Business Conclave brings forth the power of women

Venkat Raman –

More than 150 businesswomen met at the first ever New Zealand India Business Women’s Conclave on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Langham Hotel in Auckland.

Among them were 42 entrepreneurs of public and private undertakings in India, representing the Women’s wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

Their organisation, called, FICCI Ladies Organisation (FICCI FLO) has been a major source of strength in a hitherto male-dominated society.

Most men present at the event took a step back as businesswomen from both countries shared their experience and knowledge in managing their commercial or non-commercial enterprises and raising their families.

Career & Home

business-conclave-brings-vinita-bimbhet-and-others-webThe audience, also comprising businessmen and lawmakers, heard how men, at least in some families, have come to accept their role as homemaker and caregiving parent, while their spouses or partners pursued successful careers, raising the standard of living of the entire family.

Among them was Melanie Auld, Global Marketing Manager of Zespri International.

She manages a large, grower-owned company, while her husband is happy to stay at home and look after their child.

Increasing the representation of women in governance roles is a challenge faced by almost all countries of the world but New Zealand and India now have an opportunity to address that challenge through concerted efforts.

On that note, the Conclave, organised by India Trade Alliance (ITA), with the support of a number of local organisations, can claim to have achieved the purpose of creating primary awareness of the need to raise the profile of women in the corporate world.

Visitors inspired

Vinita Bimbhet, who led the delegation from India as FICCI FLO President was inspired.

She said, “I can now see why Kiwi women lead the world in many sectors. I can see their energy, innovative spirit and enthusiasm.”

business-conclave-brings-the-panellists-webStating that New Zealand has one of the least-regulated markets, she said, “Fertile soil and excellent growing conditions coupled with sophisticated farming methods and advanced agricultural technology provide the ideal environment for pastoral, forestry and horticulture activities.”

A panel discussion, under the theme, ‘Leadership, Innovation & Entrepreneurship’ witnessed eight women sharing their experience in business and the journey that they have travelled, meeting physical, psychological, financial and other odds.

Discussion Panel

Zeina Ali (who wrote her first article titled, ‘Homogenisation of the New Zealand Workforce,’ in Indian Newslink, August 1, 2003 issue), Partner at SenateSHJ was the Moderator. Her panelists included Dame Wendy Pye (Wendy Pye Publishing), Dr Michelle Dickinson (OMG Tech), Jo Pennycuick (ReDesign Group), Melanie Auld (Zespri) Jayanti Dalmia (Dalmia Group), Kiran Gore (AquaAgri Greentech), Ranjana Agarwal (Vaish & Associates) and Namita Gautam (Sheela Foam).

Dame Wendy cited education as the only way to enable women to manage new roles, while Dr Dickinson encouraged the attendees to not only think of gender equality in terms of male and females but also in terms for socio-economic diversity.

Kiran Gore, who brought Cable TV to Indian households, described how, as a stay-home mother, she was encouraged by her husband to launch into this business.

Work-Life Balance

Ms Pennycuick said that the most difficult aspect of a working mother was to balance home and work with the support of the partner at home and colleagues at work place.

“The energy and expertise of each of these keynote speakers and panelists has definitely helped our delegates to develop deeper insight in to the NZ India Market and develop on the best practices shared,” FICCI FLO Executive Director Rashmi Sarita said.

Annu Sharma, Founder and Chief Executive, ‘I Am Woman’ was the Master of Ceremonies.

Among the highlights of the Conclave was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between ITA and FICCI FLO to build on the business networks formed.

Movie trailer

A preview of ‘Stars in Her Eyes,’ directed by Athina Tsoulis was shown at the Conclave.

Featuring local Kiwi Indian stars, it is due for release in November 2016.

The movie was shot in collaboration with Unitec.



  1. Vinita Bimbhet (Centre) and others at the Women’s Conclave on September 23
  2. The Panelists with Moderator Zeina Jalil

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