Sreeni Pillamarri on the business philosophy he inherited from his father
From apprehension at the thought of settling in a new country to elation at the plethora of opportunity it had to offer, it has been an eventful two decades for Sreeni Pillamarri.
Sreeni migrated to Australia in 1998, following his family and brother who migrated in seven years before him. “Initially, I was not keen to migrate. I was happy back in India. But once I came here, I saw the opportunities in this beautiful land. And I knew I wanted to stay,” he says.
So, Sreeni finished his Master of Information Systems in Australia. In his early days, he was on a student visa, but then accepted his first job at Unisys, which allowed him to get permanent residency. “Two years later I became an Australian citizen because I knew this was where I wanted to be,” he says.
For four years Sreeni was the CEO of an Indian tech and media company, which involved a lot of travel between India and Australia. After helming senior and leadership roles in Australia and India, he decided to hone his entrepreneurial skills further and founded SoftLabs in 2012, a digital technology consulting company.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, as I saw my father run a similar business,” says Sreeni, who works with businesses across retail, health, telecom and government. “A small business generates employment and supports the local community,” he says.
“The Australian market encourages small businesses and SoftLabs is fortunate to be one of them. It has come a long way and continues to see a sustainable growth,” he says.
In 2012, when Sreeni started SoftLabs, he also launched himself into active community work.
He has been an active community volunteer since his Uni days in Sydney. It’s a quality he imbibed early in childhood watching his father, grandparents and uncles doing the same back home in Hyderabad, India.
“I joined the Sydney Telugu Association as a member and worked with them on their community activities. I eventually became treasurer of the organisation.” Most recently, after serving as Secretary UIA, he was elected to lead the United Indian Associations Inc (UIA) as the President.
Sreeni serves in different roles as a community representative in organisations like the West Pennant Hills Cricket Club, Alive 905 FM, Sydney Telugu Association and United Indian Associations.
In his two-year term as UIA President, his leadership has brought good governance, and awareness of multicultural activities, besides more social activities inviting active community representation at a large level, in terms of community engagement; migration support; government representation; seniors support; women empowerment and youth support. Under his leadership there are various organisations that have been supported like SES, Parramatta Mission, Cancer Council, Guide a Dog, and Aussie Farmers.
Sreeni’s initiatives have been inclusive to all ethnicities in Australia like the Australia-India Friendship Fair being renamed Mateship Fair, and extending relations with other communities like the Lebanese, Mexicans, Koreans, Nepalese, Chinese, Afghanis, Sri Lankans, Brazilian, and the Jewish.
“Being president of UIA is just a title. There are far more important things to do for the community, and I am fortunate to be given this opportunity. I feel proud to play a role in fostering diversity and representation in multicultural Australia.”
Sreeni’s initiative for ‘Walk for Farmers’ from Sydney to Canberra to aid local Aussie farmers facing drought was widely appreciated by local communities and reported by mainstream and regional media. The ‘Walk’ spread awareness about challenges faced by locals and farmers and put a spotlight on city folks to do their bit for them. The funds raised were donated to Aussie Farmers Ltd, to help drought-affected farmers.
Sreeni was a Citizen of the Year Finalist for Australia Day, in the City of Parramatta for his contribution in 2018-2019.
“We were a big family, and my father always told me to ‘pay it forward’ which is if someone helps you, you keep the chain going by helping others. Today, if my kids have good education and life, they should give the same foundation to their kids. It’s all about getting an opportunity, the interest to invest or grow wealth follows,” he says.