Why some young US workers now seek fortunes in India
President Obama encouraged more trade with India as a way to add jobs in the US during his Nov. 4-14 trip to Asia, but enterprising Americans aren't waiting for jobs to come to America.
Nathan Sigworth still remembers the trepidation that accompanied his move to India. A college grad with an eye for business, he wasn't concerned about unfamiliar turf or overcrowded cities. More worrisome was the competition he'd face from Indian peers with a reputation for math smarts and hard-driving ambition.Skip to next paragraph
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But three years later, the company he launched here to help consumers detect counterfeit medicine has just inked deals with Indian drugmakers to use his service on 50 million packages of pills a year. While Indians have long headed to the United States to boost their fortunes, Mr. Sigworth sees India as a land of opportunity where Americans can bring much-needed skills to the table – despite concerns that US education is turning out workers who cannot compete.
"When I first moved to India I thought, 'Gosh, here I am surrounded by people who are doing algebra in elementary school.... [With] all these smart people, how can I even compete?' " says Sigworth, a 20-something from Connecticut who is cofounder and CEO of PharmaSecure in New Delhi.
What he discovered, he says, is that American education and American cultural heritage "prepare us so well for working in the world, for being pioneers."
On President Obama's Nov. 4-14 trip to Asia, he encouraged more trade with India as a way to add jobs in the US, but enterprising Americans like Sigworth aren't waiting for jobs to come to America. "I would say, 'Go east, young man,' " he says. "I think sometimes people in the US don't realize what they bring to the table if they go outside of their country."
Part of what they can bring, he says, is an outlook that comes from the international nature of American higher education. Sigworth and a small group of friends at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., came up with their business idea after hearing from African classmates about the problem of fake medicine.
Their solution: Print a randomized code on each pill pack, along with a number to text in order to verify the code. A computer receives the cellphone message, checks the code in a database, and sends back expiration and batch information that the customer can crosscheck.