CEO Diary |The greatest opportunities still lie ahead in India

CEO Diary |The greatest opportunities still lie ahead in India

I am not a big fan of conferences. I dodge far more than I attend. However, I am a passionate advocate of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and I love to be in India. So I travel to Delhi with high expectations for the latest meeting of the WEF.

A recurring theme at these gatherings is innovation. The subject is never exhausted because the nature of innovation is changing all the time.

For many years, the debate was driven purely by technical developments. But that changed. Innovation came to recognize the importance of business model and design.

Starbucks does not sell a new product. Coffee has been around for a thousand years, but Starbucks has built a global empire selling an experience. And now innovation is on the move again.

We are entering an era of social innovation. When companies who harvest talent on a global basis will achieve a new level of competitive advantage.

I believe that talent will increasingly become a differentiator. And talent has no passport, no gender and no age. Talent is just talent, pure and simple. It is the most precious of all resources, and in whole continents it has been lying idle while just a few nations became rich.

But, global communications has changed all that. And nowhere is that seismic change more obvious than in India.

It is truly inspiring to see the rise and rise of India. Every time I come, I am impressed again by the great spirit, the ambition and the vision of people I meet here. It is extraordinary how much has been achieved, but in terms of wealth creation I believe the greatest opportunities still lie ahead.

But, with privilege comes responsibility.

The mission of the WEF is “to improve the state of the world". That means more than making sure that business is flourishing. It means building alliances on critical issues such as climate change which will not only affect us, but will affect our children and grandchildren.

This weekend, the world is coming to India. This is a recognition of the nation’s huge accomplishments. I always travel to the World Economic forum to listen. In Delhi, I will be eager to hear how India will play its own part in “improving the state of the world."

Ben Verwaayen is CEO of BT Group Plc. He will be writing an exclusive column for Mint on the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit, which starts on Sunday in New Delhi. Readers can send their comments and feedback to