It’s long overdue to engage with India, says Klaus Maier. That especially applies to European companies that want to break into a market there. A “one-country” market strategy is too superficial for a subcontinent. The Managing Director of Maier + Vidorno recommends that visitors prepare for an exhausting but also exciting journey.

The first time I was in Asia was 1995 in India… Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, and Kolkata. From the beginning, I was excited about the dynamic and spirit of optimism, which the country still radiates today. What was different from my expectations was that there was no noticeable distance between Indians and Europeans. You got the feeling of being immediately understood; even if afterward it turned out that that wasn’t always the case.

What has changed the most since then… are the cities. Cities like Pune, Delhi, Bangalore or Chennai were “sleepy” 25 years ago, but are now some of the most rapidly evolving regions in the world. Life is changing so fast in these cities that you see more contrast in 6 months in Delhi than you see in 20 years in Cologne.

When someone asks me about “cultural diversity in India”…  I think of the great contrasts between the regions.  North, South, East, and West India are more diverse than Europe, and this makes a “one-country” market strategy inadequate.

I put my foot in my mouth… all the time when Hindi language skills are required. Even after almost 20 years in India I only speak a little Hindi. English is sufficient in my private as well as my professional life, but I know I miss out on jokes and so forth.

I particularly appreciate it… the Indian’s calmness, serenity and, of course, their ability to compromise.  They take everybody on board; however, this does take time.

When I’m in Asia I’m preferable… at our house in Goa.

People traveling in Asia should… be prepared for an exhausting but also exciting journey. In India you don’t take a vacation, you travel. The journey is the reward and you’ll be surprised how “incredible” many everyday situations are. At the end of an India trip, you definitely need a few days of holiday to process everything you have seen.

I would like to explore… India’s north-eastern region, the so-called Seven Sisters.

When I look into the future, I believe we will be surprised again… India’s rapid economic and social development. I’m always surprised by how little German entrepreneurs know about India. It’s high time to engage more intensely with India.

The interview was published by the economic magazine Asia Bridge in cooperation with www.maerkte-weltweit.de.