Australian Chambers Business Congress

Wednesday, 19 December 2012  Features

A highlight of 2012 for Erryn McRae, a recent AGSM MBA (Exec) graduate, was attending the 2nd annual Australian Business Congress in Melbourne. Among other highlights the congress featured an address from 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. Erryn provides an overview of the key ideas that she gained from the conference and will apply to identifying opportunities for growing her business.

"The congress was designed to inspire, guide and connect Australian Business leaders and I can recommend the event to anyone who wants to spend a couple of days focussing on the external factors that may impact and create opportunities for their business," she explained.

The congress brought together keynote speakers from around the world to discuss global trends and themes that will impact and shape Australian business. The key themes included: social business and why corporations need to get involved; the changes in corporate leadership that are needed to drive innovation; and the impact of the latest technologies on business models and the need for Australian businesses to rapidly transform to stay in business.

"The most inspiring and influential speaker at the conference was Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In his keynote speech he simply told his story of how he started to provide micro-credit to poor villages and how that experience led him help people who other banks would not provide credit to, by establishing Grameen Bank. In telling his story he emphasised the importance of thinking differently and challenging existing rules and structures to innovate. He also highlighted the opportunity that corporations have to get involved in solving social problems by pursuing social business.

"Another influential speaker was Richard Hames, corporate philosopher, futurist and mentor to heads of state and CEOs. Hames spoke strategically about key global trends and how they were changing the paradigms for business. Just one of his streams of thought that resonated with me, was how technology driven networks are facilitating a shift in power, away from traditional government structures to individuals, communities and corporations. To innovate and take advantage of opportunities arising from this new paradigm, he discussed how business leadership needed to change. Hames view is that corporations need to collaborate and share ideas with each other through mechanisms such as open sourcing, instead of focussing on competing and protecting intellectual property. If they don't make this shift, disruptive innovators will seize the opportunity.

"Jeremy Gutshe, innovation expert and founder of TrendHunter was described in the program as an 'intellectual can of Redbull' and he didn't disappoint. He spoke energetically about a range of the latest trends in marketing. These included the growing opportunities to reach, know and engage with customers through social media and mobile platforms and the heightened importance of knowing your customer to cut through the digital noise

"I thank the AGSM for their support in attending the conference and feel I have gained a lot of ideas that I can apply to growing my business. Overall it was a fantastic experience and I am planning to attend next year in Sydney and will recommend it to others," Erryn said.

Other speakers included, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor at Harvard Business School who spoke about super corporations and how they create innovation, profits, growth and social good. Randi Zuckerberg, previously head of marketing at Facebook, was also a key note speaker and touched on the beginning of Facebook and the impact of social networks on marketing and engaging with customers.