William D. Green, Chairman & CEO, Accenture. Co-Chair, India Economic Summit 2009

William D. Green
Chairman & CEO, Accenture

This year, the World Economic Forum celebrates 25 years of collaboration and active engagement in India. What are your aspirations for this special edition of the Summit?

On behalf of Accenture, I congratulate the World Economic Forum and India on their 25-years of collaboration and engagement. I am particularly delighted to be associated with this special edition of the India Economic Summit in the capacity of a co-chair.

This Summit is happening against the backdrop of a challenging year in the global economy with continued uncertainty in global markets looking ahead. The increasing economic power of India has propelled it into a ‘center-stage’ position. For India to continue to fulfill its aspiration of becoming a ‘high performing’ nation, we believe India needs to focus on investing in all forms of critical infrastructure (physical, economic and social), as well as education to further build its globally recognized and valued talent pool.

Accenture’s aspiration for the Summit is that inclusive and insightful dialogue takes place—and that our dialogue will translate into meaningful action to help shape India’s next generation of growth.

I am delighted to represent Accenture in this year’s India Economic Summit. Over the past several years, Accenture’s operations in India have become central to our core business: helping our clients achieve and sustain high performance. The rapid growth and increased scope of the work we are doing in India to serve clients around the world is unparalleled in our company’s history. We have made a significant investment in India—in facilities, technology and most importantly, in our 40,000 Indian employees who are essential to our future success.

This will, indeed, be a milestone event and I am excited to be a part of it.

While India’s progress over the past 25 years has been remarkable, what must India prioritize to ensure continued growth in the years to come?

India’s impressive economic growth in an increasingly dynamic and multi-polar world has been a remarkable achievement. Specifically, we see three key growth areas requiring particular attention:

First, to enhance its global competitiveness, we urge India’s leadership to make better use of the country’s economic assets and capabilities in areas such as manufacturing and agriculture to create additional employment opportunities for its people—and ensure that India’s growth is inclusive.

Second, India would be well served to focus on making technology investments that scale innovative local ideas and solutions that could benefit the country as a whole.

Lastly, India may consider moving toward a smarter, more sustainable growth model by exploiting the huge economic potential of such areas as smart infrastructure, low-carbon technologies, biotechnology, and information and communications technology.

India is one of three major economies in the world which posted positive GDP growth in 2009. Will India be able to sustain this in 2010?

We do see opportunity for India to sustain its high GDP growth rate. Our positive outlook is centered on the work Accenture has done about the rise of what we call the multi-polar world—a new era with multiple centers of economic and business activity.

As globalization continues to evolve, the distribution of economic power is becoming more dispersed between the developed and developing world. As with all far-reaching change, this new world brings with it massive opportunity for an economy like India to continue to expand its role on the global stage.

Quite simply, India is an economic powerhouse that is here to stay. As India continues to unlock its potential economically, culturally and politically, it will become even more important in future decades. Today’s business leaders will be judged in part by how well they adapt to the rise of emerging markets, like India, in their pursuit of high performance.

With India’s plans to develop both the service sector and manufacturing industry, what must India do to develop the talent and skill which will drive growth in these sectors?

Accenture knows first-hand the talent, energy, commitment and passion that our people in India have for serving our clients in a first-class way.

To ensure that India continues to be known for its high-caliber workforce, we believe it is important for India to develop a globally credible, trustworthy and reliable “skills-ecosystem.” This will allow India to continue to develop and nurture a workforce with the right talent and skills to drive growth.

India has already taken a step in the right direction toward creating a viable “skills-ecosystem” by launching the government-backed Skill Development Mission to address skill gaps and create 70 million jobs by 2012. To supplement this effort, we suggest that India’s business leaders and policymakers establish a formal partnership to identify needed workforce skills, match that talent with specific workforce opportunities and ultimately foster greater collaboration between industry and academia to develop joint training programs and engage students in industry-related projects.

What are the most pressing challenges India must address in order to instill confidence in investments made in India?

We believe it is essential for India to instill confidence within investors, both domestic and foreign, who want to invest in its knowledge-based industries. This is about India realizing its true potential as a global economic player.

To that end, Accenture and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently completed a joint research study identifying several key challenges facing foreign direct investors when establishing and expanding their businesses in India.

The study concludes that the Indian government should consider establishing an “after-care” mechanism to help investors quickly acquire all necessary approvals at the national, state and local levels to operate in India. The study also suggests that the government would be well served by creating more predictable and straightforward policies in the area of direct and indirect taxation. And finally, the study suggests that India consider establishing more effective enforcement of intellectual property laws at the local level.

Foreign direct investment continues to play a crucial role in accelerating the economic growth of India. Coordinated efforts by India’s business leaders and policymakers toward making growth sustainable and inclusive will not only help in making India more resilient, but will also go a long way in defining the trajectory of growth in tomorrow’s India.