’I learn something new every day’

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Mohaa Vyas represents TUM in the Indian megacity of Mumbai. With her fellow liai
Mohaa Vyas represents TUM in the Indian megacity of Mumbai. With her fellow liaison officers at TUM San Francisco, TUM Beijing, TUM Brussels and TUM So Paulo, she works to raise the university’s international profile and build its network. Image: Gaurav Kagda

The Indian megacity Mumbai is one of the world’s largest urban areas. In 2014 TUM established a liaison office here - like the ones in other cities around the world. They are part of the university’s efforts to build a global network in order to boost its visibility and increase its international impact, both in the world of research and society at large. Mohaa Vyas (37) is the Senior Regional Manager at TUM Mumbai.

For Mohaa Vyas, the working day starts with coffee - and a little exercise. "I try to stay active," she says. "The pandemic has forced me to spend far too much time at home." She loves talking with people, interacting with them, exchanging ideas. And that, in short, has been her job description as the liaison officer at TUM Mumbai since 2020.

Mohaa Vyas creates contacts. She brings experienced researchers together to exchange ideas in their areas of expertise, for example through the Indo-German Partnership (IGP) project , which she helped to get off the ground. With the support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and its Indian counterpart UGC, the IGP project seeks to expand the cooperation of TUM with the Indian Institutes of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) and Kharagpur (IIT Kharagpur), in particular in the fields of climate and environmental science, energy, mobility and transport.

And, reflecting the importance of promoting young scientific talent, Jayjayanti Basumallik and Praval Sharma, two masters students at the TUM Hochschule fr Politik Mnchen, are working with Mohaa Vyas to organize a virtual student competition: It brings together masters and doctoral students from Germany and India to do research in the areas of climate science, sustainability and the environment.

As the senior regional manager for India, Mohaa Vyas is working to expand the international reach of TUM and highlight the achievements of TUM researchers, for example by placing them at international events. She supports German-Indian projects and initiatives in dealing with organizational issues and also looks for suitable contacts. An important aspect of her work is networking on behalf of TUM and promoting the transfer of scientific results into Indian society.

"India is an important location for TUM," says Vyas. "The country is in transition from an agricultural economy to a technology-based, service-oriented economy. India is also increasingly using technologies in manufacturing and agriculture, for infrastructure and in education." Other important fields for the subcontinent include aerospace engineering, IT and artificial intelligence, mobility and pharmaceuticals. Alongside China, India is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of pharmaceutical products.

Due to the pandemic, the networking activities of TUM in India are mostly limited to virtual encounters, either by phone or videoconference, at present. Mohaa Vyas is still looking forward to her first face-to-face meeting with her counterparts at the many partner institutions with which TUM is working in India. So far she also knows her colleagues with the TUM Global team in Munich and the other liaison officers around the world only from her laptop screen.

Discussions with the other liaison officers are highly beneficial. Despite differing priorities, the various offices frequently find opportunities to work together. For example, TUM Mumbai and TUM So Paulo are planning a joint information event on agriculture during TUM Global Week. It will be open to all members of the TUM community.

After two digital editions, TUM Global Week is scheduled to return as an in-person event this summer - and Mohaa Vyas will finally set foot in Munich. "I’m very excited," she says, beaming. As a child she often spent holidays in Germany, but in the Rhein region. Vyas was educated in Italy, India, Hong Kong and Australia. "I have a strong awareness of other cultures, am good at talking to people, understanding them and adopting their point of view," says Vyas, who holds a B.A. in Business and an MBA in Human Resource Management. She also likes the fact that she learns something new every day. "That’s the best thing about my job," she says.

The young manager is full of drive, wants to tackle new tasks, move them ahead and get things done. Does she have a favorite project? No, she shouldn’t really have one, says Vyas with a smile. But one topic means a lot to her: sustainability. Vyas would also like to see women playing a more prominent role in public life in India. That is why she makes a point, whenever possible, of inviting female scientists to take part in panel discussions.