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SA's young leaders paint a hopeful - and disruptive - picture


South Australia’s young business leaders have challenged the stereotypes about the state, painting a picture of SA as a place where entrepreneurs can work together to challenge the status quo.

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InDaily’s inaugural 40 Under 40 awards, announced last night, recognised 40 young leaders in their fields, with entrepreneurialism and a willingness to try new things and disrupt the status quo a common theme.

While 40 leaders were recognised after a rigorous judging process, the entire shortlist contained an impressive array of local talent.

Four were also recognised with individual awards, with the winners all expressing a common view: that the state has a lot to gain from collaboration and that our close-knit community – sometimes portrayed as a disadvantage – means that new ideas can blossom here.

The winner of the “First Among Equals” award, which recognises the leader who exemplified the qualities of the entire 40, said that his innovative business could only have been fostered in South Australia.

Dr Sebastian Rees, who developed GenWise Health with business partner and fellow doctor Troye Wallet, told last night’s awards ceremony that the pair’s idea to use technology to improve the model of care for GPs looking after patients in residential aged care, could only have blossomed from South Australia.

“South Australia has this unique environment where you can test ideas, where you can cultivate (them) and challenge the status quo,” he said. “For Troye and I it really was the perfect environment to come up with something new, and test it out, and look at where else we could apply it.”

He said the depth of young entrepreneurs present in the room at the National Wine Centre last night was exciting.

“In the next five or 10 years, we’re really going to see Adelaide tech city really happening. It’s an extraordinary privilege to be on that stage with some really honourable people.”

Rees’s award was supported by InDaily with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Rees’s message was echoed by Noelle Smit, co-founder of Teamgage, who won the Graduate Certificate in management prize from the Australian Institute of Business.

Smit, who produces a technology-based management tool to help companies better manage performance, said she was passionate about the state.

Noelle Smit with AIB CEO Paul Wappett: “We hope that the scholarship for our highly practical Graduate Certificate in Management will support Noelle in her future career endeavours so she can continue to build on her achievements in the local technology sector.”

“I think that there is a lot of good that happens here and maybe we don’t tell that story enough about the great things that are happening,” she said. “I imagine the people in this room will continue to grow this state, the economy and create new jobs.”

Her business has grown from a start-up to a growing concern with clients in five countries and customers including Microsoft, NEC and Santos.

Another winner, this time of the Inspiring Disruptor Award, also demonstrates that a nationally-significant technology company can be built from South Australia.

Sasha Baranikov, whose company Uniti Wireless has grown in four years from the ground up to pre-IPO, provides a super-fast fixed broadband service, with 60 staff across two states.

Baranikov, who won a prize from Underwood Executive, talked about her connections with the other young leaders in the room.

“I think it’s really humbling to be in a room with such inspiring people. You don’t make a business remarkable without your people…”

Sasha Baranikov from Uniti Wireless. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Underwood, who runs her executive search company from Adelaide, said there was no doubt that the state had an opportunity to “keep and develop the highest performing talent right here”.

“We need to continue to back each other and support each other’s businesses and I suggest we move away from the status quo,” she said. “Take a risk. Give a dynamic up and comer a try. We have a room full of them right here tonight.”

The final award, for contribution to the state, was designed to recognise social as well as commercial impact.

David O’Loughlin, from award presenter KWP!, said the advertising agency wanted to celebrate the young people of South Australia, particularly those who bring together the twin imperatives of building the prosperity of the state while ensuring as many people as possible can share in that wealth.

Carmen Garcia from Community Corporate. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

He said he was struck by the winner’s mantra: “The core of human dignity is work.”

Winner Carmen Garcia, from Community Corporate, which works in the field of corporate responsibility, said South Australia had the capacity to be a trailblazing state once more.

“One of the most precious resources we have in this country is not what we find in the ground, as important as that is… it is the people that walk above it that made this country great and will continue to.

“It really is about building a community around your business and that’s what I love about South Australia. I think we genuinely want each and every one of us to succeed – and we want to be trailblazers. We don’t want to be followers.”

InDaily will be profiling these winners – and the entire 40 Under 40 – in the coming weeks and months.

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