Wharton in India: A Global Kick-Off

On January 6, Wharton’s 125th anniversary festivities launched at the sold-out 2006 Global Forum in India. More than 400 alumni and business leaders offered a warm welcome and a rousing kick-off to a 16-month-long celebration that includes a faculty tour around the United States and other special events.

Photos by Karuna Krishna

While India’s National Center of Performing Arts was nearly 8,000 miles from the site of the Wharton School’s founding, attendees found themselves in a fitting location. The host country’s burgeoning economy and rapidly changing society showcased both the reach and promise of Wharton’s impact 125 years after the School invented collegiate business education. “Wharton brought U.S. management thinking to a wider audience in the developing world and Asia,” said attendee Tarun Kataria, WG’85, head of Asia/Pacific sales for HSBC Ltd. in Hong Kong. “I’m here to celebrate Wharton’s contribution to global economics and finance.” Donald Woo, WG’73, president of Tower Group Asia, who also flew in from Hong Kong, agreed, “Wharton is a very powerful source of business education that benefits not just the students but the whole business world.” Wharton currently has more than 3,000 alumni who live in Asia — its highest number of alumni outside the United States. The School’s regional influence was underlined by participants who included Deepak M. Advani, WG’98, SVP and chief marketing officer, Lenovo; Rangnath (Rangu) Salgame, WG’94, president, India & SAARC Region, Cisco Systems; Shiv Vikram Khemka, WG’90, G’90, vice chairman of SUN Group; Dhruv M. Sawhney, WG’71, chairman and managing director, Triveni Engineering and Industries Ltd.; and Finance Minister of India, P. Chidambaram, who spoke on “The Indian Economy at Inflection Point.” Also discussed were critical issues affecting India — including outsourcing, foreign investments, and Indian pharmaceuticals — as well as more general topics, such as the future of telecom, alternative medicine, and social entrepreneurship.

Wharton alumnus Anil D. Ambani, WG’83, chairman of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises, served as chairman of the Forum’s Organizing Committee. Speakers included Narayana Murthy, chairman and chief mentor, Infosys Technologies Limited; Takeshi Natsuno, WG’95, senior vice president and managing director, Multimedia Service, NTT DoCoMo, Inc.; Kenneth Moelis, W’81, WG’81, president, UBS Investment Bank; Pridiyathorn Devakula, WG’70, governor, Bank of Thailand; and Wharton professors Jeremy Siegel, Ian MacMillan, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh, Michael Useem, Jagmohan Raju, and Anjani Jain. While the Global Alumni Forum was an occasion for celebration, it was also an opportunity for business. The School announced the upcoming fall 2006 launch of Knowledge@Wharton India and presented the Wharton-Infosys Business Transformation Awards (WIBTA) 2006, Asia Pacific. The awards entered their fifth year, recognizing visionaries and organizations that use technology in an innovative and creative manner to revolutionize their businesses. Honorees were Cyworld, a South Korean social network service comprising nearly 17 million people; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of Biocon India; and OhmyNews, a South Korean online citizens’ reporting forum. Shaili Shah Kejirwal, W’02, an associate with Tamara Capital Advisors, a Mumbai private-equity firm, saw the celebration through a more personal lens. “125 years is a lot of history,” she said. “Since the beginning, Wharton has had a very proud and rich tradition of graduates becoming business leaders around the world. I know that I can go anywhere in the world, and find someone in the alumni directory who’s very distinguished. I know they’ll be very responsive because I am a Wharton alumna.”

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