My professional journey started at Cromwell College at the University of QLD. I was doing a degree at QUT in Business, majoring in banking and finance. I had always been interested in business, so a business degree was the logical choice.
My first real experience in business was being Social Convener at Cromwell College. Being Social Convenor meant involved organising 2 major functions a year (providing entertainment and alcoholic refreshment for approximately 1,500 university students) and a few smaller college functions.
Just after I was elected Social Convener, the Principal (the awesome Hugh Begbie) asked to have a meeting with me, where he told me that our student association was almost broke and if we continued to run the student association like it was in previous years (at a large loss) the student association would cease to exist. I still remember sitting in his office thinking, “not on my watch”.
I took this as a personal challenge and that year we made approximately $20,000, which I think was the first time the student association made a profit. It was my first taste of running a business and I loved every moment of it. I enjoying thinking about how to make things more efficient, how maximize our customers enjoyment, how to attract more people to our functions and how to make our functions safer.
After my degree I did the usual thing Aussies do and lived in London (for 13 months) but ultimately decided the cold weather wasn’t for me. I came back to Australia and took up roles at Ergon Energy and Workcover QLD as a business analyst for a short period of time.
I had always wanted to get a really good education in business but to do that, you have to run one, so I set about doing exactly that. I created my first business in 2003 with the goal of importing compact florescent light bulbs from China, which failed because I only had $2,000 to my name and didn’t really know how to traverse the world of international business.
Around the time of this failure, I started working with a friend of mine that I had met while living a Cromwell College, Jason Rudolph. We were both working to solve a similar issue and decided to collaborate together to create a business around it. We were both very green but extremely passionate about business. We knew the statistics, 9 out of 10 businesses failed, so we figured that our odds would be similar and set about creating 10 businesses. Within a few years, 7 were still going and we found ourselves riding the business roller coaster.
In 2009, I was featured in Smart Company’s Hot 30 under 30 for creating a number of successful businesses
At this point in my professional business career (February 2019) I have built or run 20 companies. Most have succeeded and a few have not. Looking back on both the successes and failures, I would say that I have learned immensely from both outcomes. I think it is important to have both successes and failures in business, mostly because it gives you a rounded education in the complete business life cycle, how to know when it is time to call it and how to exit gracefully and do so without having the shutdown effect others.
My professional experience has given me a huge amount of exposure to many facets of business, here are just a few of them:
- Scaling businesses to multiple countries.
- Complex accounting, local and international
- Complex law, local and international
- Complex company structure across international borders
- Intellectual property
- Organisational culture
- Human Resources
- Analytics and data mining
- Product development
I have been very lucky to have done business with, become friends with and advised many very successful business people. I have also advised publicly listed companies (at board level) on tech and business process strategies.
I have had exposure to very long and complex (corporate law) legal cases.
Through my work, I have been lucky to be involved with people from all over the world. I have business contacts in Europe, America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
I would consider my work as a hobby - I do what I am passionate about and it very rarely feels like work. My free time hobbies are regularly in the emerging technology space, I do all sorts of things with electronics, remote controlled, autonomous vehicles and robotics. I enjoy coding micro controllers, building ridiculous robotic tank contraptions (200Kg), industrial sized remote controlled lawnmowers and other tech things.