About Vikram Mansharamani
Vikram Mansharamani first gained widespread attention with his book Boombustology: Spotting Financial Bubbles Before They Burst. Since then he’s gone on to show business leaders and investors how to look at the world differently in order to manage risk and navigate radical uncertainty. His strategies help them peer into the future on crucial areas like China, food, the global economy, Africa, housing, investing, financial cycles, energy, and much more. So valuable are his insights that LinkedIn named Vikram #1 on their 10 Top Voices in Money & Finance for 2015 and 2016.
Vikram believes that the future doesn’t have to surprise us – and won’t – if we regularly step away from our expertise and look at the world through multiple lenses. He calls this the generalist’s mindset. When encountering information that seems irrelevant most people think, “So what?!” Generalists think instead, “Isn’t that interesting,” and look to connect disparate dots. When they do, the conclusions they draw and decisions they make may be very different from the more narrow-focused “experts.” Vikram shows audiences practical ways to use this approach to spot opportunities and reduce risk.
Vikram is Lecturer at Yale University where he taught three popular classes: “Investment Management”, “Financial Booms and Busts” and “Adventures in Business Ethics.” He is also Lecturer at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences where he is co-teaching a course called “Humanity and Its Challenges.” His current research interests include bubbles in both financial and non-financial markets, the unsustainable dynamics of food and fuel, and the relative value of experts vs. generalists in navigating complex uncertainties and risk.
Vikram Mansharamani is a global equity investor with more than 20 years’ experience investing in public and private markets. He served as Managing Director of SDK Capital (and its predecessors).
Vikram is currently regular contributor to Worth magazine and a columnist for the PBS NewsHour. He has also contributed to Bloomberg, MarketWatch, CNBC, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Yale Global, The South China Morning Post, The Korea Times, The Khaleej Times, and The Daily Beast, among others. Vikram contributed the summary chapter for the book A Force for Good (2015) synthesizing lessons drawn from the collection of essays written by the world’s most prominent thinkers on the role of finance and capitalism in today’s increasingly interconnected and unequal world.
Vikram Mansharamani is a frequently sought-after speaker by a wide range of organizations. And while corporations from virtually every industry have sought his insights, he continues to have a very strong following in the investment community. He regularly speaks with those focused on allocating large pools of capital. Audiences of sovereign wealth funds, family offices, endowments, foundations, and registered investment advisors have found tremendous value in his unconventional thinking.
As a consultant Vikram helps clients analyze the business impact of global trends, with a particular emphasis on economic, political, and social risks that might generate instability. He conducts many executive education seminars for senior leadership teams on how to integrate disparate (and seemingly contradictory) information into actionable analysis to drive business decisions. His thematic analysis and risk management is always focused on identifying opportunities within the risks. He currently serves on the board of the Africa Opportunity Fund (LSE: AOF), is a strategic advisor to Peter Kiewit & Sons, and regularly helps the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
He previously served on the boards of the Association of Yale Alumni, the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council, Interelate, and ManagedOps. He earned a Ph.D. and MS from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, an MS in Political Science from MIT, and a BA from Yale University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Zoom Out! – The Generalist Advantage
Every day, we are confronted with radical global uncertainty — new policies and regulations, the impact of populism and protectionism on global business, fluctuating commodity prices, shifting political influence, interest rate and currency risk, and a myriad of other trends. To cut through the noise and confusion, we have increasingly come to rely on hyper-specialized experts. This trend has helped us to solve important problems, but not without a cost. The result is that we live in a world that overvalues expertise and specialization. Has the pendulum swung too far? Vikram Mansharamani thinks it has – and it’s impacted our ability to manage risk, navigate disruption and uncover hidden opportunities.
In this speech, Mansharamani offers scores of compelling real-life examples showing how expertise, while useful, leads to tunnel vision. Psychological studies have demonstrated that overreliance on the heavily-focused vision of experts can lead us to miss the most important signals—the ones we’re least primed to see. We can be blinded by focus. Instead, Vikram advocates cultivating a broader view – a generalist’s mindset. When most people encounter seemingly irrelevant information, they think “So what?!” Generalists think “isn’t that interesting!” Compiling these moments and connecting the dots often results in very different conclusions from the “experts.” Vikram’s real-life examples of this reveal an effective approach to anticipate the future.
Globalization: Returning with a Vengeance?
Political upheavals are signaling a widespread rejection of globalization. And it’s not just happening in the North Atlantic. Nationalist movements are popping up the world over. Meanwhile, global trade growth has been slowing. What’s driving these seismic shifts, and how should we navigate the great uncertainty they generate?
Global trend-spotter Vikram Mansharamani takes audiences on a tour of global economic and political chaos, outlining the deeper forces—demographic, cultural, and technological – driving the unrest. In doing so, he gives audiences the tools to identify both risks and opportunities in a world of dis-integrating business. And, challenging the pessimism that this story might prompt, Mansharamani concludes by describing a long-run reason for hope: the rise of the global middle class and the return of an open, liberal, globalized world. That’s right, he believes globalization is going to return.
Consumption Boom Ahead
Every day, the media trumpets warnings of a global economic slowdown. The price of oil and other commodities have crashed, damaging emerging and developed economies alike that depend on them to be high. In a world of persistently low interest rates and easy money, people have struggled to find good investments. The IMF has downgraded its global growth forecasts. And as populism and nationalism rise, globalization and free trade are in retreat.
It’s understandable why gloom is the mood everywhere. But Vikram Mansharamani sees things differently. For him, the current sense of doom is really just a fleeting moment between two massive booms. He is optimistic, and his mission is to spread his vision of long-term global prosperity to counteract today’s nearly universal mood of shortsighted pessimism. Where others see threat, he sees opportunity.
The End of Cheap Food – a Forecast
Food is emerging as one of the future’s most volatile assets. Shifting political, economic, climatic and societal change all factor into the equation. Vikram Mansharamani shows that the era of cheap food is over and describes the geo-political and geo-economic ramifications – from Wall Street to Pudong. The implications of land grabs, fertilizer availability, climate change, water scarcity, and price-related food (in)security will have profound impact on our world.
Avoid Surprises: Spot Bubbles Before They Burst
Vikram Mansharamani contends the ability to identify financial (and other) bubbles before they burst is easier if you step outside your expertise. Narrow focus can lead to tunnel vision. Instead, it’s best to zoom out and look through multiple lenses – to art markets, architecture, popular culture, economics, politics and more. In this speech Vikram empowers audiences with practical tools and assures them that they don’t need to be an expert to effectively anticipate the future.
“Vikram was fantastic. He’s such a nice man. Really personable and genuine. Our conference attendees loved his presentation – and I mean loved! I suspect that he will be the highest rated speaker at this event.”
– Director, Trade Association Services, Credit Union Central of Canada
“Vikram is a dynamic, engaging and insightful speaker who has the ability to connect seemingly irrelevant dots to paint a mosaic of the future and to help listeners navigate the inevitable uncertainty.”
– Associate Director for Leadership Programs and Europe Office of International Affairs, Yale University
“One of the most important topics in global economics today was presented with enthusiasm and humor, supported by well-researched analysis. This attention-grabbing presentation is a must for anyone who’s looking ahead to the Next Big Boom (or Bust).”
– Trey Seitz, Investment Manager, External Equities Department, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority
“Vikram has been a speaker at several of our client events in the past. His dynamic and entertaining talk on the boom & bust cycles is not only very engaging but it really pushes the audience to think outside the box. He leaves us inspired about “connecting the dots.”
– M. Sa’ad Shah, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group
“Vikram energetically presents his arguments in a way that engages sophisticated institutional investors in a dialogue that expands how they think about investing now and in the future.”
– Managing Director of Global Client Services and Relations, Cambridge Associates