US technology giant Oracle CEO Safra Catz sought to downplay fears of protectionism in the US, saying common sense will prevail and the narrative will be about advancing the agenda for the "greatest minds".
Asked about her views on visa issues and the US move on protectionism, Catz, who is on a three-day visit to India, was quick to point out that she and heads of many other prominent technology companies are "immigrants" themselves.
Catz's comments come in the midst of growing protectionism across various markets, including the US, that are seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raising the bar for foreign workers. Last month, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme for foreign workers.
Acting on his 'Buy-American, hire-American' poll pledge, Trump has also sought to replace the lottery system for issuing H-1B work visas with a 'merit-based' approach. She asserted that there is no question that America has been created as a country of immigrants. "I am myself an immigrant to the US... Leaders of many of the technology companies and prominent tech companies are, in fact, immigrants... That is not lost on anyone," she said.
The Israeli-born Catz, who was widely reported to have served on Trump's transition team, further pointed out that nearly half of the students she teaches at Stanford School of Business each year happen to be foreign students. "Many of them, I hope, will stay and build businesses in the US. But I will tell you they also have opportunities to come back here to India and start great companies and great operations here," she said.
The Oracle CEO did not divulge the investment or the headcount expansion plans for India, going forward, but said the company had last year announced a $400 million investment and expansion plan in Bangalore, in one of its largest real estate ramp-ups ever.
Underlining the Indian market potential, Catz said the country's leadership - both at the Centre and states - are focused on leapfrogging into future. She added that India has undoubtedly become more vibrant and exciting, she said many of the greatest minds and biggest operations are expanding in India.
Digital India is the only way to empower citizens, improve transparency and accountability, Catz said. "The government and everyone else is hungry for the best technology for empowering citizens... The leadership team is focusing on empowerment and services... For companies like us that build tools, the opportunities are unlimited," she emphasised.
The company today also announced its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) cloud in India aimed at enabling firms operating in India to prepare for tax reforms. "Oracle ERP cloud delivers built-in features to facilitate compliance with the new goods and services tax (GST) regulations, provides native support for GST network integration and reporting, and support for local requirements including payment processing and statutory reporting," a company release said.