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Capturing Global Markets.


Rohini Kappadath brings over 25 years experience as a pioneer, corporate entrepreneur and advisor in sectors such as Information Technology, Management Consulting and Professional Services. She is the Victorian Winner of the 2015 Telstra Business Women's Award in the Corporate and Private category.

Current work

Rohini is the Chair of the Multicultural Ministerial Business Advisory Council, appointed by the Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, the Hon. Philip Dalidakis, where she is leading a transformative agenda to showcase Victoria's ethnic diaspora advantage - and their special role in lifting Victoria's trade and investment links with the region.

Kappadath has built an international career working with organisations in Australia, India, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and North America across diverse industries, particularly Information Technology.

As the Director-General for Indian Institute of Directors (IOD) in Australia, Rohini plays an active role in promoting trade and investment in the Australia-India corridor.

She is a regular commentator on TV and mainstream news media and is the current Senior Advisor to KPMG's India Business Practice.

Previous experience

IT: An Information Technology veteran, Kappadath first worked as a Mainframe Computer Operator at the Toyota-owned York Motors Data Centre in the late eighties. She subsequently built a 13 year senior executive career with SAS Institute's Australian subsidiary. SAS is a global multi-national in Business Analytics and the world's largest privately held software company. In 1996, Rohini established SAS Institute's subsidiary in India as its Managing Director following a 10 year stellar career as SAS Institute Australia.

Rohini has since facilitated a number of cross-border collaborations, joint ventures, distributor arrangements, new market entry strategies and other related activities in her own International Consulting business, Oyster, first established in 2002.

Australasia: Kappadath was previously, Pitcher Partner's Director, Cross-Border Business, where she led the development of a growing cross-border advisory business within Pitcher Partners. She has been a national advocate for Australia's engagement with the Asian region.

Talking Points

Rise, Step-aside and Re-emerge

In this talk Rohini tracks her life story as a 21 year old new migrant to Australia in the late eighties through to winning a much coveted Telstra Business Woman’s Award in 2015. Her story illustrates how women of capacity can combine personal and professional dreams to create a life of significance that they aspire to, over decades, rather than years.

This is an intimate account of one woman’s entrepreneurial journey of re-invention from the fast paced, innovative and globally oriented Technology industry to being a disruptive force within a more traditional professional services firm. While on this journey, Rohini established her own company while raising a family with three children.

Rohini’s story illustrates how women can navigate the pathway of “the rise, the step aside and re-emergence”. Drawing on a wealth of professional and personal experience, Rohini shares lessons learnt and unravels the opportunity in the period of “stepping aside” as one that offers the greatest promise of discovery, re-invention and revival.

Capturing Global Markets

As an advocate and sought after commentator on Australia’s growing trade and investment relationship with the Asian economies, Rohini discusses the shift in the global centre of gravity and the implications - opportunities and challenges - for Australian businesses across diverse industry sectors.

As an Asia-capable business leader in Australia, Rohini puts the spotlight on how small to mid-sized Australian businesses typically engage in cross-border business transactions and proposes new leadership styles and mindsets that are necessary to navigate the ambiguity and complexity of new global markets, in the context of increasing volatility within our neighboring region.

She proposes that Australian businesses must leverage their know-how for the long-term by taking an equity position with trusted international partners, rather than focusing on short-term wins through trade and export related deals. This requires access to deep trusted transnational networks, an investment mindset and an appetite for the inherent risk of international business. Outsized returns come from taking an investment mindset over a decade or two.

Establishing SAS Institute India

The story of establishing SAS Institute India, the Mumbai-based subsidiary of global multinational SAS Institute illustrates the opportunity and challenges of establishing a new company in India. It illustrates the outsized returns that are available for companies that are ahead of the curve, invest in creating a local company and stay the course for the long term.

SAS Institute India was established in 1996 and two decades later has been rewarded with supersized returns in the form of a strong local subsidiary and its largest R&D centre outside of the US.

This presentation addresses the five major aspects of capturing a share of the local market, during her time at the helm of the organisation: cultural dexterity, understanding and investing in the local market opportunity, building a strong local management team, creating the right organisational culture and winning the first beachhead client, Hutchison Max Telecom.

Rohini’s story illustrates how small, agile and innovative organisations can win against large competitors by focusing on the customer experience. It emphasises the importance of being ahead of the curve, establishing an innovative culture, attracting talent and earning their loyalty - and just what that means in practice.

The story of SAS Institute India shows that if you believe people are capable and creative and give them an environment where failure is accepted and supported, they will go on to achieve the unimaginable.

Double Glazed

This ‘behind closed doors’ talk is aimed at senior women in leadership faced with the challenge of navigating an increasingly combative environment. It positions the key premise that the glass ceiling is “double glazed” and that breaking through needs people and stakeholders from both ends applying their influence at the necessary pressure points.

Breaking through the glass ceiling is a collaborative process between glass makers and glass breakers which requires trust, persistence and honesty. Underpinning this process is an array of skills and the ability to stay the course when the going gets tough.

Organisations have the opportunity to significantly leverage their senior female capacity if they are able to navigate the terrain of bringing more diverse talent through the traditional barriers. This requires courageous leaders in the form of ‘male champions of change’ who see their own prosperity in the face of more empowered female leaders.

Rohini draws from her own experience and that of many senior female leaders who walk this terrain each day as they quietly break traditional barriers or elect to side step them completely.

Change is One Thing, Disruption is Another - The Future of Professional Services

Disruption is neither comfortable nor easy. Unlike change, disruption happens quickly, scales massively when at a tipping point and cripples businesses that are unprepared. Early adopters win and the prepared eat the unprepared.

For traditional Professional Services providers, confronting disruption can be particularly challenging. Competing on new terms that are not dictated by efficiency, being prepared to question and dismantle models and truths that no longer serve the new business model are tough asks in businesses that have relied on doing the same things better each year.

Future-proofing a traditional time-based professional services business model means being fiercely customer-centric. It requires a shift in skillsets and mindsets. Doing the same thing better will not get you through disruption - there’s now a need to grow new mental muscles in order to foster an innovative culture.

Having worked in senior roles within both the Technology and the Professional Services industries, Rohini speaks of how traditionally operated Professional Services providers, in the era of digital disruption, could re-imagine their future by better leveraging the intellectual and innovative capacity of their employees, building more trust and learning from best practice in the Technology industry.

This transformation will not be easy. It requires courage, trust in each other and a new focus on delivering value and creating client experiences. Senior leaders need new pathways to staying ahead of their clients while junior advisors will need to pick visionary mentors. The road ahead will be tough but the choice is simple in as much as it is clear: either catch this bus or have it overtake you.International Disability Film Festival, Brazil 2016
Thank you again so much for your presentation today. You certainly inspired and engaged the Yarra team - to be bold and fierce and to stay ahead of the curve - what a great way to commence Yarra's Women in Leadership Series! Policy Advisor, Yarra City Council

You were awesome - so proud of you and I was delighted to show you off to some of my staff.

CEO, City of Yarra

Ive been stopped all afternoon to tell me how amazing you were! Thank you so much for sharing your story! It was such a pleasure having you present today!! Look forward to seeing your Blue Notes interview!!!

Office of the CIO, ANZ

What phenomenal feedback all-round, Rohini! A true testament to your character, hard work and achievements.


Thank you to you Rohini!!! I have lost count on how many people have told me how amazing a speaker you are and how much they could relate to your presentation.

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