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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Imelda Alexopoulos

40 Under 40

PwC partner Imelda Alexopoulos is focused on making a positive impact in both business and the community.

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Alexopoulos leads the Adelaide PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Financial Advisory Practice and Social Impact team as well as the South Australian Future Industry Focus team.

 She hopes that through her work she can create a ripple effect of positive actions. 

To this end, Alexopoulos founded a business unit within PwC ­– PwC Align. This branch of PwC identifies innovative start-ups and scale-ups that make a significant difference to society by solving important problems.

Alexopoulos works with organisations to identify opportunities to use technology to create efficiencies, access funding and help emerging businesses to scale-up and accelerate their growth.

In addition to her work at PwC, Alexopoulos is on the South Australian State Opera board.

Classical music is close to Alexopoulos’s heart and, while she was studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at James Cook University, she performed with the North Queensland Opera and Musical Theatre company.

These days, she’s interested in finding innovative ways to expand opera’s audience.

In June, Alexopoulos was named in InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest young business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

I’ve learnt that it’s okay to take risks. Of course, it’s not easy. If it were easy people would be doing it all the time. Yes, it can be really scary and I know that I’m not always going to get it right but what do I have to lose? Now, when I have a new idea, I don’t just consider the potential negative impacts if I do go ahead, I also ask myself: “What will happen if I don’t do this?” This has empowered me to not be afraid: to be curious, to be brave, and to have a go. 

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

Affordability: SA is one of the most cost-competitive places in Australia.

Ideal size: the population in SA and therefore the size of our business community is ideal for testing new business ideas.

A collaborative ecosystem: there are active connections between businesses, universities and government.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

I believe the weak points mainly relate to lack of access to people with the right skills. Attracting, retaining and developing our own talent continues to be a challenge. It’s up to us, as the current cohort of young leaders in the state, to create, grow and maintain high quality, leading-edge businesses that provide attractive career options for future generations.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

Absolutely! And I see the future of my two daughters here too. The future industries will continue to grow and thrive in SA. This, combined with one of Adelaide’s greatest assets, it’s liveability, is why I see our future here. Why wouldn’t you want to live, work and play in a city that has all the necessities and everything the larger capital cities have to offer but without the mayhem? My family and I chose to move to South Australia two years ago and we love it!

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

I believe that we do have what we need to encourage more of our young leaders to stay. But I think that to-date we’ve been unsuccessful in changing the narrative around the story about South Australia that’s been told for quite some time now. If you look at why this group have previously left, it’s because they believe that there are greater opportunities for success if they move interstate or overseas. They believe they will gain access to better incentives, funding, improved technology and connectivity, and better ecosystems of leading-edge businesses and entrepreneurs. In reality, all of this does or can exist here. We just need to convince our young leaders that this is the case by showcasing live examples, so they can see that it’s worth their investment.

To see the full list of 40 winners, go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

 

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