2013 BRW Most Innovative Companies List Melbourne

Pictured above: Julie Trajkovski of the Fifth Quadrant, Harvey Sanchez of Click View and Leona D’Vaz Woman.com.au Ambassador

Firstly, the topic of “innovation” was clearly demonstrated through the venue choice. Think 19th century grandeur meeting 21st century digital technology. Very befitting.

Experimedia Room at the State Library of Victoria
Experimedia Room at the State Library of Victoria

Dr Catriona Wallace, Director of Fifth Quadrant (Customer Experience Strategy & Research Consultancy) was our convivial and perfectly groomed host, making reference to donning her “disco shoes” despite the formidable Melbourne weather. Sparking off an entertaining response from Dr Amantha Imber, Head Inventiologist of Inventium (Innovation Consultancy) about how practical her “Birkenstocks” were in comparison. This set the tone of the event; entertaining and informative.

Dr Amantha Imber and Dr Catriona Wallace
Dr Amantha Imber and Dr Catriona Wallace

We soon learnt that a left-handed handshake stimulates the right side of the brain – imagine 200 guests putting this theory into practice. Apparently raising your eyebrows at the same time heightens this even more!

Fellow handshaking guests on the table were Naveena from Australian Unity, Head of Strategy & Development. Employed with Australian Unity for 5.5 years, she attended to gain ideas of implementing an innovation framework into the business. Michael Trounce GM of Navy Design, a digital design consultancy which designs websites, mobile apps and software was also keen to hear the key take outs from the event.

120 companies submitted applications for the BRW list based on the following criteria:

  1. How unique was the idea?
  2. What was the problem you were trying to solve?
  3. How would you address the problem?

We had the terrific pleasure of listening to the 1st, 2nd and 4th place winners and a “surprise guest”.

1st Place: Harvey Sanchez– CEO of Clickview

Clickview is a video streaming service for schools allowing schools to screen on-demand video and even broadcast events over the internet. 80 staff worldwide, they are a small and nimble company head officed in Sydney. “Your ideas create our future” epitomises Harvey’s belief in empowering his employees to come up with the best ideas by holding meetings every second Friday. With a view to “disrupt the industry”. From here, they go into a process of testing and filtering. This has coined the phrase “Shoot, Shoot, Boom!”

  • Some initial testing & modelling (Shoot!)
  • If the idea has legs, conduct more testing to see if it holds up (Shoot!)
  • Get as much resources as possible to take it to market (Boom!)

98% of schools renew with Clickview every year. Driving innovation from the top, engaging employees and understanding processes to support innovation have helped Clickview triumph.

2nd Place: Nick Aronson – General Manager Transaction Product Sales, Commonwealth Bank Australia

The most recognised brand in the Australian financial services, CBA need no formal introduction. Nick stated “Innovation is a journey you need absolutely everyone on”. No mean feat with 50, 000 staff worldwide. Nick joked the most innovative thing he did this week was not putting on a tie. The key drivers of innovation for CBA are:

  1. Focus from the top
  2. Value from your innovations. CBA measure this by conducting 2 employee surveys each year to measure engagement
  3. Investing in people & ensuring there is reward and recognition in the workplace.

4th Place: Derek O’Donnell – Head of INNOV8, Coca-Cola Amatil

State Supply Chain Manager for VIC\TAS since 2001, Derek leads the internal program “Innov8”. The primary focuses are encouraging and driving innovation across the whole company of 5,000 staff. A great example of how innovation can improve the way business is conducted at CCA. Derek maintains a philosophy of:

  1. Listening to your people
  2. “Release the introverts”, 60-80% of innovation comes from introverts
  3. Create emotional connection
  4. Focus on implementation “ideation”
  5. Add value to your customers

Carla McGrath was our delightful “surprise guest”. The Business & Program Development Manager at National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. I chatted to her after the event about the innovation they are bringing to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as well as her part in the Women in Focus community (CBA).

Carla McGrath
Carla McGrath

Dr Amantha took us on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride to wind up the event. A consumer psychologist and self-confessed “science geek” this award-winning founder is truly a dynamo.

We learnt about “bad Innovations” ie a butter stick (think glue stick), that company innovation is critical to help grow, and that we should be involved in awesomeness and to bypass  “decision fatigue”. Apparently after lunch, decision making is a no-go zone. The more decisions you make through the day, the worse your decisions become. Highly counter-productive for innovation.

Dr Amantha also stilled the crowd with a very powerful story about how her grandfather survived the holocaust by using innovation to build an underground bunker of which he lived in. For 361 days. With 25 people. Truly a poignant moment.

To conclude events, our highly engaging speakers formed a chat show style panel to field questions from the audience. The resounding sentiments were centred on leadership driving the culture, processes for innovation and celebrating fear by removing it altogether. One panel member said they hold parties for failed ventures!

The panel at Q&A time.
The panel at Q&A time.

Speaking of celebrating, I have to make mention of Dr Jonathon Middis, GM of R&D at Heinz. He very kindly took some photos for me and I promised I would give him a shout. Thank you to Fifth Quadrant, Inventium, CAN and BRW for a truly brilliant event.

Now, where is my BRW magazine with the centrefold of Harvey Sanchez!


Leona D'Vaz

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