28/11/2006 - 21:00

Rising stars a race to the top

28/11/2006 - 21:00

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Some years ago, in conjunction with accounting firm Deloitte, we launched the concept of Rising Stars – a search for the growth companies of the future that often hide among the unlisted sector.

Some years ago, in conjunction with accounting firm Deloitte, we launched the concept of Rising Stars – a search for the growth companies of the future that often hide among the unlisted sector.

Since 2003 we’ve published an annual list of winners and uncovered some real success stories.

We also learned a lot ourselves.

This year, that project has emerged from three years of incubation to become a fully fledged awards program with its own event – something that we at WA Business News enjoy doing and see as a beneficial link to our news coverage.

The 10 finalists, from which two joint winners were chosen, represent the dynamic face of Western Australian business, with a vast array of players covering the whole gamut of the economy.

Not all are small, not all are new and not all are unknown. But unearthing all of them and placing them in each other’s company adds considerably to how we understand the WA economy and its potential to succeed beyond our current resources boom.

The winning pair is a case in point.

One – Australian Mine Services – is a consulting business that works at the coalface, almost literally, of WA’s mining sector, the other – ThinkSmart – is an IT focused financial services company that operates around the globe.

There are few places in the world where two such businesses would be likely to end up sharing a home city.

The rest of the list reveals many other worthy and ingenious companies, as do the 40-plus entrants that failed – this year – to make finals.

How to deal with the crisis in Perth

Former banking chief and high-profile director Tony Howarth described Perth as being a state of crisis this week when it was revealed he had taken on the chair of The Committee for Perth.

It is interesting language and no doubt will put noses out of joint, but it’s very visionary to see a crisis when a boom time atmosphere is masking the opportunities we are losing to nudge our city in the right direction.

No doubt many will express surprise that there could be crisis when everything is going so well.

But Mr Howarth is merely echoing the thoughts of many – both locals and those we wish to attract here and convert into locals.

No matter how much money you earn or how well your business is going, it’s still a big issue when you can’t shop at night or get a taxi when you need one.

The same can be said of the failure to develop our foreshore, the drama over modern architecture and the selfish debate on our sports stadium.

Perhaps, viewed in isolation, such things can hardly be termed a crisis.

The needs of shopaholics and sports lovers fade into insignificance when crises such as Darfur in the Sudan and the war in Iraq spring to mind.

Nevertheless, crisis is an apt word.

In the Perth context, it is fitting, especially when Mr Howarth refers to inaction or the inability to agree on how change should take place; a kind of inertia.

Many call it procrastination but the same symptoms reflect a crisis of confidence.

In an individual, this may emerge in many forms – from a lack of progress in their chosen field to the depths of depression.

In a city like Perth, the crisis we are having now won’t be apparent for years to come.

In the future we may look back to this period, despite its boom times, as a blight, a time of lost opportunity.

Just as many think of the 1960s boom as a period when much of the city’s architecture was torn down in the name of progress, we need to make sure that we use our chance to push our city in the right direction.

Progress for progress sake is not the answer.

But the world is changing. Forces that we can’t control and may not necessarily understand yet are reshaping the globe, and Perth has the opportunity to step up from being an isolated and distant provincial capital.

Our state has always thought big and that drive has led us to success in so many fields, from sports to resources.

But somehow, our great city has been left behind in so many ways.

If we want to rank high on the list of liveable cities in the future we have to take a few risks and make some big decisions.

Somehow, in my view, the more of the little things we can change – the more likely we can deal with the bigger issues.

It’s all about momentum, as people see that change can take place positively they are willing to embrace harder and more expensive decisions that may have to be made.

At the moment the momentum is gathering. At first it was the increasing voices, more recently we’ve seen liquor licensing and daylight saving tackled and, I’m sure some of the issues I mentioned earlier will shortly be resolved.

In the future it may be water and energy issues that we turn our creative juices to in search of unique solutions.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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