28th Annual SEAANZ Conference



Conference Theme: Rhetoric and Reality: Effective Management of Small to Medium Enterprises

Message from SEAANZ President Professor Tim Mazzarol

There is no doubt that small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are important to the world’s economy. Across the 34 nations that comprise the OECD these firms account for around 99% of all businesses, employ more than half the workforce and make a significant contribution to the national GDP and value added. While only small proportions are high-growth, high-tech “Gazelle” firms the contribution of the vast majority of SMEs remains vitally important to the maintenance of employment and economic prosperity. 

In 2014 Australia hosted the G20 Leaders’ Summit which included a G20 SME Conference organised by the Australian Minister for Small Business the Hon Bruce Billson MP and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). This drew together a wide cross-section of delegates to focus on the enhancement of SMEs so as to help achieve the G20’s target of 2% growth by 2018/19. SEAANZ was an active participant in that event and fully supported the Minister’s call for government policy to address three critical issues: 

  1. Building an economic ecosystem that nurtures and supports SMEs.
  2. Requiring governments to remove barriers to SME entry and growth.
  3. Getting government to partner with SMEs to build the skills and capacity that they need to grow, innovate and increase productivity. 

The 28th Annual SEAANZ conference built on this by hosting, in collaboration with the Australian Treasury, New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Australian Institute for Innovation an Australian and New Zealand SME Research and Policy Forum. This brought together representatives from the “four pillars” of research, education, policy and practice to explore how these communities can collaborate, share knowledge and facilitate a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem to address the three critical issues outlined by Minister Bruce Billson.

Since its foundation in 1987 SEAANZ has championed the cause of small enterprise and the need for excellence in research, education, policy and practice in relation to such firms. The 28th Annual SEAANZ conference built on the legacy of the past twenty-eight years and set a new benchmark. Thanks to the support of the National Australia Bank (NAB) we were able to hold the event within the fabulous "The Village" at 700 Bourke Street, Melbourne. Additional support came from sponsoring partners Wrays, the State Government of Victoria, Top Education Institute, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Curtin University, Massey University and Queensland University of Technology.

The event was also made possible thanks to the support of the International Council of Small Business (ICSB), the Australian Institute for Innovation, the Australian Treasury, the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the University of Western Australia's Centre for Social Impact. 

Day 1: Indigenous Small Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Summit


SEAANZ is committed to indigenous entrepreneurship and small enterprise as a mechanism for enhancing the economic and social development of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities across Australia and New Zealand. In 2013 SEAANZ launched the first indigenous small enterprise and entrepreneurship forum at our 26th Annual Conference. That event was a resounding success and was followed in 2014 at or 27th Annual Conference with strong participation from Maori and Aboriginal business and academic communities as well as the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the Hon Victor Michael Dominello MP.

At the 28th Annual SEAANZ Conference a full-day Indigenous Small Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Summit took place on Wednesday 1 July 2015. The event drew together representatives from indigenous communities across Australia and New Zealand as well as internationally. It focused on how to build, grow and sustain indigenous enterprise, and their critical role in the creation of jobs for indigenous communities. SEAANZ collaborated with the National Australia Bank, the UWA Centre for Social Impact (CSI), and the Victorian and NSW Indigenous Chambers of Commerce over this event.

Keynote speakers

Professor Dennis Foley, University of Newcastle and Director SEAANZ 

Professor Dennis Foley from the University of Newcastle is a leading academic in the field of indigenous enterprise and entrepreneurship. Dennis’ career within the tertiary education sector began at Griffith University where he developed the Indigenous Career and Employment strategy and where he helped write the first Australian Indigenous Degree program in Indigenous Art. Several teaching appointments followed. This included MBA courses at the University of Queensland, Business and Management courses at the Australian Catholic University, and Indigenous Land-Use Management and Practice at the University of Queensland. Dennis has taught across Humanities, Education and Arts Faculties at the Universities of Queensland and Sydney, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Hawaii, as well as Financial and Strategic Management at Swinburne University while he held the position of Acting Director of the Master’s program in Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the tertiary education sector, Dennis held senior management positions within the banking and finance sector. His experience included state manager of a merchant bank and commercial lending. Professor Foley is a Fulbright Scholar and dual Endeavour Fellow. His publications focus on social inclusion and cross disciples such as Indigenous Literature, Indigenous History, Indigenous Studies, Business Management (Entrepreneurship) and Indigenous Epistemology and Pedagogy. Dennis identifies as Koori. His matrilineal connection is Gai-mariagal of the Guringah language group of northern Sydney, and his patrilineal connection is to the Wiradjuri people of the Capertree/Turon River region. Dennis is active within the Indigenous community and Indigenous business associations. He is a Member of the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation and Director of both the Mandurah Hunter Indigenous Business Chamber and the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. He has also received ministerial appointments to the Sydney Harbour Region Advisory Committee of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and to the Indigenous Business Advisory Group of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Elder Carolyn Briggs, Chair and Founder, The Boon Wurrung Foundation

Elder Carolyn Briggs is the 2011 National NAIDOC Award Winner – Elder of the Year, established Australia’s first Aboriginal child care centre, is CEO of the Boonwurrung Foundation, which she set up to help connect Aboriginal youth to their heritage, and is also a member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. She has developed Indigenous employment strategies with the State Government and is a former director of La Trobe University’s Aboriginal Tertiary Support Unit, Bendigo. As a mediator with the Equal Opportunities Commission, Carolyn was seconded to work with the Federal Attorney-General as head researcher for Victoria on the Muirhead recommendations to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Carolyn Briggs gained entry in the 2012 and 2013 Who’s Who of Australian Women, and was inducted into the 2005 Victorian Honour Roll of Women. She is currently studying language and linguistics in the hope of recording her Boonwurrung language in oral and written form.

Esmai Manahan, Senior Aboriginal Consultative Family Therapist

Esmai Manahan is a Yorta Yorta woman, raised in a family that has been very active in the Aboriginal movement for over 60 years, including the fight for the 1967 Referendum and the establishment of Aboriginal services in Victoria. She is strongly connected to the Yorta Yorta Nation and Cummeragunja, the birthplace of her mother. She has successfully combined motherhood, study, volunteering, leadership and community participation, as well as successfully developing a career in the community, private and public sectors. Esmai has been involved and influential in the establishment of Aboriginal programs and organisations in all three sectors. She worked at the Aboriginal Advancement League as a teenager and was mentored by both Sir Douglas Nicholls and Bruce McGuiness during a period of enormous change that signaled the start of an era of self-determination for Aboriginal people and she has continued to keep strong community ties. Esmai was Manager of the Koori Business Network and Indigenous Economic Development Unit in Victorian State Government for 15 years, and was successful in leading Aboriginal economic development in this state, including collaborations and partnerships that have seen much change and success for Aboriginal business in recent years. This included the establishment of Kinaway, the first state based Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce in Australia, the delivery of four editions of an online and hardcopy Victorian Indigenous Business Directory, 3 Yulkuum Jerrang Indigenous Economic Development Conferences, and the annual Dardi Aboriginal Business Excellence Awards. She led the very successful implementation of the 2006 Commonwealth Games Indigenous program “Respecting Indigenous Communities” that included involvement, training and showcasing of over  100 Victorian Aboriginal businesses.Esmai was the recipient of the 2002 Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year Award, past Board member of Parks Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria, Queen Victoria Women’s Trust and Diversity at Work, a Founding and Life Member of the Margaret Tucker Hostel for Young Aboriginal Women and past Chair of the Victorian Indigenous Arts Management committee – Victorian College of the Arts. Download presentation>>>

The Hon. Natalie Hutchins MP, Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations, Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs

As the first in her family to graduate from University, Natalie’s passion for politics is driven by a commitment to equal opportunities and access to good public education. As a working mum Natalie knows first hand the many issues facing the hard working families in her area, the importance of job security and the need for reliable local infrastructure. All her working life she has fought for equal rights and for job security for Victorian Workers. Since getting elected in 2010 as the Member of Parliament for Keilor in the State Parliament. Natalie was appointed the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Ports, Freight & Logistics. In 2014 electorate boundaries were redrawn and Natalie Hutchins was elected to parliament as the Member for Sydenham. Natalie Hutchins has been appointed the Minister for Local Government, Aboriginal Affairs and Industrial Relations.

Karen Milward, Chairperson, Kinaway Victorian Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce

Karen owns and operates Karen Milward Consultancy Services (since 2004) and has extensive consulting experience in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and undertaking complex projects commissioned by Government Departments and their agencies with responsibility for policy and program development and service delivery impacting on Aboriginal communities. Karen has extensive networks across Australia within all levels of government and with Indigenous communities andorganisations on a broad range of initiatives across Australia – especially those targeting Indigenous communities. Karen has held senior policy and program management positions in Government and has been involved in Aboriginal Affairs all of her life and consulting in Aboriginal affairs for 20 years. Karen is a Yorta Yorta woman who was born and raised in Melbourne. Karen is a strong advocate for developing culturally appropriate solutions to the issues confronting indgenous people that empower individuals and communities so they can confidently and effectively move forward. Karen has extensive experience in social research, with expertise in issues concerning Aboriginal communities and organisations, early intervention and prevention, children and young people, health, housing, drug and alcohol, family violence, native title, education, training and employment, cultural heritage, social justic, and Aboriginal cultural competence and responsiveness to government and mainstream services. Karen is the chairperson for several indigenous organisations in Victoria. 

Debbie Barwick, NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce

Debbie Barwick is the Chairperson and Founder of the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce (NSWICC) and the Director of Wiyala Resources Pty Ltd. Debbie is a Kamilaroi Woman from Bora Crossing NSW who has spent the past 15 years working to support the establishment and growth of viable Aboriginal Businesses and supporting the growth of Enterprising Communities. Her understanding of the barriers faced by Aboriginal people in business and her unwavering passion to see Aboriginal people participating equally in the Australian and global economies is key to her successes in this field. During her remarkable career Debbie has made significant contributions to the current Aboriginal business sector and her governance and strategic abilities are highly valued by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Communities and by Government and Corporate Australia. Her strengths lie in her experience and systematic approach to planning, developing, implementing and reviewing programs and projects from beginning to end.

Laura Egan, Founder of Enterprise Learning Projects

Laura Egan is the founder of Enterprise Learning Projects (ELP), that works in partnership with remote Aboriginal communities to develop inclusive, creative ans sustainable enterprise-based initiatives that support family and community goals. After completing a Bachelor of Arts/Commerce in 2004, Laura travelled to India where she saw micro-enterprise being used as a tool for community development. Whilst in India, Laura became increasingly aware of the huge disparity that existed within Australia between the indigenous and non-indigenous communities and decided to return home to develop a deeper understanding of the root causes and see how it might be addressed. She moved to the remote Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia in 2006, and it was there that she began her journey to support remote Aboriginal people to use enterprise as a vehicle for empowerment. Laura is now a skilled enterprise facilitator, with a passion for working with individuals, groups and communities in the realization of their aspirations. Laura adopts a strengths-based community development approach and has extensive experience working in a cross-cultural context. Laura also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Indigenous Studies, a Certificate IV in Small Business Management, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. 

Day 1: Professional Development Workshops

Workshop: Measuring research impact through citations - some ANZ evidence

Professor Geoff Soutar, University of Western Australia

Geoff Soutar is Winthrop Professor and Nancy Keegan and Don Voelte Distinguished Scholar at the University of Western Australia Business School. He is a Fellow and Life Member of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management and was an Inaugural Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy. Geoff has published widely across a wide range of areas, including in the SME area. He has won an Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Distinguished Researcher Award and an Australian Teaching and a Learning Council Citation for his Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. Professor Soutar reported on the results of an analysis of the citation metrics of 2,264 marketing academics in the top 500 research universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The metrics are analysed for the period 2001 to 2013 and provide an objective measure of the research impact of these individuals as well as a benchmark that can be used by governments, universities and individual academics to compare their research impact. The study finds that the use of a computed 'h-g' index is a more reliable measure of impact than journal ranking systems or impact factors. The results of this research have have been published in the Australasian Marketing Journal (2015) volume 23, pages 155-161Download presentation>>>

Workshop: Getting Published - A Guide to Keeping Your Sanity

Professor Tim Mazzarol, University of Western Australia

Tim Mazzarol is a Winthrop Professor within the UWA Business School where he specialises in marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation. He is a Qualified Practising Market Researcher (QPMR), an affiliate Professor at the Burgundy School of Business, Groupe ESC Dijon Bourgogne, France, as well as an Adjunct Professor with the University of the South Pacific. Tim is the interim Editor in Chief of the SEAANZ journal “Small Enterprise Research” and a member of the Editorial Advisory and Review Boards of the “International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research” and the “Journal of Small Business Management”. He has published several books or book chapters and numerous academic papers in international journals in the fields of marketing, small business, entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy. He is a reviewer for several academic journals and publishers. Tim is the Director of the Co-operative Enterprise Research Unit (CERU) at UWA as well as the President of SEAANZ and Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation (CEMI). In this presentation Tim outlines some of the key things to consider when seeking to publish academic research in the peer reviewed literature. Download presentation>>>

Day 2: A Trans-Tasman view of Small Business Policy

A highlight for the conference ws an opportunity to have breakfast with the Small Business Ministers from Australia and New Zealand. The Hon Bruce Billson MP, Australian Minister for Small Business and the Hon Craig Foss MP, New Zealand Minister for Small Business spoke at a special breakfast event on Thursday 2 July 2015 at the conference. They addressed the role and importance of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurship to their national economies, and outlined future policies to help foster the growth and sustainability of a vibrant small enterprise sector. Their presentations were followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

The Hon Bruce Billson MP, Australian Minister for Small Business

The Hon Bruce Billson MP is a seventh-term Member of the Australian House of Representatives and was sworn in as the Minister for Small Business on 18 September 2013. Bruce was first elected to the Australian Parliament in 1996 and has held positions including Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs (2004), Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence in the Howard Government (2006). Following the 2007 Federal Election Bruce held a number of senior Shadow Ministry portfolios before being appointed to Shadow Minister for Small Business in December 2009. Bruce proudly represents the outer Melbourne metropolitan coastal constituency of Dunkley, which covers 140 square kilometres from Seaford in the north to Mornington in the south. Bruce attended RMIT University focusing his undergraduate studies on broader business issues before going on to complete his Masters of Business Leadership. As a former small business owner, Bruce is committed to restoring confidence in the sector, cutting red tape, encouraging growth and driving employment and innovation.

The Hon Craig Foss MP, New Zealand Minister for Small Business

The Hon Craig Foss MP is the New Zealand Minister for Small Business, Veterans’ Affairs and Statistics. He is also the Associate Minister of Immigration and Transport. He was first elected as MP for Tukituki in 2005. In 2011 he won the election with a majority of almost 10,000. Craig was then appointed as Minister of Commerce, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Minister of Broadcasting and Associate Minister of ACC. Craig’s policy interests of finance, economy and agriculture rest on his previous career in investment banking and on the importance of land-based industries to Hawke’s Bay. Craig was brought up in Lower Hutt. In his 7th form year at Naenae College, he was selected as an AFS exchange student to Ohio, USA. Craig has a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University. In 1985, Craig was hired by the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), treasury in Wellington before heading up the BNZ Singapore treasury office in 1990. Craig then held senior management positions for Credit Suisse Financial Products (CSFP) in London and Tokyo before returning to Hawke’s Bay with his family, and entering politics. Craig and his wife, Kristal have two daughters. They spend their time between Havelock North and their small farm at Waimarama. Family, friends, rugby and the beach are Craig’s favourite pastimes.

National Australia Bank Keynote Speakers

David Bannatyne, General Manager, Small Business Personal Banking National Australia Bank

David is the General Manager of Small Business in Personal Banking. In this role, David leads a team of Small Business Bankers who meet the business and personal needs of around 210,000 small business customers with business lending requirements of less than $1 million, and with up to $5 million in annual turnover. Since joining NAB in 2005, David has held a number of positions including Executive General Manager, Banking & Payment Services, Group Business Services; Chief Risk Officer, Group Business Services; Chief Risk Officer, Corporate Centre; and Group General Manager, Operational Risk & Security. David is a Director of Nautilus Singapore Pte Ltd (NAB’s captive insurance company) and National Market Automated Quotation System Limited (AUSMAQ - a NAB company). David is a member of the Group Payments Council, Group Whistleblower Committee, and Next Generation Business Readiness Steering Committee. Prior to joining NAB, David was the CEO, Australia/Pacific for Control Risks Group; a London based business risk consultancy. David has spent over 24 years working in the field of risk management, including 11 years working on assignments in various parts of Asia for Control Risks.

Alan Oster, Chief Economist National Australia Bank

Alan Oster is the Group Chief Economist for the National Australia Bank. Alan joined the Bank in 1992 from the Federal Treasury where he worked for 15 years - his special field being economic forecasting and monetary policy. He graduated (with first class honours) in economics from Newcastle University. He also holds a Master’s degree in economics from the Australian National University. Immediately before joining the Bank, Alan was the Senior Adviser in Treasury responsible for economic forecasting and modelling. In 1987 he was seconded for nearly four years as Counsellor-Economic and Financial with Australia’s delegation to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. As Group Chief Economist, Alan is responsible for NAB’s global economic and financial forecasts. He is also a highly respected and much quoted commentator on Australian and global economic trends and policy issues.

Alan's presentation focused on the global outlook for the Australian and New Zealand Economies within the context of the current international uncertaintly surrounding the risk of Greece exiting the Euro Zone and the downturn in the Chinese economy. Download presentation>>>

Family Business Workshop: How to work when you have 'Kin' in the game

Lucio Dana, Family Business Australia

Lucio is a specialist family business facilitator and adviser. He is the Managing Director of Creativity In Business Pty Ltd, trading as Family Business Dynamics. Lucio lectured in family and non-family business management subjects at RMIT University and Monash University in Melbourne. He is the co-author of Family Business Succession Planning: A 10-Step Guide, 2000 CPD; several Australian Family Business Surveys spanning the period 2000-2013; and "Family business best practices: Where from and where to?" which was published in the Journal of Family Business Strategy (2010) volume 1, number 1, pages 40-45.

Family Business Australia (FBA) is the peak national body for families in business. Established in 1997 it is a not for profit, membership based organisation that provides support and mentoring to family owned businesses to assist them towards sustainability, growth and prosperity. The management of family owned businesses is often complext as it requires attention to be given to both the business and the family dynamics. People who own and operate family businesses need to learn to deal with family conflict, hold each other accountable and work together for common goals. Aligning the family and the business goals and determining the best 'rules of the game' are key challenges that must be overcome. Download presentation>>>

Taxation Workshop: Computer says NO! - Is the Australian Taxation Office about to get it wrong?

Gaving Waring, Your Business Angels

As CEO of Your Business Angels Gavin has helped thousands of Australian small business owners recover from the critical debt and management issues that threatened their business. “No one running an SME is under the illusion it is easy,” Gavin says. “We work harder and longer than people with 9-to-5 jobs in multinationals and SME business owners have just as much right to be rewarded for their efforts.”  Big businesses have had a traditional and massive advantage over smaller operators. As an SME himself Gavin feels compelled to help his fellow business owners gain maximum leverage so they can enjoy the fruits of their labour. The Your Business Angel group operates in all states of Australia. The group has always followed the tag-line “Repair the past – Rescue the future”. There is a team of 40 people all working to help the clients who are all SME’s. Gavin was joined on stage by other SME operators who have been through a turnaround and have all faced big tax debts, as well as large financial and trading debts. Gavin says that “Opportunities come cleverly disguised as insurmountable problems” and will through discussion with the group demonstrate that the reinvention of most businesses is possible – so that they become compliant and profitable. Gavin is also the Author of “How not to committee Business Suicide” A must read book for anyone who currently owns a small/medium business or is about to start a new business venture. It is a straightforward guide to protecting business and personal assets and provides business owners with the information to take control of their business’ future. The book has sold 5,000 copies. The book was a big seller in Borders (They should have read it!).

Small Business Financing Workshop: Do Accountants have a future after disruptive technologies meet Small Business?

John Shillington, Head of Development, Small Business, National Australia Bank

John is the acting Head of Development Manager for NAB Small Business. He has been with the NAB for five years and recently completed his MBA. He has over 14 years’ experience in banking and 12 of these years working in Business Banking throughout Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Prior to working in banking John had a career as a professional rugby league player. After playing for the Australia n schoolboys he went on to complete contracts with the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm. Working with a range of businesses everyday John sees how every business is different and unique. He understands that the reasons owners start their own business are very personal, having run his own small business for four years, and likes to hear from customers about what motivated and inspired them. John likes to learn from every customer he connects with and invites all small businesses doing it on their own to learn from us and other small business owners, too.

James Solomons, Head of Accounting, Xero

James is a passionate chartered accountant and a thought leader on what is a Modern Accounting Business and a Connected Adviser. As Xero Australia’s Head of Accounting he is responsible for providing a clear vision and positive guidance to accountants to help them survive and thrive in an industry that is undergoing substantial disruption. He also provides valuable industry experience and knowledge to Xero as part of the software design and strategy process. He is a director and co-founder of Aptus Accounting & Advisory, a connected & progressive accounting business that exists to connect its clients to everything they need to succeed. This is made possible through the use of smart technology tools like Xero to ensure their clients are operating on a connected and efficient business platform.


Vicki Stylianou, Executive General Manager, Institute of Public Accountants

Vicki came to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) in June 2007 from Federal Treasury, where she worked in tax policy, financial literacy, and prudential regulation and in the Office of Best Practice Regulation on secondment. Prior to this Vicki worked as a lawyer in private practice specialising in commercial litigation both in Australia and overseas. Vicki holds a Bachelor of Jurisprudence, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Business Administration (International Business). At the IPA, Vicki leads the team responsible for policy and advocacy work, as well as the innovation part of the business unit, which focuses on matters of interest to small business and small to medium practices.


Small Business Commissioners' Workshop: Putting a Human Face to Regulation

Mark Brennan, Australian Small Business Commissioner 

Mr Mark Brennan commenced in his role as the Australian Small Business Commissioner on 2 January 2013. Mr Mark Brennan has a strong track record of achievement in the small business area throughout his extensive career. Mark has owned and operated his own small business as Principal of MA Brennan and Associates. The firm provided advice to government on legislative reviews and policy issues. It also advised businesses and industry membership groups on government relations. Mark sits on the board of the Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand and is a member of the International Council for Small Business. Mark served for seven years as the inaugural Victorian Small Business Commissioner (VSBC), the first such position in any jurisdiction in Australia. The VSBC model implemented by Mark is widely regarded as best practice and he has been consulted by those states which have subsequently introduced their own small business commissioners. Download presentation>>>

Geoff Browne, Victorian Small Business Commissioner

Geoff Browne was appointed as Victorian Small Business Commissioner in October 2011. Prior to the appointment, Geoff was Deputy Director at Consumer Affairs Victoria for six years. He has had senior management experience in both the public and private sectors, working in telecommunications, finance, and e-commerce. He has also run his own small business. Geoff has a Master’s Degree and First Class Honours Degree in Economics, and a Graduate Diploma in Company Secretarial Practice. The role of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner is to help small businesses resolve disputes and this is a role the position has played since 2003. The Commissioner provides small businesses with a place to go for assistance and guidance on business disputes. The Commissioner also has specific legislative functions and can arrange confidential, low cost, yet fast and effective median to disputes under the guidance of an independent mediator. 

David Eaton, Western Australian Small Business Commissioner

David Eaton was appointed Western Australia’s first Small Business Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC), on 21 December 2011. He took up this position on 17 January 2012. As Commissioner, David is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the SBDC including overseeing an Alternative Dispute Resolution service for small business. Most recently, the Commissioner has undertaken an independent investigation into the non-payment of subcontractors on specific Government managed projects. Prior to this appointment, David gained extensive management experience through his early career as a business owner, growing a company from a small clothing and textile factory to a large manufacturing business wholesaling throughout Australia. He then began a successful corporate career with Australia Post, becoming a member of the National Executive team when he was appointed State Commercial Manager in 2003. In 2008, David accepted a national role based in Melbourne, leading a major business transformation program and developing an enterprise-wide framework to reposition Australia Post’s sales and marketing functions. David is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a past member of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games appeals committee.

Robyn Hobbs, NSW Small Business Commissioner

Robyn Hobbs OAM was appointed the NSW Small Business Commissioner in 2014. In her extensive career Robyn has worked in a number of different sectors including the arts, business, community services, social welfare, media and government. She has run several small businesses during her career and worked in senior roles for the State Chamber of Commerce, Sydney Opera House, the City of Sydney and the City of Parramatta. The NSW Small Business Commissioner position was established in 2011 with a purpose of service as a neutral party in mediation and dispute resolution between small businesses or between a small business and a larger firm and/or government. The Commissioner offers high quality business advice and advisors who can access world class tools, as well as a voice of advocacy on behalf of the small business community.


Dr Michael Schaper, Deputy Chairman, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Dr Michael Schaper is the Deputy Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and a member of the ACCC's Enforcement Infrastructure and Adjudication Committees. He is also a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, an Adjunct Professor with Curtin University and the Chair of the Asia Pacifc Centre for Franchising Excellence at Griffith University. He has been a past President of SEAANZ, a Director of Director of the International Council of Small Business (ICSB), and the manager of a community-based small business advisory centre. Michael has previously held positions as ACT Small Business Commissioner, Dean of the Murdoch University Business School, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Newcastle, and Senior Lecturer in Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Curtin University of Technology. He has published several books and peer reviewed papers, and in 2009 was awarded the "National Small Business Champion Award" by the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA). Michael holds PhD and a Master of Commerce degree from Curtin University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts from UWA.

Creative Industries Workshop: Focus on the Arts - Work as a passion...but money helps too!

A feature of the conference was the forum at the end of Day 2 that featured the entrepreneurship and innovation of the creative arts industries. Led by Janett Egber, Manager, Strategic Partnerships - Small Business at the National Australia Bank, the forum featured the exciting dance routine of Triple8Funk "dancepreneur" Joel Gallarde, an entrepreneur who has turned his passion for dance into a highly successful business. He was joined by creative arts entrepreneurs: Nish Pranavitana, the owner of Nish PhotographyRick Curtis, Director of R&B Haircraft & Velocity Audio, and Kylie Mouat, founder and Director of Kazique Pty Ltd, who offer an innovative and creative solution to funerals.

Joel Fuentes-Gallarde, Founder, Director and Choreographer of Triple8Funk Dance Company

Joel is the founder, director and choreographer of the Triple8Funk Dance Company. He started dancing late in his teens and joined the Company of Ateneo Dancers (CADS) in the Philippines where he developed an instant deep passion for dance. He moved to New Zealand in 1999 to study at the University of Auckland and founded a Hip Hop dance club in 2001 (just for the fun of it). From that initial start Joel has grown his business into one of the most established street dance companies in Australasia. Over the years Joel has develop an international reputation as one of the most influential and innovative forces in the international urban dance scene. He believes that to achieve one's goals in dancing one needs discipline, and the ability to have fun.

Nish Pranavitana, Founder and Director, Nish Photography

Nish is a professional photographer specialising in corporate portraits, personal portraits, architecture, events and wedding photography. He started his business after a long career in the financial services sector. Born in Sri Lanka, Nish moved with his parents to the United States and eventually to Australia. His parents wanted him to become a doctor or a lawyer but his passion had always been to become a photographer. He went into banking and financial planning for 17 years to earn a living and pursued photography as a hobby. However, he found it difficult to find the time due to the pressure of his "normal" work. Eventually, he realised he was not happy and his daughter didn't even want to cuddle him because he had become so engaged with his daily work in the finance sector he wasn't connected with his family. With help from his wife and a psychologist he rediscovered music and photography and began to enjoy life again.

Rick Curtis, Founder and Director of R&B Haircraft and Velocity Audio

Rick is the entrepreneurial inspiration behind both R&B Haircraft, an innovative hair salon, and Velocity Audio, an entertainment company that sees its purpose as inspiring others to be the best they can be and to share the love of music. Torn between his dual passions for hair dressing and music Rick decided to establish both businesses and finds that they offer a good deal of synergy for his clients. At Velocity Audio Rick and his team custom make the entertainment experience using a tried and tested musical formula that is constantly evolving and adapting. He says, "if you want tracks played off a list - we suggest you hire a jukebox, or get an iPod. If you want seamless musical flow, an edgier feel to your experiences, and would like to see a packed dancefloor in all its glory, then we are more than happy to oblige - it's what we do".

Kylie Mouat, Founder and Director, Kazique Creative Funeral Events

Kylie is a highly creative individual who was working overseas when her mother suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage. Returning to New Zealand to deal with her mother's funeral, Kylie was confronted by the desire to celebrate the life of her mother who had been a "vibrant and amazing" woman. She felt that her mother's life should not be dealt with in the traditional manner of funerals; sombre and sad. Instead she prepared a celebration event for the funeral that drew on her experience of working in the performing arts and the production of creative events. Her mother's funeral was such as success that it triggered her journey towards the foundation of Kazique Creative Funeral Events. This business breaks all the conventions of funeral direction. Rather than black and sombre it is a celebration of the person's life and provides a wonderful memory of them for those who remember them as they were alive. As Kylie says, "the aim of Kazique is to make sure that when you are farewelled for the last time you are celebrated". 

Day 2: Australia and New Zealand Small Business Research and Policy Forum

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are the engine room of the national economy. They comprise the majority of all businesses, employ most of the workforce and provide the majority of the value added. On 20 June 2014 the Australian Minister for Small Business, The Hon Bruce Billson MP, in conjunction with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), hosted a G20 SME Conference in Melbourne. This drew together representatives from across a wide range of communities to focus on the “The role of SMEs in meeting the G20’s target of 2% growth” and the process of “Enabling SMEs”.

This year, as part of the 28th Annual SEAANZ Conference, SEAANZ in conjunction with the Australian Treasury, the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Australian Institute for Innovation (A2I) held an Australian and New Zealand Small Business Research and Policy Forum. The forum drew together representatives from the “four pillars” of research, education, policy and practice communities to discuss how we can collaborate effectively to build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The forum took place on 2 July 2015 within the SEAANZ conference on an invitation only basis. The forum addressed the following three questions:

  • What needs to be done by government agencies, academics, professional associations, education and training institutions and the business community to foster the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that nurtures and supports SMEs?

  • What are the key regulatory and legislative obstacles to the establishment and growth of SMEs and what action can governments; with support from academic researchers, education and training institutions and professional associations take to reduce them?

  • What are the most appropriate ways in which governments, researchers, education and training institutions, and professional associations develop partnerships with SMEs to help them build the skills and capacity they require to grow innovate and increase their productivity?

Download the workshop briefing paper here >>>


Day 3: The Building of an Innovation Nation

Opening Keynote Address

The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Victorian Minister for Industry, Energy and Resources

The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP is the Member for Mill Park and also the Victorian Minister for Industry, Energy and resources. Lily grew up in Fawkner in what was then an outer northern suburb and knows first-hand how challenging it can be for families to make ends meet and the role governments can play in helping families along the way. She was educated at Fawkner North Primary School, Mercy College, Coburg and St Aloysius College, North Melbourne before going on to study English, Philosophy and Politics at the University of Melbourne. Lily also completed a Diploma in Public Policy. Lily joined the ALP in 1983 and became involved in many community campaigns including support for local jobs for the northern suburbs, fair pay and conditions for women in work, better public transport, decent schools and well paid skilled jobs for our kids. In 2002, Lily was elected to Parliament representing the Lower House seat of Mill Park. Following the re-election of the Bracks Government in 2002, Lily was appointed Chair of the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee of the Victorian Parliament. In 2006, she was promoted by Premier Bracks to the role of Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Communities (from 2007, Community Development), and was promoted to Cabinet in January 2010 becoming Minister for Community Development. Following the 2010 election, Lily was appointed Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection, Shadow Minister for Energy, Shadow Minister for Cost of Living and Shadow Minister for the Suburbs. As of November 2014 with the election of the Andrews Labor Government, Lily has been appointed as Minister for Industry, Energy & Resources.

Innovation and Commercialisation Workshop: New Challenges Need New Perspectives

Paul Cheever, CEO Australian Institute for Innovation

Paul Cheever is Chief Executive of the Australian Institute for Innovation, which he co-founded in 2010. The Institute is a not-for-profit policy organisation promoting new thinking about Australia’s innovation policy and program framework. Over the past 44 years, Paul has held senior executive positions in merchant banking, banking, resources, and investment consulting organisations, including senior finance roles in two top-twenty Australian listed companies. He was CEO of Russell, the first Chief Executive of the CSS/PSS, and has served as Chair of ASFA’s Best Practice Committee, where he led the development of ASFA’s widely acclaimed Risk Management Papers. He was an inaugural Director, and Chair of the Regulatory Committee, of the Alternative Investment Management Association. Paul has been involved in venture capital since 2000. He is recognised as the designer and cofounder of the Medical Research, and Trans-Tasman, Commercialisation Collaborations that brought institutional capital together with new technologies from Australia’s leading Medical Research Institutes and Universities, to the profit of the investors, the research organisations and the Australian economy. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science from Washington & Lee University, a MBA from the University of Michigan and is a Fellow of FINSIA.

David Chin, Principal, Wrays Lawyers

David is a Principal of Wrays Lawyers, and is dual-qualified as a lawyer and Australian trademarks attorney. David specialises in managing, developing, commercialising and protecting intellectual property for various top tier national and international clients. David is a Certified Licensing Professional and his commercial practice specialises in managing intellectual property and drafting and negotiating agreements through the entire commercialisation cycle and across a broad range of industries, including life sciences, physical sciences, ICT and engineering. This includes collaboration within industry, government, research and start-up sectors. David joined Wrays Lawyers after practising at the University of Melbourne and working closely with the University’s Technology Commercialisation Group. David’s range of commercial and IP services include: drafting and negotiating commercialisation licence agreements, research collaboration agreements, consultancy services agreements, assignment agreements and royalty sharing agreements; evaluating and advising on IP rights relating to patents, know-how/confidential information, trademarks, copyright and designs; incorporating start-ups and drafting constitutions, shareholder agreements, developing IP policies and management strategies and conducting due diligence; and general commercial matters such as advising on consumer protection and trade practices and drafting distribution agreements, software licence and services agreements, publishing agreements, clinical trial agreements, franchise agreements, privacy policies and website terms and conditions. Download presentation>>>

Janett Egber, Manager, Strategic Partnerships - Small Business, National Australia Bank

Janett Egber has over 15 years professional experience in strategic marketing, customer insights, analytics, segmentation and business development. Her real passion lies in supporting and making a contribution to the small business community. Janett holds a Masters of Marketing from Melbourne Business School and her undergraduate degree is in Statistics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For the past seven years, Janett has held senior manager roles at NAB and ANZ. She currently manages national relationships across industry groups and strategic partnerships for NAB’s Small Business Division. Prior to joining the Financial Services Industry, Janett worked for two leading market research agencies. Janett is a passionate and energetic advocate of entrepreneurship and small business. She is a firm believer in the potential of Australia's entrepreneurial spirit and feels very proud to be in a role where she can help make a difference and drive change for such a critical sector of the economy.

Professor Scott Holmes, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President R&D, University of Western Sydney

Professor Holmes is Deputy Vice- Chancellor and Vice-President (Research and Development). He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland and a Life Member of the Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand reflecting almost three decades of research and support for the small firm sector. Professor Holmes is an internationally recognised researcher in business management and health economics. Professor Holmes economic and business background is extensive, having published 6 books and over 60 Referred articles. In 2006 he was received the Business/Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Award Best Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year and in 2012 he received an Excellence in Innovation Award, from Newcastle University. Professor Holmes outlined the findings of a research study undertaken into how small business owners deal with and assess the relative importance of a range of factors common to these firms. His paper, "Opening Aladdin's Cave: Unpacking the Factors Impacting on Small Firms", which was co-authored with Dhruba Gupta, was summarised. This paper identifies five main segments or "types" of small business owners who focus either on growth or stability.

Michael Egan, Director SME Engagement Centre, CSIRO

Michael Egan is the Director of the SME Engagement Centre at the CSIRO, a position he has held since 2010. He is a highly experienced Commercial Scientific Director who is qualified in electro-optics and has significant experience working with multi-national corporations, government agencies as well as small firms and start-up ventures. He was the Business Development Manager for Kingfisher International from 2006 to 2008 prior to joining the CSIRO. His role in CSIRO has been focused on working with SMEs with between $1.5 million and $100 million annual turnover, assisting them to make connections with other network support partners in industry, government and the university research sector. Michael's aim is to draw together the right expertise from across the Australian Innovation System to assist with the development of commercialisation projects. 


Co-operative Enterprise Workshop: The power of co-operation: how co-operatives support small business

Co-operatives champion small business. They give local business entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete in markets that favour larger entrants. Co-operatives and small businesses are woven together in a variety of arrangements. Sometimes small businesses join together to form a co-operative, to sell their produce, or purchase their supplies or marketing services. Other times a co-operative regional business will sustain other small businesses. Co-operatives are dual purpose. They exist for the good of their community as well as for the good of their members, and support local employment and local businesses.

This panel drew together representatives from a number of co-operative and mutual enterprises. It was facilitated by Linda Seaborn, Cohousing Co-operative, and had presentations from Stephen Birch, Head of Supply Capricorn Society Co-operative, Emma Kerin, Media Officer, National Union of Workers, Fleurieu Poultry Association, and Steven Lynch, National Community Bank Manager, Bankmecu. They provided a series of valuable insights into the way in which co-operative and mutual enterprises operate. These cases highlighted the role that co-operative and mutual enterprises play in helping to strengthen the small business sector. It demonstrates the valuable role played by member-owned businesses in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The workshop was provided by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM). Formed in 2013, the BCCM is the peak body representing the co-operative and mutual enterprise (CME) sector in Australia. It is led by the CEOs of Australia's largest CMEs and brings together the sector in a common purpose aimed at raising awareness of the role played by such organisations. There are an estimated 1,700 CMEs operating across Australia with around 13.5 million members. This makes the CME sector a powerful one within the national economy. All industry sectors have CMEs which are found in agriculture, retailing, housing, insurance, banking and finance, motoring services, wholesale, manufacturing, building and construction and professional services. Prominent CMEs are Australian Unity, bankmecu, CBH Ltd, Murray Goulburn, HCF, RACQ, RACWA, NRMA and the Capricorn Society.