BRISBANE-BASED debt management business, Optimum Recoveries, has recently had three staff nominated for the prestigious Pinnacle Awards, run by the Australian Institute of Credit Management (AICM).

The Pinnacle Awards recognise the year’s leading performers in the credit industry in each state, and they are presented at end-of-year awards dinners in November and December.

Three Optimum team members were nominated by their clients across four categories. Angela McDonald.

Lydia Harris has been nominated for NSW External Collections/Mercantile Agent of the Year; Angela McDonald was nominated for the Queensland External Collections/Mercantile Agent of the Year; and Tim Sullivan was nominated for both Queensland External Collections/Mercantile Agent of the Year, and the High-Five Award.

Optimum Recoveries director, Angela McDonald said the team was delighted with the nominations.

“We feel extremely honoured that our clients took the time to nominate us,” Ms McDonald. “We take our role of helping protect our clients’ businesses very seriously, and knowing that they value the work we do for them so highly is so rewarding for all of us.”

As part of the Pinnacle Awards nomination and voting process, nominees are allowed to sight the submitted comments, but all company details are withheld.

According to Ms McDonald, the comments received were overwhelmingly positive.

“It was quite humbling to read what clients said about us,” she said. “They volunteered that we have an unrivalled commitment and passion for the industry, and that they found our service, and the results we achieve for them, to be consistently outstanding.”

Ms McDonald noted that the most common themes in the submitted comments included Optimum’s high level of professionalism, exacting standards, and responsive and supportive customer service.

“For me personally, the most pleasing feedback was that clients view us as their true partner who goes above and beyond to achieve excellent results,” Ms McDonald said. “This is really our internal mantra, and this feedback shows that we are living and breathing it.

“Whatever the result, we’re thrilled to be in with four chances to win a Pinnacle and we look forward to celebrating with our team and some of our clients at the awards dinners.”

Optimum Recoveries is an Industry Expert member of Queensland Leaders.


PENSAR managing director Karl Yunker knows how to best manage changes to any construction cycle – focus on having the best people on board.

As managing director of one of Australia’s best-regarded infrastructure solutions companies, Mr Yunker knows from experience that no matter how the market turns, making the most of it comes down to having the best people on board and keeping them motivated. It is a strategy that continues to pay off for Pensar nation-wide. 

“As does any managing director, I closely observe industry trends and predictions to ensure our organisation is always positioned to manage what the market may present,” Mr Yunker said.

Right now, he was observing a trend similar to that which followed the residential housing boom of the early 2000s.

“Across the infrastructure sector there is currently much rhetoric around imminent government spending on infrastructure and a potential boom period similar to that experienced in the late 2000s,” Mr Yunker said.

“This boom was preceded by a significant growth period in sub-division led residential housing. As this growth slowed, the government invested to stimulate the infrastructure and construction sector.”

Mr Yunker recalled that as a telling period for Australia’s construction and infrastructure sector, with skills challenges, funding risks and rising construction prices a result.

“Periods of big government spending in any industry hold the promise of opportunity and substantial work, however we know from the previous investment cycles that it can also create many challenges,” he said.

“As costs escalate and people resources become scarce, contractors and sub-contractors can quickly find themselves in trouble. Projects overrun their timeframes, costs continue to escalate above budget throughout the project life cycle as resources become more scarce, quality can be compromised due to inexperienced people and cost-saving efforts, and finally – and devastatingly – safety can be compromised.”

The signs are there, Mr Yunker said, for an upcoming infrastructure construction boost – and Pensar was preparing as it always has, by focusing on staff development and astute recruitment.

“As we observe the slowing of the recent apartment construction boom in Queensland, we need to be ready for the possibility of a new government infrastructure boom, and ensure strategies are in place to mitigate the possible risks,” Mr Yunker said.

“I believe the keystone of this strategy is quality people – and it’s a keystone for Pensar regardless of market cycles. 

“Effectively managing your people resources is fundamental to success across any industry.  The ability to recruit and retain quality people has far reaching implications for managing project timeframes, costs, quality, and safety,” Mr Yunker said. 

“As industry leaders it’s important to remember that our organisations are more than simply what we make, produce or deliver – they are about the people who make it possible.”

Pensar is a current Executive Leaders member of Queensland Leaders.


HUMAN RESOURCE consultancies Livingstones and SHR have signed a heads of agreement to merge their businesses and create a broad based multi-faceted national consultancy aiming to better serve their combined client bases. 

Livingstones and SHR have worked together on many projects in the past and this highlighted the professional and cultural synergies both companies share. This prompted merger discussions and culminated in a period of extensive due diligence, according to the companies’ CEOs. 

The new company will commence operating on December 31, 2018, to be chaired by Alex Aspromourgos – he is Livingstones’ current managing director – and CEO will be Steve Rayner, SHR’s current CEO.

“As Livingstones and SHR join forces we remain fully committed to providing the very best services our clients have come to expect,” Mr Rayner said.  

“Our new national footprint will significantly strengthen our capabilities allowing us to increase our value proposition by providing more comprehensive people solutions.”

Livingstones teams are employment relationship advisors who provide employers with an extensive range of specialist services across industrial relations, human resource management and organisational development.  

Working within a wide variety of industry sectors, Livingstones services clients as diverse as independent schools, government departments and statutory authorities, government owned corporations, as well as clients in the power, utilities, fast-moving consumer goods, hospitality, entertainment and not-for-profit sectors. 

Livingstones have been in business for over 35 years and operates from offices in Queensland and New South Wales. 

SHR is a team of experienced human resource practitioners and specialists providing broad human resources consulting, industrial and employee relations, contracting, business migration and managed services to clients throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region.  

While SHR supports clients across many industries, they are recognised for their experience and capability in the oil and gas, mining, construction, engineering, infrastructure and utility industries. SHR – Strategic Human Resources – has been in business for nearly 25 years and have offices in Western Australia and Victoria.

Livingstones is an Industry Expert member of Queensland Leaders, NSW Leaders and Victorian Leaders, the organisations fostering the next generation of leading Australian companies.


EVEN with new intellectual property (IP) initiatives by the Australian Government designed to make the process easier, it is still a difficult area for most business leaders to navigate.

Yet it is becoming increasingly vital to get IP protections right, according to Andrew Dark of Dark IP.

“In the IP industry, particularly patents, we are constantly faced with the challenges of dealing with governments that sway from thinking IP monopolies are good things to IP being the destroyer of all innovation,” Mr Dark said. 

“Of course, we know that IP is essential for fostering investment and innovation as it is rare that people want to spend thousands, or even millions of dollars developing an invention just to see others profit from that investment.”

He said the major problem was that IP law seemed to be in a process of constant change, making long-term rights a challenge.

“The law on IP is in constant flux, in many instances as a result of the perception of the government,” Mr Dark said.

“This is true not only in Australia, but across the globe. So, it’s not only a question of understanding cutting edge technologies in a variety of industries, it’s also essential to know the ins and outs of the laws in the major jurisdictions.”

In Australia, the IP legal profession is going through huge changes. Several of the nation’s major players are listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and smaller players are being absorbed.

So while the challenges are major, Mr Dark believes the personal approach of his boutique IP agency is able to stand out from the crowd.

“It’s a challenging prospect, both professionally and personally, but I am looking forward to what the future offers this independent, boutique IP company,” Mr Dark said.

Dark IP was created in January 2012, at the conclusion of Andrew Dark’s 21 years of working for a variety of organisations across the Australian IP industry.

He specialises in the fields of chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, mining and energy, mineral analysis and building systems. Mr Dark is a registered patent and trade mark attorney in Australia and New Zealand, a fellow of the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia and a Certified Materials Professional recognised by the Institute of Materials Engineering of Australasia.

Mr Dark is also a committee member of the Asian Patent Practice Committee of the Intellectual Property Owners Association, IPO, in the US, which provides recommendations and input into the development of patent law and practice in the Asia region. He is also the founder of the Australian Patents Forum on LinkedIn and a Director of the Australian Nanotechnology Alliance.

“I had worked as an examiner of patents, earned my stripes for a decade at one of the ‘big’ firms and had been a partner at a mid-sized firm,” Mr Dark said.

“Looking back, it was still a gutsy move to start a business while still under a non-compete agreement, with no clients and two young children in tow.

“I won’t say that it’s been all smooth sailing. I started the business with a co-director and the transition to sole directorship was tough.

“And now, here we are some six years later ready to move into a new growth phase.”

Dark IP is an Executive Leaders member of Queensland Leaders.


EXHIBITIONS continue to be a vital element of a company’s marketing strategy – by providing the platform to showcase products and services directly to target audiences – but there is more to success than simply meets the eye.

Outstanding Displays director Tom Meredith said while exhibitions provided an ideal opportunity for salespeople to engage with prospective customers and keep abreast of competitor offerings and innovations in their industry, “too often companies fall short in exhibition environments due to lack of preparation”. 

“Companies participating at exhibitions need to navigate between custom-built fabricated stands and modular ‘system’ stands,” Mr Meredith said. “The person tasked with organising the display typically needs to search for a solution which is affordable, yet represents their brand well, while looking appealing enough to attract delegates. 

“Not an easy thing to search for, but an evolution in modular exhibition systems has brought on a host of display options that combine the best of both worlds.”

Mr Meredith said modular displays provided adaptability to different exhibition business environments.

“The main advantage is their ability to grow and shrink according to an exhibitor's needs,” Mr Meredith said. “Like building blocks, pieces of each system integrate perfectly when added to or rearranged, making them particularly appealing when re-building at multiple events where the stand floor space varies.  In terms of adaptability, today's modular stands can't be beat.

“Customisability of modular displays are luring fans of custom-built stands with ever-growing opportunities to integrate large scale fabric graphics – and the ability to add, relocate, or remove elements such as audio-visual components, storage rooms, and even double decks,” Mr Meredith said.

“Starting with a basic structure, exhibitors have a myriad of options to scale up or down depending on space or budgetary constraints.”

Mr Meredith pointed out that modular display components were designed to be much lighter and more compact than their custom-built cousins. 

“To illustrate this point further, one of my clients recently upgraded from a custom-built timber stand to a modular display, reducing their transport costs by more than 50 percent – from two semi-trailers to one,” he said. 

“Apply this saving over multiple builds, combined with zero refurbishment costs, and you start to appreciate the benefits of a modular display.

Mr Meredith’s experience was that “style is everything when it comes to creating an identity on the exhibition floor”. He said modular displays were at the forefront, offering an extensive range of architectural details and customisable features. 

“This provides companies the ability to further personalise their stand, resulting in a display that looks custom, often at a fraction of the cost, weight, and setup time required of a traditional custom build.”

Outstanding Displays, founded by Mr Meredith and David Coulthard, works with clients throughout Australia and beyond, specialising in designing modular displays with impact.

Outstanding Displays is a 2018 Executive Leader member with Queensland Leaders.

MOST business leaders agree that the insurance markets are ‘hardening’ – but how to handle this to best business effect is as challenge.

One experienced insurance advisor is suggesting business leaders do what he is doing: take a lead from how insurance brokers are handling the situation themselves.

Gallagher Queensland’s Chris McKeown, a respected corporate advisor with more than 20 years experience in the insurance industry, said in general most types of insurance are likely to be harder to place for brokers, the deals will be less advantageous and cover will cost more. 

“That’s where a low claims record, sound risk mitigation strategy and good advice can achieve savings,” Mr McKeown said.

“Everyone is talking about a hardening insurance market but what does that mean for insurance brokers and their clients?”

Mr McKeown said after a year of catastrophic weather events in 2017 global disaster insurance losses were estimated by global reinsurer, Swiss Re, to be in the region of US$306 billion.

“In an environment where reinsurers and insurers alike are very much international players this matters because capacity is reduced,” he said.

“Locally we are seeing a governmental crackdown on financial institutions, corporate governance is being made more accountable, insolvencies are on the rise, flammable cladding has increased risk in construction and Australia is one of the most litigious countries in the world when it comes to liability suits.

“That’s without touching on the cyber-crime wave of attacks on businesses that experts such as digital security specialists McAfee are predicting.”

Mr McKeown – who has advised start-up organisations through to multinational companies – said an insurance broker who understands how a business operates and the conditions it operates under, and who takes the time to run analytics on its risk profile, “can make better informed suggestions about managing these risks and is a key asset in these kinds of market conditions”.

According to Mr McKeown, another major consideration should be achieving integrated cover without gaps or loopholes that can occur when shopping for insurance on a piecemeal, separate policy basis.

“A tailored solution packaged into a single program ensures your business is comprehensively covered and offers its owner greater control with a preferred insurer,” he said.

“Insurance is one area where the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best deal. Shopping around for a broker with experience in your industry and insight into your professional needs will pay off when you need to claim.”

Gallagher began trading in Australia in 1985 and is wholly owned by Arthur J. Gallagher and Co, a family-owned US brokerage founded in 1927. In Australia and New Zealand, Gallagher employs more than 2500 staff in over 60 locations.

Gallagher is an Industry Expert member of Queensland Leaders.


INNOVATION in action is what high-technology communications developer EM Solutions is all about.

Every step of the way, this Queensland-based company has made the most of its innovative edge. EM Solutions has come from obscurity just a few years ago to seeing its satellite and microwave communication and products lead the world in security and defence communications.

Looking at EM Solutions’ pedigree, perhaps its innovation DNA should not come as any surprise.

Occupying the R&D seats at EM Solutions are some of the world’s most agile technical minds in the field of information and communication technology (ICT).  In the big seat is CEO and managing director seat is Rowan Gilmore, who knows a thing or two about innovation and commercialisation. 

Until June 2011 Dr Gilmore was CEO of the Australian Institute for Commercialisation, where he assisted numerous start-up companies and worked to accelerate technology transfer between research institutions and industry. Prior to this role, he worked extensively in the ICT industry, and was formerly based in London and Geneva from 1998 as vice president of Network Services (Europe) for the airline IT company SITA, now France Telecom’s Orange subsidiary.  His previous experience was with Schlumberger, Telstra, and OTC (Australia).

Dr Gilmore is an engineering graduate and winner of the university medal from the University of Queensland, and earned his Doctor of Science degree from Washington University in St Louis in the US.  He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, chairman of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Engineered Quantum Systems, and holds adjunct professorships at the University of Queensland in both the School of Business and the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

“We all know that innovation is the life blood of companies that wish to grow,” Dr Gilmore said.

“Innovation is fostered throughout the economy by a supportive ecosystem that encourages investment – in R&D, venture capital, and the incubation of small growth companies; by nurturing human capital, and education in the sciences and technology; by encouraging collaboration, particularly between research organisations and industry; and by applying new technologies and ideas to meet customer needs.

“An often overlooked requirement is that innovation also requires great (or even heroic) customers, who seek the rewards of innovation but still have the risk appetite to be able to fund and trial innovations that might still be ongoing.”

EM Solutions is the personification of that knowledge and philosophy. Commercial success in the US and Europe has followed – as have the business and engineering awards – and recently the company’s products have finally attracted attention at home.

For many years theEM Solutions was exporting to its overseas customers well before local companies turned to it as a supplier of, primarily, its leading-edge shipboard stabilised satellite communications terminals (pictured).

These terminals require very sophisticated software and hardware, using as many parts as a small car, with motors to compensate for the ship’s motion and powerful transmitters to reach the satellite thousands of kilometres away. 

“Innovation occurs by building on the shoulders of giants that have gone before,” Dr Gilmore said. “But the real giants in the innovation puzzle are those customers who embrace innovation and are prepared to fund its development.

“Such customers push the technology envelope and drive innovation by demanding new requirements, new features, and performance improvements. With a new government-led defence industry policy, the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy are two Australian customers that have embraced local technology as part of their new suite of shipboard tools.

“While defending our shores, these customers are helping to keep the local economy innovating and growing as well.”

EM Solutions won the 2016 Lord Mayor’s Business Award for Innovation.


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