By Ellie Tran
TUBES reached out earlier this year to Shelley Brooks, Director at Rodgers Reidy TAS Office, to find out more about her journey to such an accomplished position. Shelley has considerable industry experience in various roles, and now works in corporate and personal insolvency, working to secure turnarounds on mortgages and businesses. Her career highlights a very successful track record on trading and selling businesses, working with shareholders to provide regular reports and recommendations.
What was your first job?
My very first job was when I was in Grade 10 as a Casual at Kmart, they ended up offering me a full time position before the end of the year and I left school and started working there full time as a Manager of Menswear.
How did you get into the field?
I pretty much fell into the field I am today. I had quite a few jobs after leaving Kmart, I went into a traineeship in Real Estate and became the youngest person in Tasmania to ever obtain their Real Estate License and found it wasn’t that easy being a 17yr old trying to sell a house to a retiree. I then jumped around a bit from job to job for a while, in that time I moved to Melbourne for a couple of years and got into Vet Nursing. When I moved back to Tas I decided I wanted to be a Vet and starting looking into getting my degree and sadly found out I needed to be back in Melbourne to do this.
I then decided that I might like to get into Psychology and applied to Uni as a mature age student (I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do!!) During this time I got a job at Paul Cook and Associates as a Personal Assistant. So I thought I might as well take that opportunity, I was a single mum with a 4yr old at the time and thought working full time was probably a better option for his benefit then studying. So I started that position and absolutely loved the work and decided to apply to Deakin University, again as a mature aged student, and started my Bachelor of Commerce. Insolvency is not something I had ever really heard of or had a passion to be involved in before. I think it is always important to be open to new opportunities that may arise.
What set of skills (generic or transferable skills) do you think are most essential for your field?
We deal with so many different aspects of businesses, whether that be trading, restructuring,
selling or liquidating. On top of accounting and finance skills, having business knowledge and an inquisitive mind is a
major plus. We deal with so many different types of people from different backgrounds at
what is possibly one of the most stressful times of their lives, you need to be able to display
compassion but also be firm enough to follow the laws that we are governed by.
This isn’t the kind of profession where you can finish your work at the end of the day and leave
a spotless desk (you wouldn’t want to look at mine EVER!) Although we have to follow the same procedures every single appointment we take is different.
What is/are the biggest challenge(s) in your field at the moment?
This is an ever changing answer in Insolvency. Obviously at the moment the biggest challenge
we are facing is the amount of financial distress every single business and industry is struggling
with due to COV-19. For my staff this becomes extremely stressful due to legislative requirements and time
pressures on producing documentation, reports and holding meetings. Finding experienced staff in Tasmania is always a major hurdle due to it being such a specialised profession.
How has the industry you work in changed while you’ve been there, and what trends do you see into the future?
Well up until recently there hadn’t been any major changes in Insolvency Law for a number of years. In December 2009 we experience a major change when the Personal Property Securities Act (PPSA) was passed and came into effect in January 2012. This caused a major stir with how security is registered, including the old fixed and floating charges and retention of title.
Then in December 2011 the then Attorney-General and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer released A Modernisation and Harmonisation of the Regulatory Framework Applying to Insolvency Practitioners in Australia. This saw major changes in the way we do things, compliance, reporting etc and was rolled out in two stages March 2017 and then September 2017. At the moment we are seeing further temporary legislative changes being implemented due to COV-19.
What sort of qualifications/degrees/courses/trainings are you recommending for your field?
Generally we see those with Accounting / Finance degrees working in the industry, we have certainly seen quite a lot of law graduates come through the door as well. Both degrees are beneficial in the industry as we obviously do a lot of work with accounts and have the need to understand financials, be able to prepare cashflows / budgets etc but there are also a lot of legal aspects we deal with as well. Whether that be understanding leases, sale agreements, terms and conditions or actually defending legal matters or commencing legal action. Insolvency law itself is also a very specialised area. As you progress in the industry there are specialised courses that can be undertaken with ARITA and other institutions. Most professional staff also progress to completing their CA or CPA.
What do you look for in new employees?
When looking for a new team member one of my main priorities is that I feel they are a good fit with the rest of the team. We can work in an extremely stressful environment and we are all individuals with different personalities so it is extremely important that we all get along.
We all have a different variety of skills as well, I have some staff that love the numbers side, some that have managed several different businesses, those that like to dig around and have an inquisitive mind. So I take all of that into account as well, one of my priorities as an employer is to ensure that my staff are engaged in what they are doing, there are always some boring tasks that we have to do that is a necessary evil of any job, but then there is stuff that
really gives a person a buzz and interests them if you can match these two together you can generally get the best out of someone. The other thing I feel that is really important is flexibility, our day can go from nice and relaxed
to everyone running around like crazy.
What has helped you get to where you are and what advice would you give to new graduates interested in your field?
For me I fell in love with what I was doing and had the passion to work my way up. It took me so many years to be recognised as not just ‘the receptionist’ answering the phone. The industry has always been very male dominated, I am the only female in Tasmania who is a Registered Liquidator and on top of that now own my own firm.
As you heard at the start I didn’t even finish Grade 10, so if I can manage to work my way through Uni whilst working full time with a 4year old and then having another baby during this time, to completing my CA and ARITA and clocking up enough experience at a Senior level to be in the position to apply to ASIC to become registered then anyone can do it (I now have 4 children and have continued to study and work fulltime the whole time).
If you have a passion for something, don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it or that you won’t make it. Put your head down and strive for what you want. Face all the obstacles and just keep working towards your ultimate goal.
by Mollie Berry
Mollie Berry interviews David Forrest for his insights on the business world.
Where did you start in the workforce and what led you to your current position?
That was a few years ago Mollie, originally I was accepted into Uni as a Physical Education Teacher – late 1980’s.– my dream job in Highschool & Matriculation However, I chose to do Aquaculture at University Launceston, it was the first time the course was offered, a 2 year Associate Diploma – then extended to a 3 year Diploma course to support an industry in it’s infancy. Today you can even do a doctorate, I think.
This decision was made as the family had been involved in the Aquaculture Industry (oysters) since I was 15 years old. I spent 28 years in the family business Barilla Bay, building Barilla Bay Oysters to be an internationally recognised purveyor of fine Oysters. The construction of Barilla Bay Restaurant and Gourmet food stop was finished in 2004, Winning best Seafood Restaurant in Tasmania 2004 & 2005. Won Tas Tourism award for best new development and represented the State at the National final awards in 2005.
The business was recognised as a world leader in Aqua Tourism including Farm tours, hosting numerous awards dinners, product launches and even the Launch of one of Virgins New Aircraft. We even put together an Oyster Book which Won Best Seafood Cookbook in Australia at the Gourmand World Cookbook awards.
I left the family business to come and work with Tassal after a fall out with my parents (that’s an even a longer story) - an interesting outcome considering I was part of the Next Generation Committee with Family Business Australia, a great organisation.
Tassal were looking for someone with my skill sets and I was interested in the position they were offering.
What are your key responsibilities at Tassal?
I am fortunate to understand most parts of the business and don’t just limit myself to the marketing side but enjoy contributing in other areas of the business. My immediate responsibilities include the successful running of the Salamanca Shop and New mobile salmon truck and ensuring they meet not just Company expectations but also that of the community – we are the face of the Company within Tasmania so that first point of contact can be critical in community engagement.
I have also been responsible for building a shop in Melbourne and assisting De Costi Seafoods at The Royal Sydney Easter Show each year since the Company’s take over 3 years ago.
What are some of the challenges you face in a normal day?
Daily challenges generally include insuring we remain focused on our goals each day and contribute towards the greater Company goals. There are always business challenges and personal challenges each day and ensuring that people come to work each day and leave safe is a key priority. Hopefully the business and even myself can help them learn and grow each day assisting in creating a highly successful team with the same vision.
As the National Business Manager, what are some of the projects or initiatives you are most proud of?
As I mentioned earlier, being flexible is the key to the opportunities that are presented to you. I am open to anything. And in the words of some of my bosses, I get stuff done.
I work with new product development and logistics when required and find that interesting.
Strangely enough I think one of my best achievements for the Company was closing our Melbourne Shop. We had a short period of time to make good and exit the business. I maintained a full staff crew until the last day of business and made the rest disappear – including the sale of the remainder of the business to a new building owner. This was all done after just one conversation with my boss, faith and trust go a long way!
Do you have any tips for students interested in management?
Relationships are the key – ensure you develop and learn all the traits of a good manager – trust, sharing, empathy, have a vision, etc.
Remember respect goes both ways – you will be treated as you treat others!
Management within an organization will be different from managing your own business but the basic principles will always be the same.
If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life – I did that for 28 years within my family business.
Never be satisfied with second best – It will destroy you from the inside.
Dream of being the best in the world, and then do it!
by Mollie Berry
Grace is a passionate and pragmatic marketer amidst a creative class of artists, designers, makers and performers whose work is inspired by the wild allure of the landscape. In her role as Account Manager at The20, she aspires to access this creative storm in order to communicate the unique charm of Tasmania to the world.
1. What did you study at university? How did you reach your current position?
I’ve always been fascinated by society, people and patterns of behaviour which led me to study a combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business with majors in marketing, psychology and sociology. I was awarded the Clemenger Tasmania Scholarship in my final year, which included a 2-week corporate internship at the agency where I was tasked with completing a market research report that identified demographic, behavioural and attitudinal trends in Tasmania. It was the perfect opportunity to showcase my skills in an industry setting and resulted in permanent employment just 4 months later.
2. How would you describe your role at The20?
My first role at Clemenger Tasmania, who have recently rebranded as The20, wasn’t exactly what I wanted but meant I had my foot in the door for bigger, better things. I started as a fresh-faced Receptionist before moving into the data driven world of media planning and buying. This is where my project management skills were recognised and I was made an Account Manager. In this role, I am the bridge between the client and the agency. This involves all internal and external communication, interpreting a client’s business goals in the form of a brief that a team of creatives can use to develop a range of deliverables from newspaper advertisements and television commercials to websites and events, using an integrated platform to estimate costs, allocate resources and oversee progress, as well as identifying potential opportunities for new business.
3. What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
A successful Account Manager has the ability to wear many different hats simultaneously. This has always been the most challenging aspect of my role since I manage a number of clients across a range industry’s, from banks and car dealerships to grocers and disability support services. It requires me to have a comprehensive understanding of the brand landscape for each of these clients, which means I am always learning and evolving in line with industry trends to deliver the best possible service.
4. The20 is involved in a wide range of projects with both government and private groups. Do you have a favourite project or campaign?
You can’t change the world by being just like it. So I’m particularly passionate about small Tasmanian businesses who are willing to be bold. I was recently involved in branding a new business, Berera Radiology, that came about because the owner recognised the industry had become too focussed on numbers, not patient care. I had the privilege of managing the development of a brand name, positioning line, logo, website, signage, stationery and billboard that reflected his vision of a service that understands how each patient’s condition affects their lives, their family, their friends and their teammates.
5. What advice would you give to a student interested in a similar career?
Separate yourself from the competition by developing your personal brand and a strong portfolio. It’s important to know who you are and what you stand for and have some way of showcasing it. The more corporate internships you can do the better, and if there’s no opportunities in your field on interest don’t be afraid to create them. Passion is the precursor of success.
by David Lee
On the 26th of May, David Lee went up to Melbourne to see Steve Baxter - Shark Tank (Founder of ASX- listed PIPE Networks) at Start-up Grind Melbourne.
Quick Bio for Steve
I’ve been to some similar events hosted by Start-up Tasmania but was happy to see such a vibrant and diverse Melbourne scene. The event was scheduled in 3 stages, the first being getting to know people/networking, followed by Steve recounting his journey from soldier to Shark Tank judge and finally a Q & A session from the floor.
The event was held at Zendesk in the CBD and everyone was friendly so it was easy to fit in. I arrived early and had a quick chat with Steve which was really great as he seemed like an honest, down to earth guy, and funnily enough was a lot nicer in person then on T.V.
For the main segment, I was seated next to some guys who had an energy business and upon learning the size of their business, I asked them why they were here as their business had developed well beyond the start-up point. To which they replied: “An alternate view is never a bad thing” which I thought was an awesome way to look at the world.
Lastly I got to try out some really cool gear from ALPAKA bags who have raised $ 160,000 from crowdfunding alone, though priced at $180 a pop, is slightly out of my budget at this period in my life.
Steve’s talk was great and I got a lot of great insights and tips in the world of start-ups, the first and foremost being: “Now is the best time to launch.”
Steve Baxter – Fireside chat Highlights
“I joined the army at 15, and served for nine years. It was good at the time, but yes, there is a reason they don’t let 15-year-old’s join the army anymore”.
“Yes, It is a bit amusing that people know me for appearing on a T.V show rather than my businesses but at the end of the day, I’m really happy to have been involved with both.”
Q. Why do Silicon Valley Start-ups get more support and investment then Australian ones?
A. Because our ideas are crap. If an idea’s good enough the money will come. Business people aren’t stupid and will pay a premium amount for a premium start up.
Q. Do you invest in the idea or people?
A. People, always. The quality of the idea doesn’t really matter if I don’t like the person. It’s just a shame that good people often have shitty ideas.
Q. Do you read business books?
A. No, I hate them. I believe results speak for themselves and I much prefer someone who is going and who is building and creating a business then someone who reads books all day.
Q. What is your biggest failure?
A. Not safeguarding well enough against the GFC. At PIPE Networks, we were building a submarine cable from South Asia to Australia and at the time our sales methods weren’t solid when the GFC hit.
The effect was devastating and we were days away from insolvency. We told our suppliers of the situation and they agreed to dramatically alter our repayment deal, which gave us breathing space to solve our cashflow problems which was literally a lifesaver for us. The take home point, is that you can use your supplier as a bank once, so make sure it’s worth it when you do!
Though it’s great to hear insights live from a person of note, I think being able to network with peers has more benefit.
As business people, we need to communicate so we can share experiences, solutions and experiences and there is simply no better way to do this than in an open and friendly environment.
Events such as these bring people together from a wide range of professions. Chief technical officers, start-up founders and even management consultants all find themselves sharing successes, failures and even simple hints for business or even their daily lives.
I’d highly encourage anyone to come to these types of events whether in Melbourne, Hobart or anywhere where ideas can spread.
Here is another brief interview, this time with Angus Balcombe, an undergraduate in Deloitte's consulting team. It contains some useful insights into the industry from an undergraduate perspective.
What did you study?
Bachelor of Business (majoring in Accounting and Finance).
How would you describe what you do?
In consulting, we work closely with data. On a day-to-day basis we evaluate and interpret data that is tailored to help answer our clients hypothesis. This is usually in the form of a business proposal or report.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
I enjoy working with like-minded individuals in a team environment. Helping achieve the needs of our clients by exceeding their expectations.
What did you find challenging when you started?
Something that I found challenging but also satisfying, was having my own responsibility on how I interpreted data. Expressing this in a way that is easily readable to the client can be challenging at times.
What three pieces of advice/tips would you give to a student interested in a similar career?
1. Find out what interests you - develop an understating of the service line before applying and do your research.
2. Get involved - be positive and help contribute to a healthy work environment for other employees.
3. Challenge yourself – be eager to try new things that will push you out of your comfort zone.
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