Record Turnout at IACCGH’s 17th Annual Gala

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Joya Shukla (President IACCGH) with Bruce Culpepper (Keynote Speaker, President, Shell USA) at the 17th annual IACCGH Gala, on Friday, September 6 at Hilton Americas Downtown.
Photos: Bijay Dixit

 

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By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: A record turnout of 750 of Houston’s business elites marked the 17th Annual IACCGH Gala held at the Hilton Americas on September 9. Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray and elected officials joined businessmen, entrepreneurs and professionals including for the first time, a 30 member delegation of executives from public sector companies in India to celebrate the Chamber’s accomplishments and honor outstanding members of the community.

The presence of several elected officials from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, Congressman Pete Olson, Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, State Representative Gene Wu, Judge Ed Emmett, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Council member Jack Christie, District Clerk Chris Daniel to City Controller Chris Brown was a standout as was the high level of networking that took place during the social hour.

An excellent rendition of the American and Indian National Anthems by Ishya Kachru and Amiya Ghosh got the program rolling.

Welcoming the gathering, Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia thanked the roomful of “decision makers and policy makers” for supporting the organization and validating the work the Chamber does in promoting Houston’s economic growth. He also apologized for the sound system not being up to par for reasons beyond their control.

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Mistress of Ceremonies, abc13 reporter, Pooja Lodhia invited CEO Asif Dakri from Wallis State Bank and Gala underwriters, to address the gathering.  Stating that Wallis State Bank was the number one SBA Lender in the Houston region for the last two years, he credited part of their success to partnering with organizations like the Chamber.

President Joya Shukla spotlighted the Chamber’s launching of its International Student Summer Internship program which was Past President Sanjay Ramabhadran’s brainchild and stewarded by the Chamber’s youngest Board member Narayan Bhargava.  Two local University of Houston students interned at Shell and JSW Steel in India during the 2016 summer.  The program’s success, she stated, is measured by not only a request for more interns, but more global companies such as Technip already committed for 2017.  The launch of the Business of Medicine Series with a Keynote by CHI St. Luke’s CEO Michael Covert was, in her words, a “breakthrough” and the Chamber will focus on building bridges of Healthcare between the largest medical center in the world and India catalyzed by the new Consul General’s passion given his training as a physician.

Speaking about the growing alliance between the US and India, Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray quipped that “it’s a good time to be a diplomat in the US.” This, he continued, is evident from the fact that a few days ago, on the same day, the US Secretary of State was in India and the Indian Defense Minister was in Washington conferring on issues of defense cooperation, cybersecurity and trade. He added that India and the US are similar for upholding values like diversity, inclusion, competition, meritocracy and rule of law and business with India is essentially “doing business with a country that is more like the US than many countries in the world.”

Lauding the Chamber’s role in driving Houston’s economic growth, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett stated that he looked forward to more trade missions to India and Indian delegations to Houston as well as “seeing cultures and beliefs of India woven into the fabric of American life.” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, Congressman Pete Olson and Mayor Turner strongly endorsed the diversity that the Indo American presence in Houston provided while describing the Chamber as “dynamic, an engine of opportunity and diversity personified.”

Keynote Speaker Bruce Culpepper, President Shell USA termed the longstanding relationship between the Chamber and Shell “symbiotic” characterized by mutual need and mutual benefit. Shell, he continued, looked for opportunities to be actively engaged with the community, to learn and transform those learnings back into Shell creating, in the process, a “positive ripple” across the organization. Stressing that Shell has deep ties with India, he highlighted the soon to be completed Shell Technical Center in Bengaluru and a Business operations Center in Chennai which has become the backbone of Shell’s global finance and business processing capability.

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He concluded by stating that Shell intends to be a partner with the Government of India and the people of India to address India’s energy needs and provide energy solutions.

The Chamber also recognized the outstanding professional and public service achievements of community members. Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Marvin Odum Past President Shell, Dr. John Mendelsohn Past President MD Anderson Cancer Institute and Richard Huebner Past President HMSDC. 2016 awards for the Business Person Award went to Bhavesh Patel CEO LyondellBasell, the Entrepreneur Award to Founder of Shipcom Wireless Abeezar Tyebji, the Woman Entrepreneur Award to Revati Puranik, Global CFO Worldwide Oilfield Machines and the Young Professional Award to Malisha Patel, COO of Memorial Hermann, Sugar Land.

Emphasizing the power of diversity and the role it plays in success, President Elect Allen Richards promised to continue the Chamber’s mission of bringing together “a diversity of skills, businesses and cultures” and foster strong community relationships.

The evening capped off with Board member Rajiv Bhavsar winning a Rolex watch given by Karat 22 in a Raffle draw which he donated to the Chamber to be auctioned. The proceeds from the sale of tickets and the auction go to support the Chamber’s International Internship Program.

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