SHELL Distinguished Lecture by Lori Ryerkerk, Executive VP, Global Manufacturing

Distinguished Lecture Series by Lori Ryerkerk

By Phenil Shah

Ms. Lori J. Ryerkerk, who was the guest speaker at the IACCGH luncheon held at Westin on October 12,2017 serves as an Executive Vice President, Global Manufacturing for Royal Dutch Shell (Shell). Ms. Ryerkerk is responsible for the operations of all Shell refining and chemical wholly owned and operated assets and joint ventures. The topic of discussion at the luncheon was Global energy change and how the Oil industry contributes towards it and what the industry is doing to make positive, long term and sustainable changes for a better and cleaner future.

According the United Nations the world population is expected to grow by to 10 billion by the year 2050 and we will need to address that growing energy of needs of the growing global population. While these needs are being addressed, we see there is a global energy transition that the world is undergoing. We need to address the increasing energy consumption while still reducing our carbon footprint. Therefore, the overall Energy transition will take a lot of time, effort and collaboration between countries to implement.

It takes longer for under developed or developing nations to address the energy transition as compared to the developing nations. The challenges faced by these countries are much different because their infrastructure is different. For some underdeveloped and developing nation, the priority is to get access to clean energy or even just access to energy for every citizen. Some countries are still struggling to have access to clean water, so their priorities are much different than that of countries such as US, UK or countries in the European Union. For example: the energy solutions that work in a wealthy city like Copenhagen, Denmark will not work in Lagos, Nigeria. A second example is that of electric cars that may work in countries like the US or UK but will definitely not work in Asian or African cities, simply because there is a shortage of electricity or access to it is limited in these countries.

The use of hydrocarbons is still inevitable in some major sectors such as Aviation, military, passenger vehicles, marine shipping, heavy weight machinery, heavy industries such as steel and cement etc. Petrochemical industry has grown at a rate of 3.7 % per year over the last 15 years. So different countries and different sectors means different timeline for energy transition to happen globally. The different economical, technological or political challenges also mean different solutions. There is not going to be a single simple solution to grasping the complex Energy transition challenge worldwide. This challenge will require “ALL” solutions to be developed to meet our growing populations needs, demands and desires for more and cleaner energy. Ms. Ryerkerk ended her note with the phrase: “The world is changing, but global change takes time”.


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By Swathi Vikraman

Photo by: Bijay Dixit, Unique Photo Images

Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston held its 18th Annual Gala on September 30th, 2017, at Hilton Americas Downtown. The event coincided with the 4th Annual US-India Partnership day. The chamber has been recognizing this partnership since 1999 when India was yet to become the flavor of the future. The theme for this year’s Gala was “Partners in Progress”, which was coined before the havoc caused by Hurricane Harvey, yet very apt to depict how community partnerships have worked in the relief and recovery operations.

The evening saw local business leaders and high-ranking professionals networking at the Reception prior to the main event. Several elected officials were also present at the 600 strong gathering. At the Reception, Judge Ed Emmett presented plaques of appreciation to the major sponsors of the evening. The main event commenced with national anthems of both countries. Sanjay Ramabhadran, a chamber Board member was the Master of Ceremony. Chamber’s Executive Director, Jagdip Ahluwalia highlighted this year’s economic development through bilateral ties. This included India’s purchase of over $2 billion US Crude oil, within one month of PM Modi’s meeting with President Trump. IACCGH was present at the loading of the crude oil on the first ship that sailed out of Texas. Another win for Texas was the sale of Apache helicopters to India.

The new board was introduced next, led by President-Elect Swapan Dhairyawan. A video depicting the history of the chamber helped the audience appreciate this amazing journey. They were encouraged to go through the Gala magazine to get a full picture of the Chamber’s history, work and accomplishments over the 18 years.

The chief guest of the evening, India’s Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray gave a wonderful speech, touching upon India’s ever-growing influence on the global stage. The Indian community has given time, talent and treasure towards relief efforts. Post Harvey, IACF (Indo-American Charity Foundation) set up a fund to support the Harvey relief efforts. This initiative endorsed by the Consul General and proposed by Sapphira  Goradia, President of the Goradia Family Foundation, includes contributions from the Chambers individual members, businesses large & small and those from India that have a presence in Houston and the community at large. The community responded positively with many chamber members like GAIL USA, Charles Foster, Dilip Bhargava and local places of worship sending in tens of thousands of dollars to the fund. Major Philanthropists like Dr. Durga Agrawal donated through India House. IACF President Dr. Vanitha Pothuri donated  $25000 bringing IACF’s total up to $100,000. Sapphira Goradia matched this first $100,000 donated. WIPRO donated $250,000 to the governor’s fund, BioUrja donated $250000 to the Mayor’s fund and Mahindra Americas donated a total of $1.5 Million in cash and kind to the relief efforts. IACCGH Past Presidents Ashok Garg and Sanjay Ramabhadran and President Allen Richards felt that the IACCGH Gala would be a great venue to showcase the community effort in giving back. A symbolic check  from the Indian American Community “Marching Towards a Million” acknowledging and celebrating the contributions that have already been made to these funds was presented to Harris County Judge Emmett and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner by Consul General Dr. Ray, Sapphira Goradia, Jagdip Ahluwalia, Allen Richards, Amit Bhandari of BioUrja, Harish Shanbhag of Wipro and Mani Iyer of Mahindra USA. Mention was also made of the volunteer hours made by SEWA International, The Hindus of Greater Houston, the Bohra Community, the Sikh National Center several other Indo American Churches, temples, and mosques. Judge Emmett and Mayor Turner congratulated the chamber on the efforts to support the Houston community.

IACCGH current President Allen Richards described the 18th year of the Chamber as the start of “a new direction”. He highlighted the collaboration with other ethnically diverse organizations and the “NexGen” initiative, providing opportunities to the younger demographic. The Gala also had amazing entertainment provided by singers Skylar Beamon, Sparsh Shah and a flash mob.

Bob Patel, CEO and Chairman of Lyondell Basell delivered the keynote. His keynote started off with his inspirational life story. He appreciated the work the Chamber is doing in creating connections, bringing the two countries closer together and advancing knowledge to create opportunity.

IACCGH also recognized the professional and public service achievements of members of the Indo American community. Port Houston Chairman Janiece Longoria received the award for the tremendous impact on the economy, Dr. Marie Goradia received “Impact on Humanity” award for her efforts through Pratham USA; Bal Sareen, CEO of Brask Inc. received the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award and Swapnil Agarwal of Karya Management received the “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” award. The event coordinators were also felicitated.

President-Elect, Swapan Dhairyawan, delivered the vote of thanks and outlined his plans for the coming year. The event concluded with declaring the winner of the prestigious Rolex Raffle and a wonderful Indian dinner by Dawat Catering (Madras Pavilion).

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NexGen Networking Happy Hour featuring Sukaina Rajani

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Small Business Outreach featuring Tim Jeffcoat

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Global Academic Program Reception


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Bilateral Trade with India

To view the trade mission highlights please click on the document links below:







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Young Minds Professional Panel


Photography by: Bijay Dixit, Unique Photo Images

Article by: Manu Shah

Two investors and one engineering professional offered some serious career advice to a roomful of students and young professionals at the NexGen by IACCGH Young Minds Panel. The event, held on April 18th at the University of Houston’s Cullen building, was organized and moderated by IACCGH’s Board member and Chair of the NexGen initiative – Narayan Bhargava. Assisting him were NexGen Committee members Neha Srivastava, Anish Nagar, Girija Patel, Priya Bedi and Dilbag Singh who facilitated and encouraged networking among the attendees over snacks and refreshments.

Welcoming the gathering, Narayan Bhargava offered a crisp overview of the Chamber’s efforts in promoting economic growth in the Greater Houston region. He also outlined NexGen’s initiative in increasing involvement and connectivity among undergrads, graduate students and young professionals through networking events, mentorship programs and career discussion panels.

Saheb Sabharwal, Krishna Danda and Bruce Schroeder were the three young panelists who dwelt on the detours, bumps and successes in their professional journeys and they had plenty of sage wisdom to share.

Saheb Sabharwal, 28, traded his architectural drawings for a career in finance when he realized he enjoyed the business of identifying the right investment opportunities. Having earned an MBA from Stanford, he catapulted to Vice President at CLS Capital Management in a short time. His advice: assess what you want to do, have a mission and “don’t ever handicap yourself.” Meaningful networking, he added, is important as is finding those “one or two things you’re passionate about” and involving yourself in them. Don’t like your job? Find the courage to call it quits and try something new!

Stand out from the crowded marketplace, was Krishna Danda’s advice. An engineer and Chicago-Booth MBA graduate, Danda, who is in his mid-30’s, jumped companies to find his fit – an experience he describes as “a humbling one” before landing at GE Ventures. He also emphasized the importance of specializing in one or two industries and applying for jobs in those sectors rather than a “spray and pray” approach. Highlighting the importance of talking to as many people as possible, he noted that it’s equally important to “stay in touch” with the people you meet.

Bruce Schroeder, in his mid-20’s and a mechanical engineer at consulting company Sparx Engineering, also made a strong case for “not limiting yourself to one avenue but continue to learn and try different things.” He further added that it’s important to learn from your mistakes, “do a postmortem” and be honest rather than try to cover up things. He also emphasized the importance of internships and extracurricular activities with prospective employers and downplayed the weight of a perfect GPA score.

In response to what they looked for in a startup or an entrepreneur, Sabharwal and Danda believed that deep expertise, eloquence, background and understanding the market were some key factors in backing people or ideas.

The event capped off with a discussion on the importance of mentors for which Saheb Sabharwal had one piece of advice, “find your mentors early and they will push you in the right direction.”

This was the second Young Minds Panel (YMP) hosted by the Chamber. The next YMP will be in the fall of 2017 but NexGen by IACCGH will be hosting several networking events, workshops and activities throughout the year.

(For more information about how to join the Chamber’s NexGen events, please contact info@iaccgh.com.)


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IACCGH Distinguished Lecture featuring Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo


Article written by: Manu Shah

Photography by: Bijay Dixit, Unique Photo Images

On April 11, Houston’s top cop Art Acevedo delivered a strong message about “relational policing” and his efforts to build a rapport of trust with the community. As Keynote Speaker at the IACCGH Distinguished Lecture Series, Chief Acevedo’s impassioned address about his aim to serve and make Houston safe for everyone came across as genuinely caring, sincere and determined in working with the community to make a difference.

The event which was sponsored by Shell was hosted at the Indian consulate and attended by representatives from several economic development agencies, IACCGH members and guests.

Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia welcomed the gathering and described the Chamber as an “inclusive Chamber representing the community.” Diversity, he emphasized, is what “Houston is all about and what the Chamber is all about.” He also thanked the Consulate for hosting the event.

Deputy Consul General of India in Houston, Surendra Adhana lauded the contributions of the Indo American community and promised the Consulate’s support to the community and the HPD in all their endeavors.

Greeting the gathering with a cheerful “Namaste,” Chief Acevedo opened up about the police department’s struggles and challenges in ensuring public safety with a taskforce of only 5100 police officers. He compared this figure with Chicago’s taskforce of 13000 officers despite the city being geographically smaller than Houston.

A shrinking department is the reason, he clarified, why calls to 911 don’t always get a quick response. The response time for an emergency is under 5 minutes but could be longer for less serious situations. The necessity of deploying the limited resources in an effective way and the prioritization of going after violent crime rather than minor misdemeanors, he added, called for such measures.

Chief Acevedo also reflected that deeper engagement with the community starts with the police chief which is why he is focused on reaching out to community members at every opportunity he gets and being on crime scenes or patrol beats whenever possible to “send the message” that Houston’s police department is there to serve.

Alluding to the “ugly political rhetoric” about undocumented workers in the country, he highlighted their contributions to the economy and called on the gathering to speak out against this stance. An unfortunate outcome of this rhetoric, he observed, has resulted in a glaring drop in the reporting of rape by undocumented workers for fear of being deported.

Chief Acevedo also highlighted the proposed pension reforms and stressed the importance of providing a pension plan for “all the men and women who put their lives on the line” for public safety day after day.

Concluding his address, he stated that he was “here to do his job, not keep it” and held out the guarantee that the day he leaves, the department would “be in better shape” than when he came.

Shell VP Fred Whipple thanked Chief Acevedo for his leadership and expressed his gratitude for the sacrifices “you and your families make to keep Houston safe.”

Jagdip Ahluwalia did note that that the Chamber has had a long term relationship with the HPD and their main contact over the years, till he retired, was Assistant Chief John Chen. The retired  Chief had addressed the community at several IACCGH events in the Hillcroft/Harwin area and has been extremely responsive regarding any safety and security issues.

The Chamber was pleased to welcome and introduce his successor Assistant Police Chief Henry Gaw who will henceforth be the point of contact for the community.


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Mahindra Rise Campus – India’s Ambassador to USA’s visit to Houston, TX

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IACCGH Small Business Outreach

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