CONFERENCE RECAP - 2019 TMA Australia National Conference 2019 Australia TMA Conference Recap Joseph
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Australia Association Management Turnaround
C O N F E R E N C E R E C A P T M A A U S T R A L I A N AT I O N A L C O N F E R E N C E 2 0 1 9
At this year’s National Conference, we had another busy agenda, jam packed with incredibly high-profile speakers who covered the most pertinent topics of the day. Over 300 delegates attended attended sessions over the one and a half day duration and the the Gala Dinner drew a crowd of more than 550 guests.
Our Conference theme was the “Tipping Point”, drawing on the global economic dynamics that many expect to precipitate a global tipping point into crisis. When this occurs, those in the turnaround and restructuring professions will be at the forefront of corporate Australia.
The Conference kicked-off with a reflection on the Royal Commission into Banking by Shaun Dooley of National Australia Bank. This was arguably a tipping point for Australia’s banks and no doubt everyone will have their own opinion on how much more change is needed to regain public trust.
We were fortunate to have three very different turnaround case studies presented at the Conference. The first was from Bryn Harrison, CEO of the Interiors Group who worked hand in hand with Allegro Funds to completely change the direction of the business and focus on customer service. Today, it is one of the fastest growing interiors businesses in New Zealand.
Delegates couldn’t help but be impressed by the callosal magnitude of the Central Adelaide Area Health Network turnaround story, our second case study, which was presented by CEO Lesley Dwyer. CALHN built the Royal Adelaide Hospital which, as well as being technologically cutting edge, was also famed for being the most expensive hospital ever built in the world. Along with big budgets, came big woes. Dwyer and KordaMentha relived the story of this massive and rapid turnaround, with much work still to go.
Our third and final turnaround story of the Conference was Peter Rowland Group, the Melbourne catering company now on a growth trajectory with Sydney in its sights. The trust that founder Peter Rowland had in his talented new CEO Emma Yeo stood out as one of the keys to the success of the revived business.
Rosalind Coffey of Macquarie Bank gave us a dynamic and inspiring overview of ‘Macquarie’s People Model’ and how they prioritise workplace culture for their high performing teams.
The annual TMA / KordaMentha Corporate Survey shone a light on what the industry had been seeing so far in 2019, including the continued headwinds being faced by the retail and construction sectors. While respondents predicted a poor outlook for the economy as global economic conditions and the ongoing US/China trade war increase the risk of a recession, the shift to private equity and hedge funds brings welcome relief.
Cutting right to the heart of a key industry debate, our panel session on Safe Harbour took a raw look at whether it’s been beneficial or a distraction in turnaround situations. The consensus was that it had delivered more improved outcomes, than not.
Prominent Non-Executive Director, Pauline Vamos, walked us through her experiences operating in Safe Habour for two different companies, in two different roles. While the outcome was worthwhile, she cautioned delegates about the gruelling nature of the process.
Leading silk, Philip Crutchfield, leveraged the TMA Conference as a platform to launch his message on the role of company
“There were multiple tipping points before the business was transformed.” Bryn Harrison, CEO of The Interiors Group
“I only wanted to serve catering clients, but financial control is paramount.” Peter Rowland, Peter Rowland Group
TMA Australia National Conference 2019REPUTATION, CONDUCT AND BEHAVIOUR IN TURNAROUND MANAGEMENT
2019 TMA Conference Recap
boards, reigniting debate about what should reasonably be expected of them. He also reflected on the number of reputations damaged at the Royal Commission into Banking, simply by being asked a question by the Commission. Guilt by question, not answer.
Ramez Toubassy of Gordon Brothers joined us all the way from the US to talk about the ‘Business of Brands’. Picking up on many trends in the retail sector, much of what we are experiencing here in Australia is amplified in the US.
While no one in the room was brave enough to identify as millennial, everyone wanted insights into this influential generation. Forming the feature session of our NextGen Conference ticket, the millennial panel included Stuart Freer of MECCA Brands, Stephan Younane of Retail Prodigy Group, KPMG retail expert Matt Darby and was led by panel chair Gayle of KPMG. For millennials, purpose is paramount.
The first day finished up with a new format for our Welcome drinks which included a Welcome Address from Andy Penn of Telstra. The change program he is leading at Telstra has layers and layers of complexity, but its vital that we, and the world of telecoms delivers the 5G revolution.
Renewable energy formed the topic of Ian Kay’s presentation, ‘Electricity Sector in Transition’. Speaking on behalf of ARENA, he talked about the challenges of this highly regulated sector and prepared us all for a greater reliance on solar PV power in the future.
All ears were tuned as Marcus Derwin of RCubed led a panel session on confronting a crisis, with PR gurus Sue Cato and Stephen Feneley. Both adopt the mantra of “No Surprises” when supporting a company through a crisis, saying that whenever anything has ever gone wrong, its because the client concealed a part of the full story.
An eye-opening panel session focused on the tipping points in Australian agriculture where we learned about the resilience needed to survive in the sector from Anna Sweeney of Wattlepark. While the banks are not traditionally forward looking or adaptable when it comes to this sector, both ANZ and National Australia Bank demonstrated a wealth of knowledge about the extreme challenges faced by farmers, which was matched equally by their sympathy and commitment to helping them.
With so many big new entrants on our doorstep and creative marketing such as the Little Shop and Ooshies, the Australian supermarket sector is facing its own tipping point. Warwick White of IGA gave us his thoughts on what’s needed for independent supermarkets to not just survive but thrive. It’s no surprise that customer service and product differentiation will be key.
Guided by Susan Mackie of the Growth Mindset Institute, delegates found themselves contemplating how to shift from a fixed mindset, to a growth mindset. Many of us will now be sitting in high pressure meetings, concentrating on breathing through our noses to switch off our reptilian brain and return to rationale thought.
TMA Australia National Conference 2019
TMA Conference Recap
“As you move into Safe Harbour, pause. You are about to launch a significant project and triple the pace.” Pauline Vamos, Non-Executive Director
“Risk culture here and in the UK is badly broken.” Pauline Vamos, Non-Executive Director
“Over time, environmentally friendly packaging and ethics will become more critical to customers.” Warwick White, IGA
TMA Australia National Conference 2019
TMA Conference Recap
Joseph Healy of Judo Bank made an impact stepping us through the changes in banking sector that prompted him to set up Judo. A fixation on ROE, loss of traditional banking skills and an obsession with property, has meant that banks would gladly lend for
property purchases but are reluctant to lend to SMEs.
All ears were tuned to hear from Lucas Dow of Adani, our final speaker for the Conference and without question, our most controversial. Dow came out fighting with a drive to dispel many assumptions about both the company and the Carmichael project.
With the Conference reaching its finale, the Gala Dinner commenced. Our Gala Dinner speaker was the impressive Ahmed Fahour, who is one of Australia’s most experienced business leaders. In an interview with the delightful Patricia Karvelas of the ABC, he treated us to insights from his days leading the turnaround of Australia Post, foreseeing that letters were yesterday, and parcels are tomorrow.
Our TMA Award winners were announced at the Gala Dinner. Congratulations to:
· Tiwi Islands, winner of Small Company Turnaround of the Year
· Slater & Gordon, winner of Mid-size Company Turnaround of the Year
· Oroton, winner of Restructuring Deal of the Year
We were exceptionally fortunate to again have the support of generous sponsors for speaker and panel sessions, coffee breaks, lunches, drinks and of course, our Gala Dinner. The TMA wishes to thank them all for their vital contribution.
In addition, the work of our Conference Committee, and specifically our two conference Co-Chairs, Maria O’Brien (Baker McKenzie) and Rick Drury (La Trobe Financial), was crucial to the success of the Conference and we appreciate their commitment.
We enjoyed seeing you at the TMA Annual Conference 2019 in Melbourne and hope to see you again next year in Sydney.
“If you fundamentally accept that coal needs to be burned, then you should burn the best quality and Australian coal is the cleanest.” Lucas Dow, Adani
Maria O'Brien, Partner, Baker McKenz