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Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 12 News List

American finds success by following outsourced jobs

While many tech and service sector workers in post-industrial economies lament jobs lost to emerging markets, a few are following the jobs -- and not looking back

By Amy Waldman  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICEBANGALORE , INDIA

The rooftop terrace at Cosmo Village was crowded with young partygoers savoring the temperate night air, oversize Kingfisher beers, and their place in this moment of global economic convergence.

At one table, five friends from Singapore sat with a 1.89m tall, 23-year-old anomaly: Joshua Bornstein, the only native-born American among 25,000 Bangalore-based employees of Infosys Technologies, one of India's software and services giants, and one of the few Americans of his generation in Bangalore.

For all the complaints about American jobs migrating here through outsourcing, few Americans have thought to follow them. Seven months ago, Josh Bornstein did.

He quit his job at an investment banking firm in Los Angeles and came to this southern city on the Deccan plateau. He pays US$110 a month to share a two-bedroom apartment with a Japanese roommate. He takes the company bus to work at the Infosys campus, as lush and large as Microsoft's in Seattle. He has Indian, European, Israeli and Asian friends, and he has become a familiar figure on this city's thriving pub scene.

"Everyone talks about globalization left and right," he said. "This is the way the world is moving."

Perhaps so, but he is the only one of his friends in the US who even considered going to India for work after college.

He has become a member of a cosmopolitan village that has formed as multinational companies flock here, and Indian companies try to become multinationals. The city is full of foreigners -- 10,000 to 12,000 are registered here with the government's office of foreign registration. At some bars, the crowds are so mixed they look as if they could be in London.

GLOBAL ECONOMY

The foreigners are staffing multinational companies, filling five-star hotels to overflowing and on Sundays packing the all-you-can-eat Champagne Brunch at the Leela Palace hotel, where the executive chef is, naturally, French. Those here for longer stints are filling exclusive housing colonies and the international schools springing up to cater to their children.

Few Americans are among them, even though previous generations of young American graduates have pursued literary careers in Paris or tried to take capitalism and democracy to Russia and Eastern Europe. India would seem a logical next choice, given an economy that grew by 8.2 percent last year, a software and services sector that grew by 30 percent last year and the way outsourcing is rewriting the rules of the American and the global economy.

But most Americans still feel India can teach them more about spiritual practices than business models.

Not Bornstein. On his first weekend, he met a Westerner who said he came to India because his guru told him to.

"I can't really relate to that," said Bornstein, who was raised in Chicago.

He first learned about Infosys through its summer global internship program, which this year received 8,500 applications for 75 spots. Bornstein ended up being one of them in 2001 when a summer job in San Francisco fell through after the high-tech economy tanked. A friend told him about Infosys, and he figured it could be his only chance both to go to India and to get a summer job.

The uniqueness of the experience helped him collar four job offers after graduation from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. He chose an investment bank in Los Angeles, which he found too hierarchical. Miserable there, he got in touch with his old boss at Infosys, and soon had a job in Bangalore.

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