Of Indian descent and Australian ascent


The sixth IEC awards ceremony celebrates the burgeoning businesses and the people behind them

The mood was celebratory and the air filled with anticipation. The clicking of champagne glasses, toasts and cheers set the mood for the evening of 19 November as the sixth IEC award ceremony was to commence and there was so much to look forward to. The Who’s Who of the business world in the Indian Australian community from across the country brushed shoulders with each other.The emcee for the evening was Nesan Naidoo who carried the evening through with a charm and effervescence that was fresh and appealing.

The ceremony was sombre yet festive as the winners in the various categories were announced. Each finalist was chosen after careful screening of the quality of their work and their contributions not just to the business community but the society in general. The panel independently interviewed the finaliststo feel the pulse before picking the ‘cream of the crop’. Dr Angraj Pal Khillan, a pioneering healthcare leader, won the Male Business Executive of the Year award, and Lata Sharma, one of the founder directors of Golden Warp Pty Ltd, won the Female Business Executive of the Year Award.

The young male executive award was taken home by sports enthusiast Sudip Chakraborty and the young female executive award by gutsy journalist Delnaaz Irani. The three businesses that scored the highest points in their respective categories are Gaurav and Diksha Khanna’s Branded Chocolates and Confectionary in the Micro Business category, Kamlesh Phulwani’s Medicianz Healthcare Pty Ltd in the Medium Business category and Suresh Padmanabhan’s REACH for Training in the Small Business category. All the finalists were equally worthy of the award and the judges said that picking the winner was a herculean task.

This year the IEC supported the Monash Children’s Hospital Foundation as its charity partner and a raffle was held to raise more funds for the cause. Several sporting organizations and other philanthropists sponsored the prizes for the raffle. The audience actively participated in the purchase of the tickets and a considerable amount was raised.  In a thank you letter sent to Vinay Sharma, chairman of IEC, Jenene Brown, the campaign manager of the Monash Children’s Hospital says, “Monash Children’s Hospital is nearing completion and it is with wonderful support as the raffle conducted by IEC that this hospital is truly the heart of our community.” She also thanked Nesan Naidoo for promoting the hospital “with great diplomacy and enthusiasm”.

While the evening was all about the finalists and ultimately the proud winners, two people in particular had the audience captivated. One of them was the keynote speaker, Sadhana Smiles, the Chief Executive Officer of Harcourts Group Victoria, the state division of one of Australia’s leading, well respected and fastest growing real estate brands and the other was business leader and philanthropist Andrew Muir, who also released the 2016’s Who’s Who magazine.

Andrew Muir, Chairman of Good Guys, Australia’s largest and privately owned independent retailer told the audience the remarkable story of his growth as a businessman and about occasions he broke the traditional norms and took steps that were at the time mocked by the industry leaders. One of them was the introduction of his catchy slogan “Pay Less Pay Cash”. But the bold decisions he made paid him rich dividends and he paved his own path to success.

Sadhana Smiles’ speech was inspirational and touched upon several issues that have dogged the lives of working women across the globe for many generations. And things are often tougher for Indian women as they “have a double-glazed glass ceiling to break through, one within our own cultures and communities and the other in corporate Australia”.

Speaking about inequity in pay scales she said, “In India the pay gap stands at 27% and the reasons for the disparity is identical to Australia.” She emphasised the importance of “embracing diversity” for collective growth and for the injection of new business ideas.

“Cultural diversity is one of the biggest challenges leaders face today,” she said.Today as an Indian Australian business leader, Sadhana can “champion issues, influence change and lead discussions”. “I stand here before you the best blend of my Indian heritage and my Australian home. This best blend enables me to do business not just in Australia but globally. We do not have to give up all of ourselves to be accepted, we do however have to take on some of the country we choose to live in be accepted,” Sadhana proudly remarked.

For IEC Awards 2016 winners photos, click here.

For IEC Awards 2016 photo album 1, click here.

For IEC Awards 2016 photo album 2, click here.


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