EMS: A Recap of Booth’s Largest Student-Run Conference

Emerging Markets Summit (EMS) was a pinnacle event that brought together influential players from around the world to engage with the Booth community. Toted as Booth’s largest student-run conference, The Emerging Market Summit was a huge undertaking that brought together a number of Booth groups including Chicago Women in Business, the Investment Management Club, and Middle East and North Africa Club. After strong promotions and word of mouth, EMS had a strong turn out of around 350 attendees. Some of the prominent speakers at the event included Tendai Biti, Former Finance Minister of Zimbabwe, Siva Yam, President of US-China Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of US-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, and Alfredo Moreno Charme, '82, Former Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.

The emerging markets face a unique set of issues and opportunities and the EMS summit looked to address these factors during a number of panels. Broken into five tracks African, Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and MENA, the break out sessions allowed attendees to dive deep into topics about a certain region or jump around to different tracks that may interest them. This aspect of the Summit allowed for an omni-lens perspective and gave insight into potential synergies between countries like China and Zimbabwe. China was a big focal point of discussion as they are positioning to surpass the United States as the next big super power.  China’s private equity investing in U.S. and U.K. companies has become aggressive over the past 5 years, creating bidding wars with companies like Starwood and GE appliances getting stuck in the cross hairs. Also, China has been investing heavily in natural resources from African countries like Zimbabwe, which have some regional experts like Tendai Biti concerned that China is taking advantage and locking governments into damaging contracts.

During the lunchtime Global Roundtable a panel of female executives including  Graciela Cairoli, '82, Vice President of Capital Markets Argentina and Lamia Pardo, VP Global Strategy & Marketing, Pangea Money Transform, discussed the challenges and opportunities for women in emerging markets. On the panel, Pardo mentioned that today women are seeing more opportunities to work in competitive firms, whereas only 10 years ago many of these companies would not have hired women in certain roles. Evening in more developing economies like India, currently there are larger numbers of women than ever before going into entrepreneurial ventures and starting successful businesses.

Co-organizer of EMS, Oma Nwabudike told ChiBus, “The conference made me realize that people within the emerging markets face many of the same issues and can learn from each other.” She also added that for next year’s conference she would like to try to bring more local people representing certain regions to better understand their plights on a micro-level.  

Many of the attendees from the conference mentioned that their takeaway from EMS was the growth opportunities in private equity and entrepreneurship within the emerging markets.

Alexis Miller is a Booth first year who loves journalism, food blogging, and global travel. She is passionate about telling the stories of the Booth community.