For financial services giant MassMutual, Bollywood and yoga are just not sufficient attributes to go with when trying to understand the nuances of the Indian community in the United States.
Over the past few years, the company has made a serious and targeted effort to really get under the skin of these people, in order to get an indepth sense of who they are and what they need.
Simple cultural parameters, like the importance of taking off one’s shoes when entering an Indian home, and not offering a hand to a woman (particularly an older one) when greeting her, all form part of the qualitative study that MassMutual has carried out on the Indian-American community–a study that provides a solid foundation for on-the-ground sales managers like George Eapen.
Eapen works with MassMutual’s strategic financing group in Houston, a city that is home to about 150,000-200,000 Indians. Most of them are professional, he says, they are engineers and doctors and business owners, and like any other ethnic community in the U.S., they have their own set of characteristics and their own specific investment and saving goals and needs.
Although Eapen is Indian–he came to the United States from India two and a half years ago–and has an innate sense of who an Indian is and what an Indian needs, he insists that MassMutual’s detailed approach to understanding the Indian community serves him well in his job.