Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An inspiring afternoon with Dr. Alo Ghosh

As we eagerly awaited the guest speaker for the day, our Chairman Mr. Mohan Menon walked-in with Dr. Alo Ghosh and his friend Mr. Bobby, an expert in the IT industry. Dr. Ghosh, a seasoned entrepreneurial CEO-CFO-COO, a private equity principal and business educationist has been a professor of finance at the Wharton Business School. He was full of enthusiasm to address us even after a jet lag, as he had reached India just the night before.

After a brief introduction about himself, Dr. Ghosh went on to explain the financial crisis that was the cause of the US recession. It was informative to have the narration of the events from someone who had a firsthand experience of the crisis. He explained the sub-prime crisis that triggered the financial crisis and the subsequent events which led to the down fall of Lehmann Brothers. He then went on to tell us how overleveraging, excessive derivatisation and securitization worsened the scenario for the mortgages and the sub-prime loans. Dr. Ghosh, who has diverse experience in international strategy, finance and technology, emphasised the importance of having a diversified portfolio. There were no stones left unturned- every aspect of the crisis was explained crisply and with clarity.

He then went on to enlighten us about the importance of communication, especially as managers. This according to him was a major factor that has put us Indians in the back seat. Even though we had the technical expertise, when it came to communicate the expertise to a client, Indians lagged behind. Our employability is also much lower than the international standards. A manager should possess excellent soft skills. This made him compliment finishing schools like Chennai Business School; he was quite impressed with our curriculum. Mr. Bobby, who has vast experience in the IT industry, emphasised on the same. He went on to give us some live examples which he had faced in his office due to lack of communication with his employees.

Students posed a pile of questions during the Q&A session- right from the status of the Dollar being the reserve currency, the debt crisis that is looming around on the Indian banks, the current investment scenario in India, to the renewable energy segment were discussed. As time was against us, our Chairman had to intervene and pose the last question. On behalf of the ladies in the class, he wanted Dr. Gosh to advice them whether investing in Gold would be a good idea. This made him share with us some lighter moments he had with his wife on the topic of gold and diamonds. Although the gold prices were rallying, one really needs to look at the fundamental factor of demand and supply. The current price levels have to correct themselves, but the prices are there to stay at high levels. His pick was platinum though.

Dr. Ghosh proved that even a complex situation as the US financial crisis could be well explained without complicated phrases and jargon. Simplicity was his hallmark, both in speech and looks. His speech was informative and enlightening. We are indeed lucky to have had him sharing his vast and in-depth experiences in the international markets.

Contributed by Benoy Paul, BFS Varsity, CBS Batch IV (2009-10)

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