Day 3 - BSchool visit, more insights and commitments

Vikas Joshi
November 5, 2010

EMLYON Business School played host to the World Entrepreneurship Forum this morning. After late dinner last night, most of us were experiencing sleep deprivation this morning as we got ready early to board the bus leaving for the B-School campus.

As the bus winded its way through the beautiful city of Lyon, we could witness the wonderful fall colors on the trees lining Lyon's twin rivers and atop hills on both sides. The city is the second most important place in France after Paris, and home to about half a million people.

The program at the school was a public workshop, aimed at disseminating the Forum's insights with a large audience - about 600 persons, including students, alumni, partners and forum members.

The highlight of the morning was a talk by LIU Chuan-Zhi, the founder of Lenovo, China, part of a diversified enterprise with $16.6 B in revenue. As we listened to Mr Liu's speech, translated in real-time from Chinese to English, through our headsets, we could discern the gems wisdom coming from a savvy businessman who put China's business acumen on the world map:

What helped Lenovo beat multinationals at their game was superior industry knowledge, higher agility in tweaking product-service offerings to quickly address unique needs of the Chinese, shrewd pricing, astute team building at the top (including leader selection) and capital structure reforms that helped create incentives for employees. "Take people with you" was his mantra.

The next speaker was Ila Bhatt of India, popularly known as Ilaben, who has founded the Self-Employed Women's Association, with a membership of over a million women. When I talked to her in person, her penchant was evident in the one line she kept repeating: "There is so much more to do".

The Junior WEF members presented their ideas for fostering entrepreneurship - one of them being cartoon stories which depict the entrepreneur as a super-hero. What better way to get children dreaming about entrepreneurship?

Prof Zoltan Acs presented his findings of entrepreneurial competitiveness of nations, measured using a combination of indicators for attitude, activity and aspirations. The top 5 nations were: Denmark, Canada, US, Sweden, and New Zealand.

An interesting presentation followed where the topic of discussion was entrepreneurial aptitude measurement. Unfortunately the program was running late, so the speakers had to really cut it short.

After lunch, the team continued working sessions where commitments were made by everyone to undertake a few initiatives in the coming year in our respective businesses, to further the cause of entrepreneurship.

As I write this, members are figuring out the best way to spend the evening. Some plan to hang out and network, others are visiting the city center to enjoy Lyon city life and cuisine.