Interview with Mr. Prem Goyal


 1.    Mr. Prem, you were born in India, have worked in the USA, Japan, Switzerland, and Britain, and last year you received the Order of the British Empire. Can you briefly introduce your career and achievements?
After receiving a BEng at the Indian Institute of Technology (one of the world’s best Schools of Engineering), I moved to New York on a scholarship and obtained a Master’s Degree in Engineering. I then worked four years as an engineer and became a Qualified Professional Engineer in the USA. Later I studied for an MBA at UCLA and joined Goldman Sachs in New York. I have then become a consultant, and worked in New York, London, Tokyo, Zürich. In 2002 I founded Global Markets Consultants, and we have been preferred supplier for Deutsche Bank since 2005. In 2012 I was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the economy and promoting charitable giving: laterI also had the chance to have a lunch with the Queen and sit at the top table. Moreover, I have raised funds for charities by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and being involved in many other community activities.
2.      Do you feel a ‘global citizen’ and a ‘global entrepreneur’ then? What is ‘globalisation’ for you? 
Yes, I definitely consider myself a global citizen, entrepreneur and manager. For me, Europe, and in a sense, the whole world, is one country. Globalisation means to me the decline of national borders. While capital and goods circulate freely all over the world, however, labour does not. Governments still have a lot of bureaucratic control on it, which is a shame, because talent – not nationality – should be rewarded.
3.    You have worked in the three wealthiest world regions: North America, East Asia, and (despite current decline) Europe. Which is the most innovative, the key-one, right now?
Probably, East Asia, although the Silicon Valley still has an edge. But in the next ten years China and India will grow a lot. They are like young elephants, while the USA is older. Yet in the USA it is very easy to start a business, thanks to tax breaks and other incentives.
4.    China is by far the second largest world economy: what do you think of it? Will it challenge the USA – economically, financially? Will they create an ‘Asian Wall Street’?
With the current growth rate of 7-8%, in nine years China will be equal to the USA. Her challenge will become bigger and bigger. Already now, the USA does not talk about human rights with China and the two states often have bilateral meetings, or summits within summits, which is a clear sign of power. US Treasury Secretary Geithner was highly worried about China’s possible sale of her Dollar reserves. Also, China has a lot of highly skilled workers, who are a challenge to workers in other countries (like Britain) already now. Her financial markets will grow, although it will take more time (three-four decades) to overcome Wall Street. China is developing innovative financial products, but her pace here is slower than in the ‘real’ economy.
5.      Let us move to your native India. What are her strengths and weaknesses in the global world? 
India has a young and huge population with consumption power. Indians speak English and, with a growth rate of 5-8%, India will soon gain political power; in fact she is already asking for more power in the UN Security Council. From another angle, however, the huge population is a weakness: 800 million live with less than two dollars a day. Then there are the usual old problems: corruption, weak infrastructures, and the fact that wealth creation is enjoyed only by the population’s top 3%.
6.   India and Italy are home to two of the most ancient world civilisations…and an Italian woman, Sonia Gandhi, is an important Indian politician…the two governments, however, sometimes clash…what do you think about the way they handled the issue of the two ‘Italian marines’ who allegedly killed Indian fishermen off Kerala coast? In Italy there has been a lot of talk about it…
Being also a magistrate, I believe in the rule of law. There should be a proper and fair trial into what happened, and then the verdict should be respected. It is not clear what happened, and all political commotion is not helpful; governments are not impartial. Having said that, India and Italy have a lot of similarities, and Sonia Gandhi is very popular, even if Indians are probably not yet ready to have a leader born overseas; she has fully embraced Indian culture. I also like travelling to Italy – Milan, Florence, Pisa…
7.      Let us stay in Europe then. What is the problem with it? How do you see the EU’s future?
Europe has an uncompetitive economy, especially when it comes to low-skills products.  There are huge debt problems. Europeans need to reinvent themselves and do better with less. Germany is somehow an exception, and might take charge of the EU.
8.      Europe is also dependent on energy from overseas. Who plays a major role on this market?
Russia, especially in gas. Russia, like China, often has ‘private’ talks with the USA, a sign of power and of the fact they want to show their status. Look at Syria: the US is helpless because of Russia’s and China’s ‘No’. Apart from Russia, Middle Eastern countries, Algeria, and Nigeria are big players in the oil market. Europe has to develop renewable energy on its own
9.      Prem, let us return to yourself, if I may. Which are your core values – as a businessman and a community entrepreneur?
As a community entrepreneur, I say, equality, especially at the top, and social justice. As a businessman, I believe in meritocracy and transparency. A big problem is how to give chances to those who have fewer opportunities – as groups or countries? How to support them?
10.  A final question on the youth. In the EU youth unemployment is a tremendous problem – some 8 million youngsters are jobless. What would you suggest them?
Well, education is important, in vocational training and universities. The youth have to realise the world will be more competitive. The rise of China, India, Mexico, and other countries will be a tsunami on the job market. EU countries like Italy should develop ties with emerging countries. Where are Italian businesspeople in India? Also, they could create incentives to foreign entrepreneurs; in the form of technology parks (in all big cities), tax free zones, tax breaks, free language classes…for example, Canada has adopted similar initiatives with foreign entrepreneurs. Obviously, young people then really have to try and build a global profile!