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Fintech and the Future of Banking and Finance featuring Savneet Singh

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2016 Marquee Event

On Thursday 10 November, YSPN Sydney held its 40th event since being founded, the sold out, “Technology and the future of Banking and Finance” sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank at their cutting-edge Innovation Lab facility. The event featured panelists, Savneet Singh (Fintech Entrepreneur from New York), Mo Khalil, Chief Innovation Officer at Commbank and Nikesh Lalchandani, an innovation executive at the Commonwealth Bank.

You can watch the video from the event below.

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Our new YSPN Brand Identity

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We’re proud to unveil our new brand and visual identity! The YSPN visual identity reflects the concept of greater heights through solidarity. Using the architectural analogy of the ‘bundled tube structure,’ the design team used conceptual towers to express how everyone in the network collectively influences each other’s success.

A new typeface was constructed for YSPN as part of this project called ‘Sewa Sans,’ which expresses the impact of YSPN through the upward kinks in the lettering to show continuous growth.

YSPN would like to thank the hard work of Studio Nerve who delivered this project to YSPN as a pro-bono project.

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Why you should learn how to code regardless of what profession you are in

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“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think” – Steve Jobs

Learning how to code will improve your life. It will shape the way you think, the way you tackle problems and broaden your understanding of the world around you. It is of no surprise that some of the world’s most innovative companies have technical-oriented management at the helm. Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) and Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) are just a few who started their careers dabbling in code. But in order to understand why learning how to code can assist you, we must take a look at the key driver of innovation, software.

Software has transformed the world in an exponential fashion, enabling rapid growth and easier access to information. It has radically changed the way we live our lives by providing us with greater intrinsic value from the services we use. Practically every industry, from entertainment to agriculture is undergoing a dramatic economic shift in which market leaders are giving way for innovative, smaller companies who are better positioned to leverage software. The world’s largest bookseller, Amazon, has shown how an optimised supply chain and great customer experience equates to rapid growth and acquisition of market share. Uber, another software company, has utilised their car service offering to deploy the largest logistics network in the world. The company exploded into the market by providing a service that had a significantly higher utility (consumer value) than its competitors (investors sometimes refer to this as 10x). It is software that enabled this growth. But it doesn’t stop there, the largest video/music distribution networks, marketing platforms and telecommunication companies are all software-driven.

Now, I’m not saying that you should drop everything and change career paths to become a programmer, however, learning how to code involves generating a skillset that will serve you well with any career path, in any industry, and here’s why.

Problem solving
Programming teaches you how to efficiently break problems into smaller ones, enabling you to take logical steps to solve the task at hand. You begin to think pragmatically, in terms of small functions which are more manageable. You move faster and complete work more efficiently. You become a master of tackling the hardest problems.

Workplace automation
Work is full of repetitive tasks that are prime for automation. Have you ever sat down for hours performing the same task and wondered if there was a better way? One of my first roles involved writing some documentation for which I was given a two week deadline. I finished the task in two hours. The program I wrote is still being used at the company four years later.

Understand how the world works
There are many similarities between notions of economics (consumer value, utility, opportunity cost), finance (optimisation, probability) and software. Software is in essence, a language of problem solving, which has been derived from the way in which the world works – the intersection of science and technology. Having a high level view of how software is made will open your eyes to new ways of thinking, and help you become what Eric Schmidt (ex Google CEO) refers to as a smart creative.

Freedom to execute your ideas
Having an idea is worthless unless you are able to execute it. There’s not a month that goes by that I come up with a new idea. The ability to execute them is incredibly rewarding.

Competitive Advantage
There are a lack of good software engineers and computer scientists in Australia. Perhaps more importantly, there’s a lack of people who understand software. There has been a push toward STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and most universities over flexible degrees that allow you to study areas of business combined with technical degrees, making it a wise choice for young learners who want to be in an industry with high demand.

For those who are looking to supplement their career, it’s never too late to learn a bit of code! My advice would me to check out Codecademy. Or, if a tutorial style of learning is not for you, the best way of picking up code is to select an idea and search on Google for ways of implementing it. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with a goal in mind (and Google).

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YSPN Strategy Weekend

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Sitting on the 7am flight from Brisbane to Sydney, I had no idea what the National Strategy Weekend was going to have in store. After all, these are things executives with decades of experience do, not a consultant in the Big 4, relatively fresh out of university! Despite my fears during that flight, the experience was incredible. The opportunity to sit with fellow committee members from the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane chapters, reflect on the organisation’s achievements, take a candid look at the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, and then help build an inspiring vision for what the future might look gave a rare insight into what the future held.

The weekend began with an opportunity for us as a group to reflect on the origins of YSPN, and the subsequent achievements of the organisation. Often the word ‘’remarkable” is overused but the level of progress that YSPN has experienced since its inauguration is nothing short of it. The idea conceived by the founders was to establish a platform for young Sikh professionals that would be “cool.” Three years later, YSPN has showcased 19 guest speaker events across its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane chapters. Brisbane, in particular, was merely an idea during the 2014 National Strategy Weekend and has now come to fruition having hosted two sold out events since the beginning of 2015.

The session then shifted to an honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses in light of our stated aims. As an organisation, YSPN aims to build a unified, stronger and more connected Sikh community ultimately allowing for success in the Sikh and indeed, broader Australian community. While we made a fantastic start, we needed something on a more personal level to continue developing on our foundations, and help young Sikhs build relationships that would enable them to succeed. With this in mind, the team decided on building a platform for mentorship. The main objective of mentoring would be to connect successful Sikhs to those embarking on their professional careers in corresponding fields ultimately giving a platform to fast-track personal and professional development.

After we addressed what we felt was an important gap in what we do as an organisation, we moved onto the critical next question of where YSPN aims to be in the next five to ten years. The most inspiring takeaway from this discussion was the ambition apparent amongst committee members. Our targets included for example: establishing chapters in overseas locations, gaining influence in both the community and media, and developing a platform for Sikhs to become industry leaders. On a personal note, it will be “mission accomplished” when a member in the YSPN network becomes a partner in a Big 4 firm, as a result of relationship established with a Sikh CEO of an ASX200 listed company.

Throughout this weekend, the most compelling and unique thing about YSPN’s position that struck me was that most young Sikh professionals in Australia are typically 1st generation. There are other organisations in the world which provide Sikhs the opportunity to network and connect, however YSPN has an unprecedented opportunity to shape the future of the Australian-Sikh community like no other organisation in the world and fundamentally change the trajectory of our community. Right now, it’s about developing that platform for future generations to leverage from, so that they become testament to the YSPN mission statement, and a proud reflection of the talent and contribution that our community has to offer.

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The YSPN Health Professionals Mentoring Program

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At YSPN, we are committed to providing a platform to grow the capability of the future Sikh leaders in the Australian community.

We are starting the Mentoring program with both Health and Allied Health professionals open for university students right through to tenured professionals. Leading Health Care Professionals will be matched to meet up with mentees over 9 months to guide them to help build a successful career.

To enrol for the program, either as a mentor or a mentee, please access the mentoring page for more information.

YSPN will be bringing a broader industry based mentoring program in 2016.

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Time Management

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As a managing partner in a multi-office law firm I’m often asked how I’m able to do so much. Whenever I’m asked this question I respond that the key is going back to basics. Without a fundamentally strong and sound set of systems and practices in place, it doesn’t matter how much willpower you have. So here are some of my top tips for time management and, in particular, some of the more practical aspects:

  1. Stay Positive – Before I turn my attention to the more practical time management skills, I want to address up front what I see as one of the most critical mental aspects of time management. In my experience, those people who are able to maintain an even keel whilst under pressure and have a positive disposition no matter the circumstances they face seem to be able to manage their time better. If you have 25 things to do this week, worrying and stressing doesn’t progress any of those tasks, instead it lends itself to procrastination.A negative attitude and mindset doesn’t help in giving you clarity on how best to approach or break down the matters you have at hand to be completed. On the other hand, if you remain positive and focus on breaking down each element to the tasks in front of you, you’ll quickly knock over a few, gain momentum, and achieve everything that you have set out to do. I’ve often said that worry is a waste of energy better spent getting things done.
  1. To Do Lists and Prioritisation – To do lists and prioritisation go hand in hand. It’s critical to have a to do list of the various tasks that need your attention, in both personal and professional settlings, and to then break those down into priorities based on the matrix below:Urgency-Importance Matrix
    It’s critically important to regularly update your tasks and the priorities you set for them. Depending on your workload, this may be once a day or, alternatively, on multiple occasions throughout the day. The key is to try different systems to determine what works for you.
  1. Technology – The use of Microsoft Outlook, in particular the Task and Calendar functionality, is an absolute must for me in order to maximise the time I spend on doing instead of determining what I need to do. The days of handwritten to do lists are dead, at worst you should be printing out your task list, and potentially, highlighting some urgent tasks that you may be doing in priority for a short period on a particular day.
  1. Saying No – Having your task list and priorities should help you identify when you need to say no to things that pop up. Obviously you do not want to say no to opportunities which are a result of all the effort you are putting in but you do need to know which of the non urgent, non important opportunities can be held back for later and scheduled in to better fit with your overall priorities.
  1. Delegation – If possible, delegation is an ideal method with which to maximise your time. At the end of the day, you are only able to be in one place at a time and this limits what you can achieve. Being able to effectively delegate will allow you to leverage and achieve more that what you can as an individual.


There are plenty of other time management tips out there but these are some that I’ve found personally effective through my experience. I would recommend that you keep trying new techniques and ideas to better manage your time until you find what works for you. At the end of the day, whatever system you come up with needs to be one that you are comfortable with and that helps you achieve all that you set out to do.

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YSPN Sydney Inaugural Dinner

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YSPN Inaugural Annual Dinner Event

On Monday 27 April, YSPN Sydney held its Inaugural Annual Dinner, themed “From Startup to Boardroom: How Peeyush Gupta became one of Australia’s most successful businessmen”. The event featured Peeyush Gupta, Chairman MLC Life and Director at NAB and SBS; as well as facilitator Sheila Dhillon, Director of Public Affairs and Communication at CSC.

The event featured Professional Services Partners, Principals at Financial Services Firms, Senior Executives in Government departments and a host of ambitious young professionals eager to learn lessons, as Peeyush said, in going from struggle, to success and onto significance.

To see photos from this event, click here.

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Creativity in Business – Part 2

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Part 2: How to become a creative thinker

In part one we discussed creativity as a concept and why it is vital for businesses to be creative. This time, we’ll explore the 5 elements of creativity and will give you 4 simple exercises that will allow you to think more creatively.

How can you become more creative?

Creativity can be broken down into 5 elements:

  1. Associating

This is the practice of connecting the dots between seemingly unrelated ideas. It’s the art of pulling inspiration and insight from one area and applying it to something completely different.

  1. Questioning

Curiosity is a deeply ingrained tenant in all creative professions. Highly creative and innovative individuals are always asking for the whys and whats, they rarely accept the world as it is.

  1. Observing

In her book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Maria Konnikova emphasizes the importance of observing our surroundings on a deeper level.

  1. Networking

This isn’t just about expanding your LinkedIn connections or the rolodex of business cards on your desk. Networking involves expanding your bubble to involve individuals and ideas from all walks of life. Creative individuals don’t stick to just their area of expertise. They’re constantly trying new things.

  1. Experimenting

In order to drum up unique ideas, you have to venture outside of your comfort zone and experiment with new ideas and ways of working. Google pioneered a concept of “80/20 time” that allowed engineers to tinker for 20% of their work time. The concept has since spread to other companies like LinkedIn and Apple. These companies understand that creativity doesn’t just happen. It takes work.

Creative exercises
  1. Be distracted often

When we’re distracted, we’re not thinking about a solution to a particular problem or wondering what our next great article idea could be. A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.

Focusing too intently on a problem basically uses up all of your cognitive resources. When you step back and do something mundane or repetitive you lighten your cognitive load which can help you find the solution you were looking for in the first place. You have to give your brain the space to be creative.

  1. Change your environment

Getting out of your normal environment could be just the thing you need to spark your creative thinking. Research on living abroad demonstrated that immersing yourself in a different culture can make you more creative. Why is that? It could be due to the way the brain must adapt to living in a totally different country. Your brain is forced to make new connections and see things from a different perspective which can enhance creativity.

  1. Adjust your schedule

You don’t have to switch your entire schedule around to force yourself into being a night owl or rising at the crack of dawn. But, occasionally breaking out of your routine might just be the switch you need to set your mind buzzing with a handful of great ideas.

  1. Become a beginner

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few
— Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
If you’ve been practicing your craft for any length of time, you probably wouldn’t consider yourself a beginner. Beginners lack understanding, they don’t know exactly what they’re doing or what they’re truly capable of. This type of mindset, however, may be exactly what you need.

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Creativity in Business – Part 1

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Part 1: Creativity in business

In the coming weeks, YSPN will explore creativity in two facets, first we will take a macro approach, explaining what creativity is and why it is important for businesses. In the second part we will look at how any individual can become a creative thinker.

What is Creativity?

Creativity is a concept we often come across in daily conversation. We hear of creative people, admire creative pieces of art, and listen to creative music. Yet, in spite of our almost innate understanding of what it means to be creative there is a lot of confusion about the nature of creativity.

Wertheimer suggested that creative thinking involved breaking down and restructuring our knowledge about something in order to gain new insights into its nature.

Another definition suggests that creativity is something, which occurs when we are able to organise our thoughts in such a way that it leads to a different and even better understanding of the subject or situation we are considering.

Yet another comes from Aichel Mangelo on the Internet, who along with many others suggests that ‘Being creative is seeing the same thing as everyone else but thinking of something different’.

So, why is creativity important in Business: 

As different or new situations present themselves in business, problems tend to arise also; these problems often require novel solutions. Many times, it is difficult to see solutions to problems by thinking in a conventional fashion. Logical thinking takes our existing knowledge and uses rules of inference to produce new knowledge. However, because logical thinking progresses in a series of steps, each one dependent on the last, this new knowledge is merely an extension of what we know already.

The need for creative problem solving has arisen as a result of the inadequacies of logical thinking. It is a method of using imagination along with techniques which use analogies, associations and other mechanisms to help produce insights
into problems.

The majority of organisations are fully aware of just how vital creativity is to their prosperity and invest considerable sums in looking for people who are able to deliver creative solutions to difficult business problems.

In part 2 we will explore the steps that can be applied in order for anyone to think more creatively.

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An Introduction to YSPN Mentoring

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YSPN believes that it is imperative for its members to actively seek mentors and, where possible, act as mentees.

To this end, we have launched a special series on mentoring where this crucial success tool will be discussed, deliberated and presented in accordance with industry specific focuses. We aim for this to also provide a platform for potential mentors and mentees to connect.

On May 22 2014, the launch of the first mentoring series event focusing on the health and allied health industries was held in Sydney. With over 50 attendees at the event, four eminent keynote speakers, Amarjit Anand (principal audiologist Northern Territory), Dr Jaswinder Samra (consultant general surgeon), Dr Gurdial Singh (anaesthetist) and Dr Narinder Singh (head of ENT Westmead Private Hospital) discussed and shared their nuggets of wisdom on the nature and necessity of mentoring relationships in the industry.

The next event in the series will focus on the professional services industry and is planned for the second half of 2014.YSPN is committed to exploring further options such as a formal mentoring program to ensure that mentoring becomes a valued stepping stone in its members’ career development journey.