Emerging mar­kets are cur­rently expe­ri­encing an eco­nomic slow­down, according to scholars and busi­ness leaders who spoke at the fifth annual Emerging Mar­kets Sym­po­sium on Tuesday at North­eastern. They pointed to infla­tion, a sharp drop in cur­rency, and a down­turn in for­eign invest­ments as the promi­nent rea­sons for the finan­cial slump.

“These are not the go-​​go years of the 2000s,” explained Ravi Rama­murti, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Inter­na­tional Busi­ness and Strategy in the D'Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness and the director of Northeastern's Center for Emerging Mar­kets. “Coun­tries have begun to ask what this means for the future of their places in the global economy.”

Rama­murti orga­nized the sym­po­sium, which was cospon­sored by AIM Inter­na­tional Busi­ness Council and World­Boston. The pro­gram fea­tured more than half a dozen speakers from acad­emia and industry, all of whom dis­cussed the new reality of emerging mar­kets in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and beyond. Pre­sen­ters included Diony­s­ious Bouzos, vice pres­i­dent of emerging mar­kets for Merck & Co; Sara Johnson, senior research director of global eco­nomics for IHS Global Insight; Anand Raman, editor-​​at-​​large of the Har­vard Busi­ness Review; Venkat Srini­vasan, founder and CEO of Rage Frame­works and Eng­lish­Helper; and keynote speaker Syed Jafry, pres­i­dent of emerging mar­kets for Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific, the world's largest man­u­fac­turer of life sci­ence equipment.

North­eastern stu­dents and alumni also fig­ured promi­nently in the day­long event, during which they dis­cussed their recent co-​​op expe­ri­ences in Asia. Ran Ding, a 2013 grad­uate of the inter­na­tional busi­ness pro­gram, worked for Li & Fung, a global sourcing firm based in Hong Kong, while Britton Green, a senior inter­na­tional affairs major, worked for CNBC's office in Singapore.

In his opening remarks, Hugh Courtney, dean of the D'Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, noted Northeastern's national lead­er­ship in the field of inter­na­tional busi­ness. The university's inter­na­tional busi­ness pro­gram is ranked No. 8 in the nation, according to the 2014 rank­ings by U.S. News & World Report. “We really are the leaders in this field, and we love to bring other leaders to campus,” Courtney said. “Engaging with the com­mu­nity is where break­throughs occur.”

According to Jafry, col­lab­o­ra­tion has been a key fea­ture of Thermo Fisher Scientific's evolving strategy in emerging markets.

100th anniversary time capsule without lid
10/18/22 – BOSTON, MA. – Scenes during the DMSB 100th time capsule celebration on Oct. 18, 2022. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“Ini­tially we want to leverage our part­ners and dis­trib­u­tors,” he explained in his keynote address, “but as we grow we want to con­trol our own des­tiny by investing in building direct orga­ni­za­tions in these areas.”

Jafry cited the firm's work in China as an example of its pro­gres­sive busi­ness strategy. Since entering the Chi­nese market some 30 years ago, he said, Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific has estab­lished a strong research and devel­op­ment, man­u­fac­turing, and com­mer­cial infra­struc­ture, including the devel­op­ment of five factories.

Its newest facility in Suzhou was designed to estab­lish local pro­duc­tion capa­bil­i­ties to meet increased cus­tomer demand in the world's most pop­u­lous country. “Our strategy is to look at China as a mar­ket­place where we want to sell prod­ucts rather than as a source of man­u­fac­turing,” Jafry explained. “China is the brightest spot in terms of rev­enue growth for our com­pany,” he added.