Cracking the mega-market: Inside the growth of India

As Australia questions its export dependence on China, political and corporate attention is turning to the 1.3 billion people across the Indian Ocean. The election of reformist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year has raised hopes of India becoming more open for international investment, however finance and policy may still present a challenge.

Advocating discussion on the subject, Curtin Business School and The West Australian organised an Asia Insight event held at the Hyatt Regency Perth in September. A keynote speech by Premier of Western Australia the Honourable Colin Barnett was followed by a robust panel discussion, and question and answer session moderated by the West Australian newspaper’s state political editor, Gareth Parker.

Premier Colin Barnett identified LNG as a key export commodity to satisfy India’s growing energy use. He said that while the 14 million tonnes of LNG India used annually was relatively small, it was forecast to grow rapidly in 25 years.

“Forecast gas consumption will treble in 25 years,” says Mr Barnett. “India’s going to be a big buyer of gas and Western Australia’s got a huge opportunity to be a significant player in the distribution of that.”

The Premier said there was also potential for iron ore given the sub-continent’s steel needs were expected to rise from 100 million tonnes per year to 300 million tonnes per year by the end of the decade.

Strategic Growth Oceania and Western Region, Asia Pacific Growth Leader and Managing Partner of Ernst and Young Michael Anghie, pointed to the need for foreign investors to help build the infrastructure needed to fuel India’s growth.

“Generally speaking, Indian corporates are highly geared and I don’t think they are in a position… to fund the development needed,” he says. “Funding and growth is going to have to come from outside India,” says Anghie.

He urged Australian businesses engaging with Indian counterparts not to expect easy deals just because of the country’s potential and stressed that the relationship between the two countries is fundamental to the transactional one. There are 29 states in India, and companies as well as governments need to know which area is best suited for their business.

But while discussion on cracking this new ‘mega-market’ focuses heavily on mining exports and infrastructure, the service industry, particularly the education sector, was highlighted as an area that should be looking to expand into the Indian market.

According to Mr Barnett, providing education for Indian nationals should remain a key service offered by Australian institutions and he suggested that institutions take their services to India.

“[Education] institutions could beef up their presence in India as most Indians cannot be expected to obtain their education overseas,” he advises.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: WA’s Trade and Economic Development with Asia

The report titled, ‘Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright? WA’s Trade and Economic Development with Asia’ examines the issues affecting current trading patterns with Asia, and highlights opportunities for enhanced future trade and strengthened economic relationships with China, Japan, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions.

The report is the fifth in the Focus on Western Australia Series and was launched at a breakfast event hosted at The Hyatt Regency in Perth city. Prominent government, industry and community leaders attended the event and discussed how best the WA economy can best be positioned to take advantage of emerging developments in Asia.

The discussion panel included Deputy Director General, Strategic Policy Department of State Development Nicky Cusworth, Chief Operating Officer, Western Region APPEA Stedman Ellis, Chief Executive Officer Tourism WA Stephanie Buckland, and Director of Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Alan Duncan. A question and answer panel session was facilitated by MC and state political editor from the West Australian, Gareth Parker.

Professor Alan Duncan said international trade had a role to play in strengthening industrial sectors, such as the mining and resources sectors within the WA economy, and most critically, diversifying the state’s exports to a greater extent.

“China will remain a strong market for Western Australia’s primary resources. However WA is extremely well positioned to capitalise on new trading opportunities beyond China and Japan, both in terms of the scale and composition of its trade with Asian partners,” says Professor Duncan.

The report examines how economic liberalisation across the Asian continent, with higher incomes among the rising middle class in Asia’s emerging economies, has created a growing demand for prestige and luxury commodities. Demand for gold, agriculture and food, as well as tourism and education exports are leading to emerging opportunities for WA to service demand from other Asian trading partners including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and India.

“The state’s trade and economic development strategies should certainly include a ‘focus on quality’ to capitalise on opportunities to sell to new markets for hi-tech or high-end products,” explains Professor Duncan.

The traditional notion of the bilateral trader (we sell – you buy) is giving way to more sophisticated international partnerships. One of the challenges for Western Australia is to bridge the gap between knowledge and innovation, and commercialisation and exports.

According to the report, high exchange rates have affected the competitiveness of WA manufacturing and there is a clear need for new investment. There is also some nervousness about the provisions under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

“Trade agreements shouldn’t be allowed to affect labour market conditions, or crowd out local labour market opportunities,” says Professor Duncan. “There is no reason why FTAs shouldn’t deliver value to Western Australia – as long as the state’s workforce is protected and supported.”

Other key findings in the report show that education is an attractor to international business and investment and ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) has been a growing industry. It suggests that the education sector should not be regarded just as a provider of education and innovation, but should also be promoted as a valuable piece of infrastructure through which to attract skilled labour to the state, and to build global business networks.

To read the full report, please download the pdf below:

Business leaders: Resetting the gender balance

MBAs provide a platform for learning a broad range of leadership skills. Graduates can apply these skills in their current employment, including the ability to approach a wide array of projects from a functional standpoint, to communicate well, and to not only analyse problems and find solutions, but to pitch them, sell them and build interest.

Surprisingly, the uptake of MBAs amongst women is comparatively low, with males comprising seven in ten graduates. According to research conducted by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, two primary barriers are preventing women from studying an MBA: cost and time. Balancing busy lifestyles with work and family coupled with the financial costs of an MBA turn women off postgraduate study, which in turn leads to less women with the credentials to take on leadership roles.

To reset the gender balance, and help women overcome these barriers, Curtin is working with businesses to offer 30 scholarships for women to take an MBA in partnership with their employer. Each scholarship from the Curtin Business School is worth $20,000, with the corporate partner contributing a further amount of support including a minimum of $10,000 per recipient.

These scholarships form part of the broader Women in MBA (WiMBA) program, a collaboration between business and five of Australia’s leading business schools including Curtin University, the University of South Australia, Monash Business School, Sydney Business School and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. Together they aim to raise the percentage of female MBA students in Australia to 40 per cent over the next two years. Ms Sharon Warburton, Executive Director Strategy & Finance, Brookfield Multiplex Australasia, has been appointed as the patron for the CBS WiMBA program. Ms Warburton, CBS Alumna, was the 2014 Telstra Business Women of the Year and is delighted to be involved as she is passionate about educating and empowering women. She also mentors many women through her online mentoring toolkit

Pro Vice-Chancellor, Curtin Business School Professor Tony Travaglione believes the program breaks down barriers to study and will give women more opportunities to take on future leadership roles.

“We are acutely aware of the need to encourage and equip women for leadership roles,” says Professor Travaglione. “We believe that the introduction of scholarships specifically for women will encourage our business community to create the next generation of female leaders.”

Studies show that companies with gender diversity at the top drive better financial performance, and through WiMBA, employers can nominate women within their workforce who they believe are potential future leaders of the company.

These women will receive financial support through scholarships and employer contributions, and have the support from their employer to attend classes, take additional study and group work, and complete assignments. The nominees will also receive guidance and advice from in-house mentors and will be assisted with developing a post-MBA career pathway.

Dean of the Curtin Graduate School of Business Milé Terziovski said the WiMBA program could have a significant impact on increasing the number of women completing MBAs and moving into leadership roles later in their careers.

“MBA programs can be a springboard to senior leadership positions,” says Professor Terziovski. “They provide worthwhile, purposeful skill learning that women can apply to their workplace.”

If you are interested in applying for one of Curtin’s scholarships, your employer must first agree to support you by contributing $10,000 towards the cost of completing the MBA. Your employer must also outline your leadership potential within the organisation and make a case for supporting you through the WiMBA program. As a starting point, we recommend speaking with your line manager or HR team about the initiative and your own leadership goals. Interested candidates should contact the Curtin Graduate School of Business.

Tel: +61 8 9266 3460