First MIT Sloan Asia Business Conference explores innovation and investment

As President Obama tours Asia, speakers emphasize key elements of Asian region’s success

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., November 6, 2010 — Even as President Barack Obama began his 10-day trip through Asia to boost economic and business ties with the region, a host of high-level executives and other speakers gathered at an MIT Sloan School of Management conference in Cambridge, MA today to explore current trends and future opportunities in the dynamic region.

The first MIT Sloan Asia Business Conference “reflects what is happening now and is likely to be seen in Asia in the years ahead,” said MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein as he opened the all-day session, which drew more than 300 students from MIT Sloan and other schools, as well as officials from local companies, academics, and other participants. “The opportunity for leadership from the region is unprecedented. Investment in science and technology is leading not only to innovations in products, but to innovation in process that is leading the world.”

Speakers at the conference’s morning session set the linked themes of innovation and investment. In his keynote remarks, Yuan Chen, Chairman of China Development Bank, presented an overview of the central role of development financing in supporting overall growth of China. He also discussed broader aspects of Asian development. “Promoting cooperation among Asian countries has become an irreversible trend” that will help build worldwide economic success, he said.

John Wang, Chief Marketing Officer of HTC, explained how his company, which now produces 40 percent of the world’s Android smart phones, transformed itself from “an Asian corporation into one of the world’s most innovative companies.” Central to such success, he said, “is putting the consumer at the center” of all operations, from R&D to production. “A brilliant employee base can produce quite a brilliant product,” said Wang, an MIT alumnus. “All functions of the organization must be about brand.”

Samsung Electronics Executive Vice President David Steel continued the theme of how “East meets West” to become a global technology leader. Asia has become an innovative region for several fundamental reasons, including cutting-edge technology and marketing, as well as “a willingness to take a longer term view toward investment” and “consistent messaging across all products to build brand.”

Other speakers at the conference included Ziying Fu, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce, Bain Capital Asia Chairman Shintaro Hori, and Lycos Chief Executive Officer Jungwook Lim. A full list of speakers and topics can be found at http://mitasiaconference.org.

Yuanying Huang, a second-year MIT Sloan MBA who helped lead the conference, said the event was a success. “We had a great turnout and, more importantly, a high level of enthusiasm and interest,” she said. “Speakers offered unique insights that will hopefully help conference participants better understand Asian business issues and apply them as they pursue their careers and develop businesses.”

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