Fall in shares and commodity price is good news for property investors
After a two-month gap, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RAB) has announced that it is going to decide on interest rates. Share markets (ASX 200) is at the 5,000 mark. The 2005 Australian share market was at 5000 points and in 2016 we are at the same level. Brent crude oil prices are at $30 a barrel, which is a 12-year low. Commodity prices are at all-time low. The markets are in the red. Reserve Bank will not be changing the cash rate. They will be sitting at 1.75 per cent. This fall in shares and commodity prices is welcoming news for property investors. The property will be viewed as a safe haven, weathering all the odds of investing. Investors, who have lost confidence in share and commodity markets, will be heading towards property investments. Future markets are assigning 100 percent cut in the second half of the year. Investors or owner-occupiers will have some relief for most of 2016. It is time for home owners to decrease their mortgage and investors to focus on buying more properties to save up the buffer (money saved up for any changes in interest rates or expenses to manage the property). Unemployment is lower than last year — it has fallen from 6.1 per cent to 5.8 per cent. And the population is greater. That means 350,000 more people have jobs. The Melbourne market is showing more resilience with the auction market. Last week Melbourne was at 74 per cent clearance rate. Melbourne coped with the interest rate rises last year and is still a sellers’ market. Sydney though is a slowing market. Last quarter, Sydney property prices fell -3.2 per cent. In Melbourne, 19 suburbs have joined millionaire club in 2015, which means a total of 84 million-dollar suburbs in the area. By 2020, there will be at least 100 million-dollar suburbs in Melbourne. By 2025, it won’t be surprising if half the Melbourne suburbs join the million dollar club. So investing wisely in suburbs that have potential capital growth is the main key for investors. At any point, only 5 per cent of the properties are investment grade properties. Not all the properties or suburbs will perform the same. Some will out-perform others. So having a talented team behind you will make a lot of difference.
Home stretch: Sunil Kumar
At the helm of Reliance Real Estate, Sunil not only leads his highly experienced and passionate team in delivering first class service and expertise but he motivates and inspires his team to consistently raise the real estate industry benchmark. With a strong sales and marketing background and close to a decade of experience working in real estate, Sunil’s best decision was launching Reliance Real Estate in 2011. Stepping away from the traditional real estate franchise model Sunil was determined to establish an independent agency that valued clients over profits. Read, apply, share. Alongside Sunil’s success selling property and mentoring the real estate leaders of the future, Sunil’s contribution in local business networking is notably rewarding as is his passion for assisting the wider community including schools and churches. Most recently, Sunil has penned his real estate expertise in his first book – ‘Sold’, created to educate home owners of the local area on how to increase the value of their property.
Strength, struggle, growth: Thalib Sathaar
Thalib Sathaar currently holds the position of General Manager of BES-TT Projects, a joint venture between Bianco Engineering Services Australia and Toyota Tsusho Australasia. Thalib was instrumental in creating this alliance where the simple concept of offshore manufacturing utilising Australian manufacturing expertise has led to the creation of a niche market within the Mining, Infrastructure and Oil & Gas markets in Australia. This business unit turns over about $30million annually and is growing about 30%-40% annually. Within the last four years Thalib has become the Major Share Holder of Bianco Engineering Services Australia and India and recently taken the role as CEO of Eco Engineering and Services Malaysia. This has enabled the BES-TT Projects part of the business to supply engineering product from a facility that is now owned and operated by Thalib. It’s all about soul. The last four years has been rather difficult with starting up from a garage/backyard operations to now being represented across Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Abudhabi & Malaysia. With a gross turnover exceeding $30million dollars and anticipated growth to double in the year 2016. There is no end to what can be achieved with a bit of will and a lot of soul, believes Thalib.
Don’t stop believing…doing: Pentagon Group
In Pentagon, Vijan Patel is known as the man who can crack any deal in retail and property development projects, which operate in Tasmania and Victoria. His strong commitment and persuasion has helped the company reach great heights in the world of properties. But Vijan never stops. Whether he is at networking luncheons at “place of best reputation you go” or travelling for work with the multiple businesses in his portfolio, Melbourne-based “VJ” is always doing things at once with the highest level of precision. As VJ says to staff, “Don’t stop even when you have enough.” His strong commitment means there is always room for more opportunity and improvement if you can challenge yourself every day. The time he does take away from his corporate life is dedicated to his family, his wife Fiona and two sons Kiaan and Kalan. Vision with action. Varun Zaveri is called the man of vision because he broken new group for the group in wholesale and retail marketing. Varun’s organisational skills have accelerated the group to success. The people person. Vishal Patel, who began his career as a project engineer, is among the key people at Pentagon, making sure the operations side is managed with precision. His strong interpersonal skills have helped build a rapport among stakeholders. Going for gold. Sunny Singh seems to have the Midas touch. He has had success at every door step from 2006 after starting his own business in retail. He has developed his own phone accessory brand called Samyol which raked in a turnover of more than half million in six months. Man on the move. The man in retail operations, Pratik Sarsavadia is a manager with vision. Pratik’s smart watch on market movement has helped fortify the group’s future and maximize growth.
TRACKING MIGRATION: DEEPAL RANIGA
Hailing from a family of legal professionals, Deepal Raniga was always inspired to follow in their footsteps. She started her career in a legal practice in New Zealand and Australia in 2009, working primarily in the areas of migration and refugee law. Since 2011, she has practiced exclusively in the family law jurisdiction with particular expertise in matters involving complex financial arrangements, parenting and child support issues and asset protection including cross-jurisdictional cases. Social crusader. Currently an Associate with Aitken Partners, Deepal heads the firm’s activities within the Indian diaspora in Victoria. Deepal’s Indian background and diverse upbringing stretching between India, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia together with her sense of social justice has impacted the way in which she has become involved with the welfare of the Indian subcontinental community and broader ethnic community over the years. Deepal strives to obtain a fair, pragmatic and cost effective outcome for clients whilst also attempting to take the heartache out of what can be a tiring and emotional process.
Who’s Who 2015-2016 launched in style
Fifty leaders, thinkers, entrepreneurs, path-breakers from the Indian diaspora, showing the way, was nominated and selected for a diverse and compelling fourth edition of Who’s Who, published by Narwee Media and launched at the IEC awards in November by Melbourne’s Consul General of India Manika Jain. Take Dharmesh Parmar who gave up years of experience in the banking industry to open a pub in Melbourne’s CBD, and says he wouldn’t have it any other way. And Rod (Rohit) Saini, who has shown that fortunes can be built with very little start-up capital. The CEO and founder of Medallion Group Pty Ltd is the first Indian to start a franchise group in Australia in the car wash industry. He started Medallion Hand Car Wash franchise business in 2009, which is today among the only three car wash franchise groups operating in Australia. The Who’s Who publication, a repository of diaspora achievement, now in its fourth edition, has been generating more and more interest with every passing year. From the December to March editions of The Indian Sun, we will profile some of these people who appeared in the Fourth Edition of the publication. The IEC Awards are Australia’s first event to recognise the achievements of small to medium-sized businesses and executives from the Indian Diaspora. Since launching in 2011, they’ve shone the spotlight on rising stars and revealed the depth of talent in this emerging community. On 21 November, IEC celebrated its milestone year awards and announced winners of its business awards at the Atlantic Peninsula. Over 400 guests attended to mark the occasion. Before the winners were revealed, an icon of Australia’s migrant community, Ahmed Fahour delivered the keynote address. Fahour revealed the values and events that powered his journey to become Australia Post’s Group CEO and Managing Director. He also emphasised the significance of being Australian Indian in the current global environment. On 19 December, FOSAI will host its first ever Bollywood Festival at the Werribee Race Course in Victoria. Highlighting the significance of working with local talent and offering them a platform to exhibit their talents, FOSAI has partnered with various community organisations to bring this festival to you. Over 500 artists and their families are taking part in the festivities. So before this festive season starts, it’s an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate. Stay safe this holiday season.
Who’s Who: Manjit Singh
Manjit Singh set up his company – dealing in mobile phones, accessories and repairs — in 2004 with a single operating store in Hawthorn. He then joined hands with Hutchinson and started stores in South Yarra, Doncaster, Spencer Street, Southland, and Cranbourne Park shopping centre. Manjit says he works with a simple mission — to create genuine customer value. “In our business we believe that the absolute best way to succeed is to improve our performance everyday with every customer. We are a family owned business so we like to maintain a trustworthy atmosphere where we look after each other professionally and personally,” says Manjit. “We have a mystery shopping programme which helps us monitor overall customer experience in our stores and show where individual staff needs further improvement,” he adds. Mission community. Manjit is involved in community work in several ways – he is currently the PR and media in charge of Sant Nirankari Mission Melbourne, and holds executive positions in non-profit organisations such as Indian K, Multicultural Harmony Festival community. Manjit has been organising blood drives and clean up drives over a number of years.
Who’s Who: Bobby Lakra
Arriving in Australia from India in 2002, Bobby established his real estate business in 2013 by joining the biggest names in Australasia, First National Real Estate Group. His young team was acknowledged for outstanding results in the first year of operation at the First National Group Awards in 2014. Over 9 years of real estate experience and the first agent with an Indian background to open his agency in Point Cook, which was dominated by big and well established local agencies, Bobby has helped families achieve their dream of owning their first home. Bobby has a very strong database of buyers and being a Point Cook resident, has a vast local and market knowledge of the real estate trends. His excellent communication and negotiation skills with strong ethics make him a very trustworthy agent. Relax, replay. Outside of work, Bobby loves to spend time with his wife, Pooja and two little boys, Suhaan and Riaan besides playing cricket and tennis.
Microsoft continues to accelerate cloud momentum with appointment of new General Manager of Enterprise & Partner Group for Asia-Pacific
Industry veteran Ricky Kapur, former Managing Director of Google’s Cloud Platform in APAC, joins Microsoft at a time of unprecedented transformation and cloud growth. Microsoft announced the appointment of Ricky Kapur as the new General Manager for its Enterprise & Partner Group in Asia-Pacific, effective January 1, 2016. He joins Microsoft from Google, where he was Managing Director for their Cloud Platform business in Asia-Pacific and, prior to that, led its Google For Work organization. At Google he was responsible for sales, operations and partnership development across one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. At Microsoft, Kapur will succeed previous incumbent Alberto Granados who, after 2.5 years in-role, has been promoted to become Vice-President of Microsoft’s Enterprise & Partner Group for Asia. An IT industry veteran of over 20 years, Kapur has a long and distinguished leadership career in APAC, including serving as Vice President for Oracle’s Technology Business for ASEAN, as well as leadership roles at Siebel and business analytics provider, SAS. Kapur joins Microsoft during a period of significant transformation for both the company and the technology industry. Sparked by the appointment of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. The company will achieve this by focusing on three long-term, bold ambitions: creating more personal computing experiences, reinventing productivity and business processes, and building the intelligent cloud platform. “I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to lead Microsoft’s enterprise team in Asia-Pacific, especially during this exciting and transformative time for the company. My passion lies in helping large businesses recognize the potential of new technologies to drive innovation in their respective industries, and ultimately spearhead creative solutions for their customers,” Kapur said. “With a rich portfolio of technologies across devices, applications, platforms and a deep understanding of how to serve the enterprise, Microsoft is one of the few technology companies who can integrate this value for the enterprise. Microsoft is working with partners to help leading enterprises with their digital transformation in Asia Pacific Since the appointment of Nadella as CEO in February 2014, Microsoft has accelerated its commitment to bringing cloud platform innovation on a global scale to its enterprise customers. For example, in its most recent earnings report, to end September 2015, it reported: The Microsoft commercial cloud business was now worth over $8.2bn a year It is growing almost 70% year-on-year. The company is on track to achieve its goal of a $20bn commercial cloud business by FY18. It now has 20 data-center regions, more than any other global cloud provider. Such significant investment, momentum and growth clearly attracts talent. Kapur is just the latest in a series of high-profile, senior-level defections from other local IT companies, who have chosen to join Microsoft in recent months: In January, HP’s Managing Director for Malaysia, Thiyagu Letchumanan left to head up Microsoft’s Enterprise sales team in Malaysia. In April, K Raman, Oracle Corporation’s Regional Managing Director for ASEAN and South Asia Growth Economies also joined Microsoft Malaysia as its new Managing Director. In July, Dell’s Vice-President of Asia-Pacific & Japan, Barrie Sheers joined Microsoft New Zealand as Managing Director. In October, Area Vice-President of Salesforce.com, Simon Davies, left the company to join Microsoft as Vice-President of its Business Solutions division. Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific President, Cesar Cernuda commented: “There is significant change happening at Microsoft right now and that is a big draw for talent across many disciplines. We are thrilled to have Ricky join us to lead our Enterprise team in APAC. He brings with him extensive proven business and leadership skills, plus local cloud market knowledge, insights and the expertise needed to lead our team of highly-committed local professionals, dedicated to helping our customers succeed in a mobile-first, cloud-first world” By Microsoft APAC News Center
Australia will spend $1.1bn on ‘big ideas’ dream
Australia plans to spend A$1.1bn (£530m) to unleash an “ideas boom”, which the government hopes will steer the economy away from its dependence on mining and towards entrepreneurial businesses. A new entrepreneur visa will be introduced and tax breaks offered to start-ups to create a “dynamic, 21st century economy” underpinned by creativity, said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The initiative, known as the National Innovation and Science Agenda, will introduce new tax breaks for early-stage investors in start-ups, giving them a 20pc non-refundable tax offset based on the size of their investment, as well as an exemption from capital gains tax. Mining accounts for almost 10pc of the Australian economy and the country is highly dependent on the sale of iron ore and coal to China, its largest trading partner. Under the changes, investors will receive a 20% nonrefundable tax rebate up to the value of $200,000 per investor per year, and a 10-year capital gains tax exemption. Venture capital investors will receive a 10% tax offset to expand startups in their early stages. The tax incentives will cost $106m over the forward estimates. The scope of which businesses will be eligible for the tax breaks is still to be determined, with Turnbull saying the government is engaging in a consultation period before the changes come into play in July next year. The secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Dave Oliver, said he was worried investors might “rort” the new system and leave workers and creditors “out of pocket”. Startups will be able to apply faster depreciation on their intangible assets, such as patents, in order to bring them in line with other assets, allowing business owners to make larger tax deductions over shorter periods of time. This measure will cost $80m over four years. Government as an exemplar Many programs in the package look at what the federal government can do to lead the way on innovation. The government will set up a new independent statutory body responsible for driving long-term policy on science and innovation, at a cost of $8m. A new committee of cabinet, to be chaired by the prime minister, will also be formed. A digital marketplace to help small and medium-sized enterprises to business with the federal government will be created. That initiative will cost $15m over four years. Turnbull has reversed a decision made by his predecessor, Tony Abbott, to scrap data research body, Data61. The body is the result of a merger between National ICT Australia (Nicta) and the CSIRO’s digital research unit. Funding for Data61 was due to run out in July next year. It will now be funded until 2019, at a cost of $75m all up. Turnbull also announced the government will change bankruptcy laws in order to minimise the risk associated with launching startups. The government will introduce “safe harbours” for company directors to protect against personal liability for insolvent trading, as long as they appoint an adviser to try and spare the company financial difficulty. The default bankruptcy period will also be decreased from three years to 12 months. “Changes to insolvency laws will help foster a culture of appropriate risk-taking,” a statement by the Business Council of Australia said. “Safe harbour provisions and reducing the bankruptcy period from three years to one strike a balance between protecting investors and creditors, while also promoting a more innovative business culture.” The government will spend $10m over four years in establishing a Biomedical Translation Fund with the private sector for commercialising medical research, and a further $15m for a new innovation fund within the government’s peak scientific research body, the CSIRO. The fund would help companies develop technology created by the CSIRO. Another $20m will go to the CSIRO to help expand its accelerator program, but the overall funding injection of $90m falls well short of the $115m that was taken out of the organisation when the Coalition came to power in 2013.
A premium publication from IEC featuring Hottest Homes
Hot Homes presents a range of unique 50 Hot Homes in Australia. Some of these homes built over the last 5 decades offer a wide variety of style, design and investment choices our members and associates have chosen. The publication offers an exclusive insight into some of these homes around Australia. From designs, to interiors, IEC takes our readers through a journey into various architectural and interior designs. From furniture ideas, bedding, backyards and window furnishing, Hot Homes will present dreams of Fifty Families. Advertising in Hot Homes Hot Homes is about what makes a home hot and stand out– The magazine features readers’ and IEC members’ homes, gardens, shopping, DIY projects, kitchen and more. It gives advertisers a unique and exclusive opportunity to target home makers and investors. From your everyday consumer to builders, from real estate agents to mortgage brokers, this platform captures an interesting mix of readers and their imagination. Circulation & Distribution IEC’s annual publication Hot Homes will be circulated at all IEC events in 2016 including the annual Spice Out Awards and IEC Awards. IEC has over 250 members and its events draw an audience of over 4 00 businesses. Apart from IEC events, Hot Homes will be circulated through select real estate associates and partners. IEC events throughout the year Top Indian restaurants across Melbourne 50 Exclusive retail outlets PRINT RUN: 8000 copies Contact Indian Executive Club +613 8742 2012 email@example.com Natasha Vice Chairperson firstname.lastname@example.org +61 451159649
TALES OF EXCELLENCE AND HARDWORK
Smart Business Telecom founder Sachin Rathi says winning this year’s prestigious Indian Executive Club (IEC) Award for Best Medium Business has motivated him to work even harder for success.“Absolutely it’s a good feeling but… you’ve just achieved one position, or one success – there’s many more to come,” said Rathi, who’s grown Smart Business Telecom to a turnover in the tens-of-millions. “The whole thing motivates you to plan for a better and more successful future.” What does the future now hold for Rathi? He sees potential mergers or acquisitions ahead. “There’s a lot of consolidation happening in our sector – that’s one of the smart ways to extract the value from the assets you’ve built,” Rathi told the Indian Sun. “I’m sure they’ll be someone knocking on our door.” The IEC Awards are Australia’s first event to recognise the achievements of small to medium-sized businesses and executives from the fast growing Indian Diaspora. Since launching in 2011, they’ve shone the spotlight on rising stars and revealed the depth of talent in this emerging community. Sharing the winner’s spotlight with Rathi at the milestone fifth Awards ceremony at Peninsula in Docklands on November 21, was Travel & Taste founder Rohit Gupta, who won Best Micro Business, and Kidman Partners’ Manish Sundarjee, who took home Best Small Business. In the executive awards platform, Sutapa Roychaudhary won Young Female Executive of the Year and Brijesh Purohit Young Male Executive of the Year, while Kam Phulwani claimed the prize for Executive Male of the Year and Sonia Cheema, Executive Female of the Year. Before the winners were revealed, an icon of Australia’s migrant community and corporate superstar Ahmed Fahour delivered the keynote address. Fahour revealed the values and events that powered his journey to become Australia Post’s Group CEO and Managing Director. For Rathi, the key takeaway was that Diaspora businesses need to knuckle down and plan in order to adapt and thrive in Australia’s rapidly changing market.“Certainly the market is shifting,” said Rathi. “You just cannot hold onto the success [you have] and think that’s it, you’ve done enough and you don’t have to plan further.” “You’ve got to always be on your toes and always be planning to face challenges and overcome those challenges,” he said.But it wasn’t just about the bottom line, Rathi said: “There were so many things to takeaway; it’s not just money that plays a role, it’s being humble and having that care factor for your people, for customers and for society.”
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.