By: Kirk Stokes, Guest Writer
“I left the World Trade Center 10 minutes before it collapsed on September 11, 2001. I then went home and proposed to my now T-bird wife. I’m here today because I believe in paying it forward.” Navin Gupta’s life has led him all over the world and challenged him in many different ways. Fortunately for us, he was delighted to share his personal and professional perspectives with the 2015 Asia Finance Winterim in Hong Kong & Singapore.
On January 12, Professor Lena Booth led 25 Thunderbird students to Hong Kong and Singapore with the objective of exploring the Asian Financial markets while at the same time exposing our class to the Asian culture. Navin Gupta (‘00), Head of The Strategic Growth Initiative at HSBC Asia Pacific, was just one of 33 speakers that spoke to our group. Both Kevin Rohrer (‘82) in Hong Kong and Steven Frank (‘96) in Singapore welcomed us in each location as the respective Alumni Chapter President. The commitment by our Alumni in each location was overwhelming had a real impact on the quality of the trip.
Special Events were held in each location in order to give students time to network and trade perspectives with alumni. The Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association (TIAA) volunteered to sponsor a T-bird Finance Panel with the help of the Hong Kong Alumni Chapter at the Hong Kong Football Club. The joint alumni event allowed for professional insights on the newly established Hong Kong Connect, Social and Political trends, and overall life as expatriates in Greater China. A special thanks goes to both the TIAA and the Hong Kong Alumni Chapter for their joint efforts on behalf of our Winterim students.
In Singapore, students had the opportunity to mingle with Alumni at the famous Harry’s Bar. The Singapore Alumni Chapter helped arrange a student meet and greet which included many of the week’s guest speakers. The evening concluded with Professor Booth providing a brief update on campus activities and publicly announced news regarding our new relationship with Arizona State University. The final week in Singapore was capped off by a farewell lunch where students enjoyed a variety of different foods from various Southeast Asian countries.
Hong Kong and Singapore are very much at the forefront of Asia’s transformation, and each location owes much of its success to several important factors. First, the Rule of Law has allowed Hong Kong and Singapore to be trusted partners in the global marketplace. The level of transparency that comes with a well-established legal system has created a foundation for success where other neighboring counties are struggling to compete. Second, the ease of doing business, a simplified tax code, and proximity to China, has made both Hong Kong and Singapore attractive destinations for global talent. That being said, a growing wealth-gap, growing immigration challenges, and the emergence of more transparent neighboring countries will put both Hong Kong and Singapore to the test. And so two questions remain: How will each location continue to develop its competitive advantages as neighboring Asian countries race for economic influence? And finally, how will we as T-birds contribute to the future of Asia and the relationship it has with the rest of the world.