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Wharton Vice Dean and Faculty Director of the ESG Initiative, Witold Henisz, speaks at the Wharton Global Forum (Photo courtesy of Wharton Global Forum)

SINGAPORE — Over 700 Penn alumni and prominent business leaders attended the 55th Wharton Global Forum in Singapore. 

The forum — which was held at the Shangri-La Hotel on March 10 and 11 — provided the opportunity for Penn alumni from around the world to to discuss business and geopolitical issues globally and within Singapore, with delegates from 35 countries in attendance. Attendees included current Penn students, alumni, and faculty.

Attendees said that the diversity of the audience added value to the event.

“That’s the power of the Wharton community — it's very diverse and international, and this forum was able to capture that strength in the form of interesting conversations, knowledge-sharing sessions with the panelist, as well as the masterclass where [Penn] professors shared the latest in the industry,” forum attendee Nivedita Pandey (WG’15) said.

Pandey also added that the forum helped her get connected with distinguished alumni who offered to guide and aid her in some of the projects she is currently undertaking. She said that the opportunity to hear from other alumni and receive feedback are only possible at events like the Wharton Global Forum.

This was the first in-person Global Forum since the pandemic began. 

“While we had several setbacks in 2020 and 2021, we also benefited from the fact that there hasn’t been a Wharton Global Forum since 2019 — there’s a bit of pent-up demand for a forum like this right now,” John Tsai (WG’01, G’01) said. Tsai served as Chair of the Organizing Committee and the President of the Penn and Wharton Club of Singapore that spearheaded the initiative.

Wharton Professor of OID, Kartik Hosanagar, speaks at the Wharton Global Forum.

Attendees expressed enthusiasm about the forum and the opportunity to reengage with their connection to Penn.

“You can feel the camaraderie in the atmosphere. I have had several people come up to me saying that they haven’t been active in the Wharton community over the last few years but this has really ignited their passion for getting reconnected to the school,” he added.

Wharton School Dean Erika James gave the opening speech.

“The potential energy of a big idea can be released by collective thinking and joint action. But instead, it often lays dormant, passively waiting for the spark that's made possible when we come together,” she said. "Luckily, the Wharton School knows a thing or two about igniting a spark.”

Other speakers included former U.S. Ambassador to China, Russia, and Singapore and former Governor of Utah Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Founder and Chairman of RGE Sukanto Tanoto,  DBS Bank Managing Director and Group Head of Audit Derrick Goh, and Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara.

Dean of the Wharton School, Erika James, speaks at the 2023 Wharton Global Forum in Singapore (Photo courtesy of Wharton Global Forum)

The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Singapore Lawrence Wong delivered the opening speech on the second day of the event, speaking on business, geopolitical and technological advancements and issues while also welcoming the Wharton community to Singapore. He said that Singapore’s role in the global stage “as a convenor, connector, facilitator; and ultimately, a place where we can imagine new possibilities, where we can make things happen, and where the human spirit will always thrive.”

The forum held several sessions on a range of topics such as “Future of Healthcare,” “Rethinking Supply Chains,” "Inspiring Entrepreneurship,” “Fintech and Decentralized Finance,” and “Artificial Intelligence in Business.” The sessions were offered through a combination of keynotes, fireside chats, panels and roundtable discussions. Networking breaks were also held between sessions for attendees to catch up with friends and colleagues and meet new people from the Penn community.

Current Wharton Junior and forum attendee Ritvik Chatani shared that the event was like “a home away from home” and that he felt that it was very easy to connect with the alumni over shared Penn experiences during the forum. Chatani is currently spending a semester abroad at the Singapore Management University.

“It was eye-opening to meet alumni in various fields who made the decision to return back to their home country or to relocate entirely after being in the U.S.. Furthermore, as a current Penn student studying abroad in Singapore with an interest in Southeast Asia, this event exposed me to various alumni within the region, broadening my network, and thus options, post-graduation,” Chatani said.

As announced during the closing ceremony of the Singapore event, the 56th Wharton Global Forum is scheduled to take place in São Paulo, Brazil in June 2024.