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Friday, February 17, 2017

CEIBS Alumni Strengthen China-India Business Ties

February 17, 2017. Shanghai – With Chinese companies eyeing opportunities abroad and India looking for infrastructure investment, a pair of CEIBS MBA Class of 2011 alumni recently launched a venture that aims to build bridges – literally – by leveraging their knowledge of the two markets. 

Since founding Panchwati Clean Water in October 2016, Ritwik Ghosh and Vijay Chowdhary have signed an MOU with the India state of Andhra Pradesh for four projects worth US$1.5 billion, bid for project management of a US$10 billion project that will be funded by Dalian Wanda Group, and signed a consortium agreement with China Nuclear Industry 22nd Construction Company, which has been looking to expand into India.  Together with the Chinese state-owned enterprise they have already made a bid to build a hospital and design a waste water treatment system in Kolkata.

Before enrolling in the CEIBS MBA Programme Ritwik was a navigator in the Merchant Navy, while Vijay, who won a scholarship from Bosch with an essay on sustainable energy sources of the future, had been an IT consultant. The pair made the most of their time at CEIBS.

“Ritwik was elected as President of the Energy Club. The CEIBS platform gave us access to the world’s best companies such as Siemens and GE,” says Vijay. “Siemens engaged us for a paid strategy-consulting project for market entry strategy for solar energy in China. We did our ISP project with GE, and not only was our work appreciated, but the company implemented our suggested strategy.”

“We also won the coveted INNOVATEChina competition, which strengthened our friendship and honed our strategy skills,” Vijay explains. “It was CEIBS which brought together the best MNCs, brilliant faculty, top international competitions, an influential alumni network, and access to the Chinese job market, which propelled us on our current path.”

After graduating Vijay returned to his family business, Panchwati Group, in India, and led the real estate development and infrastructure company to grow at 40% CAGR over the past five years. Ritwik began his career in China at a private equity firm, then moved to Chinese real estate giant Dalian Wanda Group where he worked on their overseas investments. Prior to starting Panchwati Clean Water he was Vice President, Investment for Asia Pacific at the new energy company Sun Edison.  

The pair stayed in touch over the years, always looking for the right opportunity where they could work together to leverage Sino-India business relations. In late 2016, observing Chinese companies’ growing investment into India, they chalked out a business plan and a rollout strategy. Their plan is to develop and invest in Indian real estate and infrastructure projects by putting together a consortium with Chinese companies. Once they settled on their strategy they began looking for suitable partners, and have found the extensive CEIBS alumni network to be helpful in opening doors as the school’s brand helps in establishing trust. For example the General Manager for the Shanghai office of China Nuclear Industry 22nd Construction Company Mr. Shen Quan, is a CEIBS EMBA 1997 alumnus.

Though their venture has gotten off to a good start, they still face many challenges. “The biggest challenges for me have been convincing the Chinese companies and investors of why India, and why our company,” says Ritwik. “My Chinese language skills are far from perfect so talking to potential Chinese partners without a translator has been challenging. Another challenge is bringing on suitable team members who believe in my vision as much as I do and who share the same level of enthusiasm and energy. Also, as an employee you have a fixed salary and a variable incentive, but as an entrepreneur your entire incentive is variable.”

Over the next three years they aim to have an order book of US$1 to $1.5 billion, and they see long term growth prospects ahead, not only for their venture but for business relations between China and India. They are grateful for the role that their alma mater has played in their efforts. “CEIBS prepared us for future challenges and opportunities, and also provided the resources and platform to help us kick-start our strategy and expand our venture,” says Vijay.

Janine Coughlin
Charmaine N. Clarke