As a young man in his native India, Sumit Kundu faced the challenges of pursuing scholarship in a developing country, including scarce resources and slow (or no) Internet. With academics as his passion, his doctoral studies took him to the Rutgers University in U.S. and career opportunities Florida International University’s College of Business. He discovered a passion for building bridges—first and foremost, between scholars in his native India and his adopted land.
“What can we, the people who are blessed to have made a name in the U.S, do to give back to the place where we were born?” said Kundu, speaking from the Office of Global Initiatives, which he oversees as part of his role as Associate Dean of International Programs at FIU Business. “We can bring people together who are separated by geography.”
Kundu became active in the start of the Indian Academy of Management, founded in 2009 to nurture and develop scholarship in a developing country of 1.3 billion people where opportunities for Ph.D. education are few and far between.
For his work throughout the organization’s nine years, Kundu, who also holds the James K. Batten Eminent Scholar Chair in International Business, was recently named a Fellow of the India chapter of the Academy of Management, one of academia’s most distinguished research organizations.
Developing FIU Business as a global crossroads.
Among his most important projects: Developing FIU Business as a crossroads for international business education through experiential learning opportunities that complement classroom studies.
“That’s what we do: imparting education to enable our students to look at business opportunities and find solutions,” he said.
Kundu arrived at FIU in 2003. He has served as faculty coordinator for the Ph.D. program in International Business, and academic director of the Executive Master of Business Administration program and Master of International Business program. Among his initiatives was a requirement that students complete a study abroad component as part of their degree.
“it is absolutely imperative that they go outside their comfort zone and see the world,” he said, “so they can appreciate what they take for granted in this country, like running water good transportation, no power outage and readily available food.”
“These are struggles in other countries. To appreciate that, experiential learning is a must.”
These experiences, and the knowledge they bring to students, “set Master of International Business program apart from other graduate programs in FIU College of Business. That’s our signature.”
One of his current projects is helping FIU build build stronger ties between Asia and Latin America.
“Clearly, they are separated by distance, geography and time,” he said. “but there are a lot of cultural commonalities, including family values. Both are developing regions, and very entrepreneurial.”
Bringing FIU Business graduate students to Asia, many of whom hail from Latin American business backgrounds, will help create new business opportunities and benefit the world at large, he said. Most recently, he led a study abroad program that took 35 Master of International Business students to Vietnam, where they visited Vietnamese companies, multinational corporations, and non- governmental organizations in Hanoi and Saigon. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing emerging markets in the world, and the students got to see how the country is transforming itself into an economic powerhouse, and also appreciate the difference between north and south Vietnam.
“The journey to Asia-Pacific is an eye-opener for FIU Business students,” he said. In the past Kundu has taken students to China, India, and Thailand.
“Policymakers in the United States need to understand the mindset of the developing part of the world,” he said. This will in turn help to solve a myriad of world problems, and help them to pursue sustainable development.
“Whether it’s Africa, Asia or Latin America, we need to build those bridges,” he said. That’s my solemn oath: to create those linkages, so they understand that we are living in an interconnected, interdependent world.”
Noting Kundu’s accomplishments, FIU Business Dean Joanne Li said, “Dr. Kundu’s scholarship, and his leadership in experiential learning, has set him apart as an international business scholar. This recognition from the Indian Academy of Management is well-deserved.”
“His work has demonstrated that the best education we can give our students is a first-hand experience in a new international culture, informed and guided by the world-class international business background students get in our classrooms.”