Interview with Disha Shah (India-representative in Pune)
Since July 2011, Disha Shah has been a part of the FrankfurtRheinMain GmbH team, acting as the first point of contact for Indian investors looking to expand their operations in the European market. She moved to India at the start of 2012 to head the FRM representative office in Pune. A telecommunications engineer with a Master degree from USA, Disha has valuable professional experience in marketing, sales and R&D in USA, Germany and India.
Hello Mrs. Shah, what are you doing at the moment?
At the start of new year 2012, we started our first representative office in Pune which I will be leading from Pune. So at present it means of lot of work in terms of setting up our office, building up our presence in the Indian market and establishing contacts with potential investors and key decision makers in India.
Could you name a few highlights of 2011 concerning your work?
A delegation comprising of 19 experts from the FrankfurtRheinMain region visited India in November 2011. The focus of this delegation visit was to promote the region across two highly diverse industries, namely pharmaceuticals and films. During this visit, I had the chance to network with many potential Indian investors and also meet prominent people including the Chief Minister of State of Goa, Mr. Digambar Kamat and Mrs. Ambika Soni.
Which topics are being discussed by your Indian friends and business partners at the moment?
Globalizing and tapping into new markets seem to be the buzz words for Indian businesses. Germany has been an important business partner for India since years. Because of an increased availability of capital, a lot of Indian companies are now looking forward to take these business relations to a new stage by establishing their presence in the German market - either through new investments or M&As.
What image do your clients have of FrankfurtRheinMain?
A lot of Indian investors are already very familiar with the greater Frankfurt region due to its international airport or through their visits to important tradeshows in Frankfurt. Quite often, Indian investors associate the region with the financial sector. It comes to them as a big surprise that the region is also strongly placed in other industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, logistics, automotive and fine chemicals.
What are the three main arguments that convince Indian investors for this region?
Due to the presence of a large number of financial and consulting services providers, proximity to customers, especially for IT and Software companies plays a pivotal role for Indian businesses who decide on Frankfurt as their European headquarters. The international airport with its many direct flights within Europe and also to Asia makes it convenient for Indian executives to travel. Apart from that, the Indian community in the greater Frankfurt region is amongst the strongest in Germany and the presence of international schools makes our region an attractive location for Indian businessmen to move with their families.
Do you have favorite venues in FrankfurtRheinMain that you recommend to your clients?
A leisurely walk to the Alte Oper Platz is highly recommended. I also recommend hiring a bike and visiting the small, beautiful towns which are the hidden gems of our region.
Do you think that the region has a special mindset?
Having lived and worked in the greater Frankfurt region for 3 years, I feel that the region is very international and you feel at home at once, despite not knowing any German.
What should an Indian investor NOT do when being in FrankfurtRheinMain?
It is important for Indian Investors to understand that delivering on time as per the agreed schedule is the key to smooth business relations with German clients.
And what should he do?
I would recommend hiring Germans on team who are better familiar with the finer cultural and business aspects of conducting business in Germany.
What do you enjoy when you are in FrankfurtRheinMain?
When in the region, I do not miss the chance to ride my bike. It is definitely one of the most beautiful and bike-friendly regions in Europe.
Is there a specialty that a visitor to India shouldn’t miss?
I would highly recommend trying the regional Thalis – a set platter with 10 – 12 various regional specialties. The different colors and flavors of various specialties are definitely a feast to all senses.
What do you really miss?
I miss the beautiful Frankfurter skyline and the romantic settings in the greater Frankfurt region with vineyards, castles and historical buildings.
What is better in FrankfurtRheinMain than in Pune?
FrankfurtRheinMain is better in managing traffic! Although frankly speaking, Pune fares much better when compared to other Indian cities.
And the other way round?