Saturday, September 13, 2008

Surprising Comments..

Every once in a while, you hear a really surprising comment in class.. I don't mean the really good questions, but more like inappropriate comments that you think wouldn't happen in an international environment like ours. I witnessed a 'train-wreck' a few days ago in a finance class, where we were discussing whether a startup needed a CFO. The professor had called a number of students down to the center to discuss this topic, among others.

The discussion went like this:

Professor: "Does this company need a CFO?"

Indian student: "Yes, it's clear, because reason x, y, z, and they need somebody to look over the financing documents."

Korean student: "Yes, those are good points, but I don't see why they need one. Why pay a CFO salary at this stage of a company, when you could just hire a lawyer?" (me: interesting question!)

Indian student: "No, that's not enough, because you have to consider x, and y"

Korean student: (in a civil tone) "Yes, I understand your points, but I still don't understand why they need one right now."

Indian student: (in a bit accusative tone) "Well, maybe in China you don't need a CFO"

Korean student and his friend: "I am not Chinese!"

Whole class + professor to the Indian student: "BOO!!!"

Meanwhile, turns out that this Indian student's seat was next to mine. As she returned to her seat, the other classmate next to me said, "Great job, you were able to make 1.2billion people mad at you at one go". To which I was almost tempted to say "Yes, including the guy sitting next to you", but she seemed pretty embarrassed already at her outburst.

It's really rare to hear really insensitive, if not racist, comments like these in class, especially in INSEAD where it's very international and you'd think the students are more sensitive to international topics. That why when events like these happen, it's really shocking, and hope that it's not a true representation of the person's personality.

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