‘Australia is the place to be’

Preeti Daga clearly dons many hats. A public relations professional and a charismatic voice for many causes, her journey from India to Australia has been quite a smooth ride, contrary to the assumption that migrants generally find it hard to get a toehold in the industry of their choice. However, Daga attributes her success to sheer drive, hard work, courage, and most importantly, daring to dream big.

Daga was already a careered media and public relations with a Masters in English from Delhi University when she arrived in Australia 12 years go. But Australia was new. By her own telling, Daga knew nothing about the industry here. “All I knew was, there is a market here and public relations is my forte, and that I should just give it a try.”

It isn’t surprising that Daga fell in love with Melbourne the moment she set foot into the city. And when she got called for an interview with Community Housing Ltd (CHL), Australia’s largest not for profit affordable and social housing provider, it would go on to change her life in more ways than one.

For one thing, Daga quickly learnt to apply her essential public relation skills in the company using it for reputation management, profile building, issues management, advocacy, et al.

It’s an experience that has been enriching. “I am a part of the company’s vision which invested in its people and took the people along with it,” reflects Daga, who is today the Global Head of Corporate Communications at CHL.

But if her years at CHL has taught her much, it has also shaped Daga into a leader of sorts pushing her into the forefront of community and charity works.

Her passion for diversity and inclusion has led to further involvement with a wide range of programs from promoting anti-bullying, awareness of domestic violence to youth mentorship. She is also an ambassador for other premier organisations such as Bully Zero Foundation. Daga has also acted in close to a dozen short and feature movies on topics of mental health and domestic violence, an interest that stemmed from her college theatre days back in Delhi.

An advocate for equality, Daga is also the official Brand Champion for the just-concluded ICC T20 World Cup 2020.

This year, Daga became President of the Australia India Business Council (AIBC), Victoria, the peak business body fostering trade and business dialogue between India and Australia for more than 33 years. She has also served as the Vice President of the Victorian chapter since 2016.

Learning not to eschew challenges has led her to newer roles. Recently Daga was appointed to the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s (VMC) Regional Advisory Council for the North West Metropolitan Region until 2021 advising on migrant matters to the commission. She is also on the board of Public Relations Institute of Victoria and is the Chair of the Industry Advisory Committee for Public Relations at RMIT University.

Daga has been recognised for her community leadership and honoured with the 2018 Pride of Australia medal, Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Emerging Leadership Award (2018), Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Achievement Award in 2016 and the India Australia Business & Community Awards (IABCA) Awards in 2017.

Daga lives by the mantra ‘Work Hard but Live Harder’. Moreover, she says she is blessed with an amazing and supportive partner and a wonderful support system of friends and family. “As much as I love to work, I love spending time with them. I enjoy gardening and cooking so those are my daily stress relievers. Making time for all of this is non-negotiable for me as they are important for me to be able to recharge my batteries to go out each day and do what I love to do and give it my best.”

Daga is uniquely doing what she is doing combining responsibility and pleasure. “In an ever-changing world it’s important to be flexible, collaborative and to keep constant learning a priority. I am presently enrolled in a leadership course and an avid listener of podcasts on leadership. I totally love what Indra Nooyi says, “Be a lifelong student”.”

Most importantly, Daga likes to point out that Australia is the place to change your life. “If there is a country that will welcome, embrace and give you that opportunity based on your merit, you are in the right country. But, dare to dream and have courage in your convictions,” she implores.

Who is arguing?

By Indira Laisram