Adapting to Succeed: Webinar 1 Overview

EastWest Advisers (EWA) held the first of its webinars in the series Adapting to Succeed on 9 September.  The four speakers discussed the theme of the webinar – how to thrive in uncertain times. 

The webinar was introduced by Raju Narayanan, Director of EWA.  He commented that “we are living in unprecedented and extraordinary times. Over the past century we have seen a consistent rise in human activity with industrialisation, innovation, globalisation and increasing consumer demand.  

The COVID 19 pandemic, over the past months has put a huge pause on this normal life. It has not only forced us to think but also given us a new opportunity to reimagine and shape a post COVID world, one that is responsible, profitable and sustainable.”  

Michael Moignard, Director of EWA, spoke about the transition period we are currently in and suggested some of the questions we face as we consider the move from where we were to where we will be. 

“The winds of change are blowing strongly at present – all over the world, and no less in the India – Australia space than anywhere else. We send our support to the people of India in the current Pandemic climate, where infections and deaths continue to rise. We know that there will be a reduction in cases, but as we have seen in Australia in recent weeks, this virus is very infectious. Vigilance is required to keep it at bay. 

However, the changes we have seen are twofold – those that have seen an acceleration of changes already underway in society, and those which were not foreseen. 

Working from home has been accelerated – perhaps by years – from expectations six months ago. 

The digital economy now accounts for 58 % of retail sales, and online services, such as this webinar, have become the new normal – with attendant benefits and risks. The resilience of companies which have had to make over their business models in manner of months has been remarkable.  

More difficult to sustain have been disruptions to supply chains worldwide, which have not been helped by travel restrictions and geo-political issues. These may be here for some time. 

Finally, customers are changing their habits and their needs, and in some cases have disappeared.”  

Clim Pacheco, adviser to EWA, discussed the disruption we are witnessing in the light of political and social changes.  

“We first have to realise the magnitude of the change before we can effectively deal with it. 

The hard questions and global challenges that COVID 19 poses, provides us all a unique opportunity to study, reflect and reposition ourselves for a braver and better world, in which we reconsider where we would like to be as individuals, corporations and countries. We need to be pioneering leaders in order to regain a sense of purpose, direction and caring that will provide hope and sustainability for the current and future generations on our planet.”  

R K Bajaj, ex-Indian Revenue Service, and now Adviser, EWA, amplified the opportunity that a strong and resilient India offers, which, under a visionary leadership driving Big Bang reforms, has significantly improved the ease of doing business in India. 

Besides traditional areas of interest, today India offers big new opportunities for digital services for education, healthcare and sports in rural areas, home to about 1 billion people. 

Post Coivd-19, India has emerged as an attractive destination of choice for manufacturing, under Make in India, Make for World. India is looking at PPP models in core and investment centric sectors like Railways, and Defence. 

Steve Manallack, emeritus Founding Director, made three points about the future relationship between India and Australia. First the understanding of the cultural differences between India and Australia is all important. India’s culture of building relationships to gain trust is often at odds with the West’s rule-based systems of business. Both Indian and Australian businesses will benefit from a better understanding of their respective business cultures 

Second, Steve focused on the potential changes to supply chain opportunities through the recent Australia – India – Japan cooperation discussions According to the Business Standard of 21 August 2020  

‘The new proposal will seek to lean on such bilateral agreements between countries and put in place further measures for trade facilitation and attracting foreign direct investment in the Indo-Pacific region…. Nations from Southeast Asia would also be invited to participate.’ 

Finally, Steve noted that COVID 19 is likely to accelerate the development of Industry 4.0, with the digital economy dominating our future business relationships. Go to India to seek innovation and grow collaboration. 

The ensuing Question and Answer session was moderated by Rajini Vasan, an Adviser to EWA. The questions and the opinions offered by the participants ranged from supply chain disruptions, industry sectors where new opportunities will exist (agribusiness, defence, sports) to the role of Government in building sustainable business opportunities. 

We thank those who participated in this webinar. We look forward to welcoming you back with our next webinar in the series – The Changing Global Rules of Trade – on 29 September. Register here. 

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