QUEENSLAND Brain Institute, based at The University of Queensland, has joined the current Executive Leaders series at Queensland Leaders – the organisation that has been called ‘the brains trust’ of business in the Sunshine State.

Queensland Brain Institute is renowned for its work in understanding how the human brain works and applying that knowledge to potential cures and treatment for brain disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

The institute has joined Queensland Leaders in order to develop its ‘smarts’ as a business and to build collaborative relationships with business. 

Queensland Brain Institute director Pankaj Sah said the work being done, and discoveries being made, on how the human brain functions would have vast consequences beyond medicine and into technology, community and business.

“In the past five years I’ve been part of two large, national collaborative efforts that are helping us understand how the brain learns and makes decisions,” Professor Sah said. “These processes are really central to the human experience.

“As director of the Queensland Brain Institute, I also know that they’re key elements in running an organisation.

“Managers and CEOs constantly need to weigh up competing strategies, opinions and priorities and decide on a course of action. From these experiences we learn what works, what doesn’t, and why – so that next time, things work more smoothly.

“A big part of how well you do this comes down to your brain – it’s the key to running an efficient, innovative and productive organisation,” Prof. Sah said.

“Our brains are uniquely powerful lumps of matter. Today’s artificial intelligence wows us with its ability to play board games, control autonomous vehicles or recognise our voices – it’s seriously impressive. But AI has nothing on the brain — it’s not even close.

“The AI that can play Go can’t play poker, can’t drive a car, and can’t recognise your voice. Your brain does all of them, effortlessly, and it doesn’t need millions of examples and huge server farms to do the calculations,” he said.

“At the Queensland Brain Institute we’re trying to do two things. First, generate discoveries that lead to treatments for brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury. Second, to unravel the secrets of just how the brain does its incredible work.

“It’s the first one that gets all the attention, but wrapped up in that second goal is some amazing potential with far reaching long term consequences.”

That research was leading towards a greater understanding of how people think, behave and create within an organisation.

“Imagine if we knew why, or how, some brains learned more efficiently than others,” Prof. Sah said. “Or if we could predict when and why people’s focus levels started to drop.

“Neuroscientists are trying to answer these questions, and as they do, we’ll all reap the benefits.

“If you knew the answers to these questions, what would you do with it? Would your business be more efficient and productive?” Prof. Sah asked a recent Queensland Leaders gathering.

https://qbi.uq.edu.au/

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PENSAR managing director Karl Yunker knows how to best manage changes to any construction cycle – focus on having the best people on board.

As managing director of one of Australia’s best-regarded infrastructure solutions companies, Mr Yunker knows from experience that no matter how the market turns, making the most of it comes down to having the best people on board and keeping them motivated. It is a strategy that continues to pay off for Pensar nation-wide. 

“As does any managing director, I closely observe industry trends and predictions to ensure our organisation is always positioned to manage what the market may present,” Mr Yunker said.

Right now, he was observing a trend similar to that which followed the residential housing boom of the early 2000s.

“Across the infrastructure sector there is currently much rhetoric around imminent government spending on infrastructure and a potential boom period similar to that experienced in the late 2000s,” Mr Yunker said.

“This boom was preceded by a significant growth period in sub-division led residential housing. As this growth slowed, the government invested to stimulate the infrastructure and construction sector.”

Mr Yunker recalled that as a telling period for Australia’s construction and infrastructure sector, with skills challenges, funding risks and rising construction prices a result.

“Periods of big government spending in any industry hold the promise of opportunity and substantial work, however we know from the previous investment cycles that it can also create many challenges,” he said.

“As costs escalate and people resources become scarce, contractors and sub-contractors can quickly find themselves in trouble. Projects overrun their timeframes, costs continue to escalate above budget throughout the project life cycle as resources become more scarce, quality can be compromised due to inexperienced people and cost-saving efforts, and finally – and devastatingly – safety can be compromised.”

The signs are there, Mr Yunker said, for an upcoming infrastructure construction boost – and Pensar was preparing as it always has, by focusing on staff development and astute recruitment.

“As we observe the slowing of the recent apartment construction boom in Queensland, we need to be ready for the possibility of a new government infrastructure boom, and ensure strategies are in place to mitigate the possible risks,” Mr Yunker said.

“I believe the keystone of this strategy is quality people – and it’s a keystone for Pensar regardless of market cycles. 

“Effectively managing your people resources is fundamental to success across any industry.  The ability to recruit and retain quality people has far reaching implications for managing project timeframes, costs, quality, and safety,” Mr Yunker said. 

“As industry leaders it’s important to remember that our organisations are more than simply what we make, produce or deliver – they are about the people who make it possible.”

www.pensar.com.au

Pensar is a current Executive Leaders member of Queensland Leaders.

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HUMAN RESOURCE consultancies Livingstones and SHR have signed a heads of agreement to merge their businesses and create a broad based multi-faceted national consultancy aiming to better serve their combined client bases. 

Livingstones and SHR have worked together on many projects in the past and this highlighted the professional and cultural synergies both companies share. This prompted merger discussions and culminated in a period of extensive due diligence, according to the companies’ CEOs. 

The new company will commence operating on December 31, 2018, to be chaired by Alex Aspromourgos – he is Livingstones’ current managing director – and CEO will be Steve Rayner, SHR’s current CEO.

“As Livingstones and SHR join forces we remain fully committed to providing the very best services our clients have come to expect,” Mr Rayner said.  

“Our new national footprint will significantly strengthen our capabilities allowing us to increase our value proposition by providing more comprehensive people solutions.”

Livingstones teams are employment relationship advisors who provide employers with an extensive range of specialist services across industrial relations, human resource management and organisational development.  

Working within a wide variety of industry sectors, Livingstones services clients as diverse as independent schools, government departments and statutory authorities, government owned corporations, as well as clients in the power, utilities, fast-moving consumer goods, hospitality, entertainment and not-for-profit sectors. 

Livingstones have been in business for over 35 years and operates from offices in Queensland and New South Wales. 

SHR is a team of experienced human resource practitioners and specialists providing broad human resources consulting, industrial and employee relations, contracting, business migration and managed services to clients throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region.  

While SHR supports clients across many industries, they are recognised for their experience and capability in the oil and gas, mining, construction, engineering, infrastructure and utility industries. SHR – Strategic Human Resources – has been in business for nearly 25 years and have offices in Western Australia and Victoria.

Livingstones is an Industry Expert member of Queensland Leaders, NSW Leaders and Victorian Leaders, the organisations fostering the next generation of leading Australian companies.

www.livingstones.com.au

www.shr.com.au

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EVEN with new intellectual property (IP) initiatives by the Australian Government designed to make the process easier, it is still a difficult area for most business leaders to navigate.

Yet it is becoming increasingly vital to get IP protections right, according to Andrew Dark of Dark IP.

“In the IP industry, particularly patents, we are constantly faced with the challenges of dealing with governments that sway from thinking IP monopolies are good things to IP being the destroyer of all innovation,” Mr Dark said. 

“Of course, we know that IP is essential for fostering investment and innovation as it is rare that people want to spend thousands, or even millions of dollars developing an invention just to see others profit from that investment.”

He said the major problem was that IP law seemed to be in a process of constant change, making long-term rights a challenge.

“The law on IP is in constant flux, in many instances as a result of the perception of the government,” Mr Dark said.

“This is true not only in Australia, but across the globe. So, it’s not only a question of understanding cutting edge technologies in a variety of industries, it’s also essential to know the ins and outs of the laws in the major jurisdictions.”

In Australia, the IP legal profession is going through huge changes. Several of the nation’s major players are listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and smaller players are being absorbed.

So while the challenges are major, Mr Dark believes the personal approach of his boutique IP agency is able to stand out from the crowd.

“It’s a challenging prospect, both professionally and personally, but I am looking forward to what the future offers this independent, boutique IP company,” Mr Dark said.

Dark IP was created in January 2012, at the conclusion of Andrew Dark’s 21 years of working for a variety of organisations across the Australian IP industry.

He specialises in the fields of chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, mining and energy, mineral analysis and building systems. Mr Dark is a registered patent and trade mark attorney in Australia and New Zealand, a fellow of the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia and a Certified Materials Professional recognised by the Institute of Materials Engineering of Australasia.

Mr Dark is also a committee member of the Asian Patent Practice Committee of the Intellectual Property Owners Association, IPO, in the US, which provides recommendations and input into the development of patent law and practice in the Asia region. He is also the founder of the Australian Patents Forum on LinkedIn and a Director of the Australian Nanotechnology Alliance.

“I had worked as an examiner of patents, earned my stripes for a decade at one of the ‘big’ firms and had been a partner at a mid-sized firm,” Mr Dark said.

“Looking back, it was still a gutsy move to start a business while still under a non-compete agreement, with no clients and two young children in tow.

“I won’t say that it’s been all smooth sailing. I started the business with a co-director and the transition to sole directorship was tough.

“And now, here we are some six years later ready to move into a new growth phase.”

Dark IP is an Executive Leaders member of Queensland Leaders.

www.darkip.com.au

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MOST business leaders agree that the insurance markets are ‘hardening’ – but how to handle this to best business effect is as challenge.

One experienced insurance advisor is suggesting business leaders do what he is doing: take a lead from how insurance brokers are handling the situation themselves.

Gallagher Queensland’s Chris McKeown, a respected corporate advisor with more than 20 years experience in the insurance industry, said in general most types of insurance are likely to be harder to place for brokers, the deals will be less advantageous and cover will cost more. 

“That’s where a low claims record, sound risk mitigation strategy and good advice can achieve savings,” Mr McKeown said.

“Everyone is talking about a hardening insurance market but what does that mean for insurance brokers and their clients?”

Mr McKeown said after a year of catastrophic weather events in 2017 global disaster insurance losses were estimated by global reinsurer, Swiss Re, to be in the region of US$306 billion.

“In an environment where reinsurers and insurers alike are very much international players this matters because capacity is reduced,” he said.

“Locally we are seeing a governmental crackdown on financial institutions, corporate governance is being made more accountable, insolvencies are on the rise, flammable cladding has increased risk in construction and Australia is one of the most litigious countries in the world when it comes to liability suits.

“That’s without touching on the cyber-crime wave of attacks on businesses that experts such as digital security specialists McAfee are predicting.”

Mr McKeown – who has advised start-up organisations through to multinational companies – said an insurance broker who understands how a business operates and the conditions it operates under, and who takes the time to run analytics on its risk profile, “can make better informed suggestions about managing these risks and is a key asset in these kinds of market conditions”.

According to Mr McKeown, another major consideration should be achieving integrated cover without gaps or loopholes that can occur when shopping for insurance on a piecemeal, separate policy basis.

“A tailored solution packaged into a single program ensures your business is comprehensively covered and offers its owner greater control with a preferred insurer,” he said.

“Insurance is one area where the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best deal. Shopping around for a broker with experience in your industry and insight into your professional needs will pay off when you need to claim.”

Gallagher began trading in Australia in 1985 and is wholly owned by Arthur J. Gallagher and Co, a family-owned US brokerage founded in 1927. In Australia and New Zealand, Gallagher employs more than 2500 staff in over 60 locations.

Gallagher is an Industry Expert member of Queensland Leaders.

www.ajg.com.au

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