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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Tamara Stewart-Jones

40 Under 40

CEO of Multicultural Youth South Australia Tamara Stewart-Jones is proving job opportunities for young refugees through her boutique event management company.

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When Stewart-Jones was appointed CEO of the not-for-profit in 2014, she says the organisation was looking for ways to diversify its income.

MYSA is the state representative body for multicultural youth and young families aged between 12 and 35 years.

While Stewart-Jones says the majority of MYSA’s clients come from migrant and refugee backgrounds, a growing number of Aboriginal youths are accessing MYSA’s programs.

Each year, Stewart-Jones says MYSA supports about 4000 refugee and migrant youths as well as young families with a diverse range of settlement and other needs.

The former social worker says she saw her clients being knocked back from jobs time after time and wanted to create training and career opportunities for MYSA’s clients, in turn helping to combat South Australia’s high youth refugee unemployment rate.

Miss MYSA Events is an event planning company that not only specialises in event planning but styling, floral design, caravan bars, furniture hire and stationary.

Stewart-Jones says where most recruitment programs set young people up for jobs, Miss MYSA Events aims to pave the way for careers.

To this end, she says she has tried to create an environment where young people feel excited to come to work each day and where they are placed in front of house positions to help develop their English skills.

Miss MYSA Events provides event services to the corporate, small business and government sectors as well as the public.

The social enterprise aims to create sustainable economic and social value by providing refugee youth with paid employment and hands-on training, work experience, networks and skills that would be easily transferable to jobs.

Stewart-Jones says since its launch in 2018, more than 50 business and government agencies have either partnered with the company or purchased Miss MSYA Events services.

In June, Stewart-Jones 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?

That you learn so much more from failure than success (and, oh boy, have I had some spectacular failures in my time ha ha!). Being self-reflective and open to personal and professional growth is character building and fosters resilience. Don’t get bitter – get better.

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

The small business community in South Australia is very inclusive with an emphasis on collaboration. The nature of the state is that there is an appetite for creativity and innovation; it is inspiring to witness so many exciting project ideas and “mum and dad” businesses ventures grow from grassroots initiatives to successful fully-fledged enterprises contributing to the state economy.

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

Conducting business in South Australia, at times, can be a double-edged sword. The community itself is relatively small compared to other states, which also serves as a great strength for fostering an inclusive, supportive business community that readily shares its knowledge.

For some businesses, however, opportunities for expansion and growth are limited by the fact that South Australia has a much smaller population (and therefore fewer potential clients) than the larger states. I feel these limitations are offset by the fact that more and more consumers are demonstrating a growing desire to purchase SA owned and made products.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

Absolutely. South Australia has provided myself (and my business) with fertile grounds in which to be creative and learn. I love the pace and feel of our state and I couldn’t see myself living or working anywhere else.

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

I think it’s important for young leaders to be open to any and all learning opportunities. Working interstate and overseas can provide incredible professional development experiences, as well as exposure to how other states and countries do business.

We want our young people to be robust, critical thinkers and identify best practice approaches implemented in other states/countries and then bring them back to South Australia. I think the question is not how we get our young people to stay, but rather how do we encourage them to return and share their knowledge and experiences with the South Australian business community.

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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