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KPMG’s IBP forum for businesses and professionals

At KPMG’s recent business forum, industry leaders spoke of their own motivations

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A recent networking dinner organised by KPMG Australia’s India Business Practice (IBP) for the Indian diaspora businesses and professionals encouraged robust discussion about the role of the Indian diaspora globally.

It was held on the sidelines of the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup.

Some 100 invited guests heard on this occasion from a panel of international Indian diaspora leaders, entrepreneurs and sports guru on how migrant Indians can – and should – get more involved in local business and politics.

And certainly the panel which consisted of Indra Nooyi (former Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo, and Member of the Board, Amazon), Mr Rangaswami (Founder of Indiaspora), Jennifer Westacott (Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia) and Vab Goel (Founding Partner of NTTVC) had plenty of stories to share.

The KPMG Indian Business Practice (IBP), headed by Jai Patel, has been operating for 15 years and acts as a single national point for all business matters Indian Australian. In his opening remarks, Jai spoke about the ‘duality’ of those present and how that can be harnessed for positive change and progress as the diaspora grows. He further spoke about how KPMG as an organisation has enjoyed the celebration of Diwali over the past few weeks. But on a bilateral level, Jai emphasised the scale of opportunity that has now sprung up, and how the relationship can be built on shared values.

Head of India Business Practice at KPMG Australia Jai Patel addressing the gathering. Source: KPMG

Mr Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora spoke on the manner in which the Indian diaspora is emerging as a major force in the United States. Acknowledging the corporate leaders of Indian origin in the US, he emphasised that to be a diaspora of influence, the migrant community needs to be involved in politics.

“We had set ourselves a target of seeing Indian Americans as 1% of the US Congress,” he recounted. “We achieved it in three cycles.”

He urged all to pressure the Australian government to make Diwali a national celebration, “…so much so that the Australian Prime Minister celebrates it in his own home.”

While working towards this, he advised, be involved also in philanthropic activities.

Indra Nooyi spoke about her experiences as a corporate leader. Acknowledging that we will always be hyphenated citizens, she urged the local Indian diaspora to seize the opportunities presented to them. She raised the point that Indians are adept at interacting with diverse community groups having grown up in a diverse culture themselves. This experience comes in handy when they are at CEO levels, of large multinationals.

“In Australia, Indians have not reached the top levels as many have done in the United States,” she said. “For this, it is important to be viewed as part of the mainstream.”

She recalled how leaders of both the United States and India, referred to her as “one of our own”.

It was interesting to note that both Rangaswami and Nooyi, while urging their listeners on towards greater achievement in their adopted land, advocated different paths – by emphasising their heritage in one case, and by assimilating better in the other case.

No doubt there is value in both for the diaspora to leverage itself in their new countries.

A pleasant surprise

A special drop-in guest was cricket great and sports commentator Sunil Gavaskar, who spoke with passion about his time as a cricketer, his commentary days and his work for charity Heart2Heart foundation.

Commentator and former Indian Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar at the event. Source: KPMG

“My third innings is for my charity Heart 2 Heart, which works to saving the lives of children born with congenital heart defects by providing free paediatric cardiac surgery to the family,” he said.

“The relief on the faces of the families when the children come through is something which keeps me going,” he added.

Gavaskar also recalled his days as an opening batsman for India and facing the West Indies’ fearsome pace attack of Garner, Andy Roberts etc with just a basic helmet and makeshift padding from hotel mattresses. He did recount his many fond memories from his days on the grounds, but said his favourite would have to be the 102 vs the West Indies in Port of Spain in 1976 as India chased 402 to win this historic Test.

KPMG’s IBP forum was inspiring for Indian Australians to hear from high-achieving global leaders, and to plan their own corporate ambitions.

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Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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