11/11/2010 - 00:00

Benda moves on beyond corporate life

11/11/2010 - 00:00


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KELLIE Benda and her husband Phil Rule are rare examples of people who have crossed the great divide between corporate life and industrial small business.

Benda moves on beyond corporate life

KELLIE Benda and her husband Phil Rule are rare examples of people who have crossed the great divide between corporate life and industrial small business.

For almost a year the couple has owned Bayswater packaging business Marvic Packaging Australia, a company that makes a range of carry bags and other packaging and promotional products.

When she won her 40under40 Award in 2008, Ms Benda was general manager of assets and strategy at the Royal Automobile Club of WA, the state’s biggest independent financial services provider.

Before the RAC she had been head of corporate finance at Carmichael Capital Markets and also worked in Sydney for PricewaterhouseCoopers Securities. Ms Benda has also sat on several community sector boards.

Mr Rule was a corporate and institutional banking executive.

Ms Benda said the pair’s decision to roll up the sleeves and become small business operators outside the corporate domain was based both on personal reasons and macro-economic forces.

“For me it has always been a personal goal to get to a space where I could build something of my own,” Ms Benda said.

“It is using the skills you have and being master of your own destiny.”

The couple looked for some time to find a business to buy that suited their backgrounds, the time they had available and lifestyle they wanted. There were not looking to buy an income and wanted a business that was big enough to benefit from their corporate backgrounds.

“There a certain amount of complexity a bigger business has and that is what interests me,” Ms Benda said.

“I wanted something that had national if not international ability to expand.”

The couple took their time in buying in a business that suited them, utilising their experience as investors and partners in previous ventures outside their main corporate careers.

“There are a lot of risks but there are also a lot of benefits in terms of time and being your own boss,” Ms Benda said.

“I have four children under eight, so I can set my own hours, I can do canteen duty and not have a chronic guilt complex about not being at work.

“That is more difficult in a corporate setting.”

Ms Benda said the decision to buy a business was strategic and the pair decided to sell assets rather than go into debt.

“A lot of people would not do that,” she said.

“People don’t want to change their lifestyle, that is a trap in the older age group.

“You get used to a sort of lifestyle and income level. We sacrificed some assets to get into a business, a lot of people would baulk at that.

“It is a complex decision. We had a goal for sometime and we had a plan, we are able to plan our finances around doing that.

“Access to capital for SMEs is a huge, huge issue.

“We wanted to be fairly relaxed and know we could gear it (the business) when or if we wanted to.”

Ms Benda said winning the 40under40 Award had boosted her profile, which had significant benefits. At the time she was in the middle of establishing a charity for ‘work challenged’ women in WA called Fitted for Work, which received increased interest from volunteers as a result of her higher profile.

She also noticed a rise in approaches for board positions. Ms Benda said she had nominated several people in subsequent 40under40 awards because of the value she sees in it.



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