NextGen Networking Mixer


Attendees of the evening pose for a photo with IACCGH Board Member, Narayan Bhargava and Pratham Young Professionals President, Darel D’Souza.
Photos: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: How do you engage and involve the next generation of professionals in a cause you believe in?

Twenty eight year old Narayan Bhargava – IACCGH Board member and NextGen Committee founder and Darel D’Souza, President, Pratham Young Professionals (PYP) had an idea.

The two organizations teamed up to host the first “NextGen Networking Mixer” at the upscale Americas restaurant in River Oaks on August 17. Not only did the evening offer attendees an opportunity to connect with other professionals in an informal environment but the chance to listen to an inspiring story of entrepreneurship and the importance of people for success – a lesson driven home by Michael Cordua – founder and CEO of Cordua Restaurants, which includes familiar Houston establishments like Americas, Amazon Grill, and Churrascos.

In his welcome remarks, Darel D’souza gave a brief outline about PYP, which he described as “a small group that makes a big difference.” The organization funds 10 schools to increase the literacy rates among the underprivileged sections in India.
Narayan Bhargava offered an overview of the Chamber and its mission in promoting the economic growth of the Greater Houston region. He also explained the NextGen initiative and its intent to engage and involve college students and young professionals in the Chamber.


Micheal Cordua gives a speech about entrepreneurship to guests at the event.

Narayan went on to introduce Americas entrepreneurial owner – Michael Cordua who described his early struggles in the shipping business and observed that “most entrepreneurs are born when they are thrown out of their comfort zone.” A chef himself, Cordua decided to start an authentic South American restaurant in “Tex-mex dominated Houston”. Despite some initial setbacks, the restaurant took off and expanded to many more. In conclusion, Cordua advised the gathering “that it is people who will make your business.”

This point was further elaborated by Narayan who drew a sharp connection between networking, optimizing connections and professional growth. According to him “the NextGen Networking event at America’s Restaurant was a great success because people were able to genuinely network and also take some wisdom back home from Michael Cordua – a successful Houston entrepreneur.  Moreover, doing the event with PYP allowed us to take another step towards building a younger base for the Chamber and also further developing our relationship with a peer group.”

Over the last two years, IACCGH has rolled out two new initiatives aimed at the younger generation. An International Student Internship program sends select business students to intern in Corporate India as well as a company in Houston. The objective is to offer interns a dual perspective of how business is conducted in two different countries. Ankit Bhowmick and Akash Dhingra were the two students selected for internships in Shell India and JSW Steel, respectively this year.

In addition, IACCGH started an internal internship program. Three business students from the C.T. Bauer of Business were selected to intern at the Chamber to offer them the experience of working with a nonprofit.

For more information about “NextGen Networking”, please write to