South Australia’s economic prosperity hinges on early engagement with the next generation workforce, a major finance industry event in Adelaide has heard.
South Australian Chief Entrepreneur Andrew Nunn told finance leaders and professionals at the William Buck 2022 CFO Summit that fostering innovation and entrepreneurship would be critical to the future success of every business in the state.
“Uncertainty is the new norm and every business could do with more innovation to get better, faster, smarter and quicker,” Mr Nunn said.
“Engaging with young people is a valuable pathway to innovation.
“We need the next generation to take their chances and the current generation of leaders to hire them. You need people to be challenging what you’re doing.”
While higher levels of skilled migration will be important, so too will increasing the risk appetite of businesses to take on younger graduates.
Mr Nunn said that many businesses traditionally looked to hire a new employee with a minimum five years’ workforce experience.
However, the current labour shortage presented an ideal opportunity to broaden that mindset or risk losing out on talented future employees with new ideas.
“Look at hiring a graduate straight out of university and start training them yourself,” he said. “They’ll stay if it’s a decent job.”
In his address to the William Buck 2022 CFO Summit, Mr Nunn said schools also had a key role to play in fostering entrepreneurism and business acumen among future employees and business leaders.
“If you can get to the students early enough, then you will have a real entrepreneurial society,” he said
“Once the students realise they can find a gap in a market, fill it and generate sales – the light bulb flicks on.”
Mr Nunn’s message to students and any aspiring entrepreneur is not to over think a good idea.
“Toss the idea around with your mates, then get on and do it. That’s the message we need to get out to kids,” he said.
Mr Nunn said common traits among successful entrepreneurial business leaders included an unwavering drive and an openness to collaborate.
“They are brutally focussed on getting it done and they have a good team around them,” he said.
“It’s extremely uncommon for someone to possess both the technical and sales skills necessary to successfully commercialise a great idea.”
In his role, Mr Nunn provides independent advice to the South Australian Cabinet and the business community to enable entrepreneurialism across all forms of business, industry and the public sector.
“We need to continue to look at ways to build more capital and attract more private investment and make it easier for potential investors in local business,” he said.
Hi-tech industries such as defence, space and cyber security are among those attracting the most interest from investors while there’s also untapped potential within the ‘extractive’ industries given the critical metal and rare earth resources in SA.
“We need to play to our strengths and look at ways to promote scalability,” he said.
William Buck Adelaide Managing Director Jamie McKeough said harnessing the full benefits of scalability would pay long term economic dividends for South Australia.
“As micro and small businesses grow in size they can unlock greater efficiencies in production and operation,” Mr McKeough said.
“Achieving critical mass significantly increases the chance of a business surviving and thriving in a competitive global environment. That means greater job security and job creation in the long run.”
The William Buck Adelaide 2022 CFO Summit was held at Adelaide Oval on April 6 with guest speakers including industry leaders, powerbrokers and technical experts on the key issues currently facing business and finance professionals.