Risks of Doing Business in Emerging Markets

by Dhruv Lilaramani, MBA ‘14


Surong Bulakul MBA ‘80, CFO of PTT Public Company Ltd. Addresses Johnson Students on Risks of Doing Business in Emerging Markets

Risks of Doing Business in Emerging Markets

The Emerging Markets Institute fellows had the opportunity on March 13, 2014 to interact Mr. Surong Bulakul MBA’80, a proud Johnson alumnus and the CFO of PTT Public company.  PTT is Thailand’s largest and amongst Asia’s largest publicly traded oil and natural resources company with operations in every ASEAN country.  Mr.  Bulakul has held several roles within PTT, which include being the CEO of several local subsidiaries of PTT.

Mr. Bulakul spoke to students of Prof. Andrew Karolyi’s  Emerging Markets Finance’ class where he discussed the finer aspects of doing business in ASEAN countries.  He highlighted that doing business in each ASEAN country comes with a very unique set of challenges and risks, but also has specific benefits to doing so. He spoke specifically about the energy sector and the wide array of complex government policies and regulations that he and his company deal with within the ASEAN nations.  He mentioned how the energy trade around the world will see massive changes with the discovery of Shale gas.  North America, which has historically been an importer of oil and gas, may not only become energy independent but also potentially a net exporter of gas to the countries in East Asia.  Though, he added the caveat that this sector is a highly regulated one and the price differential in energy in different countries is due to the artificial control of global supply by oil and natural gas producing nations.

Mr. Bulakul also met with a small group of Emerging Markets fellows and spoke about his experiences of working in an emerging market.  Specifically, he mentioned political risks and the lack of regulation (or, over regulation in certain countries) that make doing business in Emerging Markets riskier than other countries in the world.  He answered questions about Thailand’s current political instability and its impact on his company’s business.

Talking about his experiences at Cornell, he recounted the nights he spent waiting for season hockey tickets and being a true member of the Lynah Faithful.  He was disappointed to hear that there is no longer an IHOP in Ithaca.  His last words of advice to the students were to build relationships with their classmates and reach out to them when they need advice.  He said that over the several years he has spent working after graduating from Johnson, the world changed drastically and a lot of what was taught to him here did not apply anymore; but the skills he picked up and the relationships he built during his time at Johnson have been instrumental in his career growth over the years. 

The Emerging Markets Institute Welcomes Surong Bulakul, MBA ‘80

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