Kennesaw State professor leads delegation to White House Asia business forum


KENNESAW, Ga. (May 30, 2013) — A nine-member delegation of Atlanta-area business leaders and scholars were invited to participate in an all-day “Doing Business in Asia” forum at the White House May 20, partially due to the success of a similar Kennesaw State University conference last month in Atlanta.

The delegation, led by May Gao, coordinator of Asian studies at Kennesaw State and organizer of the Symposium Asia-USA Partnership Opportunities (SAUPO), attended the forum hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement, White House Business Council and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It was held in honor of AAPI Heritage Month.

White House officials asked Gao, an associate professor of communication and Asian studies, to assemble the local delegation to engage in discussions with more than 70 other business leaders from across the U.S. and with senior White House and administration officials from the Department of Energy, the State Department, the U. S. Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export Import Bank of the U.S.

The Atlanta delegation included Shelly Riera, director of advertising, AT Neville Daruwalla, general manager and head of Wipro’s Atlanta delivery center; Todd Sachtjen, vice president, East West Bank; Donald Morrissey, director of congressional affairs, Huawei Technologies; Ani Agnihotri, chair Asian American Heritage Foundation; Henry Yu, managing director, Fifth Third Bank; Randy Knott, senior vice president, AMEC; and Robin Dorff, dean of Kennesaw State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. All members of the delegation participated as presenters or sponsors of the third SAUPO conference held April 19 at the St. Regis Hotel.

Delegation members and administration officials discussed issues impacting business development, relationships and opportunities in the U.S. and Asia. Topics included: “The U.S. and Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific;” “U.S.-Asia-Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership;” and “Investing for Social Impact.”

“Kennesaw State is the only U.S. university included in this forum,” Dorff said. “This is quite an honor for us. We are very proud of SAUPO and its growing influence.”

Gao, who recently published the result of a five-year study on Home Depot’s failed marketing strategies in China, has organized the SAUPO conference for three years. It has grown to become the Southeast’s largest forum for business leaders, educators and policymakers from the U.S., India, Japan, Korea, Greater China and Vietnam.

“The May 20 White House forum was an inaugural event, and we learned that administration officials would like to host a series of Asia-focused business events in the future,” Gao said. “We hope SAUPO can collaborate with the White House in planning future conferences and events.”

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