As the Commercial Manager of Recycling for SA Group Enterprises (SAGE) and Minda Inc, I was responsible for what has now become the pinnacle of Ewaste Recycling in South Australia.
Australians are one of the highest consumers of electronic and electrical items in the world, disposing of a staggering 24 kg per capita each and every year. Unfortunately, even with a National Television & Computer Recycling Scheme, we as a country are only recycling 5%. Ewaste is completely banned from landfill within SA, however South Australians are still only recycling 10% of all Ewaste produced.
Aspitech, now re-branded to Electronic Recycling Australia (ERA) saw an opportunity in the beginning of 2016 to study world best practice. This led myself and a colleague to Europe to tour and learn from organisations recycling 20 times the quantity Aspitech was doing within Australia with a comparable population size. These learning’s were brought back to Australia and we set out to complete 3 stages of a Transformation project.
Stage 1 was to identify the opportunities in processes and markets, and plan for change.
Stage 2 was to implement plans created that lead to process improvements, and a strong sales and marketing strategy that had an ambitious target to dominate the Ewaste market within SA. This has not only been achieved but exceeded. The business has expanded nationally to bring Ewaste and ITC Asset Management work to SA. With this success came tremendous growth and the associated challenges.
With a push from Geoff Vogt, CEO of Industry Leaders Fund, I began looking into Executive courses that would improve ERA’s position in SA, by giving me the tools and knowledge to combat the barriers, the challenges, and further develop on the opportunities associated with rapid growth.
The Executive Program for Growing Companies (EPGC) at Stanford University was the perfect executive course that would enable the successful completion of Stage 3 – The Implementation of Strategy and Realization of a Growing Sustainable Business.
After successfully applying and receiving an Industry Leaders Fund grant to attend Stanford University’s EPGC, I flew out to San Francisco in August 2018.
Stanford is located close to Palo Alto (Silicon Valley) but with a massive 33km2 campus, Stanford is a suburb of its own! With full-service accommodation and 5-star meals provided on campus, there was rarely a need to venture further out. In saying that, I did get the opportunity to soak in Facebook’s family day at their head office, visit Google, Apple, and sit in a corporate box at a Major League Baseball game in San Francisco!!
EPGC was an eye-opening experience and course. The diversity of 78 classmates from 38 countries, just added to the experience and learnings. The classmates ranged everything from entrepreneurs and start-ups, to Chairpersons of multi-national corporations and CEO’s of billion-dollar companies.
EPGC provided world class teachings on leadership, strategy, culture, operational efficiencies, business structure, business systems, design thinking, investments and venture capital, change management, business innovation and institutional change.
The intensive, fast paced EPGC course provided me with more tools and knowledge than I could imagine, and gave me the ability to develop successful sustainable business models and frameworks in a fluid, fast moving environment.
Within 6 months of completing my Executive studies at Stanford, I was able to drive ERA to new heights using flexible, adaptive and creative methods. ERA rolled out “Unplug N’Drop” locations across 50 locations in South Australia, including a partnership with Bunnings stores.
12 months on, the business now has an extensive workforce of 70 going on 100 employees, as well as supporting 50 people with a disability working within innovative valued jobs. ERA is also extensively exporting valuable processed commodities to Japan and Korea.
After moving to a 6,000 sqm facility in Underdale due to growth back in 2014, in early 2020 ERA is on the move again, relocating to a 20,000 sqm facility with further investment in semi-automation. With thanks to the ILF, EPGC, and the on-going investment from Minda, ERA is truly the pinnacle of Ewaste Recycling in South Australia with interstate growth opportunities.
From a personal outcomes perspective, my learnings have been able to be showcased to the industry and Minda organisation. Throughout the past 12 months, I have been able to progress up from Commercial Manager of Recycling, to Head of Operations for SAGE/Minda Commercial Enterprises, and now Interim Executive Manager for Commercial Enterprises.
Through the ILF, completing the Executive Program for Growing Companies has provided me with a life-changing experience, and a new professional network of friends around the world.