On Thursday afternoon, the Ross School of Business hosted the first session of the ninth annual Michigan India Conference in the Robertson Auditorium. The theme of this year’s conference, which was first held in 2011, was “Moving Beyond Emerging,” and was focused at analyzing and comparing emerging markets — countries that have some elements of a fully developed market, but are not quite at that status. The first day’s keynote speakers included D. Shivakumar, president of Aditya Birla Group, and Harry Broadman, former White House trade advisor. Both discussed growing markets around the globe, especially in India and China.
The conference started with M.S. Krishnan, associate dean for executive programs at the Business School, who welcomed all the attendees and explained the idea of educating responsible leaders behind the conference.
“At Michigan, our mission is to educate leaders, who believe in business that can change the world,” Krishnan said. “We ask for responsible leaders who can create a positive impact wherever they go, whether it is profit, non-profit or whichever organization they choose, and whichever part of the world.”
The audience then welcomed Shivakumar, who focused his keynote address on the development and growth of markets around the globe, with an emphasis on consumer habits in those markets.
“All my life I worked with consumers,” Shivakumar said. “All my life I worked with emerging markets. And all that you see in the next 30 slides are pure, personal experience.”
Shivakumar condensed his experiences into some general trends reflecting the development of emerging economies with respect to population, wage, urbanization and technology. He first pointed out the trend of having a relatively young population in emerging countries.
“Emerging markets have very young populations,” Shivakumar said. “The U.S. has the youngest among developed economies with a 37-years average. The right side is the developing economies, Pakistan, 21; Nigeria 18; South Africa, 25.”
Shivakumar moved on to how wage increase shifts the consumer habits in emerging markets. He also talked about how emerging market consumers are more willing to share things like homes, cars or electronic goods with tourists, friends or strangers.
“All emerging markets have gone through scarcity,” Shivakumar said. “That creates a very different mindset. And that’s why they are willing to share. They are willing to share for a fee, but more for friendship and for joy.”
Shivakumar also said the luxury market is a key place for development, and touched on the impact of urbanization. He mentioned how satellite graphics show India to be 55 percent urbanized.
“Urbanization has a huge impact on what people adopt,” Shivakumar said. “Technologies, cars, clothes and so on.”
Shivakumar also discussed how he believed emerging markets, like China, have an advantage over developed markets in regards to technology as well.
“China alone has more E-commerce than the next four markets combined,” Shivakumar said. “E-commerce has emerged in China without a doubt, has it emerged in America?”
Shivakumar concluded by giving some personal advice to University students in the audience, encouraging them to be a part of these developing markets.
“If you are a student, please do projects in emerging markets,” Shivakumar said. “Please take initiatives in emerging markets, please take a job in emerging markets. Nothing will be more valuable than what you will see in the next 20 years.”
Business graduate student Akash Khare told The Daily after the event that he plans to work in countries with emerging markets in order to gain an understanding of them, adhering to Shivakumar's advice.
“I would probably take the advice of the first speaker,” Khare said. “At some point in my career, (I would like to) go to an emerging country and get experience there. I am from India, so ideally, I will probably work or do some standing in China or Brazil or similar.
After a short break, the audience welcomed Broadman, the second keynote speaker of the night. Broadman focused his speech on comparing the reforms and progresses in China and India. He pointed out that while China’s economy has been in a decline, India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to create a unified economic space is boosting the growth of India.
According to Broadman, the growth rate of India has been on a general trend of increase since 2013, and the International Monetary Fund predicted the outturn of 2019 would be about 7.5 percent and will grow to 7.7 percent in 2020.
“This is faster than China and the trend is completely opposite,” Broadman said. “In fact, China’s GDP growth rate in real terms has been falling almost steadily.”
Broadman said he believes the biggest contributor to India’s growth is Prime Minister Modi’s reform policies.
“I think he’s taken on some battles that were frankly always put off,” Broadman said. “ … This is what I look for most when I go around the world going from country to country, is what level of confidence in the economy and economic policies that the leader is installing.”
Broadman also believes India’s success is related to Modi’s attempt of creating a unified economic place in India.
“(The U.S.) has a large economy geographically,” Broadman said. “As does China, as does India. But we operate as an integrated economic unit. There is no substitute for that. And that, I think is where Modi is heading.”
Broadman talked about how emerging markets are inventing new things that are being introduced for the first time into developed nations, defying the general norm.
“What (Modi) is trying to do is move India toward a cashless society,” Broadman said. “I was working in Africa when mobile money was invented. This completely turns on its head the theory of product life cycle, made popular by Raymond Vernon.”
LSA sophomore Maya Balaji told The Daily she was especially moved by how innovative emerging markets are becoming.
“I think that when Dr. Broadman spoke about how actually inventions are now being made in emerging markets rather than inventions being made in developed markets, that was incredibly interesting,” Balaji said. “And to understand that cashless economy, a cashless society was invented in Africa. It was really interesting. And I’m excited to see what inventions will spur from emerging markets and actually come to developed markets.”
Balaji also discussed how the conference impacted her plans for the future, especially by putting developing markets on her radar.
“My key takeaway absolutely was to focus my studies and career path in emerging markets,” Balaji said. “Because I think in emerging markets, you are going to get the most growth and the most value, and I believe that’s where the value is.”