Ahmed Fahour and the Art of Leadership
“Outside of work, I have a real passion for activities that promote the development of a more harmonious and socially inclusive society. Over the past five years, my whole family has been involved in building and developing the Islamic Museum of Australia, as an educational centre for all Australians. I think there’s a bit of a paradox in Australia whereby Indian culture is well accepted, but little understood. This presents the Indian-Australian population with a fantastic opportunity to showcase elements of their culture in an Australian framework.” Just four years old when his parents migrated from Lebanon to Australia, Ahmed Fahour still maintains the move was the “luckiest break” of his life. Currently the CEO of Australia Post, he shot to the limelight for steering the battered Australian company in 2010 into a service to reckon with. Set to deliver the keynote address at the Indian Executive Club Awards ceremony 21 November, Ahmed speaks to Vinay Sharma, Chairman of IEC, about growing up Down Under, being the first person in his family to go to university, as well as his active participation in community initiatives. Tell us about growing up in Australia. I was only four years old when my parents migrated here from Lebanon. I am forever thankful that they settled in Carlton, in inner-city Melbourne, in the late 1960s. That was a time when Melbourne – and Carlton particularly – was really becoming a fascinating, dynamic, multicultural place. My parents’ decision to migrate to Australia was undoubtedly the luckiest break of my life, because over the following decade Lebanon descended into a devastating civil war. When I was in my teens, our family moved to Preston. It was a tremendous community full of migrant families, like ours, who had come to Australia seeking a better life for their kids. Growing up there, I always found Australia to be a very accepting and welcoming place. I made the most of all of the opportunities that Australia offered me – but as a kid I was especially interested in playing footy and learning at school. I was the first person in my family to go to university. In terms of my business career, I don’t think there’s been one key moment, but rather, I’ve been given so many great opportunities. I’ve always worked very hard – but I enjoy it. I’m passionate about whatever task I’m taking on. I learnt a lot about leadership, business strategy and culture when I was still in my 20s, working at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). I came across some tremendous mentors at BCG. Their advice remains with me today. How do you find time to get involved in some incredible community initiatives despite your busy schedule at Australia Post? The schedule at Australia Post is busier than ever as we manage the major reforms of the letters service, while simultaneously expanding our parcels business and striving to become a more customer-focussed, innovative business. Outside of work, I have a real passion for activities that promote the development of a more harmonious and socially inclusive society. Over the past five years, my whole family has been involved in building and developing the Islamic Museum of Australia, as an educational centre for all Australians. We opened the museum in Thornbury in February 2014. That has been tremendously rewarding. I get great satisfaction from working on these community initiatives, so I always ensure I make the time to get involved. In August this year during the AFL Multicultural Breakfast, the CEO of the AFL, Gillon McLachlan, described you as a “trailblazer” for Australian multiculturalism. Why is multiculturalism one of your passions? It’s a very flattering description from Gil. He is a good friend – and we, at Australia Post, are the AFL’s Multicultural Partners. The Carlton I grew up in was the classic melting pot of races, religions and cultures. I learned the basics of cross-cultural respect from my parents. They taught me to open my eyes to other cultures and really appreciate those cultural differences as fascinating. So I’ve always been intrigued by the diversity of our community, ever since I was a kid. Of course, there’s a degree of intolerance in every society. But I think Australia has a unique style of harmonious multiculturalism. We all have to work hard to protect that. Would you able to share with our readers your experience with India, the opportunities that you see for Australian businesses in India and as well businesses from India in Australia? I’m a keen observer of international affairs and the economic progress of developing nations. So, for me, China and India are the two nations to watch closely in this “Asian Century”. When I was at the National Australian Bank, we outsourced our mortgage processing centre to Bangalore and I visited that city several times. My main experience of India was from that period – almost a decade ago now. During my visits, I was incredibly impressed with the talent that is available in India and the ambition of its people. The Indian Diaspora is currently one of the fastest growing communities in Australia. What are some of the areas you see the growing them contributing? I wouldn’t want to characterise the Indian Diaspora in any particular way other than to say that I know that there has always been a great entrepreneurial spirit in India and that the Diaspora of any nation tends to have a strong drive to achieve in their new homeland. I think there’s a bit of a paradox in Australia whereby Indian culture is well accepted, but little understood. This presents the Indian-Australian population with a fantastic opportunity to showcase elements of their culture in an Australian framework. The most wonderful aspect of our modern “Australian” culture is that it is so dynamic, so the Indian Diaspora has the opportunity to help shape our society from within. What are you looking forward to most at the IEC Awards on 21 November? I am looking forward to hearing the background stories of those individuals who are nominated for awards – not just the winners. I am also looking forward to some excellent Indian food and the glorious burst of colour which comes from any group of people in their traditional dress. I’m still considering my speech, but I’m sure I will tell a little of my own story. I’ll also talk about my passions – business, leadership and building a socially cohesive, multicultural Australia. I’m really looking forward to it.
Celebrating, empowering the Diaspora
Indian Executive Club chairman Vinay Sharma talks to Alys Francis on how the organisation seeks to be a conduit between the Indian community and wider community in Australia. Our next focus is to take the awards Australia-wide. We plan to engage with an organisation that also runs a very successful awards for the Indian Diaspora in New Zealand, to explore possible collaboration opportunities. Alys Francis Founded with a vision to support, profile and recognise Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and executives from the growing Indian Diaspora in Australia, the Indian Executive Club (IEC) has come a long way. The organisation was established following the successful launch of the Indian Executive publication in 2011, after which the IEC Awards were set up as its signature event, to recognise the Diaspora’s achievements. This November the milestone fifth IEC Awards will not only reveal a new crop of winners but also exciting initiatives to power the Indian business community for years to come. The Indian Sun caught up with IEC Chairman Vinay Sharma to hear how the Awards have raised the profile of the Indian Diaspora in Australia. And plans for IEC to step up as a much-needed advocate for Diaspora businesses and executives and play a key leadership role in building a socially cohesive multicultural Australia. Why did you first launch the Awards and how have they evolved? After we had set up the IEC and its vision, we needed to implement key activities to bring our vision into reality. The IEC Awards was one of them, starting in 2011 and has evolved today to be the signature event of the IEC. Each year, the Awards have evolved, guided by robust feedback sessions from nominees, sponsors, members and networks that have supported the IEC. In the second year, we made changes to strengthen the awards, appointing independent judges with whom we worked with to implement a structured process; from inviting nominees to complete and submit nomination forms, through to a vigorous and independent judging process against a defined judging criteria. This gave an enormous credibility to the awards and confidence for people to nominate. In terms of our profiling objective, in the second year, we also introduced the Who’s Who of the Indian Diaspora publication to make an annual record of the community. In the third year based on feedback we introduced female categories in the Executive awards platform, to ensure women entrepreneurs received due recognition. Another exciting addition was the introduction of the keynote address. The fact we secured former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard to give the first address suggested IEC had gained recognition as a credible organisation, not just for the Diaspora but wider Australian community too. Last year, we made some changes to administration, introduced education and hospitality chapters. The hospitality chapter was set up as a large part of the growing Indian Diaspora was engaged in the hospitality industry, and we needed a chapter that was able to cater for the specific needs of this industry. A second major event called Spice Out came about, and a publication Spice Out, the most talked about Indian Restaurants was released. Again to give enormous credibility to this initiative, the most famous face of Indian cuisine, Mr Sanjeev Kapoor accepted and launched the Spice Out event and the Spice Out publication. This year, following increased demand and feedback, the People’s Choice, Café and Restaurant Awards were moved to the Spice Out event, which was successfully hosted on 15 August, Indian Independence Day at Werribee Race Course. Blake Collins, the regional head of Zomato, delivered the keynote address and launched the second Spice Out publication. It was interesting to note from Blake that Zomato had done research on Indian restaurants, and found there are around 600 in Victoria alone. This further confirms the growth and entrepreneurship of the Indian Diaspora in Australia. The Indian Sun community awards have also moved to a separate platform, and event to be held in December. This leaves the milestone fifth IEC Awards to focus purely on Business and Executive awards to strengthen the focus on Diaspora business and entrepreneur success. Another key change this year relate to the judging processes. After the judges selected the finalists, they will be personally interviewing each finalist to determine the winners of each category. And on the nomination form we made the judging process more transparent by showing the percentage weighting of each criterion. What have been the key achievements over the years? The IEC has consistently found traction in the market, whether it’s to increase membership, build engagement, earn the confidence and buy-in from our valued sponsors, attract quality, passionate and energetic people who wanted to be part of our team and our vision or attract high-profile keynote speakers for the Awards. We’ve also found ourselves becoming a crucial conduit between the Indian community and wider community in Australia. IEC has been called on to provide subject matter expertise and guidance to some of Australia’s biggest institutions, for example, the Australian Football League (AFL), Asian Football Cup, Melbourne Victory Soccer Club and Cricket Australia, as well as major corporates and local government councils. We’re looked at as a credible organisation that can provide advice on how organisations can engage with the growing Indian Diaspora in Australia and especially the SME businesses. It’s no secret the Indian community is the fastest growing migrant group in Australia along with the Chinese. Because that’s happening on a macro-level we at IEC automatically become a useful organisation to support and engage with. As the Indian population has increased what is also becoming very clear is that you now really need Indians to play key roles; firstly to look after the interests of the growing Indian Diaspora in Australia and secondly, in building links between India and Australia, and at IEC we will continue to play those roles. What’s the future plan for IEC and the Awards? Our focus now is: how can we grow more and deeper engagement and increase the support of the Indian Diaspora in Australia? The IEC Awards have become a very important platform to recognise the Diaspora. Before that many great achievements went unnoticed. So far we’ve only focused on Victoria, although we’ve been getting applications from interstate. So our next focus is to take the awards Australia-wide. We also plan to engage with an organisation that also runs a very successful awards for the Indian Diaspora in New Zealand, to explore possible collaboration opportunities for an Australia-New Zealand awards. The second key vision is to continue to grow membership. And the third is for the IEC to step up and become an important advocate for the Diaspora community – as we have the ability to stand up in business forums and influence policy decisions to help our members. What I am also really looking forward to in terms of the future evolution of the IEC is getting key ideas and guidance from this year’s keynote address by Mr. Ahmed Fahour, Group CEO and Managing Director of Australia Post. We are very appreciative that Mr. Fahour has taken time out of his extremely busy schedule to deliver this year’s address. Mr Fahour was only 4 years old when he migrated with his parents from Lebanon, and will share his story – talking about his passions, businesses, leadership, and building a socially cohesive multicultural Australia. It is this vision, to build a socially cohesive multicultural Australia, that IEC wants to strongly advocate, support and play a key role in, today and in the future.
Stepping into five
For the fifth consecutive year, the Indian Executive Club turns the spotlight on the rising stars of the Indian Diaspora “IEC is looked at as a credible organisation that can provide advice on how organisations can engage with the growing Indian Diaspora in Australia and especially SME businesses,” vinay sharma “We hear people saying that if they win an award, their gateways and pathways are getting more refined. Recruiters have placed value in these awards… and mainstream business is looking at this with some degree of interest.” Vijaya Vaidyanathan, Awards’ Chief Judge and CEO of Yarra City Council Alys Francis The countdown is on to the milestone fifth Indian Executive Club (IEC) Awards — Victoria’s first event dedicated to recognising the achievements of the fast growing Indian Diaspora. Over the years, the Awards have shone the spotlight on rising stars making their mark on Australia, giving a glimpse of the true depth of talent in this emerging community. This year the ceremony is set to shine brighter, with a sharper focus on business and hotly anticipated speech by corporate superstar Ahmed Fahour, Australia Post Group CEO. But behind the glamour of the Awards, plans are underfoot at IEC. Plans that could be game-changing for Diaspora entrepreneurs looking to get their voices heard in Australia’s crowded business landscape. The Indian Sun reports on what’s in store. IEC stepping up as a voice for entrepreneurs IEC Chairperson Sharma said a boom in Indian migration to Australia over the past few years had created the need for an advocate, equipped to voice the Diaspora’s interests in business forums, and influence policy decisions to align with their needs. “We have the ability,” Sharma said, pointing out that IEC was already a bridge between the Diaspora and wider community in Australia – called on to guide iconic Australian institutions, like Cricket Australia, as well major corporates, and government. “We’re looked at as a credible organisation that can provide advice on how organisations can engage with the growing Indian Diaspora in Australia and especially SME businesses,” he said. Milestone Awards to set the bar for bright future The sharpening vision at IEC is reflected in this year’s Awards ceremony, which has been streamlined to focus on business with three key platforms: Spice Out, catering for the restaurant industry, the People’s Choice Awards, and the IEC Business and Executive awards. While the Indian Sun Community Awards have been spun-off into a separate event. To top it off, a corporate high-flyer and icon of migrant success has been chosen to deliver the keynote speech. Fahour follows in the footsteps of former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and fellow nation leaders from India, including Nalin Kohli, a minister in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “Fahour’s inspirational speech will be much to look forward to,” said Natasha Doraiswamy, IEC Vice Chairperson. “‘He brings a completely different flavour.” Before the Awards were launched in 2011, Sharma said, “Many great achievements went unnoticed.” But while IEC gave Indian entrepreneurs a stage on which to shine, their journey to the podium has stayed behind the scenes. If the Awards night is about setting the bar for success, the nominee journey has been designed to fuel business growth. The first step, early in the year, is the application. “You learn so much more about your business filling out the nomination form,” Doraiswamy said. “Many people give me feedback saying… they really had to think outside the box regarding their management, how they treat their staff, their goals and their turnover — that in itself is a very healthy exercise.” This year nominees also had the chance to participate in a free ‘Growing Your Business’ workshop run by premier business consultant Pitcher Partners. After nominees are announced, IEC facilitates opportunities for promotion via its digital and print platforms, Doraiswamy said. The aim? “To maximise exposure that comes along with being a part of this awards platform,” she said. Doraiswamy said entrants who don’t make the grade are encouraged to try again – near 30% do, some going on to succeed. “There’s a lot of growth that comes from this journey,” she said, pointing out that returnees “learn from their experience”, and knuckle down to improve their business before reapplying. The judges also make it a point to guide their progression. “Where we see particular issues that can help the applicant we make those known,” said Lydon Joss, Awards’ Judge and Executive Director of management consultants McMillan Richardson. “And it’s really encouraging to see the growth ” in returnees, Joss said. The Awards have also evolved over the years, with feedback guiding changes to strengthen the competition, including: an independent judging panel, female categories dedicated to recognising women entrepreneur success, and the Who’s Who publication, as an annual record of Diaspora achievement. Along the way, the platform has gained credibility in the wider business community, stakeholders said. “We hear people saying that if they win an award, their gateways and pathways are getting more refined,” said Vijaya Vaidyanathan, Awards’ Chief Judge and CEO of Yarra City Council. “Recruiters have placed value in these awards… and mainstream business is looking at this with some degree of interest.” “There’s also a broader acceptance by the Indian Diaspora,” said Joss. “The awards have credibility and the type and depth of applications have significantly improved.” New vision for IEC Looking to the future, IEC is preparing to take the Awards Australia-wide, with interest already coming from outside Victoria. Growth is also on the cards for IEC. Natalie said this would be targeted to industries where Indian Australian entrepreneurs were succeeding, like construction, restaurants and real estate. Communication is also being stepped up to clarify membership benefits, like regular networking events and forums to drive business growth, access to publishing platforms and promotion, the Awards, and soon advocacy. “It’s just a matter of reaching out and being able to tell people,” Doraiswamy said. “At the moment I believe IEC is only scratching the surface,” Doraiswamy said. “There’s so much more that we can do because of the hundreds and thousands of Indian business owners and executives out there who are doing so well.”
The Scarecrows lead singer to play for IEC Awards
Writing songs, cooking, journalism…The Scarecrows vocalist Kog Ravindran tells Alys Francis what he has been up to for the last few years. Playing high-energy pop rock, The Scarecrows enjoyed a heady few years amassing fans and headlining at the cream of Melbourne’s music establishments, before calling it a day. The band’s frontman Kog Ravindran is making a rare return to the stage for a surprise performance at the Indian Executive Club Awards in November. The Indian Sun touched base with him to find out what it was like trying to carve out a place in Australia’s music scene, why The Scarecrows split, and what he’s been up to since. What was the hardest thing about trying to make it in the music industry? We rehearsed once a week, every week for three years (we missed two rehearsals) and played a little over hundred gigs in that time. And some days you wake up, you have a show and you just don’t want to play, but you have no other choice. When I perform, it’s really high energy and it takes a lot out of me and people who came to our shows expected me to give it everything I had and sometimes I’d go up there and fake it. That can be tough, when what you once did for fun becomes work. Luckily now, it’s back to being fun. Tell us about your most rock star experience. Ha! I’m not very ‘rock starry’. Don’t get me wrong, very few can prance across a stage as well as me, but I don’t have any rock star stories. I don’t drink before gigs and I’m usually driving, so I’ll usually settle for a gin and tonic afterwards. What was your favourite venue to play? I love The Espy in St Kilda. I’d heard about it my whole life and we actually played our first gig there. I remember walking in the first time and quite naively asking ‘Is this The Espy?’ and the bartender looked at me like an idiot. I think we ended up playing around 12 gigs there over three years. I just love that at any one point, you can see a band in the basement, the main bar or The Gershwin Room and we were lucky enough to play all three. I think we might have been the first band to play on the main bar when they changed the carpet on the stage for the first time in years. I love fresh carpet, but then who doesn’t? So why did The Scarecrows decide to call it quits? There wasn’t a definite moment where we called it quits. I asked if we could take a break for a couple of months as I was feeling pretty tired and uninspired. And in that time we had off, I realised I didn’t want to go back. I personally had driven a pretty hectic and at times an unreasonable schedule of rehearsing and gigging for over three years but it didn’t change the fact that I was just tired of the whole lifestyle. And while being a musician has been my dream since I was a kid, I had an honest chat with myself. I realised, that we had done all the work, achieved success and positioned ourselves in the Melbourne music scene to the point where, if we were going to ‘make it’ something would have happened by now. And while we had wildly successful first two years, the last year stagnated both creatively and from a progressing in the industry point of view. A year can seem like a short time in retrospect, but when you’re rehearsing every week and playing a gig every fortnight with little return financially, you begin to weigh up the cost trying to ‘make it’ has on your personal life. So I decided to walk away. It was tough call to make, but I was relieved when I did, so I know I made the right decision. Any chance the band will reunite, or you’ll launch a solo career? I can’t see us getting back together to play live again, I think we’ve all moved on. But it’s been a few years since it wrapped up and only recently have I been able to really reflect on that period of my life, as well as the two years prior to it when Hugh (guitarist) and I were playing cover gigs around Victoria. Now I realise what a special time that was and I really feel lucky that I was able to have such an experience. It does define those first five years of my life after I finished high school. It almost feels like it was another person who did those things. I learnt so much from it. I’ve been writing a little bit but I’m not very good at finishing songs, I’m GREAT at starting them, but actually organising it all together requires that little bit of work that removes the spark and the inspiration from a song. Nick Cave once said, once I’m finished recording a song and everything that goes along with making it ‘right’, I’m essentially over it. Luckily, all I need is my piano and an empty room and if I can sing and play to myself that’s what makes me really happy. So I have no strong urges or desires to play live again. I love music but I don’t like the local music scene, especially the way musicians are treated. So I’ve said to myself, if people want me to play a gig, I’ll name my price, and if they’re happy to go ahead, I’ll do it, if not, it doesn’t bother me one bit. Because I’m not trying to ‘make it’ I’m not that desperate musician who used to take every gig he could get his hands on. What are you up to now, and what are you passionate about? I’m the Media and Communications Officer at the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne. I have a degree in Journalism. I’ve been there for 18 months and I’m really enjoying it. I recently moved out of home, so learning to cook has become a bit of an interest. I spent the first four months watching my roommates (who are masterchefs) cook and now I’m starting to do things on my own. My carbonara and spaghetti bolognaise is impressive. Mum taught me how to cook dhal just last week as I was beginning to seriously miss her cooking so that will be my focus for the next fortnight. I don’t have the patience for cooking, but I learnt the key is to start cooking when you’re not hungry. If you cook when you ARE hungry, you rush everything and you’re left with a kilo of porridge that tastes like bananas. My other passion is eating oysters on a Sunday, and since I have my life back I love spending time with my friends.
IEC PARTNERS WITH GOA TOURISM
Rohit Gupta from Travel and Taste along with his team were very fortunate to organise the Goa Tourism Roadshow in Melbourne on 19th Oct 2015. This event was highly successful with key stakeholders in attendance including those from the Travel Trade Industry from all across Victoria. Travel and Taste is also a nominee at the Indian Executive Club Awards 2015 under the Micro Business Category. With close to a 100 people in attendance, the event scaled through art forms of dance, music and folklores in true Goan style. The Senior Indian High Commission Officials, the Consul General Melbourne and India Tourism Officials were those that graced the occasion with their presence. The Consul General of India in Australia, Ms. Manika Jain and Hon. Tourism Minister of Goa, Mr. Dilip Parulekar were among the few to address the audience. Travel and Taste took immense pleasure in organising this event at a five-star hotel in Melbourne – The Langham. Personal invitations were sent to travel agents and advertisements were placed in Travel Magazines, websites and newsletter. This roadshow was looked upon by all travel agents from Victoria as a much needed event to enhance the position of Goa in the Australian Travel Industry. This event was only the first step in Goa Tourism’s new strategy – “Look East”. The event was rightly chosen to be held in Melbourne which has been named as the most liveable city five years in a row. Roadshows such as this one not only boost the Australian and Indian travel industries but also enable building the India – Australian relationships. Such events help spread the word about India and why it’s such an amazing tourist destination due to its vibrant culture, breathtaking scenery and exciting foods to name a few. It was a pleasure for the Indian Executive Club to be partnered with this event.
SPICE OUT: A NEW RITUAL
Spice Out 2015 is a tribute to the foot soldiers of Indian food in Melbourne Australia’s culinary landscape has changed dramatically over the last two decades. Fish and chips shops are visibly out-numbered by Indian and Asian take-away joints across all suburbs. Indian cooking has found its way into kitchens of pubs and restaurants across Australia. Super market shelves are being redefined as Indian cuisine gains increasing shelf space. More and more non-Indians are eating Indian food outside and are attempting to cook Indian food at home. Spices and Indian food ingredients are increasingly being used in modern Australian dishes. Reality TV has played a significant role in the emergence of Indian cooking in Australia. In a city where Asian and Italian food ruled the roost till a few years ago, one can now sense a huge change. The Indian food industry is increasing its market share in Melbourne and across Australia. Traditional market leaders like the Italian, Greek and Chinese food in the city’s culinary space is up against a formidable rival without a doubt. Thanks to the entrepreneurial mindset of the Indian immigrant, the Indian restaurant sector continues to grow and is a large draw among new migrants who wish to start a small business. Melbourne’s love of good food makes it one of the best places for this entrepreneurial appetite to flourish. Their task is not an easy one. They work up to 15 hours a day, and have no break over the weekend. This effort deserves a special recognition. Personally, Gujju’s thaali is one of the best Guajarati thaalis I’ve ever had. I’ve found Raju, from Indian Roast, to be one of the warmest hosts in town. He takes time to sit with you while you relish his Rogan Josh with rotis and share a story or two about the suburb’s local history and how he grew his Indian restaurant from scratch. St Kilda’s Babuji is becoming a local icon for its great vibe and innovative menu. Pandu’s dosas can rival the best dosas in India and his sambar is just incredible. Without a Shalimar and an Aangan restaurant, our suburbs would not be the same. Priya Restaurant in Point Cook is a place where most residents of the area huddle on a cold winter’s night to have their favourite red wine and curries. We can’t imagine a Melbourne CBD without a Desi Dhaba. Melbourne just needed a Dhaba to call its own and that’s Desi Dhaba. Punjabi Curry Cafe is a place where you go for your favourite Indian dishes and you’ll want to keep going back. Shiva is known for its live open kitchens—one of the few in town. Masala Craft is a special hang-out with a special host in Thornbury, in the north of the city, next to the famous Thornbury Theatre. Tandoori Den has been around for three decades and they have definitely made history for being one of the longest serving Indian restaurants in Victoria. Tandoori Flames is where Bollywood parties and good food go hand in hand. The credit to popularising Indian food in Melbourne should go to these restaurants and their owners and chefs who plan and execute exciting menus and restaurant themes meticulously. Indian Executive Club, in its second year with Spice Out, has again aimed to showcase the hard work and dedication of these entrepreneurs. These dedicated entrepreneurs have time and again contributed to the growth of Indian food sector in Australia. IEC has a common path with these owners, a vision to grow the Indian food sector to the top. It’s our dream that Indian Food will be number 1 in town. This year, for the first time, IEC, and The Indian Sun, chose to recognize seven top restaurants in Melbourne through a process of online voting. Some of these restaurants have gained immense support and following from the community and they are well-deserved winners of the first Spice Out Awards –see results and photos inside. For those of you who are keen on following the Who’s Who of hospitality sector in Melbourne, you can order your copy of Spice Out and stay in touch: www.indianexecutive.com.au
HOW TO ROAR WITH SUCCESS
Roaring Success works with client companies to accelerate the growth of their businesses. Using their knowledge, industry experience and consulting expertise, Roaring Success lead clients through processes to optimise their strategic business planning; marketing & sales strategies; innovation strategies and critical performance improvement. Identifying new growth opportunities is a critical strategy for most manufacturers, yet many waste their scarce resources “tilting at windmills”. Using the unique GrowthCube™ methodology developed by Roaring Success, they guide clients through the process of selecting the right opportunities and developing strategies to effectively win new sales. Good strategy is useless without effective implementation, so Roaring Success offer ongoing implementation support for senior managers, work-groups or project teams. Our services take many forms to suit the circumstances and RS move fluidly between consultation, facilitation, training, coaching, mentoring and implementation support. Chris Thompson along with Steve woods & team help management resolve specific problems and conduct periodic strategic reviews. Their approach is not to tell people what to do but to lead them on a journey of discovery. They transfer knowledge and skills to the client during each project, so that by the end of an assignment the client has made their own strategic decisions and understand how they will put their plans into action. Working across many sectors including manufacturing, import/export and professional services, Roaring Success does not have expertise in the hospitality or retail sectors. Please call 03 8640 9009 to discuss the specifics of your situation. Or view their website for more information: www.roaringsuccess.com.au
Reliving the present
Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles by Maggie Baxter explores the path-breaking new designs that have helped revive crafts of yore Alys Francis Countless books have been written on India’s vibrant traditional textiles and crafts, but what about contemporary textiles? Just as artisan traditions were feared dying, it was these path-breaking new designs that ignited a craft revival and breathed life back into the industry – yet that barely scored them a footnote. “Everyone’s focused on the history,” West Australian born Maggie Baxter told the Indian Sun. Baxter set out to right this imbalance through her new book Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles, which was launched at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi in September. The comprehensive work documents 27 contemporary Indian designers and artists whose work is reinvigorating traditional Indian techniques like bandhni, leheriya and jamdani – giving them a fresh identity to appeal to fashionistas and art lovers of today. An accomplished artist who majored in sculpture at university, Baxter’s own textile work has been entwined with Indian traditions ever since she first visited the subcontinent in 1990 to set up a business producing bed linen. The business didn’t work out but while she was visiting artisan makers Baxter fell in love with India and its traditional block printing, embroidery and weaving. Baxter said she recognised there was “a gap in the market” for books on contemporary textiles, but the chance to go out and write one herself came out of the blue. “It wasn’t planned, it just happened,” she said. As part of her research for the book, Baxter interviewed most of the designers and artists featured. She also travelled across India, visiting West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi. “The book brought me to many places I hadn’t been before,” she said. Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles takes readers on a similar journey through Indian textiles, from how design generates income for artisans in the villages, to rapidly developing metropolises where change makers are reassessing traditions and techniques. It chronicles new Indian design philosophies that are pushing the boundaries of minimalism, surface decoration, textures, and narratives with mythological and religious symbols. When she finished her book, Baxter saw it as an opportunity to showcase some of the textiles and designers she’d written about. “I thought it would be a very good way to bring these designs to Australia,” Baxter said. The Unfolding: New Indian Textiles exhibition ran at RMIT Gallery in Melbourne in June and the Fremantle Arts Centre in Perth in July. How did the Aussie crowd react to these new Indian designs? “I don’t think they knew anything about it but they absolutely loved it,” Baxter said. “Over 700 people came to the opening in Fremantle, there were queues going right around the Arts Centre. “It was an extraordinary response.” One thing never fails to surprise those new to Indian textiles, according to Baxter. “When you showcase work out of India everyone’s always amazed that everything’s still handmade,” she said. Traditional textiles are still facing challenging times, as the children of artisan families continue to move out of the industry for more lucrative work. But Baxter is optimistic the industry won’t unravel any time soon, as India’s new breed of contemporary designers still, “have a very strong commitment to craft”. Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles featured designers and artists whose work is changing how the Indian market consumes traditional textiles, including: 11.11/eleven eleven, Abdulaziz Alimohammad Khatri, Abraham & Thakore, Akaaro, bai lou, Good Earth, Gopika Nath, Greenearth, Irfan Khatri, Jagannath Panda, Kirit Dave, Manisha Parekh Mayank Mansingh Kaul, Meera Mehta, Mithu Sen, Monika Correa, Parul Thacker, péro, Play Clan, Ravage, Raw Mango, Shades of India, Shrujan, smallshop, Swati Kalsi, Tushar Kumar and Vankar Shamji Vishramji.
Why all roads lead to AII
Professor Amitabh Mattoo, who is now helming Australia India Institute’s rebirth in India as the inaugural director and CEO, speaks to Alys Francis about bilateral ties between the nations as well as AII flagship programs He’s been with the Australia India Institute (AII) since its doors first opened in 2008 as Australia’s only national centre for research on the subcontinent. So it’s fitting that leading scholar Professor Amitabh Mattoo is now helming AII’s rebirth in India as the inaugural director and CEO of its New Delhi headquarters. The Indian Sun caught up with Prof Mattoo in his new South Delhi office to hear his plans for boosting bilateral ties, and get his take on how the Federal Court rejection of Adani’s $US12 billion Queensland mine has hurt relations. What does it mean to have AII open a branch in New Delhi? The central aim of AII in Melbourne, or AII in Delhi, or wherever we expand our network is going to be to foster dialogue, research and partnerships between Australia and India, Australians and Indians, and Australian institutes and Indian institutes. Because its fundamental premise is that there are few democracies in this region which have so much in common with Australia, by way of both values and interests. Australia didn’t prioritize bilateral ties with India until recently – where is the relationship at today? Obviously relations can’t be transformed in an instant. What you need to do is create the bandwidth and then ensure that that connectivity remains. Clearly in terms of educational research linkages, India’s partnership with the United States wouldprobably have greater bandwidth. But that’s often also based on ignorance. I think Indian intuitions do not know what high quality research is being done among the premium universities in Australia, particularly the Group of Eight universities. But that is beginning to change. In the last three years I have accompanied several federal ministers to India… also state ministers travelling with delegations of vocational education providers, as well as higher education providers, and vice chancellors. So there’s greater recognition. And now that you also have the renewal of the Australia India strategic research fund, which is a multi-million dollar fund to do collaborative research, I see this relationship really blossoming. I think one major stumbling block, which had led to a great amount of trust deficit, was the Australian decision not to supply uranium to India. Once former Prime Minister Julia Gillard overturned that, there was a sudden release of tremendous goodwill. In the past there were those incidents in Melbourne where some Indian students had been attacked. So ties had almost reached rock bottom. In some ways, there was a kind of perverse benefit out of that — people began to focus on how to improve ties in terms of policy. The Victorian government instituted a chair of Indian studies, they have got deeply engaged with the AustraliaIndiainstitute, in fact they’re one of our largest funders today. Similarly in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, again there are multiple initiatives towards India. Now on the Indian side, clearly, there are so many suitors because India seems to be the new kid on the block, but even then, I think there is a great appetite for the relationship. The Federal Court overturned Adani’s federal environmental approval to build the Carmichael coal mine in August. How has this impacted our bilateral ties? I think the fact that hasn’t derailed the relationship tells you how, even in the space of the last five years, the bandwidth has increased. You’ll always have ups and downs in a relationship; you’ll always have policies, which you don’t always agree upon. But a good relationship recognises that you’re not always going to act similarly and agree on everything. That’s true of any friendship. And I think of course people should recognise that there are environmental concerns about mining in that area, including the possible impact that it may have on the Great Barrier Reef. Obviously within the business community there’s going to be some disappointment, but every good robust relationship learns to live with disappointments and move on. Coal accounts for a significant portion of Australia’s trade to India. If this wanes as some forecasters predict, what do we have left to focus on? The free trade agreement’s being worked upon. I think obviously other than commodities, I think Australia still has a lot to offer, even though manufacturing may be on the downside. There are niche products, whether it’s dairy or whether it’s in the shoes that I’m wearing, which are RM Williams, that’s typically Australian. Then there’s the service industry, education, tourism… education and research, I think that has the biggest potential. What have we learned from the more fruitful research partnerships formed through AII Melbourne that you’d like to recreate here? One of our flagship programs is going to be a mid-career fellowship for academics because that is something we instituted in Melbourne with Indians. There we do not just focus on academics but across disciplines, mid-career professionals would spend a month or two months as an emerging leader fellow in residence. Fortunately we have space in this office where we’ll have resident fellows from Australia, who will be selected after we advertise the fellowships. We want them to work in collaboration and partnership with their peers in Indian universities. Some of the work that’s been done through research partnerships is outstanding. Like trauma research — Victoria has the gold standard in preventing fatalities after an accident, primarily because they’ve got systems in place. India probably has one of the worst records in terms of accidents and the help that you give that person, so there’s a joint Australia India Institute strategic research fund project on trauma research. What have you learned about how best AII can create impact that you want to replicate in New Delhi? I think what Melbourne and Melbourne University teach you is that you can put systems into place, so they can be idiot-proof. It doesn’t matter whether you’re brilliant individually, what matters is there’s a process and system in place. Then things will work. India goes wrong because they often look for individual brilliance and haven’t put systems in place. And that’s what I want to replicate. One of our flagship programs is going to be the leadership dialogue,which we’re going to bring together next month. A delegation led by minister for trade Andrew Robb, with billionaire businessman Anthony Pratt, and probably mining magnate Gina Rinehart, are all coming here to have a dialogue with their counterparts. Other than foreign policy and international relations, we’re going to focus a lot on trade and business links. Talk us through AII’s biggest achievements so far. It’s not right for me to say what are the biggest achievements. But I think the fact that we’ve been able to create a space where there’s a conversation happening, genuine partnerships in place, and great hope for the future. Today we have a critical mass of Indians here [in New Delhi] at the highest level of decision-making who recognise the importance of this relationship, and most of them were exposed to Australia by the AII. We’re the only national centre of India — in Australia — you have a proliferation of China centres — which brings together talent across disciplines. A tenured professor from Oxford University is going to be my successor in Melbourne – it tells you even the best academics from Oxford think the place to go is AII.
There’s intense competition in the various business categories, say judges as the Indian Executive Club Awards celebrates the best of the best in its fifth year Alys Francis This November will see the milestone fifth edition of the Indian Executive Club Awards, Victoria’s first event dedicated to recognising the achievements of the fast growing South Asian business community. Over the years the IEC Awards have given a platform to the best of the best. Business profiles have been cemented, entrepreneurs have been celebrated, and the breadth of talent and skill in the community has become known. To find out how the awards have grown and continue to strive to foster business success, The Indian Sun spoke to Chief Jurist and CEO of Yarra City Council Vijaya Vaidyanathan, and Jurist Lydon Joss, Executive Director of management consultants McMillan Richardson. What does it mean to hit the five-year milestone? Vijaya Vaidyanathan: It shows the IEC Awards are getting traction. We hear people saying that if they win an award, their gateways and pathways are getting even more refined. It has become almost like a highlight for their profile, so there is traction in terms of credibility, and also building their profile for their own companies. Lydon Joss: There’s also a broader acceptance by the Indian Diaspora. The awards have credibility and the type and depth of applications have significantly improved. How have the awards developed over the years? Vaidyanathan: Initially the entire awards night was not focused only on business but there used to be popular awards, which concentrated on the travel industry, the food industry, most popular personalities, and things like that. This year for the first time the awards are exclusively for business. Joss: The popularity of the business awards is such that it now stands alone, and the other awards are hosted separately. And, as an indication of the merit that the business awards now have, we have as many applications in this year’s round for purely business, as we had for business and all the other categories before, like the tourism and food industry. So in its own right it has grown significantly. How has the quality and scope of entrants changed? Vaidyanathan: I think that standards have been lifted. Also what has happened is we as judges and as organisers in the Indian Executive Club have been articulating the criteria even better. There’s more clarity around how the award winners will be evaluated. So that has improved significantly and is useful for both nominees and judges. Joss: And we’ve been very careful to gauge feedback after each event from the winners and also the runners up. We’re constantly looking for improvement and we’re taking on board the suggestions and the criticisms made, so we’re constantly improving what we’re doing. You’re in the process of judging this year’s entrants – can you reveal your first impressions? Joss: It’s always interesting to have new applicants. We do get some return ones, where perhaps they didn’t come up to scratch or didn’t have the depth of experience earlier. But we make it clear that, had they had a little more experience or depth in their business, it could well be that they‘re in the finalists next time; we’re looking to encourage not just the winners. Where we see particular issues that can help the applicant we make those known. From our point of view the diversity of the applicants and the skills and the knowledge of the people doing things really amaze us, and it’s really encouraging to see the growth. Vaidyanathan: What was different this year also, is the fact that there were sessions where Pitcher Partners offered value added master classes, on how a business can actually improve its indicators and results. That has motivated people to go beyond the known factors and step up. We’re right in the middle of the judging process, so the short answer is, the numbers are good, the quality is also good, but we’ll have to wait and see who emerges the final winner. What have the awards achieved for the business community? Joss: For those who are attending the awards who are in the finalist category, or haven’t quite made it, by attending they’re learning what makes a good business and what things they can do to improve their business. Vaidyanathan: Recruiters have placed value in these awards. We’ve had informal feedback from past entrants who said that they’re CVs and resumes looked better after winning awards over the past two or three years. Which suggests mainstream business is looking at this with some degree of interest. Where would you like the IEC Awards to be in another 5 years? Joss: We already have a couple of interstate applicants and we would like to see the awards going on a national scale, perhaps broken up into states. Certainly there is interest coming from as far as Western Australia and Queensland. Vaidyanathan: There could even be some kind of synergy with New Zealand. They’ve been having business awards that are very successful for the past 10 years. They involve the New Zealand government and Prime Minister, so there’s a healthy focus on what businesses can do to lift productivity. There’s no strategy to that end just yet, but there’s definitively opportunities for synergies.
Australia’s ‘letterman’ Ahmed Fahour will speak at IEC Awards this year Alys Francis Described as “Australia’s George Clooney”, a “diligent networker” and “relentlessly charming”, Ahmed Fahour is known almost as much for his flamboyant personality as his corporate prowess. He once reportedly sent shockwaves through the members’ enclosure at the Melbourne Cup for waltzing in wearing a cream suit. But you likely know him as the high profile CEO of Australia Post. He’s the man who was charged with steering the iconic Australian company in 2010, at a time when it was being battered by the rise of the Internet – which saw email rapidly replacing letters. Calling Australia Post “a national treasure”, Fahour set in place a new customer-focused business model, and is targeting growing opportunities in e-commerce. How exactly did Fahour get to be behind the wheel at Australia’s postal giant? To fully appreciate his corporate journey it’s best to start at the beginning. Born in Lebanon in 1966, Fahour migrated to Australia with his parents in 1970. The family had settled into a terrace house in Melbourne’s north when Fahour’s father Abdul was seriously injured in 1976. A tram crashed into the family car. Fahour told Fairfax the moment he saw his father being taken away in an ambulance he decided it was his responsibility to look after his mother and siblings. He was 10 years old at the time. Fahour excelled at school. After attending St Joseph’s and Redden Colleges in Melbourne, he graduated from La Trobe University with a first-class honours degree in economics. He launched his professional career at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 1987, where he consulted on major commercial projects including mergers, acquisitions, and corporate strategy. In 1993, Fahour completed a Master of Business Administration at Melbourne Business School, while continuing to work, and in 1997 he became a director of the consulting group. Eventually in 2000, Fahour was enticed to take up an attractive post at Citigroup, which saw him shift to New York City. There he made his mark as Head of Corporate Development and later as CEO of Citigroup Alternative Investments – while also serving on the company’s Global Management Committee. He was then appointed as Citigroup’s CEO for Australia and New Zealand. Fahour scored another feather in his corporate cap after joining National Australia Bank (NAB) in 2004 as Executive Director and Australian CEO. His leadership saw a major turnaround in the bank’s performance and its wealth management subsidiary. In early 2010, Fahour took up the role as Managing Director and CEO of Australia Post, which propelled him further into the public spotlight. Having the tough task of saving the postal company at a time of disruptive industry change, Fahour has become known for his rousing speeches to Australia Post workers. Throughout his career the media has zeroed in on Fahour’s ability to command top dog salaries. At National Australia Bank’s Australian operations his sign on fee was reportedly $13.5 million and a Maserati is said to be parked in his garage. But he’s also known for his philanthropy. In 2014, he passed up the chance to take an incentive payment, asking the Australia Post board to donate $2.85 million to the Islamic Museum of Australia on his behalf instead. Fahour is also respected as a trailblazer for multiculturalism in Australia. It was fellow multicultural icon, broadcaster Waleed Aly who called him “relentlessly charming”. Describing the corporate high flyer to Fairfax, Aly said: “He feels very self-made in the sense that he built what he is from the ground up.”
Rohini, a leading woman in business!
Pitcher Partners director Rohini Kappadath finalist in Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year award Our Reporter Pitcher Partners announced that Rohini Kappadath, director of the firm’s Cross Border Business practice, is a 2015 finalist in the prestigious Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year award. Pitcher Partners managing partner Melbourne John Brazzale said Ms Kappadath was appointed to establish and lead the firm’s Cross Border Business five years ago helping client access into Asia and to facilitate the fast-growing number of Asian businesses invest and open in Australia. Mr Brazzale said the strategic objective behind setting up the international practice at Pitcher Partners was to position the firm domestically as the first choice for mid-market businesses wanting to expand offshore. “We found an exceptional practice leader in Rohini who was passionate about international business and client service, knowledgeable, possessed strong business acumen based on experience, and extremely capable of building key relationships with government and other influencers. “Over the past five years, Rohini has built a successful cross-border business within our firm and has made a valuable contribution to the opening up of cross-border business discussions in the public realm. Her strong media presence and her ability to open doors at all levels has essentially led her to become the go-to person in her field with a wide and powerful international business network directed at assisting businesses to grow.” Ms Kappadath has 28 years’ experience in working with businesses within Australia, India, South-East Asia, China, Japan, New Zealand and North America. She has assisted a number of companies in establishing international ventures, facilitated cross-border collaborations, distributor arrangements, new market entry strategies and other related activities. Ms Kappadath established a successful career with SAS Institute Australia, founded her own Australian boutique cross-border advisory company Oyster Pty Ltd before joining Pitcher Partners in 2010. She holds a number of board positions, represents clients in government trade missions and is currently the Director-General for Indian Institute of Directors in Australia. “The Telstra Business Women’s Award celebrates women who are leaders in their industries. We are proud and honoured that Rohini has been recognized for her considerable achievements in the cross-border realm both within and outside Pitcher Partners,” Mr Brazzale said. Pitcher Partners is an association of independent firms located in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Newcastle. Pitcher Partners are independent members of Baker Tilly International.
Indians highest per capita spenders in Australia
Indians visiting Australia, which crossed 2.2 lakh last year, are the highest per capita spenders among all tourists there, having together spent AUD 1 billion in 2014, becoming the eighth largest source market for Tourism Australia.On an average, each Indian visiting Australia spent AUD 4,750, making them the highest per capita spenders, according to Tourism Australia. For the six months to June, Australia received 1,22,900 Indians, a 24 per cent increase relative to the same period of the previous year and Tourism Australia expects to maintain a healthy growth in the rest of the year and hopes to close the year with 2.35 lakh arrivals, Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager (India and Gulf), Tourism Australia, told PTI. While arrivals from India rose 19 per cent in 2014 to 2.2 lakh, their spending soared 39 per cent to AUD 1 billion, he said, adding that with the pilot launch of the electronic visa application (E-600 facility) for Indians, the number of visitors from here should go up further. Currently, the E-600 facility is available with 80 tour operators, who have reported higher business now. We hope to roll out the facility to across India over the next 12 months, Kashikar said. Indians splurged a record AUD 1 billion last year in Australia, up 39 per cent over 2013, driven by the Cricket World Cup in the first quarter, as almost 15,000 Indians watched the matches in that country during the tournament. However, Tourism Australia expects the spending by Indians to touch AUD 1.9 billion by 2020 with 3 lakh Indian visitors, he added. Kashikar said “with each Indian spending around AUD 5,000, they are the highest per capita spenders visiting Australia.” India has also improved its ranking to become the 10th largest market for spend into Australia. For the quarter ending June 2015, India recorded visitor expenditure growth of 40 per cent. The Cricket World Cup alone brought an incremental revenue of around AUD 70 million, by Indian visitors, Kashikar said, adding that the first half revenue touched AUD 632 million with the first quarter revenue alone being AUD 350 million. He also said that 49 per cent of Indians visiting Australia are repeat visitors, and at 2.2 lakh Indians visiting in 2014, India has become the eighth largest tourism market for Australia. Last year, the rank was way below at 11th position. When asked about India-bound travel from Australia, he said since Indians are the largest ethnic grouping in that country at 0.5 million, the outbound travellers to India are more at 2.4 lakh last year. While total number of Indians visiting Australia this year stood at 2,07,000, China still retains the top position with visitor numbers touching 8,64,000 so far this year. Kashikar, however, admitted that the growth projections will not be possible if airlines do not cooperate. Currently, no Australian airline flies to India, while only Air India flies directly to that country. Though there is a demand for 3.45 lakh seats annually between the two countries, Air India offers only 93,400 seats now or 6,500 seats per week. He said with AUD 35 billion in tourism revenue, this sector contributes around 2 per cent of the country’s GDP and the plan is to take this revenue to over AUD 115 billion by 2020, he added.
At Jai Ho, it’s all about the colours and flavours of India
One of Melbourne’s most renowned fine dining Indian restaurants, Jai Ho, located at Richmond and Hoppers Crossing, recently won the prestigious award for best Indian Restaurant Melbourne CBD at the Spice Out awards 2015. Jai Ho, a family run and operated business, helmed by Saurabh Abbott & Gautam Thapar and family, has been designed with passion, elegance, and attention to detail. “We specialize in the finest authentic North Indian cuisine and tandoori cuisine in Melbourne,” says Saurabh Abbott. “We showcase India in every way we can. At Richmond our interiors are warm and welcoming and replete with traditional Indian art and Rajasthani handmade tables,” he adds. Located near several major sporting venues, the area is always buzzing with activity be it Aussie Rules Football, Australian Open, cricket tournaments, rugby or soccer games. “The restaurant has become a favourite with local and international guests. We have come to realize that not only are we showcasing Indian food but also representing the culinary image of Melbourne,” says Saurabh. At Hoppers Crossing, Jai Ho is located at the heart of the subcontinent community. “We have handmade Jodhpuri Baithak and furniture or the walls with some true Indian art and culture showcased. We get complimented by people here who tell us that we present the flavours of India.” says Gautam Thapar.
Melbourne entrepreneurs to test Indian Market
Our Reporter Whilst the rest of Australia looks to China for an expansion of trade opportunities, one group of businessmen is mounting a unique business delegation to India With Australia’s major trade partners grappling with slowing economies, Australian businesses need to urgently wake up to the Indian opportunity. It is for this reason that an intrepid group of Australian entrepreneurs is embarking on a trip to India in October 2015 to assess if and how they can sell their products and services there. The delegation is organized by The Indus Entrepreneurs or TiE (www.melbourne.tie.org), one of the largest networks of entrepreneurs in the world dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship. TiE is grounded in the ethos of unselfishly giving back. It has a large voluntary corps of successful entrepreneurs who mentor aspiring or start-up entrepreneurs. “TiE s a global network with a particularly strong base in India and the silicon Valley. And so we thought it would be powerful to combine this strength with the mentoring ethos, and look at helping Australian businesses make good connections in India and then provide ongoing mentoring to help them establish a presence there,” says Rod Smith, President of TiE Melbourne. India is the seventh largest economy in the world (third by purchasing power parity), but growing rapidly at 8 % per annum, and set to become the third largest after China and USA by 2050. “I was keen to expand my business into India given the growing numbers of skilled people entering the workforce there, who could really benefit from the sorts of services we provide. I sought out TiE In Melbourne, and I am genuinely impressed by how much they helped me,” says Dale Simpson’s Bravo Consulting runs coaching, leadership development and career management programs. He set up operations in India in 2009 with help from TiE. About 300 million Indians (60m Indian households) are already in the middle class, estimated to increase to over 500 million by 2025. But Indo‐Australian trade in 2014 was only $15.9b, one-tenth of the China-Australia trade. Australia is China’s seventh largest trading partner but does not make it into even the top 20 list of India’s trading partners. Recognising the ground-breaking nature of this visit, TiE’s Indian chapters have joined the party. The Australian group has been invited to TiECon Delhi, one of the largest conferences of entrepreneurs in the world, with around 2,500 delegates attending. And the TiE chapters in Mumbai and Bangalore are organizing special gatherings of their members for the group to meet. “We invite any Australian entrepreneur, large or small, who has ever wondered about India, to come along and make full use of this rare opportunity,” says Smith.
Sporting a Camry
With all its sporty new features, it’s hard to tell that the new Atara SX is a Camry After warming up their customers to the idea of a sports car with the Sportivo, Toyota has hit the track running with the launch of the Atara SX, which has more game than every other car from the Camry range. The Atara SX, with its distinctive sports model might just look like another Sportivo, but what makes it different is its Australian-engineered suspension set-up and an 18-inch wheel and tyre package. The Atara’s shock absorbers have special internal valvingfor better body control and ride quality. The SX’s sporty finish is highlighted with a sports mesh grille, much like the new Lexus NX300 F-Sport. The rear lip spoiler and leather-accented sports seats finish the sporty feel, while dual exhausts lift engine Dash instrumentation and appearance have been tweaked from the other Camry models, with the smaller leather-wrapped steering wheel accentuating the sporty feel. Most impressive is the new suspension package fitted to the Atara SX. Along with the changes to the steering and suspension bushes, there is a newfound tautness to the chassis. The Atara is on par with its main competitors in performance and the petrol engine works with the transmission to provide smooth responsive upshifts and downshifts. The official fuel consumption figure is 7.8L/100km and at the bowser we returned 7.6L/100km on our highway loop and around town 10.8L/100km for an average of 8.6L/100km. All the models have a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Pricing for the range starts at $26,490 for the base Altise, with the hybrid an extra $4000 for all variants. The Atara S petrol is $29,490 and the SX is $31,990. In the end, the Atarafrom the Camry stable is not just an endearing but an engaging drive as well.