Darden grad to apply best U.S. business
practices to family company in India
Photo by Michael Bailey
By Charlotte Crystal
The last day of class was “bittersweet” for Prashant Prasad, 26,
a native of Bombay, India,
who is graduating with a master’s degree in business administration
from U.Va.’s Darden Graduate
School of Business Administration.
years here, I feel like I’m ready to take the next step,” Prasad
said. “Will I be a better leader? The jury is still out. But Darden
has gone way beyond the call of duty to provide me with the building blocks
a better manager.”
Along with a formal academic education in the principles of business, Prasad
appreciates the informal benefits of having worked on business cases
as part of a team with students from around the world. Via cell phone
he hopes to keep in touch with at least half of the 300 students in his
class that he
came to know.
if I have a business idea, I can call two or three or four people: ‘Can
I run some ideas by you?’” Prasad said. “I will know people
in investment banking, marketing, entrepreneurship. Potential business partners.”
And Darden students and faculty likewise think highly of Prasad, not
only for his business acumen, but also for his efforts on behalf
of the school.
Prasad was named the recipient of the 2003-2004 Theo Herbert International
Award, which honors Herbert, a member of the class of 1959 and
the first international student to graduate from the school. The award
Darden abroad, while strengthening global awareness at home.
has from the first year been involved in helping organize events for international
applicants in their home countries,” said one graduating
MBA student. “He was a key player in organizing events in India when
first- and second-year students were traveling home for the Christmas holidays.”
has always strived to recruit talented candidates to Darden who would not
only excel in the academics and in their careers beyond Darden, but also
work hard to improve the social fabric of their societies,” noted another
student. “[He] focuses on the candidates’ characters, not only
the extent of their accomplishments.”
forced me to think about critical issues,” Prasad said. “How
are cultures changing with globalization? How is globalization affecting
the traditional fabric of society? What is the relationship of the old to
Every day at Darden was an eye-opening experience.”
He said that several classes transformed the way in which
he views the world. Among these was “Conversations and Debates on Globalization,” taught
by associate professor Andrea Larson, and “Leadership and Ethics through
Theater,” taught by R. Edward Freeman, professor and director of the
Olsson Center for Applied Ethics.
Learning took place even in the hallways. Prasad said the
highlight of his MBA program was an informal, two-hour
several other Darden students. The conversation explored
such big-picture questions as, “Is westernization good for India?” and “How
is westernization different from globalization?”
the cherry on the cake of my Darden experience,” he said.
When he returns to India this summer, Prasad will spend the
month of July in Madras, studying music with R. Vedavalli,
and teacher of “Carnatic,” the traditional music of south India.
Then he will join Variety Private Ltd., a company founded
by his grandfather, S. Vasudevan, in 1947, shortly
Great Britain. The company advises foreign companies
interested in entering the
summer my challenge is to read, to analyze and reflect on what I’ve
learned,” Prasad said. “Darden is so intense, there’s little
time to reflect. But when I go back to India, I’ll be taking the reins
of the family business. I’ll be in charge of the nitty-gritty, day-to-day
And as a relative youngster and a family member,
he feels that he must earn the respect of the company’s older, experienced employees. But he believes
that his Darden education has given him the tools he needs to manage the
family business wisely.
some financial reserves that we can use to diversify our asset portfolio,” Prasad
said. “I want to look at acquisition candidates. Be a private equity investor.
Take a stake in Indian companies that want to grow overseas. Diversify business
that way. My grandfather was all about managing the business for stability. I’m
about managing the business for growth. My challenge is to go back and move
[the company] into different areas.
take a greater awareness back with me and be a better businessperson,” Prasad
said. “Our business will be global. I’ll be able to go beyond making
money to think about how my family’s business can better society. How can
we do something for our country? How can we make our employees’ lives better?
Darden forced me to think about those issues and come up with answers. I’ve
learned more here than just how to read spreadsheets.”