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Global Columbus: Dnyanesh Dandekar


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Dnyanesh Dandekar

Date of birth: June 30, 1976

Place of birth: A small village near Wardha, Maharashtra, in central India.

First language: Marathi

Moved to Columbus: February 2012

Title: Technology planning leader at Cummins Inc.

Duties include: Figuring out how to appropriately adapt technologies used in developed countries for products used in developing countries

Education: Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Government College of Engineering Karad, India; executive MBA from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai

Family: Wife, Priti, a homemaker; two daughters, Maahi, 7; Dishita, 2

Hobbies: Playing soccer and cricket. I also like to participate in events with the local Indian association. And I spend time with my kids, especially taking them to activities they cannot pursue in India, such as ice skating. I also like the TV show “Good Luck Charlie” and I read a lot of personality development and management books.

What was your first job?

I worked in research and development, using computers to design compressors used in applications including air conditioning.

What primary lessons did you learn from that job?

The importance of specifications and how difficult it was to convey a design without them. I learned that no matter how well I understood the design, I couldn’t just give someone a sketch, that I needed precise specifications to make sure my design would be understood by others.

How did you end up in

Columbus?

This is my 10th year with Cummins, and one of the company’s strategic initiatives is leadership development. Two executives from Cummins India provided me with the opportunity to get this global assignment. I’m very grateful for the recognition, and my manager, Joan Wills, really takes developing people seriously. This job allows me to work in a global environment, to make connections and to help people here understand what customers need. I’m also glad that my family gets to enjoy life in this diverse community.

When did you first come to the U.S. and what did you immediately notice as different from your home?

A: I visited Columbus in June 2006, and I noticed that there was much more space here, that the roads were wider, that drivers behaved with greater discipline — but also that the roads were not very crowded. When we moved here last year, we noticed that there was very little public transportation, which proves challenging especially for my wife, who does not drive — though she is taking lessons.

Q: How did you manage the transition to life in the U.S.?

A: I knew a little bit about the community from my previous stay, and we knew for several months that we were moving, so colleagues really helped us by making sure we understood what kinds of electronic gadgets we could bring and which ones would not work and what kinds of clothes we needed (we arrived here in February). The company also hired someone to help us adjust. We didn’t have any problems with the language except for some British terminology. What Americans call shopping carts, for example, we call trolleys. As for adjusting to things such as mowing lawns and shoveling snow, we consciously picked an apartment where we don’t have to deal with any of that.

Q: How has the community treated you?

A: People are very friendly. We have had a very good experience. People are very helpful. All you have to do is ask.

Q: How have you adjusted culturally?

A: American holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving were exciting, though more for my kids than for my wife and me. My oldest daughter learns a lot about holidays in school, and we try to understand the origin and meaning of the holidays. We’ve realized that a lot of festivals are similar but have different names. Diwali, for example, has similarities to Thanksgiving. We also celebrate lots of festivals with our community, where each family will bring traditional Indian dishes and American dishes. We celebrated Thanksgiving, for example, but as vegetarians we could not eat turkey. My wife is a good cook, so we still eat lots of traditional Indian cuisine. One of my favorites is chapathi (flat bread) with Indian curry. The local Indian and Hindu associations also help us stay connected with our culture.

Q: How can internationals better become part of the Columbus community?

A: Being open to the culture is the most important thing. Be willing to communicate and adapt to the situation. Cummins believes in diversity, and that’s one value you can really learn in Columbus, where so many peoples and cultures celebrate and respect their differences.

Q: What’s your favorite place to visit and why?

A: The small village in which I grew up has about 300 people. My parents still live there, and there is a lot of poverty. There are no cars, and some people cannot afford shoes. For education people have to go elsewhere after fourth grade. I like to go back home and visit my parents there, in part to stay connected to my roots and to teach my daughters that they should not be wasteful with anything because a lot of people have a lot less. My father is a wheat and cotton farmer, but he decided very early that education is the most important thing, so my three sisters and I stayed with my grandmother in Wardha to get an education. All four of us graduated from college.

Global Columbus is a twice monthly Q&A with members of Columbus’ international workforce. If you know someone we should talk to, contact Boris Ladwig at 379-5712 or bladwig@therepublic.com.

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