Quality field shows the depth of state’s talent

05/03/2008 - 22:00


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The wealth of entrepreneurial talent in Western Australia has resulted in a very close race at the top end of this year’s WA Business News 40under40 Awards.

Quality field shows the depth of state’s talent

The wealth of entrepreneurial talent in Western Australia has resulted in a very close race at the top end of this year’s WA Business News 40under40 Awards, with each of the three runners-up demonstrating a high degree of personal and professional attainment.

As under-treasurer, First Amongst Equals runner up Tim Marney plays a significant role in providing economic and financial advice to the state government in managing the state’s finances.

Appointed to the role at age 35, after almost 12 years with the Department of Treasury and Finance, Mr Marney has  helped drive a shift in the organisational values of the public sector, challenging its firmly entrenched traditional attitudes and conventional methodology.

But displaying and nurturing entrepreneurial qualities, such as innovation and creativity, in the public sector has presented its own unique challenges.

“Everyone’s too concerned about what people are going to think, what papers are going to write, whether they’re going to get a parliamentary question about it,” Mr Marney said.

“The external accountabilities, taken out of context, stifle people’s curiosity and innovation.”

Leading by example, Mr Marney has demonstrated his commitment to testing the boundaries and breaking the mould.

“Once people saw I was doing it myself, they took me seriously,” he said.

Educated at Murdoch University, where he graduated in 1990 with a first-class honours degree in economics, Mr Marney started his career with the Reserve Bank of Australia in Sydney, in 1990.

He joined the WA Department of Treasury and Finance in 1993, and was the youngest ever appointment to the state’s senior executive service, at age 26.

Mr Marney said he was proud to be a public servant of WA, with the opportunity to make an impact on the state.

“Running a $20 billion a year business has really exciting dimensions to it,” he said.

Fellow runner up Mark Blayney, managing director of Karratha-based Carr Civil Contracting, brought his company back from voluntary administration four years ago to achieve a turnover of $60 million this financial year.

Carr Civil provides integrated civil solutions, offering earthworks, concrete coring and construction, as well as specialised bulk haulage activities.

Mr Blayney bought the business in 2002 and established strategic direction for the company, which during the past six years has undertaken work for Pilbara Rail, Pilbara Iron, Dampier Salt, Onslow Salt, Macmahon, Thiess, and Energy Developments.

Mr Blayney has grown the company since 2002 from five employees and an annual turnover of $1 million per year to a total staff of almost 200 and a $60 million turnover.

The darkest period for the company occurred in 2003-04, when it undertook work as a subcontractor on a road project at Marble Bar, valued at more than $6 million.

While not a technically demanding project, it was larger than the company had previously been involved in.

But after the subcontractor called in the administrators, owing Carr Civil about $1.5 million, and a second company refused to pay about $1 million on another project it was undertaking, Carr Civil was left with no option but to enter a period of voluntary administration in March 2004.

But Mr Blayney believes he gained a wealth of wisdom through facing severe financial hardship.

Most notably, the experience helped put focus back on teamwork and the importance of individuals’ roles as part of the group.

It also forced the business to implement the appropriate systems and processes to ensure sustainable growth.

“In hindsight we grew purely for the sake of growth over our first 15 months rather than concentrating on ensuring our growth was sustainable,” Mr Blayney said.

“It also taught us the importance of the right people, and putting the right systems and processes in place to push forward.”

Mr Blayney is proud of the contribution the company makes to the communities in which it operates, including Karratha, Port Hedland, Onslow, Carnarvon and soon, Geraldton.

“It’s exciting being part of something that continues to grow. And the beauty of being the captain of the ship is making those around you grow and develop as well.”

The third runner up, Captain Suzannah Vaughan, has also faced a number of professional and personal challenges throughout her career.

In 2006, at 33 years of age, Ms Vaughan became the first female and youngest ever offshore installation manager of an offshore oil producing facility in Australia, through Australian FPSO Management (AFM).

AFM provides infrastructure and specialist expertise in the construction, operation and maintenance of floating oil and gas production facilities both on Australia’s North West Shelf and internationally, on behalf of parent company, Italian-based Premuda.

Four years earlier, in 2002, Ms Vaughan became the first Australian female facility supervisor of a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

As a leader in a male-dominated industry, which has a female participation of less than one per cent in Australia, Ms Vaughan has dealt with her fair share of challenges – from  recently negotiating a groundbreaking four-year enterprise bargaining agreement with the Marine and Offshore Unions, to being exposed to the Avian Flu virus in Singapore, along with two-thirds of her crew. (She has since been hospitalised five times for lung complications as a result of the exposure).

Outside of her professional achievements, Ms Vaughan is a voluntary motivational speaker for various organisations, and was one of five speakers representing Australia at APEC 2007 at the Woman Leaders Network meeting.

She also takes pride from encouraging young people’s interest in the petroleum industry by participating in the WA Petroleum Club schools information program.

“I enjoy the privilege of being able to motivate others to achieve their dreams by setting goals, making plans and monitoring outcomes, while re-inventing futures,” she said.


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