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Engaging with corporate sustainability in India

MPhil student from Cambridge Judge Business School embarks on a two-month experiential internship in India

Robin van Dalen, an MPhil student from Cambridge Judge Business School, is one of four students from the University of Cambridge selected to take part in a two-month corporate sustainability programme in India, along with 14 other visiting interns from some of the world’s leading universities.

The Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme (Tata ISES), led by Tata Group, offers an experiential internship to foreign students in the ongoing corporate sustainability projects of Tata companies. Since its launch in 2008, the programme has provided students with a grass-roots exposure to India and its culture, while bringing international perspectives to the company projects, and helping to promote international understanding.

The visiting interns were selected by their education institutions, along with Tata Group representatives and are standout scholars who come from diverse academic backgrounds, such as psychology, history, engineering, public administration and economics.

Robin van Dalen
Robin van Dalen

Robin, who is studying for an MPhil in Innovation, Strategy and Organisation, has worked as a research assistant at Utrecht University, has interned at Mukuru Talent Development in Nairobi and Hewitt Associates HQ in Amsterdam, and has also run a lucrative online clothes shop for her own company, RR&R. She also participated in an intensive three-month programme in Kenya, focusing on development projects and issues, as well as carrying out volunteer work for the Red Cross in Almere and working with disadvantaged children in Ecuador. Robin’s academic work includes five co-authored publications (two which are forthcoming), conference presentations and a guest lecture.

She commented:

I applied for the TATA ISES programme mainly because I wanted to understand a business perspective on development. I have worked for grassroots projects and was always disappointed that it didn’t seem to change any of the larger structures that cause inequality and poverty. A company such as TATA which provides jobs, cheap and high quality products and in which Corporate Social Responsibility is part of their culture, rather than their marketing package, might be far more effective. For example, instead of spending millions on marketing campaigns, TATA built a hospital – carrying their name – in which they provide free care for underprivileged patients and discounted to rich patients, which is a very sensible, effective and business minded approach that benefits everyone. My participation in the programme hopefully provides insight in the effectiveness of such an approach for the local communities.”

Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business and Enterprise at Cambridge Judge Business School, commented:

Cambridge University and Cambridge Judge Business School are delighted to be part of the Tata ISES programme for 2012. As usual, we have a strong set of interns from various parts of the University, going to India to work with various Tata group companies on projects of social relevance and economic importance. Projects include water management (with the Taj Group), the economic development of women in East Midnapur (with Tata Chemicals), and hospital management (at the Tata Medical Center). I wish the interns good luck and look forward to reading their reports at the end of the summer.”

Atul Agrawal, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Tata Services, said:

The Tata Group has a heritage of giving back to the communities in which it operates. Through Tata ISES, we are delighted to offer an opportunity to some of the brightest young minds from international universities to engage with our corporate sustainability initiatives; as well as, receive perspectives from them.”