Introducing Prabhu Guptara to Latvia
By Charles Kelley
PHILOMATH, Oregon – How do you publicize a man who specializes in English literature, economics, eastern and western spirituality, management, philosophy, banking, poetry, public policy, Indian cuisine, health care, political science, marketing, law, ethics and global trends?
That is the question I asked when we invited my friend Professor Prabhu Guptara to Latvia this past April.
Prabhu Guptara is Distinguished Professor of Global Business, Management and Public Policy at William Carey University. He has served on the International Board of Advisors of London Business School and now serves on the Management Board of the Institute of Management, St. Galen University, Switzerland. Rather recently he guest lectured at both Oxford and Cambridge.
Born and educated in Dehli, India, he is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and works worldwide helpings boards of companies and organizations with strategic, structural, operational and market-related issues. He loves to speak to secular audiences on secular topics from a Christian perspective.
I met Prabhu in 2007 when he was moderator of an international think tank focusing on the ministry and future of the Christian study center, Schloss Mittersil, a medieval castle in the Austrian Alps. His leadership and moderating skills were extraordinary. It was then I began thinking about how to invite him to Latvia to minister in ways that few others can.
At the time Prabhu was Executive Director of Organizational Development at Wolfsberg – The Platform for Business and Executive Development (a subsidiary of United Bank of Switzerland, one of the largest banks in the world. He ran the UBS Think Tanks on a wide variety of market and global issues.
In April of this year, in partnership with CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Committee) Latvia, we invited Prabhu, and his lovely wife, Philippa, to Latvia for one jam-packed week. I hosted them in my Riga apartment and we enjoyed lots of personal time together. I was blessed.
Professionally, Prabhu was invited to speak and lecture in a wide variety of contexts. One evening he spoke to bank presidents on “The Future of Financial Services in Europe”. He lectured at the prestigious Stockholm School of Economics on “Nurturing Values in a Hostile World.” He addressed more than 100 business executives on “The Current State of the Economic Crisis – What’s Ahead?” So many are interested in how Latvia’s conversion to the euro will impact their businesses.
Prabhu, who has known and followed the Lord Jesus for more than fifty years, presented a six hour workshop on “Salt and Light in the Marketplace” for Christians in business. The question/answer period was extraordinary. I loved it.
Our ministry invited some thirty pastors and ministry leaders to our Riga office and Prabhu’s address was “Do you see that the sky is red?” It was an intriguing way to refer to how Jesus spoke about the signs of the times…and how we need to do the same.
Prabhu invested an afternoon sharing the history and vision of The Trinity Forum, a British organization founded by Os Guinness that works to cultivate networks of leaders whose integrity and vision will renew culture and promote human freedom and flourishing. Many culturally elite people have come to know and follow Christ via this ministry. Prabhu is a Senior Fellow of Trinity Forum and is interested in seeing a Latvian extension of this vision. So am I.
Numerous strategic personal meetings took place including a fascinating meeting with Latvia’s Defense Minister (and former Foreign Minister), Artis Pabriks. We discussed how Latvia must best prepare itself with the adverse effects of converting to the euro. Prabhu suggests that the Latvian government can help hedge some of these difficulties by emulating some Swiss economic practices and policies. I hope that meeting will prove to be extremely helpful for the Latvian government in the future.
We ended the week together at a Christian coffee shop in Riga, Dad’s Café. It was an evening of art, music and poetry. I played piano, Philippa read dramatic short stories and Prabhu mesmerized us with his poetry. Paula Sumane, one of Europe’s finest violinists, played. All the while people conversed, laughed and hoped that this will not be the last time that this fascinating man with a gracious heart will minister in Riga.