IACCGH Small Business Outreach featuring Keynote Speaker Asif Dakri & Chief Guest Dr. Renu Khator

DrKhator and Asif Dakri

Photography by: Bijay Dixit

Article by: Manu Shah

On 27th February, IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia welcomed “the roomful of friends and supporters” who had gathered to honor Wallis State Bank’s Vice Chairman and CEO Asif Dakri’s appointment to the prestigious FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations) Advisory Committee on Community Banking. Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, Chancellor and Chief Guest for the evening Dr. Renu Khator, Dr. Suresh Khator, Jay Guerrero and Minesh Patel from Tampa’s Chamber of Commerce were also present.

In his introductory remarks, Past President Ashok Garg underscored the strong relationship shared by the Chamber and Wallis State Bank and their longstanding support as Gala Underwriters and sponsors of the IACCGH Business Outreach programs. He also highlighted the well-deserved honor bestowed upon Asif Dakri and stated that he “had ticked all the boxes in terms of leadership, business acumen, cordiality and helpfulness.”

Appreciating the Chamber’s gesture of honoring Asif Dakri’s appointment, Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray remarked that Wallis State Bank is a story of “entrepreneurial drive and spirit” and added that he was struck by Asif Dakri’s focus in giving back to the community.

Describing Asif Dakri as a “great role model,” Dr. Renu Khator also drew attention to the honoree’s generosity and support of UH programs and lauded his accomplishments in making Wallis State Bank the number one SBA lender in the Houston region. Asif Dakri’s new role, she continued, will offer him the opportunity in doing “something bigger” in terms of advising the Government on regulatory and monetary policies. She also lauded Asif Dakri’s efforts in helping UH’s SURE program which has been championed by Professor Dr. Saleha Khumawala and promotes entrepreneurship among underprivileged children.

Asif Dakri’s appointment to the FDIC Advisory committee is a matter of pride for the South Asian community and he with a panel of 13 members will provide advice on policy issues that impact small community banks throughout the country. He represents FDIC’s Dallas region which oversees 8 states.

In his Keynote, Asif Dakri offered a brief overview of Wallis State Bank and its successful streak as the number one SBA lending Bank in Houston for the past three years specializing in small business lending.

He also presented an interesting insight about Houston’s economy which highlighted where we were, where we stand and where we are going. Pre 2014, Houston, he elaborated, had a tremendous run up in employment rates, real estate prices and construction but when OPEC refused to limit oil production in November 2014, the markets took a dive. This led to a loss of thousands of jobs and a real estate decline in multifamily and office markets among other casualties. The exceptions were retail, healthcare and education that were making money.

Today, oil prices have stabilized but a likely Fed interest rate hike could crimp growth and make it harder to “keep the American dream alive.” As for the future, he remarked that his guess about where it was headed was “as good as anyone else’s” but was optimistic that despite the bumps on the road, Houston’s future is still favorable.

Asif Dakri concluded by appealing to the gathering to become more “involved and proactive” not only in their Indo American or South Asian communities but the American community at large.


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Photgraphy by: Bijay Dixit

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IACCGH Distinguished Lecture with Ambassador Rinzing Wangdi and Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray




Photography by: Bijay Dixit

Article by: Manu Shah

When India’s Consul General Rinzing Wangdi came to Houston eighteen years ago, one of his objectives was to bring about a deeper, long lasting and transformative change in the economic engagement between the US and India.

This vision led to the creation of the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston or IACCGH as it is better known. The organization, started in 1999 with 40 Indo American business leaders has become in the words of its Founding Secretary and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia “the force that it is today.”

On February 13th, Founding members, Past Presidents, community leaders, elected official representatives and IACCGH members turned out to meet and reconnect with “the founding father of the Chamber” Rinzing Wangdi. In a gracious move that has become his hallmark, CG Dr. Anupam Ray invited the Chamber to host former CG and former Ambassador Wangdi’s luncheon at the Consulate.

IACCGH President Allen Richards welcomed the gathering. In his address, he described the Consulate as a “great location” and added that this venue “reinforces our vision as a Chamber and the commitment of the Consul General to foster the cultural and economic development we are trying to do within the community.”

Consul General Dr. Ray also mirrored the thought that the venue to welcome the former Consul General is fitting because it is “institution builders” like Ambassador Wangdi who pave the way for diplomats like himself. The CG also described the India US relationship as a “story which only has upsides” and reiterated the Consulate’s efforts to address all calls, complaints and emails in the shortest time possible.

The armchair conversation between Past President Sanjay Ramabhadran and former Ambassador Wangdi was rich in wit and wisdom and provided a glimpse into the fascinating life of a diplomat. The former Ambassador emphasized that the Foreign Services is more a “calling” than a service. His vision in creating an economic chamber, he elaborated, was not only to enable people, business and our countries to connect but to show the US that Indo Americans are serious about “being a part of the community.”

When asked what he thought was the game changer in the relationship between the two countries, the former Ambassador observed that public perception about India changed during President George Bush, Jr’s presidency and reached greater heights with President Obama. He also alluded to the early successes of the Chamber’s efforts with BMC Software and United Airlines and admitted that Houston ranked as one of his favorite postings.

Shell’s VP Fred Whipple, in his vote of thanks, noted that it was a privilege to sponsor the Series and added that he had been enriched by the lectures over the years. He also thanked the Chamber for their impact locally.

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CHI St.Luke’s Healthcare & IACCGH Business of Medicine: Women’s Executive Leadership Panel


Article by: Manu Shah

Photography by Bijay Dixit

A woman powered leadership panel dispensed some compelling work/life advice at the IACCGH Business of Medicine Women’s Executive Leadership Panel on January 17th at the Hess Club. Sponsored by CHI St. Luke’s Health, the event saw an unprecedented turnout of over 150 members and guests with representatives from CHI St Luke’s Health, MD Anderson, Memorial Hermann, Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor and Kindred Healthcare.

Eminent Indo American Doctors such as the President of the Indian Doctors Association Dr. Manish Gandhi, National Treasurer of AAPI Dr. Manju Sachdeva, Cardiologists Dr. Randeep Suneja and Dr. Harish Chandna and Obama honoree Dr. Hardeep Singh were among the attendees.

Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia welcomed the gathering of “leaders and decision makers” and brought attention to the “different things IACCGH is to different people” from young entrepreneurs to professionals to businesses. Immediate Past President Joya Shukla, who chairs the Healthcare Series, highlighted the strong inroads made in the medical community in 2016 by launching the Business of Medicine Series

Senior VP at Xtivia and Board Chair CHI St Luke’s Sugar Land Indira Vishnampet, who played a key role in helping the launch of this Series, moderated the panel moving briskly with the panelists from Baylor Hospital President Gay Nord, VP, Marketing and Communications Janice Lamy, VP and CFO Jenny Sarpalius and VP and Chief Nursing Officer Lorie Shoemaker.

The panelists addressed issues ranging from the importance of networking, facing gender bias, work life balance, cultural competency to transitioning into leadership positions.

Some inspiring takeaways from the evening:

·         Face to face networking not only helps further careers but benefits the organization in the sharing of best practices.

·         Support top performers in finding their niche,

·         Ask for feedback and act constructively on it.

·         Talk to your boss/colleagues about moving up the ranks

·         Diversity in the workplace helps a team make better decisions.

·         For a work life balance, set boundaries and develop high performance teams.

Moderator Indira Vishnampet wrapped up the event by thanking the panelists for their time and revealed that it took “6 months to work out the dates for the event.”

Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray and his wife Dr. Amit Goldberg Ray, a renowned oncologist were also present. In his address, the CG welcomed the association between the Chamber and CHI St Luke’s and described Healthcare as the “next bridge” (after IT) between India and Houston. He also stated that a country can aspire to greatness only if its citizens are healthy and treat women on an equal footing and India would like to follow in the footsteps of the US in this aspect.

The Consul General also did the honors of presenting plaques of appreciation to the panelists.

(Upcoming events: February 13th, a Distinguished Lecture with Keynote by Ambassador Rinzing Wangdi at the Consulate General of India

February 19th: A free seminar on American Tax Laws as applicable to taxpayers who own/control overseas assets, Obamacare and what’s next, Outsourcing, Retirement planning and other relevant tax laws at India House.

Please visit www.iaccgh.com for more details and registration)


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IACCGH Women Mean Business featuring Michele McNichol and Ingrid Robinson

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Photography by Bijay Dixit

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IACCGH Women Mean Business featuring former Mayor Annise Parker and Dean Latha Ramchand

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IACCGH Young Minds Professional Panel

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IACCGH Keynote Lecture : “State of the Airline Industry Friendlier Skies for Consumers”

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IACCGH Business of Medicine, featuring CEO of CHI St.Luke’s Michael Covert

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Supplier Diversity Lunch & Learn

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