Jinita Prasad, Regional General Manager of PLN Advisory
Q. How did you get into your line of work?
A. I started my career as a graduate accountant with a CA firm which was a great training ground but quite early in the journey, I realised I wasn’t cut out for time sheets!
In addition, one of the clients that I was assigned to work on was an investment bank which required regular Net Asset Valuation for one of its funds, a job that I found quite fascinating as it was very distinct from the other work assignments. That is where my first interest in finance surfaced and a year later I had joined that investment bank. It was slightly risky leaving one of the Big Fours to start with a fairly small but entrepreneurial and growing investment bank, but that was the risk that I was willing to take at that stage of my career. Not long after joining Kontiki Capital, I moved across to stockbroking where I found my niche and soon became manager of the stockbroking division. I have remained in Finance and Investment since then.
Q. What was your first big break as an executive?
A. My first break at being an executive was as the head of stockbroking at Kontiki. Kontiki was an excellent ground for perfecting my technical, financial, public relations and networking skills which helped me to advance through to the position of the CEO of the stock exchange and subsequently take up a regional business advisory role at PLN Advisory. Taking on such an executive role in the earlier part of my career was both exciting and challenging, given my age at that time and being a woman but with industry experience, belief in myself and support from my mentors, I took on that challenge.
Q. Can you tell us about your achievements and what you are most proud of during your career in the Pacific?
A. Being appointed CEO of SPSE at 27 and then taking the Exchange through a stable development phase during my term would be one of my proud achievements. Being selected for the Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue in 2010 is also worth noting where I represented Fiji along with a few other upcoming leaders in a three-week leadership program held over the Pacific region. Apart from upskilling our leadership abilities, this program helped us build contacts and our own networks in the region.
I am also passionate about women’s economic empowerment and having served as an executive member of the Board of Women In Business and later becoming the Vice President for the organisation (2012- 2015) has allowed me to effectively contribute towards increasing women’s presence in the commercial sector in Fiji.
Q. What is your typical work week like with PLN Advisory?
A. At PLN Advisory, there are no typical work days or weeks. One week could be down in Suva, Fiji, the next in Honiara, Solomon Islands or I could be based out of the home office in Sydney for a few months. Being in a regional position like this, it is given that there will be a fair bit of commuting but what remains constant no matter where I work from is the nature of the work which always comprises of marketing, deal making and a lot of planning around it. So in simple terms, we are business facilitators, we assist new players to enter and establish their businesses and we also work with existing players to expand or exit by identifying opportunities and business solutions for them across the Pacific. Furthermore, working adjunct to PLN Australia and the Pacific Legal Network I really enjoy working alongside the legal team in Sydney and the region.
Q. What do you think are the strong points of the Pacific as a business destination?
A. With Australia and New Zealand being major trading partners for most of the Pacific Island countries, this region has seen and continues to enjoy a significant inflow of investments over the years and now with increasing level of intra-Pacific trade, the opportunities here are abundant despite some of the usual challenges faced in the region. Sectors that continue to grow in the Pacific range from natural resources, tourism, financial sector, manufacturing, and in the recent years even venturing into ICT and back office outsourcing. We have been able to identify the gap for a more coordinated legal and advisory service as more investment is mobilised in the region. Hence our network works very well in closing this gap so as to identify new opportunities, align strategic partners and leverage on our local knowledge to minimise risk for clients entering into or operating in the Pacific.
Q. What is your favourite spot on the island?
A. The Yasawas are an amazing part of the world especially with some of the greatest snorkelling spots and great areas that still remain untouched. I do hope to eventually retire there someday! Otherwise, there is mum’s place or some usual spots in Suva where I love to spend some quality time with my group of friends.