2017 program - conference highlights
Meet the Class of 2017
Some of Asia-Pacific’s most successful women entrepreneurs of the year graced the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel, Mumbai for the EY 2017 Entrepreneurial Winning Women (EWW) Asia-Pacific conference. This year’s participants might come from different industries and countries, and speak different languages, but they all share the same passion for innovation, service, developing people and improving the quality of their lives, providing customers exceptional experiences, all the while being rooted in strong ethical values.
At the Meet the Class of 2017 session, these women entrepreneurs took a few minutes to introduce themselves and their companies. These short introductions were filled with interesting anecdotes, cheer, humor and insights. Speakers touched upon the love and passion they have for what they do, what continues to motivate them, the need to innovate constantly to stay relevant and the challenges they faced in their entrepreneurial journey.
The session gave everyone an opportunity to know the secrets behind the success of winning women, how they are making a difference and why they are perceived as the torchbearers of the future.
Global disruptors: downsides and upsides for your business
In this session, Amanda Ellis, Special Advisor for International Programs and Partnerships Office of the President East-West Center, shared how seismic shifts and global disruption has both downsides and upsides for women business owners and leaders.
Mitigating unprecedented global trends, such as large-scale involuntary migration and displaced people, terrorist attacks, data frauds, and extreme weather conditions have never been more important, and must be done alongside future proofing the business in the face of rapid technology advancements in artificial intelligence and automation.
Amanda challenged our Entrepreneurial Winning Women to start thinking about finding solutions to the global problems faced and harnessing the positive trends of disruption:
- Embracing the threat of mega-companies as new channels can help amplify your brand recognition, create community and accelerate access to new consumers via a shared economy.
- The need to invest in disrupting business from the inside out, not purely from the outside world in.
- Redefining and reshaping business models by forming partnerships and alliances that operate across a range of platforms will alleviate skill shortages and the costs of turnover, create crowdsourcing opportunities.
- The critical need to align corporate and digital strategies to go beyond traditional forms of business, truly connect the consumer to business and embrace new ways of working.
- The concept of a circular economy, where starting the product cycle with the end game in mind, creates sustainability and reinforces purpose.
- Data integrity and protection is key; blockchain technologies can reduce transaction costs while at the same time mitigate risks of cyber attacks and data loss.
Amanda Ellis, Special Advisor for International Programs and Partnerships, Office of the President East-West Center
Fireside chat with an exceptional entrepreneur: building a successful brand in India
What does it take for a woman entrepreneur to build a successful brand in India — especially in domains with a culture that has strongly favored men? In this fireside chat, Zia Mody, Founding Partner and current Managing Partner of AZB & Partners, discussed the lessons she learned while building a successful M&A firm in India with cross-border reach.
The following key points were covered:
- In a male-dominated world, it is important to gain the trust of the client and build a reputation based on delivering results. Making the client aware that you and your firm are aware of industry trends can help change biases.
- Learning is an ongoing process, especially if you have to deal with changing regulatory environments. International experiences can help you understand your global clients’ perspectives.
- Maintain as much of a work-life balance as you can. It is very difficult to achieve this. Understand what makes you happy, know what to do and also what not to.
- Delivering results for clients and a sense of belonging are more important for the workforce than money.
- Technology can be a competitive differentiator. However, businesses should also be thinking about the future by asking questions about disruptive technological trends to understand what the new differentiators could be and to stay relevant at all times.
Zia Mody, Founder and Managing Partner, AZB & Partners
Annette Kimmitt, EY Global Growth Markets Leader
Entrepreneurial talents and blind spots — Fingerprint for Success
In this session, Michelle Duval, Founder and CEO of Fingerprints for Success, shared how Fingerprint for Success’ methodology can assess the motivations and attitudes of entrepreneurs and business owners in order to help them realize their potential and ambitions. A comparison of personal preferences and attributes against more than 15 years of research from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs can paint a cohesive picture of talents and blind spots, and help navigate the different stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
Our Entrepreneurial Winning Women conducted a self-assessment, specifically in the context of their business, hence creating a unique “fingerprint.” Set against a dashboard of results, by reviewing the highest and lowest attitudes as well as blind spots, it helps them sharpen their focus on areas that can be amplified or dialed down to accelerate growth and business results.
Michelle Duval, Founder and CEO, Fingerprint for Success
Entrepreneurial talents and blind spots — Fingerprint for Success deep dive
Michelle Duval, Founder and CEO of Fingerprints for Success, delved deeper into our Entrepreneurial Winning Women’s personal preferences and attributes as benchmarked against some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. Key insights included:
- Considering upfront the strategic issues and challenges to be solved; and the strategic personal, professional and leadership goals and objectives to be achieved
- Whether in an early stage of developing your business or running a sustained thriving enterprise, recognizing that past, present and future play an important role
- Acknowledging that high-functioning aspects of business are working well, and avoid time and resources spent on innovating what is not broken
- Ensuring the team around you complement your strengths and counters your blind spots, so they thrive and collaborate, and you are well-positioned to change, pivot and redefine ways of working to maintain your focus on execution and impact
- Achieving investment can require patience and perseverance to nurture the right opportunities — different types and sizes of investment may require board representations, opportunity to find appreciation and comfort in taking in input from others
- Structuring investment to fit your business, suit your needs and on your terms — consider the level of control you want to maintain in the future and value the strategic input investors can bring
Jenny Paradiso, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Suntrix
Michelle Duval, Founder and CEO, Fingerprint for Success
Acquisitions to accelerate your international expansion and growth
Not all companies find groundbreaking success with organic growth alone. Partnerships, alliances and acquisitions are vital in creating a platform that enhances a company’s competitiveness, profitability and growth. In this session, panelists discuss how they prepared for and executed their acquisitions, the issues that they encountered, and perspectives on what contributes to a partnership or acquisition falling short of expectations.
Here are some of the insights that were offered during the discussion:
- Leveraging connections to raise capital and acquire businesses might be the quickest way to grow and expand. Dream big and do not hesitate to start fund-raising conversations.
- Get consultants to join you in M&A conversations, if needed. Consultants can also help with business lingo that some entrepreneurs might be new to.
- Know when to acquire and when to partner. Leverage technology and partner with other companies to introduce new services, cut down costs and work around regulatory challenges.
- Acquisition is expensive. Be aware of the costs involved in making an acquisition happen. Perform enough due diligence.
- It is important not to partner with companies that can damage your brand reputation and can’t keep commitments. Partners should have a shared vision. Spend enough time to get to know your partner; partnership is like marriage.
- You could find partners through your connections, websites or the social media. Be aware of how your business is presented.
- Nicola Mills, Founder and CEO, Pacific Retail Management
- Prita Kemal Gani, Founder and Director, LSPR Jakarta
Denise Brotherton, Tax Partner, Ernst & Young Services Pty Ltd., EY Australia
The art of innovation: winning in a digital economy
With the pace of change the world’s going through today, businesses and industries are forced to innovate and reinvent themselves. While this disruption can be challenging for established businesses, it also presents a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions. With time, however, these entrepreneurs too can find themselves disrupted.
Here is a selection of key insights from the discussion:
- Technology is changing the way we work, the way we live and the way we relate to each other. The complexity of technological change is massive, and companies running on technology-based platforms are expanding faster than their traditional counterparts. It is also helping entrepreneurs, especially women, build businesses.
- For an established business to innovate, sometimes, it might have to look at the business from the outside. These businesses might need teams tasked with both incremental innovation and fundamental transformation.
- Organizations that are disrupting are creating ecosystems within themselves and looking at themselves as the voice of the customer.
- To ensure there is a culture of innovation, we need talent that is diverse – not just by age and gender, but by mindset, skills and experience as well. It is also important to delegate the purpose on which it was originally founded.
- Richa Kar, Founder, Zivame
- Shinjini Kumar, CEO, Paytm Payments Bank
- Charulatha Ravi Kumar, CEO, SapientRazorfish India, Columnist
- Leena Walavalkar, Principal Innovation Evangelist, Tata Consultancy Services
Milan Sheth, Advisory Partner, Technology Sector Leader, Ernst & Young LLP (EY India)
Fireside chat with exceptional entrepreneurs: setting your course for global
Challenges in creating a global business are similar no matter when it happens. Expanding globally, where products didn't already exist, may require creating market awareness, developing demand for products and successfully accommodating the cultural nuances of doing businesses in new markets. Whether you choose to buy, build or partner in these new markets, tough financing decisions are required along the way to ensure business growth.
Here are some of the insights that were offered during the discussion:
- Look for platforms that can be scaled and employ a range of acquisition tactics alongside organic growth to create entry points to new markets and scale
- Have awareness of culture and history to enter new markets; gain insight to the dynamics and protocols in the national context, to help you find ways to navigate local systems and custom build solutions that creates brands that people depend on
- Establish a clear sense of your “right to win” in the new market and the value your business can add in that market; visit and meet with local entrepreneurs in your industry and others across business and government networks to establish reference points and a level of comfort in areas, such as trade agreements, and the geopolitical and regulatory landscape, and develop relationships and contacts who can act as a sounding board in the future
- Leverage investments to build the best team you can as soon as you are able to; build your team with the future in mind, so they are best positioned to support your expansion efforts; do the same for your processes and systems, so they are in place before seeking investment and scaling your business
- Help build a strong presence by embedding your existing team, best practice and ways of working; accept the mindset and work ethic of local teams; and employ a transition program that leaves the legacy of a thriving and collaborative local team that are best positioned to help you scale your business locally
- Tackle gender-based business challenges head on, and keep your focus and confidence in your vision of building a truly great businesses that can benefit and impact people
- Ensure there is alignment with your investors and partners in your approach to risk, ethics and ways of working; understand the importance of financial terms of engagement and their consequences before making agreements
- Build your own credibility and goodwill by doing business in an ethical, open and transparent manner when it comes to financing; keep the future vision of your business front of mind to help lead you through the investment process
- Draw confidence from the tough times, and push toward the challenge, not away; trust your instincts, leverage networks and allies, and view challenges and red flags as positives that can help you build and maintain your confidence and purpose, and ensure continued strong decision-making
- Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Founder and Chairperson, Women Political Leaders (WPL) Global Forum, Former Vice-President of the European Parliament
- Ameera Shah, Managing Director, Metropolis Healthcare, India
- Eleanor Lee, Partner, EY
Breakout session: Doing business in India
One of the fastest-growing economies, India has evolved into an attractive foreign direct investment destination. There are, however, challenges too. The country is so diverse with multiple cultures, religions, languages and even business practices that a single approach to the Indian market is rarely successful.
Panelists touched upon the legal, regulatory and financial environment in the country; impact of recent fiduciary changes; opportunities that would be of interest to foreign companies; and the strategies that would prove successful for entry into the Indian market.
Here are a few of the key points covered in the session:
- India has a fast-growing middle class that is set to double in number in about five years. This translates into a large consumer base for businesses coming to the country.
- The large English-speaking population makes doing business easier for entrepreneurs from overseas. The workforce is young, well-educated, highly skilled and English-speaking. Support from local talent might be required to help businesses and overseas talent navigate the complex cultural and regulatory landscape.
- The legal and regulatory landscape of the country is complex and diverse, and for entrepreneurs wanting to do business in India, this means more homework.
- The Government is taking steps to encourage women entrepreneurship, bring more foreign companies to set up shops in the country, increase transparency and reduce corruption. Government incentives have helped the country move up the ease-of-doing-business rankings.
- Alternative marketing and advertising channels are replacing traditional ones. Digitalization has also presented opportunities for companies to leverage web and mobile.
- Aashish Kasad, Tax Partner, Diversity and Inclusiveness Leader, Ernst & Young LLP (EY India)
- Vinita Bimbhat, Immediate Past National President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Ladies Organisation (FLO)
- Monaz Noble, Whole Time Director and Chief Financial Officer, Novartis India Limited
- Dr. Shubhada Rao, Senior President and Chief Economist, Yes Bank
- Kylie Bell, Oceania Leader India and ASEAN Business Group, EY
Breakout session: Power at your fingertips — data and advanced analytics
Set against the backdrop of widespread disruption in the market, making informed decisions on your customers, markets and products require data that you can turn into intelligence and value. Ensuring you have reliable and usable data is critical to improving competitiveness, increasing profits and revenues, reducing risk, and informing new opportunities.
Here are some of the insights that were offered during the workshop:
- Put simply, the opportunity is to create a robust digital presence, collect data, analyze the activity taking place, find relevance and separate insights from the noise, and make effective decisions.
- Text mining allows you to establish sentiment analysis; overlay this with artificial intelligence and cognitive machine learning to truly tailor and design predictive analytics that will arm all aspects of your business with actionable intelligence.
- Social media provides you opportunities to tie your customer to your brand, so they help co-create your brand and your products. You can also use it to monitor your suppliers and competitors.
- Social media can become an essential source of strategic information. Use data to validate assumptions; often perceptions can cloud the truth.
- Going social is critical to attracting and retaining high-quality staff. Millennials have expectations as to the digital strategies of businesses; if you don’t meet their standards in what they have used in their personal lives and experienced in prior roles, they may not want to work for you.
- On the basis of what your data says, accelerate your activity by connecting customer feedback to your end-user helpdesk to respond accordingly, for example, make your live chat utility readily available in hours where your consumers have time and space to interact with you.
- Starting with a clear definition of who you are targeting can help you understand what your customers are saying, how they behave, their decision drivers and buying habits.
- Customer segmentation helps you manage social investments, differentiate between buyers and non-buyers, know how much they are willing to pay, and match products according to their needs.
- Depending on your company vision, social media can help you look outward, as well as bring the outside in, and at the same time, help you strike a balance between online to offline business.
- Geo location intelligence is the latest trend — with geo-fencing using proximity to attract and retain customers, having the ability to optimize merchandising displays and how you allocate your sales force.
- Artificial intelligence and robotics are leveraged to automate low-value manual tasks which are highly repetitive and business rules-based; increasing accuracy, productivity consistency and reliability.
- Alla Semiletova, Associate Director, Advisory, EY Asia-Pacific
- Sunil Verma, Director, Performance Improvement, EY India
Scale-up – growth through leadership
In this moderated panel discussion, Entrepreneurial Winning Women alumnae shared stories about their paths to entrepreneurship. Senior women leaders from India were also present at the networking event that followed, providing the winning women an opportunity to engage with potential investors, suppliers, customers and Government as they seek to do business in India.
Here are some of the lessons that came out of this insightful discussion:
- Trust is key – with investors, customers and partners. Build trust with partners you want to do business with. Be aware and considerate of cultural differences. Show your customers the spirit of your business, not just the surface.
- Funding is not easy. Turn coincidences into opportunities. Leverage existing connections to find investors.
- Accept occasional failures as part of your entrepreneurial journey. Innovate constantly and keep your business differentiated from competition ahead of time.
- Quality is key. Leverage standards such as ISO to ensure quality when your operations are spread across borders.
- Some of the entrepreneurial success secrets panelists listed include: great relationships with manufacturers, customers and distributors; being able to balance, and not juggle, all aspects of your life; setting expectations at work and at family; breaking the traditional mindset; and putting customer at the center of your business model.
- Adina Jacobs, Director and Co-founder, STM Brands and Co-founder, Mentor Walks
- Lisa Mihardja, Founder and CEO, Alleira Batik
- Milagros Ong-How, Executive Vice Predident, Universal Harvesters, Inc.
- Wendy (Xiao) Wang, Founder and CEO, Chenzao (Beijing) Technology Co. Ltd
Aashish Kasad, Tax Partner, Diversity and Inclusiveness Leader, Ernst & Young LLP (EY India)