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The Salzburg Global Seminar Experience

Value vs. Profit: Recalculating ROI in Financial and Social Terms

I arrived in Salzburg with an idea of what to expect from the seminar in terms of content but left with knowledge and experience that surpassed my expectations by several orders of magnitude. Let me begin with the venue itself; I was informed that the location was a beautiful castle in the wonderful town of Salzburg and just like most other people I searched online and found beautiful photographs and thought I knew what to expect. That thought was completely annihilated when I arrived at the location which I wouldn’t exaggerate when I say is one of the most beautiful and calm places I have ever seen. I can’t imagine a better location to discuss matters of such importance as we did during this event.

I would also like to offer special thanks to the organizers and the staff for their exemplary commitment to the event and the quality of hospitality provided to the participants. I wouldn’t be far-fetched in saying that none of the alumni of the Salzburg Global Seminar will ever forget the idyllic Leopoldkronschloss as long as their memory serves them.

We live in a world where our material needs and wants have overtaken and in many ways outstripped our humanity and compassion for those less fortunate. I attended a course on social entrepreneurship during my wonderful MBA year at the University of St. Gallen and this acquainted me with the needs of the poorest of the poor and the people who have made it their career to serve them. That said, I am a strong believer in learning through real life examples and this was the opportunity provided to me at the seminar.

I had the chance to meet those who had dedicated their life to serving the needs of the poor through innovative social enterprises in places ranging from Costa Rica to Myanmar to Tanzania. I learnt from them the value of their service and the smile they had brought to the lives of those who had forgotten how to smile. There were those who were innovating new financial products to bring investment to these enterprises that would change the way we do business, perhaps with a bit more empathy. We discussed how we could create innovative solutions to make the lives of the poor better and introduce a social component into the corporate world through shared value. We discussed the role of governments, civil society and capital markets in this endeavor. Finally, I came away with a social enterprise model which could very well work out in India and I hope to implement in the not too distant future. This is the great success of this seminar that some will now do things better and others will start to do things they never dreamt.

Last but not the least, the participants I met during these three days were of the highest calibre and of great standing in our society. I mentioned to a couple of participants, who had become my close friends that how I could have gone a lifetime without meeting people like them. I come from the financial services background and had a front row seat to the global financial crisis in 2008. I am happy that this experience and the people I have met in this seminar have ensured that I and any corporate involving me would always work towards deterring a financial crisis of similar magnitude from befalling us.

Thank you Max Reinhardt the renovator of Leopoldkronschloss for the legacy he has left behind, I will hope to find something to love just as dearly and leave as much value behind as he did so that others may enjoy it long after I am gone!