Stepping into five

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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.”