Duke Global Executive MBA Student Blog
Corporate Visits Provide Unique Business Insight: Part 1
This blog was written prior to the Cross Continent MBA program’s merger with the Global Executive MBA program.
Our Tour of Shahi Exports
Corporate visits are a very important part of the Cross Continent MBA (CCMBA) international residency experience because they allow us to gain business insight on various industries and companies around the world.
In each location, we have the opportunity to choose between three or four different corporate visits that usually span a variety of industries in order to appeal to the broad interests of our class. The visits I have attended have ranged from car manufacturers like Volkswagen (Shanghai), not for profit organizations like Techo (Santiago), and most recently a textile company, Shahi Exports, based in New Delhi.
The magic of the latter visit all began when we arrived at Shahi Exports’ factory in New Delhi and were taken on a tour of their facilities—rooms of designers, seamstresses, fabric, and machines galore. We began in the design room where we met the designers that work with leading retailers like Zara, Gap, H&M, and Burberry to develop the latest industry trends. We learned that while these companies create their own designs which are sent to Shahi to be manufactured, the designers at Shahi also sell their own creations to retailers which are often picked up and included in the next season’s trends. It was incredible to me that a number of global styles around the world were being designed at a single factory in India!
Shahi Exports has vertically integrated a significant part of the supply chain by sourcing the cotton and making its own fabrics for the clothes they manufacture and then shipping to retailers. A shipment leaves for Zara in Madrid every four days to keep up with Zara’s industry-leading global inventory management system.
After getting over the huge disappointment that we weren’t allowed to go shopping while at Shahi, we continued on our tour where we saw thousands of local workers sewing, fitting and washing. We saw the mannequins that represented the scaled bodies that each brand uses—each with a unique fit and shape. We saw how employees digitally design the alignment and usage of fabric for each garment in order to minimize scrap waste. We visited the quality control station where once the garments are produced, workers are trained to recognize each type of possible defect—and they must pass color vision tests in order to identify subtle differences in fabrics and tones. Finally, one of the most interesting parts of our tour was the washing machine room—filled with the most common washing machines from around the world. This is how they determine the washing instructions published on the tags inside your clothing—in other words, “tumble dry low!”