in 2010, was instrumental in increasing engagement in India. A world-renowned business thinker, Prahalad developed revolutionary innovations in strategy and management. He pushed to explore how to do more with less for a broader spectrum of people, which earned him global recognition. 

"I want to keep C.K.'s vision going as long as I can," Narayanan said. "Plus, I wanted to give back to where I came from."

Michigan Ross provides many different training programs for companies worldwide, including India. It offers international options, such as open enrollment with a global portfolio of targeted programs, custom programs for more unique experiences, leadership certificates, and online learning with online courses and webinars.

Narayanan's research has included corporate governance, corporate scope, managerial behavior and management compensation. Established in 2011, India Initiatives at the Ross School delivers cutting-edge ideas, pioneering research and innovative business solutions for companies in India. 

India Initiatives serves as the school's ambassador to its Indian partners and the nearly 500 Ross alumni currently living and working in India through academic and research activities, as well as alumni and corporate outreach focused on India's fast-growing economy. In his memory, the C.K. Prahalad Initiative now anchors India Initiatives with the perspective that the base of the global socioeconomic pyramid can yield opportunities for businesses.