Date posted: August 26, 2016

The 18th Family Business National Conference held in Melbourne from 17-19 August was attended by many of Australia’s leading and innovative family businesses and their advisers. It was fantastic to see conference veterans back this year to reinvigorate their business processes and strategies as well as plenty of fresh faces engaging with this pinnacle event of the family business sector for the first time.


Nigel Collin, author ‘A Game of Inches’

The three-day conference was jam-packed with learning and networking opportunities with a key focus on developing a sustainable family business and creating a culture of innovation in this generation and the next. Wednesday saw the return of our Family Business and Adviser Masterclasses. The three key elements of Building a resilient family business were explored in the Family Business Masterclass. Randel Carlock shared his new research insights in the Adviser Masterclass, highlighting the sometimes overlooked importance of understanding the family genogram in terms of roles and relationships and their impacts in the family and consequently the family business. Wednesday afternoon saw the return of The Longest Lunches, back by popular demand. The Next Generation Longest Lunch was held in the Melbourne CBD at Trunk Town allowing the NxG attendees to mingle over fine food and drinks and of course, great company. After each course the group was asked to sit next to a new group of people and there was a lot of positive feedback about the diversity of backgrounds and experience among those that attended.


Next Generation Longest Lunch

The Family Business Longest Lunch saw family business leaders networking over trivia rounds. The stakes were high and the competitiveness of some teams certainly shone through, while having a lot of fun along the way.

The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister for Small Business opened the first main day of the conference emphasising the importance of small and family businesses in the Australian economy. International keynote speaker Randel Carlock explored how family businesses can develop entrepreneurial behavior in each generation, explaining that entrepreneurs are taught not born, and are risk minimisers rather than risk takers. He finished by explaining the importance of displaying the qualities you want to see in the next generation of your family business.

Farida F. El Agamy from the Tharawat Family Business Forum shared her insights on working with her siblings and father saying she learned early that it was important to recognise family members were their own people at work. She shared the challenges faced in the Middle East and how re-invention and diversification have by necessity become major strategies for many family businesses in the region.

Lucio Dana facilitated a powerful session on transitioning the family business, where we heard from Jeremy Manford of Compu-Stor, Warren Otter or Otter and Associates, Danielle Ciliberto-Renner of C-Direct; and Steve Samson of Lionel Samson Sadliers on their very different experiences planning for, and implementing, transition. Nigel Collin enlightened us on the simple but effective ways businesses can be successful by looking for ‘gaps’ in the business and implementing incremental improvements to drive the business forward.

The winners of the FBA Family Business Awards were announced at the Awards Dinner on Thursday night. The recipients were Belinda Lyone (Complete Office Supplies) for the Next Gen Achiever of the Year, Tim Mobbs (M-Elec) for the Entrepreneur of the Year and Scenic World, Blue Mountains for the Distinguished Family Business of the Year.

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The FBA Family Business Awards

On Friday morning Kate Carnell the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman addressed the delegates and explained in more detail her role before Tim Mobbs, Belinda Lyone and Andrea Hammon shared the challenges and opportunities they had come across in their time with their family businesses as well as some of the strategies they have used to reach their current successes.

Key highlights for the final day included Yamini Naidu’s session on the influence of storytelling and how it can be used to inspire all stakeholders of the family business. FBA Accredited Adviser Bevan Roberts facilitated the parallel session Hiring and working with non-family CEOs and executive which saw Lou Pascuzzi and Jenny Leaper from TLC Aged Care, Paul Galvin from Galvin Engineering, and John McLean from Bundaberg Brewed Drinks share their very different experiences.

To wrap up the conference Tania de Jong opened our eyes to the importance of creativity for innovation as well as the importance of diversity in our society.

If you attended the National Conference and haven’t yet filled out the survey please do so here.

As usual, your feedback is not only appreciated, it is essential to ensure future conferences are valuable and enjoyable.

We look forward to seeing you next year!!