A couple of weeks ago, I took an interesting trip to Chennai, India. In advance of my trip, one of my clients pointed out that if you drew a straight line through the center of the earth departing from my home city of Milwaukee in the United States, to the other end of the earth – some 8,500 miles away – it would take you to Chennai. So it goes to say that it was certainly a long airplane ride.
In preparing for my first trip to Chennai, I learned that the city is actually known as the Detroit of Asia. A number of global automobile manufacturers (OEMs and suppliers) have set up operations there to serve the domestic market and also use it as an export base given the fact that Chennai is the second largest port in India. As a result, Chennai has become a significant manufacturing hub for India. Complementing this manufacturing focus, the city is also known for its extensive engineering and technology talent. As I met with a number of executives it was apparent that an increasing number of manufacturers are relying on the engineering talent in Chennai to design the products produced there.