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American Indian entrepreneur Jagjeet Singh Bindra speaks at YSPN event on what it takes to succeed in business
With an aim to be the pre-eminent vehicle for successful Sikhs to connect and learn from one another, and to profile their successes to the wider Australian community, the Young Sikh Professionals Network was founded in 2012 during the annual leadership camp of Sikh Youth of Australia.
A not-for-profit organisation, YSPN is dedicated to creating a unified community for young professional Sikhs by hosting networking events and guest speakers, and through a mentoring program.
At their recently held marquee event, an afternoon with Jagjeet Singh Bindra at the Hotel Pullman, Sydney, the turnout surpassed expectations. Keynote speaker Jagjeet Singh Bindra, former CEO of Caltex Australia and retired President of Chevron Global Manufacturing, held the room’s attention as he spoke on the role of energy corporations in the prevailing social climate, followed by a Q and A session.
Bindra, known as ‘Jeet’, is recognised as an eminent figure in the energy and resources industry, serving on the board of directors of Edison International and its subsidiary, Southern California Edison Co., Larsen & Toubro, WorleyParsons and LyondellBasel Industries.
Bindra’s fluent thought process, coupled with his ability to deliver facts and figures, proved an eye opener to the current economic scenario, surrounding the race to stock up on crude oil barrels.
“I do believe that environmental concerns will drive increased investments in renewable energy, especially focussed on energy storage, efficiency improvements in photovoltaic space and clean coal technologies,” he said. “A discontinuation or even a technological breakthrough in any of these areas could have a revolutionary impact, just as the shale gas discoveries had on the North American energy equation. Nobody thought fifteen years ago that fracking technology would make shale gas abundantly available in the US.”
Bindra has decades of experience including in senior executive roles in refinery operations, refinery and upstream engineering, strategic planning, capital projects and engineering technology. He is considered to be a competent authority on topics in the refinery, manufacturing and management disciplines.
“It is expected that over 50 per cent of the small independent shale gas companies will file for bankruptcy in the next 24 months. The number already stands at 15 per cent or so,” Bindra opined.
“When I started work in the US, I was told because I looked different, sounded different and had a different name, I’d be lucky to retire in middle management. I decided to take this as a personal challenge – and that motivated me,” Bindra said.
The importance of humility was also discussed.
“Humility is a key factor for success. It teaches you to respect others no matter whatever their position it is,” Bindra said. “When a person accomplishes in their career and gains more wealth, they can still maintain a modest attitude and not over-rate themselves.”
Bindra’s experiences in the role of a leader, and the efforts he selflessly invested into empowering his employees was in itself a take away point. He spoke of many instances where he would spend time reaching out to employees, and the many hours he would walk around shop floors and offices meeting people and reinforcing their importance to the organisation. “As a leader it is very important to lead at all times,” Bindra said.
YSPN Sydney Events Lead, Sohail Bhatia, spoke of the journey and the accolades YSPN has earned its short existence.
“We are the first generation of Australian born and educated Sikhs. Our organisation is significantly influenced by this notion. What we do in our careers and in our lifetime will form a legacy and a basis for all Sikhs that follow us in this great land,” Bhatia said.
It was a thought provoking session, listening to one of the corporate world’s most successful Sikhs.
The YSPN team is comprised of actuaries, bankers, consultants, entrepreneurs and lawyers. Each member of the team has their own personal stories of the power of networking and they are committed to fostering a new level of connectivity amongst the young Sikhs of Australia.