Business Forum 2017, run by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)

  • Written by Matthew Snelson
Ricardo Semler
Ricardo Semler



Leadership visionary Ricardo Semler will lead an innovative business forum in Sydney next week, discussing the importance of attracting, and retaining, valuable staff.


The Semco President has been a champion of corporate re-engineering and employee-empowered leadership.


The Brazil-based leader abandoned what he called the ‘boarding school’ rules of running a company, such as start and finish times, and rules around how to dress.


Instead, he adopted unique methods where staff decide their own salaries and managers, and board meetings provide two open seats for the employees who arrive first.


Reshaping the rules has clearly worked because under his leadership, Semco has grown from $35 million to $160 million in the last six years, despite severe economic conditions.


Semler will detail his innovative approach and how to restructure relationships with your staff to drive performance at Business Forum 2017, run by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).


For details on how to join the conversation, and a full speaker list, visit:


“Growth and profit are a product of how people work together,” Semler says.


Jeana Abbott, CA ANZ’s Head of Education, said, “this forum is about gathering leaders together to make the case for Purpose Beyond Profit.”


“We are looking at how a social purpose brings not only a competitive advantage to a business, but value to the communities in which they reside, and the economy.


“It’s a discussion about the changing business landscape and the importance, and benefits, of instilling an organisation with purpose.


“It’s becoming clear that purpose is the next big disruptor. It leads to thriving businesses, flourishing communities and prosperous nations.


“We’ve assembled leaders in innovation and change to talk about how you can execute a purpose driven business model, aligned to commercial commitments, and how you measure the returns.”


Ricardo Semler will be joined by Walter Robb, who championed the idea of conscious capitalism as Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market.


The two-day forum will see a range of speakers lead the discussion, like Gus Balbontin, former CTO of Lonely Planet and Abigail Forsyth, founder of KeepCup.


James Grugeon, founder of The Good Beer Company, will give his insights on how harnessing the power of purpose can differentiate your business.


David Cooke, Konica Minolta’s first non-Japanese Managing Director for Australia, and Steve Vamos, President of the Society of Knowledge Economies, will also join the conversation.


Hundreds are expected to attend the two-day forum which will be held in Sydney on June 5th and 6th, and in Auckland on June 8th and 9th. Visit for more information.  


Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand represents 119,000 financial professionals.


Jeana Abbott
Jeana Abbott


  • Written by Naomi Hammond

Mantra Group has been recognised as one of Australia’s leading employers after being awarded a gold medal in the Human Resources Director Magazine (HRD) ‘Employer of Choice’ survey (500+ employees category).

The annual survey, which uniquely rates companies from the perspective of their employees, assesses a wide range of key areas, from remuneration satisfaction through to leadership effectiveness, but in essence the survey centres around team engagement.

Mantra Group Executive Director Human Resources Cherie McGill said the award win is the ultimate salute from the Group’s loyal and highly engaged team members.

“They’re extremely proud of whom they work for, and we’re extremely honoured to have them as part of our team,” said Ms McGill.

“The win is great validation of our team’s passion and hard work and testament of our recent employee engagement score of 86% and lower than industry staff turnover.”

Mantra Group, the largest Australian-based hotel and resort operator, also finished strongly in a number of other sub-categories such as learning and development, career progression, diversity and inclusion.

“We’re a vibrant, friendly and fun workplace, offering a wide variety of training and development opportunities to team members at every level,” said Ms McGill.

“We pride ourselves on fulfilling our mantra of ‘knowing what matters’ to our guests and team members and promote a culture of inclusion and diversity within our workplace with initiatives relating to flexibility, recruitment and empowerment.”

The full list of ‘Employer of Choice’ survey award winners is published in the current (15.05) issue of HRD Magazine.

Companies vying for this year’s title of Employer of Choice were from a range of industries from banking to health, hospitality, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, professional services and more.

About Mantra Group

Mantra Group is the leading Australian-based hotel and resort operator.  Mantra Group’s portfolio consists of 128 properties with more than 21,000 rooms in properties under management, across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hawaii. Operating three well-known and trusted brands – Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree - Mantra Group operates the second largest network of accommodation properties in Australia (by room number). The Group is positioned to offer both leisure and business style accommodation ranging from full-service city hotels and self-contained apartments to luxury resorts and retreats. The Group successfully listed on the ASX in June 2014 and in its first year as a public company was elevated to the ASX 200:;; ;

First National Real Estate’s highest achievers

  • Written by First National


First National Real Estate’s highest achievers were presented with their General Excellence and Marketing Awards at the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa last Friday night. The awards dinner brought recognition to Australia’s top 2016 salespeople, property managers and administrators, and attracted more than 385 delegates from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The peak event on First National’s awards calendar capped a year of strong growth, technological achievement, and dedication to providing the best advice and communication in the profession, which according to First National Real Estate’s chairman, David Nitschke, contributed to First National Real Estate winning Canstar Blue’s award for ‘Overall Customer Satisfaction’ award nationally for 2016/17.

‘First National is focused on a standard of excellence that puts customers’ interests first. We strive to deliver the things that customers most value in real estate such as quality communication and advice, marketing, value for money, problem resolution and contract handling. When agents bring these things together effectively, our customers get the results they seek’ said Mr Nitschke.

On the night the Top 10 Sales Offices for the network in Australia were named:

1.    First National Real Estate Byron Bay (NSW) Sales Office of the Year
2.    First National Real Estate Hunters Hill, Gladesville, Ryde (Gladesville, NSW)
3.    First National Real Estate Surfers Paradise (Qld)                       
4.    First National Real Estate Tweed Sutherland (Bendigo, Vic)
5.    First National Real Estate Collie & Tierney (Mildura, Vic)
6.    First National Real Estate Waverley City (Glen Waverley, Vic) 
7.    First National Real Estate Rayner (Bacchus Marsh, NSW)
8.    First National Real Estate Port Macquarie (NSW)
9.    First National Real Estate Daystar (Padstow, NSW)
10.    First National Real Estate Epping Central (Epping, NSW)

Queensland office First National Real Estate Brassall won Residential Property Management Department of the Year and First National Real Estate Pope Nitschke (Mt. Barker, SA) won Commercial Property Management Department of the Year.

Individual salespeople were also recognised on the night, with the Top 10 Salespeople taking home Chairman’s Circle GEM Awards:

1.    George Rafty, First National Real Estate Newcastle City (The Junction, NSW) Salesperson of the Year
2.    Michael Sleiman, First National Real Estate Daystar (Padstow, NSW)
3.    Allison Mifsud, First National Real Estate Epping Central (Epping, NSW)
4.    Ruma Mundi, First National Real Estate Hills Direct (The Ponds, NSW)
5.    Ryan McCann, First National Real Estate Cleveland (QLD)
6.    Catherine Murphy, First National Real Estate Epping Central (Epping, NSW)
7.    Huss Alsalemi, First National Real Estate Macarthur (Minto, NSW) 
8.    Michael Alexander, First National Real Estate Michael Alexander (Harrington Park, NSW)
9.    Benjamin Mulae, First National Real Estate Hunters Hill, Gladesville, Ryde (NSW)
10.    Russell Rollington, First National Real Estate Surfers Paradise (QLD)

Kathy Smart of First National Real Estate O’Donoghues (Darwin, NT) was named Property Manager of the Year and Ashleigh Lambert-Bignell of First National Real Estate North Haven (NSW) Property Manager Rookie of the Year.  Tiago Neves from First National Real Estate Bonnici & Associates (Wodonga, Vic) was named Sales Rookie of the Year.

Kylie Sharp of First National Real Estate Nick van Vliet (Willunga, SA) was named Administrator of the Year and Jessica Atkins of First National Real Estate Cleveland (QLD) was named Receptionist of the Year.  

Russell Burton from First National Real Estate Burton Groves (Tea Tree Gully, SA) received the network’s highest honour, the Kaye Heath Memorial Award, in recognition of his dedication to helping other members and his contribution to the network’s ongoing success through his former role as National Chairman.

Hollywood approach a blockbuster for businesses

  • Written by SCC

Treating your small business like a Hollywood movie project will help attract the best talent, increase staff engagement and boost your company’s bottom line, according to a leading business consultant.

Anthony Mitchell, director and co-founder of inner-Sydney business Bendelta, will share his staff leadership insights at the next City of Sydney City Thought Leaders seminar, No ‘i’ in team: understanding how staff are vital.

“Businesses need to assemble the best team. The ‘Hollywood approach’ is about getting the right team in place by hiring the equivalent of the best writer, producer, star and director – smart people who will work together towards a common goal,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Investing time and energy in recruitment will see you hire people that are team orientated and ‘stayers’.Continuity is good for your business bottom line, so it’s important to hire people who want to make your business their professional home.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the free Thought Leaders seminars were a good way for up-and-coming business owners to get first-hand guidance from those who had already built successful enterprises.

“Attracting and retaining talented and dedicated staff who share your vision and values is important, no matter what business you’re in. I’m sure this seminar will inspire people to think about their own businesses in a new light and look for opportunities to grow,” the Lord Mayor said.

Mark Lincoln, retail director of Lush Australasia, will also share his business expertise at the 31 May seminar. He says that after a chequered early history, the beauty product company’s staff-led approach saw a dramatic increase in profits.

“The company’s ethos has evolved to focus on building strong partnerships within the business and to being people-focused,” Mr Lincoln said.

“We are an ethical-based company with a commitment to environmental and social issues, and that fair trade approach extends to our staff.

“We have an open style, two-way communication where staff are encouraged to give feedback in a safe environment. The success of Lush in Australia was all about getting the right people on the bus, and we did this by creating a culture that makes us a great place to work.”


Mr Mitchell believes it is “deceptively simple” to create a great workplace that is collaborative and productive. His top tips are:

  • give staff a high sense of autonomy
  • play to people’s individual strengths
  • stretch yourself and others professionally
  • ensure that work has a sense of purpose
  • have meaningful connections with your staff.

“If you focus on how to get your staff to turn the ‘me’ into ‘we’, you will have staff that are happy to effectively collaborate with others, and this will make a world of difference to your business,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I believe deeply in human potential, and when people are developing that potential into skills and behaviours and feeling highly motivated, they can achieve amazing results together.”

The free City Thought Leaders seminars featuring Sydney’s experts in their field are held at Customs House on the last Wednesday of the month until November.

Seminar: No ‘i’ in team: understanding how staff are vital. 

Date: Wednesday 31 May 

Time: 6.30pm to 8.30pm 

Cost: free, but bookings are essential 

Bookings and event information:

Future seminars are:

  • Sydney’s tech startup revolution – 28 June
  • Sustainable business practices – 26 July
  • How innovation is changing the face of business – 30 August
  • Creative enterprises – 27 September
  • Women led businesses – 25 October
  • How important brand is to business – 29 November

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