Building ties in 2012 / Starting small, growing tall


INTRO: Banker Vinay Sharma takes over as Indian Executive Club chairman. Kanishko Das asks him what’s first on his agenda

The Indian Executive Club (IEC) first came into existence to offer a platform to entrepreneurs of South Asian Origin a platform to promote their business. The club has now grown in numbers, where a full-time focus is required to meet the needs of the clubs participants. Recently, the principals of the IEC made three key appointments to further enhance the functioning of the IEC. Mr Vinay Sharma has been appointed the Chairman, Mr Abhishek Vivian Prasad as Vice Chairman and Mrs Malvika Mehta as Chairman – Business Development.  Indus Age caught up with Vinay to further understand the IEC and what it would bring in 2012.

The IEC is a private enterprise set up with the primary objective of promoting small businesses and small to medium business enterprises in the community. You have recently been appointed as Chairman of the IEC. To start with, what are some of the key objectives of IEC in 2012?
First things first, I am humbled with this appointment. I am also delighted to be working with Abhishek Vivian Prasad and Malvika Mehta to deliver key outcomes to the IEC. Both of them are very accomplished and known for their business expertise and community services. The first step we took was to evaluate the key objective of the IEC. After several discussions and consultations in the IEC we finally agreed upon our key focus and objectives. In 2012, we want to be able to provide IEC members with opportunities in areas like education and training, involvement in business dialogue to allow for the fulfillment of opportunities within Australia and South East Asia, networking, career progression for Individuals and young executives and of course recognition and awards.

Small businesses often come across hurdles and teething issues to start up with and business owners facing a new and different work culture environment often lose motivation. How do you plan to keep them up, motivated and on their feet?
We are planning to have sessions with owners of small businesses facilitated by qualified practitioners to get an exact understanding of the teething issues and work culture challenges. We are also planning to host value added networking functions where we will be able to deliver quality information and interactions that assist small business owners. In our networking functions we will try to partner with government enterprises and other business organisations and their members. This will give an opportunity to the participants to interact with experienced business people. We do appreciate time is very precious for a majority of the small and small to medium business owners and sometimes attending functions in Melbourne CBD locations become difficult. So we will also be holding networking functions in the main business centres in Victoria. At this stage we have planned to hold a minimum of four networking functions in 2012. Our IEC’s signature event will be the Business and Community Awards night in November 2012. We are in the midst of finalising venues, speakers and partnering opportunities with other organisations and once completed we release the full details. Finally, IEC business magazine will also continue to be a valuable resource for the small business and small to medium enterprise businesses.

What can we look forward to at the second Annual Business and Community Awards Night by IEC?
It is extremely important that the people of the community are recognised. These people often are putting in long hours, most of them voluntary. It is due to these people that society is enriched with the knowledge about our community, the issues the community faces and the opportunities the community provides.  These awards provide motivation for others in the community to follow the steps of the fellow community folk.

The second awards night will be held in November 2012.  For the 2012 awards we will be appointing an Awards Council — members of which will be announced next month — which will be responsible for selecting the awardees.

You have a strong banking background having worked with two of the big banks. You would possess the ideal skill set for the new post, don’t you think?
I had a business banking career of 17 years where my key responsibilities were managing portfolio of clients in small business and small to medium business enterprise segments across a wide range of industries. I commenced my career in 1994 when Australia was just coming out of recession and also had the opportunity to assist businesses during the global financial crisis. I believe this has equipped me with a wide range of skill sets to bring to the IEC.

Also, how has serving the Australia India Chamber of Commerce (AICC) and Australia India Business Council (AIBC) helped?
Just like we did at AICC and AIBC, as the IEC’s focus is at the small and small to medium business enterprise we will be first approaching those who are already exporting to Indian and South Asian markets to present their experiences so it can inspire more enterprises in Australia to look into opportunities of doing business in India and South Asia. We will also be looking at opportunities to build relationships with organisations in India and South Asia who cater to similar enterprises here to create opportunities for business dialogues between these organisations and the IEC.

Being a community man, how important is giving back to the community, to you?
Community services has been part of my life.  I remember since my high school days I used to be often reminded by my parents that every human being is part of a community and whatever one achieves in this world is due to help and sacrifice from some person in the community. Therefore for me giving back to the community is not an option or a choice but a part of my duty.