I recently traveled to South Africa in the middle of the World Cup fever to attend the Fortune Global Forum in Cape Town. It was my first visit to South Africa and I was looking forward to being part of the World Cup celebrations, even if it was only as an onlooker and also as someone speaking at the forum.
As we landed in Cape Town, I was mesmerized by the sheer beauty and vibrancy of the city. The towering table top mountains, the colorful people and the constant buzz of the vuvuzelas on the street created a wonderful atmosphere. Though the temperature was dipping, the city had a warm and inviting feeling to it. South Africa had surely made a great first impression on all of us.
As we focused our thoughts on the event at hand, more serious issues around “The New Global Opportunities” began to be discussed. The President of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, was present at the event to kick off the proceedings. The event had tremendous focus and extensive discussions on emerging markets, sustainability and innovation. It was a sheer pleasure to hear some of the speakers and their views on macroeconomics and opportunities being created to foster inclusivity.
I had the opportunity to be a part of one such session titled “Voices” that brought together CEOs from emerging markets to share their experiences and stories around the impact being created for society. It was a great opportunity to share my views on “Reverse Innovation” and examples related to the Indian Telecom, Healthcare, Auto and Financial industries.
The sessions on the first day ended with a networking reception that saw people huddled together, debating the issues and perspectives shared by the speakers during the day and of course football.
But the highlight of the evening was the dinner hosted by distinguished South African business leaders. We were broken up into smaller groups and driven off to the houses of these leaders. I was at the dinner hosted by Koos Bekker, CEO of Nasper and I must say this; it was one of my most enduring memories of the trip. He was a very gracious host, the conversations were refreshing and it was one of my best meals I had ever had!!
Next day I was part of a discussion on Clean Tech. The panel included the CEO of Rio Tinto, CEO of NURU Energy Group and the Chairman, School Energy Initiative. It was especially interesting to hear Sameer from NURU talk about the innovative work his company is doing around off-grid lighting solutions. I too had the chance to share Wipro’s vision along with examples on how we are leading the charge to be an ecologically surplus organization. Our goals are ambitious, but I am confident that we will achieve them.
As the session ended, I headed to Johannesburg and it was back to business. But as I left Cape Town I had a good feeling about my visit, I knew that the businesses are increasingly focused to promote inclusivity, innovation and sustainability. Well and then there was the Football!!
It was a short trip but an exciting one.
I would like to congratulate South Africa for giving us one of the best World Cups ever, “Thank You South Africa” and I am sure that I will be back sooner than I think.