Amb. Anil Wadhwa

Former Ambassador & Secretary Ministry of External Affairs

Ambassador Anil Wadhwa was a member of the Indian Foreign Service from 1979 to 2017 and has served as Indian Ambassador to Italy, Thailand , Oman, Poland , San Marino and Lithuania . As Secretary ( East) in the Ministry of External Affairs of India he oversaw relations with South East Asia , Gulf and West Asia , Pacific  and Australasia. He has served as the Indian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to FAO, IFAD , WFP, UNESCAP and worked with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague heading the Government Relations and Media and Public Affairs Branches . Ambassador Wadhwa has been India’s chief delegate to the East Asia Summit, Asean - India, Asem, ACD, the Arab League , Mekong Ganga Cooperation, and ARF meetings. He has been leading the CII task force for writing the Australia a Economic Strategy Report for the  Indian government. Ambassador Wadhwa is currently a Distinguished Fellow with the Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi and an Independent Director on the Boards of some Corporate firms. 

Amb. Navdeep Suri

Former Indian High Commissioner to Australia

Navdeep Suri is Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Centre for New Economic Diplomacy (CNED). He leads existing CNED programmes in Morocco, Kigali and Dhaka — and in creating new areas of focus in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Gulf.

Navdeep has had a 36-year long career in the Indian Foreign Service. He served in India’s diplomatic missions in Cairo, Damascus, Washington, Dar es Salaam and London. He was India’s Consul General in Johannesburg, High Commissioner to Australia and Ambassador to Egypt and the UAE. He also headed West Africa and Public Diplomacy departments in India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Navdeep has a master’s degree in economics. He has written on India’s public diplomacy and soft power, India’s Africa policy and the Indian IT outsourcing industry. He has also translated classic Punjabi works into English.

Navdeep’s initiative to introduce social media in the Ministry of External Affairs and its diplomatic missions in 2010 was commended. His contribution to building stronger ties between India and UAE was recognised by the President of UAE when he conferred on Navdeep the country’s second highest civilian award — the Order of Zayed II.

Harish Rao

 Global Head, Business Development

Sundaram Business Services

Educated at Melbourne Grammar School & the Australian National University, Harish also has an MBA (Finance) from Monash University and is Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He established the Chennai based Sundaram Finance Group’s presence in Australia in 2004 and is the head of their outsourcing arm, Sundaram Business Services in Australia & New Zealand. 

Harish consults to many companies interested in doing business with India and has led multiple business delegations to India. He has significant business experience with India having set up the first Australia TGA approved herbal facility in Kerala, whilst pioneering the offshoring of back office work for accountants in 2000. A strong advocate of soft diplomacy, he most recently arranged two highly successful tours of the Australian World Orchestra to India with renowned conductor Maestro Zubin Mehta, the first Australian classical music orchestra to tour India. His latest role is on the Advisory Council of the World Mosquito program (Monash University) to eradicate dengue, chickengunya, zica and yellow fever where India is a priority market.


Peter Varghese AO

Chancellor, University of Queensland 

Peter Varghese AO is the Chancellor of the University of Queensland. His thirty eight year public service career included Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Director General of the Office of National Assessments and senior adviser on international issues in the office of PM John Howard.

Mr Varghese was High Commissioner to India (2009 to 2012) and has also served as High Commissioner to Malaysia and in diplomatic positions in Tokyo, Washington and Vienna.

He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Australia India Institute and was IABCA's Ambassador of the Year in 2016. He sits on the board of AMP and AMP Capital Holdings.

Born in Kenya, his parents hailed from Kerala, India and the family migrated to Australia in 1964.

James Wiblin

Acting First Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

James is the Acting first Assistant Secretary, India and Indian Ocean Branch. Prior to taking up this role, James was the Assistant Secretary of the Investment Branch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Investment and Economic Division.  In this position, James was responsible for DFAT input into foreign investment review board applications, domestic and global investment issues and Australia’s trade finance agency, Export Finance Australia.  James has worked overseas as Australia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the OECD and in the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.  He has also negotiated several free trade agreements including the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, the China Australia Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Prior to joining DFAT in 1996, James worked as an economist in government think tanks and in the banking industry.

Petula Thomas

Director (India & Australia), Indo - Australian Chamber of Commerce

As Director (India & Australia) of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce, Petula leads on creating the Chamber’s strategic vision and delivery of its key initiatives and engagement across Government and businesses. The Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce, was established on a vision of two former Prime Ministers – Mr. Bob Hawke, Prime Minister of Australia and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. It plays a significant role in the development of bilateral trade and business relationships between India and Australia. 

Petula has held an exceptional track record throughout her career, winning four global and regional performance awards from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London,  commendation from the Deputy CEO Austrade and a Regional Central Asia South Asia Middle East & Africa award from British Airways Plc. 

Petula was University topper for her Bachelor of Science degree, has a First Class Master’s Degree in Science and distinction in a 1-Year PG Diploma in Management.  She is on the jury of Womennovator and a member of CII’s International Linkages Sub-Committee since 2019. Petula is passionate about Women in Leadership and enjoys travelling.

Ravneet Pawha

 Deputy Vice President – Global and CEO (South Asia), Deakin University Australia

Ravneet Pawha is currently the Deputy Vice President – Global and CEO (South Asia) of Deakin University Australia. Ravneet was awarded the prestigious Business Leader of the Year at the India Australia Business Council Awards 2018. She has a Master in Education and Training and a Master in Business Administration, a gold medalist in her postgraduate studies. With over 27 years of experience in the International education sector, Ravneet has been instrumental in establishing global collaborations and strategic partnerships. She has developed Australian Education collaborations specifically for Deakin University in India and has contributed to the immense success across the region. Currently, she is the Global Vice President and CEO South Asia at Deakin University. She is responsible for establishing holistic engagement across Government, academia, industry and research. She is also responsible for global strategy for Deakin for developing partnerships. The South Asia operations are managed through an office at New Delhi. She has been instrumental in establishing over 20 strong industry -academic collaborations. She brings with her varied international experience.


Hon Barry O'Farrell MP

Former Premier of New South Wales, Special Envoy for the NSW-India Relationship (recent exit)

Darren Rudd

Former Head of Corporate Affairs & Public

Relations, Australia & New Zealand

Tata Consultancy Services

Dr Lachlan Strahan

Former Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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Phone: 02 8005 6280

Mail:     Gandhi Creations
              PO BOX 235,
              Neutral Bay, NSW 2089