Australian Catholic University's Peter Faber Business School (PFBS) reaffirms an enduring commitment to engage and collaborate widely with the business community. On Tuesday, 17 April at the Peter Cosgrove Centre in North Sydney, PFBS hosted and facilitated a Roundtable for family businesses, and small to medium size enterprises centred on three themes of people, practices and prosperity.
Professor Susan Dann, National Head of the Peter Faber Business School described the roundtable as a “wonderful day drawing on the expertise of a very broad and diverse group of people: from ACU research academics Dr Hormoz Ahmadi and Dr Rajiv Amarnani, University of San Diego, Professor Jaime Gomez, Suzanne Webbey from the Office of the Australian Ombudsman for Small Business and Family Enterprise, Gerald Garcia from NSW Business Chamber, Robert Powell from Family Business Australia, and Joseph Hill Director of Strategy North Sydney Council.” Furthermore, “the sharing of knowledge and business experiences lead to thought-provoking ideas of the challenges and opportunities facing small, medium and family enterprises,” stated Professor Dann.
“We purposely set out to connect our various business organisational networks with family, small and medium size enterprises in an engaging, interactive and information-rich environment,” stated the program coordinator Maxine Bradshaw, Business Development Manager, Faculty of Law and Business. “The congeniality, openness and a willingness to explore ideas made it a very successful day for all the participants, and the eighteen presenters and facilitators,” added Maxine.
The keynote address was delivered by ACU Bachelor of Marketing Alumni, Pippa Hallas CEO of Ella Bache, a third generation family business. Ella Bache is a leading skincare company in Australia, distributing to branded franchise salons, stockists, David Jones and online. The company researches and manufactures locally and has a certified education facility. Pippa is responsible for the strategic direction and daily operations. Today Ella Bache represents 40% of the international market. Pippa’s highly motivating presentation was inspirational not only to the family business and SME owners in the audience but to the business students, academics and the many business advisers, mentors and coaches who attended the Roundtable. For those in second or third‐generation businesses, Pippa suggests "finding external advisors and other support networks". The theme of networking and "surrounding yourself with good people" was echoed by many during discussions throughout the day.
Another highlight was the presentation by Joe Murphy, Managing Director National Workplace, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors on how to survive the Fair Work Act as a family or SME, which proved to be very informative and comprehensive with timely advice to business owners who are currently implementing changes through technology and innovation.
The specialist Support Services panellists considered the importance of family and SME contribution to the Australian economy coupled with the authentic need for government lobbying to avoid undue barriers and costs incurred by family and small medium enterprises. Dr Suzy Green, founder and director of the Positivity Institute, provided an interesting insight into the need for positive psychology in family and small business. The ACU Collaborate Plus team emphasised the importance of co-working spaces to build "business and entrepreneurial" capacity in North Sydney and Strathfield.
The final panel session featured four young entrepreneurs who have embraced technology and a culture of innovation to provide quality services, solutions to organisational problems and better experiences for customers. Beau Leese from Intersective, Caelum Trott from Vital Aspect, Jesca Leibbrandt from Lumos Digital and Jon Westenberg formerly from Speedlancer spoke passionately about the opportunities that technology presents small businesses. All reiterated the ability of small businesses to be highly responsive to customer needs, to personalise services and to use technology in a far more creative and imaginative way to create better customer experiences.
Discussions, laughter and goodwill continued over drinks, wine and cheese as everyone committed to continue the conversations and the business networking opportunities presented through this Roundtable. Professor Terri Joiner, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law and Business summed it best when she said “the Roundtable was a huge achievement; it was so pleasing to see people connecting with people”.