Jinita Prasad, Regional General Manager, PLN Advisory Pty Limited

Jinita Prasad
Regional General Manager, PLN Advisory Pty Limited
Location: Sydney (previously from Suva, Fiji)

Fijian businesswoman, Jinita Prasad, is the Regional General Manager for PLN Advisory – an Australian-based business that provides strategic and corporate advice to clients operating in the Pacific. With more than 10 years in executive management roles, she was previously the CEO of the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE). As a former Board member of Women in Business (WIB) she has also played an active role in promoting women’s empowerment in Fiji.

What is your business background?

I have headed organisations as executive management for the past decade of my career, something which comes with similar responsibilities and even higher level of fiduciary obligations. In my current role as Regional General Manager for PLN Advisory, which is a regional advisory business that provides strategic and corporate advice to clients that operate businesses in the Pacific, work has to be coordinated over a multi-jurisdictional platform.

Prior to that, I headed the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE) in Fiji and in my role as the CEO, I was overseeing the day-to-day running of the business including formulating short-term and long-term strategies with the Board and putting them into action with my management team, taking the stock exchange through a stable development phase.

Describe your business and who your customers are.

PLN Advisory’s services range from business establishment, due diligence and compliance to corporate advisory work such as restructure, capital raising and mergers. Working adjunct to Pacific Legal Network which is based out of Australia with member law firms in Fiji, PNG and Solomon Islands, our clients are spread across the region and we continue to harness the potential of facilitating more transactions as intra-Pacific trade grows.

What has inspired you take up challenging and influential roles throughout your career?

Inspiration for my career has come from some great mentors including some of my past employers and my parents who parted invaluable values and lessons to me over time. I was also fortunate enough to work in smaller but agile organisations where you tend to get involved in a wider range of work and transactions hence learning far more variety than just specialised work. This played a pivotal role towards my development that allowed me to head the national stock exchange at the age of 27 and successfully run it for a number of years.

What have been the key moments and opportunities you’ve experience?

In terms of opportunities, being able to step into a regional role after working in Fiji most of my career has been very exciting. Another key moment worth noting would be my appointment as the CEO for the national stock exchange at the age of 27 and running it successfully over my term.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Finance can be quite a male-dominated field where old boys clubs may exist and gender stereotyping can be common especially when you enter the industry as a young female. However, having worked in the field before enabled me to overcome a number of such challenges and at the end of the day your deliverables speak for itself. Working in Fiji and the Pacific comes with some inherent challenges of remoteness, ease of doing business, political environment etc which you learn to work around over time.

What advise do you give to women wanting to set up a business in the Pacific?

Many times you may choose to start a business following someone else’s success in that field. This can prove to be successful if there is a huge untapped market in that area. My advice, however, will be to go through the proper process of planning, identifying your product, customers, location, access to markets and financing. It is also very important to identify how your product or service is different (your unique selling point). Also getting the right legal and business advice at the beginning is pivotal to the success of your business as it allows you to structure the business around your vision, something that PLN Advisory specialises in as well.

There are a number of initiatives for women in this area for example, the Business Skills Workshop that I used to help facilitate through WIB in Fiji, aimed to assist women in starting, growing and sustaining their micro, small or medium-sized businesses.

What advice do you give to women about running a business?  

I think women are known to be driven by passion which is a great attribute but in my days of working with micro and small business women in Fiji, we saw that quite often this acted as a disadvantage especially in running a business sustainably. My advice for women running their own businesses is to never let your passion trump your business acumen as it is already hard enough out there. And discipline is of utmost importance. It also helps to build your own network of supporters and connections which you can leverage on in running and growing your business further.

What Pacific women’s networks are you actively involved with?  

I was actively involved in women empowerment activities in Fiji and served as an executive member on the Board of Women in Business (WIB) from 2006, becoming the Vice President for the organisation in 2012 resigning when I left Fiji in April 2015. WIB Fiji is a not for profit organisation that aims to increase the commercial participation of women in Fiji’s economy, be it through owning your own business or progressing your career within your profession to become leaders.

Upon moving to Sydney, I have continued to work towards women’s empowerment in the Pacific through an assignment by ADB Private Sector Development Initiative to assist with a Women’s Business Leadership Program earlier this year.

For more information about PLN Advisory visit http://www.plnadvisory.com/