SAMBAA Annual Conference 2008
News - Press Releases

SAMBAA (South Asian MBA Association) hosted its first Annual Year-End Conference at Vidalakis Hall at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. This event brought together alumni as well as current students of top-tier MBA programs such the Stanford Graduate School of Business(GSB), the Haas School of Business, UC Anderson and University of Michigan and MBA aspirants. 

South Asian MBA Association (Sambaa) Annual Event

October 23, 2008

Press Summary

Stanford, CA: The day was beautiful, with California Sun warming the courtyard at Vidalakis Hall of Stanford University as SAMBAA (South Asian MBA Association) hosted its first annual event celebrating its first year since joining the leagues of premier international MBA associations. In the crowd, were notable community leaders as well as all the MBA alumni, MBA aspirants, and leaders that make SAMBAA the great organization it has become.

Following a highly successful mixer at Carnegie Mellon in June this year, SAMBAA was at it again, providing a networking platform for a diverse collection of business leaders, professionals, students, and community leaders. Quickly developing a reputation for generating great conversations at its events, SAMBAA ensured a the evening kicked off with lots of handshakes, laughs, and much food for thought about in an open aired cocktail and hors'd oeuvres networking session. In attendance at this event were Roger Craig, a 49er great, Consuls Soumendu Bagchi and Ashok Kumar Sinha and Fremont Councilwoman, Anu Natarajan.

The guests were then lead into the beautiful Vidalakis Hall and under vaulted wooden ceilings, between the French cutlery and wine, SAMBAA had folders with speaker's bios and paper for notes, detailed programs and tote bags with SAMBAA t-shirts, Berkeley jellybeans at every seat. Impeccable taste and meticulous planning remain this group's hallmark style.

For those still unacquainted with this organization today's event really underscored the emergence of South Asian global leadership and SAMBAA's efforts to lead the way. Their vision is quite simply to "be the most visible and effective catalyst in South Asian leaders shaping tomorrow's global business," and at one of the nation's most prestigious universities, they brought an abundance of talent and energy at this event.

After the networking session, President and Co-founder of SAMBAA Ketan Shah provided a warm welcome and provided an overview of what SAMBAA is all about. SAMBAA is the only global platform for MBAs with interest or ties to S.Asia. With the emergence of S. Asia and India in particular, and with the burgeoning population of S. Asian MBAs globally there was a clear need for this platform.

Introducing SAMBAA to the attendees, President-Elect and Co-founder Dr. Anurag Mairal said it simply, "With the emergence of the South Asian leaders in the global economy, the question is why hasn't there already been this organization? The time is now. " The SAMBAA introduction by Dr. Mairal listed a host of accomplishments. Finishing a year that saw partnerships with the universities of Haas School of Business, Carnegie Mellon, and now Stanford, SAMBAA can boast professional sponsorships from Lifescan, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, and TestPundit; several business schools and corporations are expected to join this dynamic group in the coming year.

But it's not just the big name schools and businesses that SAMBAA has attracted. Continuing a tradition of inspiring keynote speakers, Nancy Hill, VP Worldwide Human Resources of Johnson and Johnson provided the crowd an insight into South Asian contributions to diversity in health care and even illustrated the story of Diabetes care challenges in India that have led to innovative products there that have made their way back to the United States. Speaking on behalf of Don Casey, Worldwide Chairman of Johnson and Johnson, she quipped "If Don Casey were here, he would run upstage grab the award and say something about Notre Dame," in response to an Award of Excellence SAMBAA presented her with.

After Ms. Hill's speech, Mr. Haresh Kaneriya, Executive Vice President and Chair of Corporate Relations announced what will be another annual tradition: the South Asian CEO of the Year award honoring 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 winner of the Award was Vivek Ranadive, the Founder and CEO of TIBCO. Mr. Ranadive was one of the three high-profile nominees for the award; the other two included Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe Systems and Jagdeep Singh, President, CEO and Founder, Infinera. Accepting the award, a humble Mr. Ranadive shared his insights about the emergence of South Asians in Corporate America. SAMBAA represents "South Asians 4.0", he said. "South Asians 1.0" were the ones who came in 1960's and 70's in search of higher education and engineering and science careers. The "2.0" were the ones who tried to make the transition, albeit with some difficulty, to business side. The South Asians 3.0 were the entrepreneurs of the late 90's. The new generation of South Asian leaders is global, he observed. And SAMBAA represents this new generation. Mr. Ranadive's self-effacing grace won him much admiration and thunderous applause. The event also saw recognition of SAMBAA's partners since it’s founding: Haas School of Business and TestPundit. Introducing the recipients of the beautiful award plaques from SAMBAA, Mr. Haresh Kaneriya, praised the important role played by these two organizations in ensuring a solid start to a fledgling SAMBAA in its early days.

One of the key components of the event was a Leadership Panel. Introducing the panelists, who are some of Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders from the South Asian community, Ms. Sangeeta Chakraborty, the Chair and Founder of SAMBAA's Women's Leadership Network highlighted the diversity of experience on the panel. The panelists all outlined impassioned visions of leadership in the current challenging times. Mr. Prabhat Dubey, CEO of TelAsic Communications reminded the crowd to achieve, "the highest ethical standards, the highest integrity and the utmost sincerity," Mr. Sandeep Johri, VP of Hewlett Packard encouraged everyone to, "find the sages of wisdom," when pondering the future. Venture Director of Clearstone Venture Partners Mr. Vish Mishra challenged the attendees to consider, "how well do you uplift people's lives?" and Indu Navar, CEO of Serus Corporation reminded all that "true leadership must be nurtured and believed in, " and appropriate to the times that, "you can find more opportunity and talent during the downturns."

All in all, 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 Sameer Bhattarai, "I came with questions, found some answers, but best of all left with better questions."

When Dr. Mairal told the crowd that "the fun part of evening lay ahead: the dinner and entertainment," that was just what the audience was ready for. Having feasted their minds and inspirations for a few hours, SAMBAA treated its guests to an elegant three-course dinner and rounded the night off with live entertainment.

There were two dance productions this night, from the groups Tattva and Aquarela Group. Tattva, a thematic World Dance company founded by two South Asian entrepreneurs, performed a lively Broadway musical sketch with laughs and parody of the corporate world. Playing off the host's namesake the Aquarela Group performed a sizzling samba piece that roused the audience into a Carnival style train of Brazilians, South Asians, and all their friends that danced around the building to cap off the night.

Besides great speeches, conversations, food, and dance, SAMBAA guests were thanked by Ketan Shah and of course, SAMBAA pledged to see everyone next year again for the Annual Event.


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