Learning happens anywhere and everywhere.
We noticed that learning happened formally during scheduled meetings and informally through observation. We listened with our eyes and ears during meetings, and we leveraged our travel time and meals to check in and debrief as a group. Some of our favorite moments were in transit or while eating meals together, when we had time to debrief. We had deep discussions about what surprised us, what frustrated us, and what we wanted to achieve during our trip.
For example, while visiting a treatment plant, we went in with the goal of learning from the plant owner. But as customers started to arrive to pick up their water, we were able to interact with them as well. Those conversations shaped the context of our work. Another unexpected learning moment occurred in Dharavi, where we were surprised to see a washing machine in a home. This observation shifted our expectations relative to what users value and how they spend money.
Addressing improved access to clean drinking water and other issues requires a rich ecosystem of public and private players. We respect and were impressed by the commitment of Tata Trusts and their partners, who are committed to this work every single day. We were humbled by the families we met during our trip, who were working to provide the best for their children. At the end of the day, the impact of organizations—like Tata Trusts—and their initiatives depends on strong relationships with—and understanding of—local communities. This approach was crucial throughout GSIP and will continue to shape our future endeavors at the intersection of business and social impact.
Shruthi Subramanyam is a second year student at Chicago Booth. She is pursuing the joint MBA and Masters of Public Policy (MPP) degree. Prior to graduate school, she worked in urban education and at a behavioral science research startup in Boston.
Lexi Zarecky is a first year student at Chicago Booth. Prior to graduate school, she worked in consulting and at an education technology startup in Chicago.
Luis Sanchez is a first year student at Chicago Booth. Prior to graduate school, he worked in consulting and directed a startup dedicated to financial inclusion in Latin America.