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Media Release

Australia India Business Council Women in Business Victoria spotlights COVID-19 bilateral opportunities and challenges during high profile webinar

5 November 2020                                                   

The Victoria Women in Business Chapter (WIB) Chapter of Australia India Business Council (AIBC), the peak body for promoting and enhancing bilateral business and trade between the two countries, recently hosted a webinar on ‘Australia-India Relationship – Women in Business Opportunities & Challenges during COVID-19’. The webinar, hosted with the support of Event Partner Deloitte, was live streamed on social media and attracted hundreds of attendees from both countries to hear from high-profile event speakers including Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC who, in her opening address, reiterated the Victorian Government’s support for Women in Business, highlighted bilateral Victoria-India opportunities during COVID-19 and launched the AIBC WIB Victoria Chapter, which had been dormant for a few years.

Panel members shared their resilience strategies and how they continue to contribute to the Australia India bilateral initiatives in their respective business world and areas of work.

Ms Sheba Nandkeolyar, National Chair of AIBC WIB; AIBC Immediate Past National Chair; CEO of MultiConnexions Group, and moderator of the event said: “Australia India Business Council Women in Business Chapter was launched with a 50-50 vision of empowering women to either lead or own a bilateral business. Australia’s India Economic Strategy to 2035 report highlighted several sectors of opportunity where, I believe, women can set up businesses and lead the bilateral relationship to greater heights. I am pleased to see AIBC WIB VIC spotlighting the tremendous opportunities available to women post-COVID, and am grateful to Her Excellency Governor General of Victoria Hon. Linda Dessau AC for lending her input and support to launch the AIBC WIB VIC Chapter, along with our other esteemed speakers.”

Ms Reet Phulwani, who was recently appointed as the, delivered a Vote of Thanks to the Governor of Victoria and stated:  “As the first Female Governor in the state of Victoria Women in Business Chair Victoria Chapter and Director of Medsurge Pharmaceuticals and a role model for women’s political representation, resilience and achievement we are deeply honoured that you are here to help launch the Australia India Business council Women in Business Victoria Chapter “. Reet also shared the vision statement for WIB Victoria Chapter – “We support, promote, empower, and recognize the businesswomen and strive to provide opportunities for women to connect with and support each other. We deliver programs that contribute to the personal and professional development of our members, meeting their needs at the right time in the right way. The chapter will provide opportunities to make professional connections that are needed to take the India-Australia Bi-Lateral business to the next level “

Sheba Nandkeolyar, introduced the panel discussion by stating “COVID has had a profound impact on our lives and our business plans. It has also thrown up business opportunities simultaneously. The challenges faced by women are innumerable, because of the multiplicity of roles whether be it as a homemaker, as a child carer, as the business leader or as a professional in your company.”

The Hon.  Jaala Pulford, Minister for Employment; Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and Digital Economy; and Minister for Small Business stated , opened the panel discussion and stated “We have so much to learn from one another and so much to be gained in the best possible working relationship between our business community here in Australia and our business community throughout India.”

Ms Jahnabi Phookan – National President of FLO, Women’s Wing of FICCI; Director, JTI Group stated “We at FLO have started working on the three-pronged initiative which we call the FLO 3C’s: Competency, Capacity and Confidence building with women at the three levels to Skill, Upskill and Re-skill. My mission this year was to work towards sustainable practices and sustainable livelihood for women’s economic upliftment.”

Ms Kaushaliya Vaghela MP – Member of Legislative Council for Western Metropolitan Region and the first Indian-born member of Victorian Parliament also attended and stated, “I’m really looking forward to a stronger relationship between Victoria and India. I hope that AIBC is able to harness the potential of the entrepreneurial women and the work they do”

Ms Michelle Wade – Australian Commissioner to South Asia stated, “Congratulations to the AIBC for the Women in Business Chapter….The industries we are seeing grow are Health and Wellness, Ed Tech and Online Gaming, and we’ve got some exciting companies both small and large looking at investing in Victoria.”

Ms Reet Phulwani – Chair, Australia India Business Council Women in Business Victoria Chapter; Director of Medsurge Pharmaceuticals, presented Medsurge bi-lateral trade story and stated  “I believe the greatest opportunities often arise at the toughest times. Since the start of Covid 19 there were unprecedented pressures on the pharmaceutical industry with supply shortages of key medicines, placing the health of vulnerable people at increased risk. As part of that solution Medsurge has decided to establish a Manufacturing and Research and Development facility in Australia, very soon. The proposed facility will stimulate jobs, investment and innovation and meet the health needs of patients that require specific and time critical medications. It will also link our Australian and Indian research institutions together to collaboratively work on leading edge scientific research and support the continued growth and development of both economies. Our project will reflect cooperation on science technology research between the two nations and this will increase the bilateral trade between Victoria and India. I firmly believe that we women we can take on anything and we are masters in creating opportunities in these challenging times.”

Ms Meghan Speers – Partner Financial Services, Deloitte stated, “It is important that Australia is ready for recovery and it is important that organizations are ready too.  It was about surviving COVID-19,  but now it is how do we as a business community thrive, and how do we now as an Australian community really start to rebuild.”

Dr Ritu Anand – Chief Leadership & Diversity Officer, Tata Consultancy Services stated, “STEM is the way forward. Girls, any field in STEM is the way forward. Parents, this is the time for us to invest because digital grows from STEM.”

Ms Sadhana Smiles – Chief Executive Officer, Real Estate Industry Partners (REIP); and Director, Harcourts Move, spoke about “Like many other industries we as leaders were challenged. Leadership styles had to change we had to learn to connect differently with our teams. As a result there has been a new currency of leadership emerge and mostly that is around kindness empathy and leading from the heart as leaders.”

Ms Mira D’Silva – Co-Founder, Delivery Centric spoke about “We changed our business model from having an ‘analysis and execution’ approach into having a discovery and driven approach by continuous and controlled experimentation and learning.”

Ms Ravneet Pawha – AIBC Victoria President, Deputy Vice President – Global CEO – South Asia, Deakin University delivered a Vote of Thanks and concluded the webinar by stating “Women have a sense of balance… a sense of compassion and .. a sense of resilience and we all here represent that extremely well in our work lives, in our personal lives and in our social lives.”

The Victorian Management Committee was instrumental in the successful delivery of the webinar which launched the Women in Business Chapter in Victoria.



Reet Phulwani, AIBC Women in Business Chair, Victoria Chapter – E:; M: +61 401 185 212


Sheba Nandkeolyar, AIBC Women in Business Chair – E:; M: +61 421 555 228