SAMBAA (South Asian MBA Association) hosted its second Annual Year-End Conference
Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.
October 30, 2009
Mountain View, CA: SAMBAA (South Asian MBA Association) hosted its second annual conference celebrating the second eventful year since joining the leagues of premier international MBA associations. The evening was attended by several noted and well-respected business leaders making an impact in South Asian business, as well as MBA alumni, MBA aspirants, and business leaders that are a part of SAMBAA.
Having developing a reputation for generating great conversations at its events, in SAMBAA’s signature style the evening commenced with cocktails and sparkling conversation. At 7 pm, the guests were led into the beautiful Computer History Museum’s Hahn Auditorium to be seated under vaulted ceilings and in muted candlelight. Among the French cutlery and wine, each attendee was greeted with a SAMBAA conference package with speaker's bios, detailed programs and tote bags with SAMBAA t-shirts as a keepsake of the lovely evening.
Ketan Shah, President of SAMBAA welcomed the guests to the evening’s festivities. This year the event focused and highlighted the emergence of the strong South Asian revival amidst the global recession the past year. The objective of the conference was to showcase this phenomenon and to visit the unique opportunities for leadership in business that this has provided to all SAMBAA members.
Sangeeta Chakraborty, Executive Vice President and Chair, Women’s Leadership Network provided a report on SAMBAA’s exciting events the past year and a look ahead into the goals SAMBAA has laid out for itself in 2010. The SAMBAA update listed a host of accomplishments. Finishing a year that saw increased partnerships with academic organizations joining the universities of Haas School of Business, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford, SAMBAA also emphasized the new and renewed professional sponsorships from Lifescan, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer and US Census. Several major professional organizations have joined hands the past year with SAMBAA such as IPBW, SIPA, SABA and others to join the ranks of TiE and other existing partners.
Dr. Shailesh Mehta, the star of the evening and the keynote speaker, was welcomed to the stage by Ketan Shah following the SAMBAA update. Dr. Mehta is the Managing General Partner of Granite Hill Capital Partners and former Chairman and CEO of Providian Financial Corporation. Listing his accomplishments, Ketan noted that Dr. Mehta was the single South Asian CEO who built his career by growing through the ranks and then growing the business of the company that he led many-fold. Dr. Mehta delivered a riveting speech, underscoring first the growth of the current financial crisis, why South Asia bounced back to fast and how it would now become the beacon of growth in the coming century. He then reminisced on his personal career growth coming to this country with no assets to the position of power he finally claimed, and shared personal and impactful episodes of his career that allowed him to grow to that position. “Take over unclaimed territories” was his sage advice to all SAMBAA attendees. He ended on a call to be involved in the exciting and growing South Asian business world, just as he had himself become a part of the growth by investing in several companies there.
After Dr. Mehta’s speech, Mr. Haresh Kaneriya, Executive Vice President and Chair of Corporate Relations announced the South Asian CEO of the Year award. This award instituted by SAMBAA last year, honors an exemplary South Asian CEO who has not only led his or her organization to great commercial success but also made significant contribution to increasing the diversity in corporate leadership and to the community at large. This year’s award was won by Fred Hassan, the CEO of Schering Plough. Accepting the award via video presentation, a humble Mr. Hassan shared his insights about the emergence of South Asians in Corporate America and credited his cultural heritage in making him what he is. Mr. Hassan’s grace won him much admiration and thunderous applause.
The award ceremony was followed by a Leadership Panel led and moderated by Murrali Rangarajan, Board Member TieSV. Mr Rangarajan introduced the panelists, who are some of Silicon Valley's most successful business leaders from the South Asian community. They were Rohit Dixit, VP at HP, Deep Nishar, VP at LinkedIn, Maria Gracias, Head of Global Sourcing at Visa and Sreenath Pendiar of HP. The panel showcased the broad talents and personalities that make SAMBAA such a successful and overarching organization. They then opened up the panel to discussions and questions with topics ranging from the current economic challenges to South Asian market opportunities here and abroad, to various applications of leaderships. Said a new SAMBAA member Raj Kaneriya, "The 2009 SAMBAA Conference was a terrific opportunity for South Asian professionals from all across the world to connect with other successful professionals and develop relationships that are essential to building a strong career. As a prospective MBA student, I was able to meet with several accomplished executives with MBAs who shed light on the value that an MBA provided to their careers and how they leveraged those experiences to launch a successful career. "
Having feasted their minds and inspirations for a few hours, SAMBAA treated its guests to an elegant three-course dinner from the acclaimed Junnoon restaurant of Palo Alto.
Munish Gupta, Chief Technology Officer of SAMBAA welcomed the lovely Tattva group to the stage to round out the evening with a lively dance performance based on world wide dance.
As the evening ended, SAMBAA guests were thanked by Ketan Shah and of course, SAMBAA pledged to see everyone next year again for the Annual Event of 2010.