ADORA Handmade Chocolates has one of the most remarkable backstories of any Australian confectionery maker.

Adora started out as a simple home-made chocolates business in 1993, designed to make some extra money for sisters Tina Angelidis and Katerina Stavropoulos, as they supported their partners in raising their families. Over a quarter century later, the business has developed in both size and brand reputation to be poised for steady expansion. 

“Over time, the business has had to be the main income for both families,” director Tina Angelidis said. “Now the children have grown, the business has taken on another phase. We now can see the potential beyond just an income and would like to explore the possibilities.”

And those possibilities seem ripe for the picking, right now, for Adora Handmade Chocolates.


Over the past few years, consequently, the Adora leadership team has focused on laying the groundwork for expansion – and this has rapidly paid off.

First came the decision to install new equipment and restructure Adora’s manufacturing site, a couple of years ago, supplying a broad range of customers and four Adora Cafes in Sydney’s CBD, Earlwood, Parramatta and Newtown.

“Significant technologies and systems introduced include ordering systems, purchasing, stock management, and making accountability more visible,” Ms Angelidis said.

But perhaps most rewarding was the relocation of Adora’s original Earlwood store.

“After 22 years in Homer Street, last year we relocated our Earlwood store to 118 Wardell Rd Earlwood, corner of Bass St,” Ms Angelidis said. “It was a big step for us, but we were able to relocate our business of 25 years to a new location and, at the same time, increase sales immediately.”

Ms Angelidis said she learned to “never underestimate or overestimate people’s potential”.

Furthermore, incentive rewards have successfully been introduced for staff at all levels.


The company’s financial turnaround over the past year has been solid and confident, as a result of Adora’s innovative but measured approach. That seems even more remarkable in a retail environment that is rife with challenges.

“Currently the chocolate café industry has suffered due to the high rents, high staff costs and increasing costs from food suppliers,” Ms Angelidis said. “We have had to try to renegotiate all areas more regularly.” 

An area that needs special attention, Ms Angelidis and her leadership team agree – because it has such a negative effect on the retail cost of products – is the hurdle of payroll tax, often described by economists as a ‘tax on employment’.

“Payroll tax must be addressed for the hospitality industry,” Ms Angelidis said. “The industry hardly allows you to grow the business, pay staff correctly and still make a profit.”

Another challenge has been the quest to use more sustainable and ethical products, creating some logistical challenges.

“We are also using more and more natural ingredients in all our products,” she said, mentioning its impact on the bottom line.

Indeed, the public has reacted enthusiastically to all Adora product innovations so far. 

For 2019 and beyond, Tina Angelidis’s primary goals are to consolidate the manufacturing with the retail “in order to build the business to a more profitable and sustainable model and replicate thereafter”.

“I want Adora Handmade Chocolates to be a recognised, reputable and sustainable business,” Ms Angelidis said.

With that solid foundation – hand-built by sisters Tina and Katerina from the ground up, over 25 years – Adora Handmade Chocolates continues to innovate and foment ever-more heavenly chocolate experiences.


Adora Handmade Chocolates 

Best-known brands: Adora Café, Adora Signature Truffles made with natural ingredients, Special Order chocolates and Hampers, Handmade High Tea, Chocolate Classes as team building for clients or colleagues 

Adora Handmade Chocolates operates across the manufacturing and hospitality industries, and is led by director Tina Angelidis.

Adora has one manufacturing site and four retail and café outlets across Sydney, with a total of 24 staff.

Awards: Adora’s chocolates have won many awards at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Adora has also been awarded Business of the Year for the Canterbury region.



AUSTRALIAN company Ocular Robotics has been recognised as a ‘game changer’ organisation in the global robotics revolution.

Ocular Robotics, a New South Wales Leaders alumni member, was presented with the Next Generation Game Changer Award at the 2015 RoboBusiness Conference in Silicon Valley, California. 

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THE ORGANISATION that has been inciting Australian innovation since 2006 – the Hargraves Institute named after aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave – is now focused on helping public sector to transform.

The Hargraves Institute is backing the Australian Public Sector Innovation Awards in an effort to assist in the innovative development of public administration. Allan Ryan.

“The Public Sector Innovation Awards aims to recognise, celebrate and share innovative approaches to public administration,” Hargraves Institute CEO Allan Ryan said.

“The benefits of innovation to the APS (Australian Public Sector) is to engage everybody in problem solutions,” Mr Ryan said. “Engaging everybody gives the maximum opportunity to get the best ideas. (It is to) get many ideas and for the best of many ideas to be implemented.”

He said it was all about recognising innovation and fostering a culture that supports and celebrates people and agencies doing things differently.

“This means that an innovative APS is a high performing APS, because everybody at every level is engaged in the outcomes desired.”

Since it was founded on July 1, 2006, the Hargraves Institute has become a beacon for bringing through innovation in various sectors of Australian business, education and now public administration.

It is as unique as its namesake, who was an inventor – the man who developed box kites and gliders and whose experiment in wing warping are believed to have helped the Wright Brothers make their powered flight breakthrough in 1903 – who believed in sharing his ideas and findings with the scientific world.

Hargrave’s principle of sharing and collaboration to advance knowledge is the corner stone of Hargraves Institute.

There were 12 leading Australian organisations who formed the original Hargraves Institute Advisory Council.

The aims were many, all based on inciting innovation throughout Australian enterrpise and society. The concept of the members was to be part of the collection of the country’s best innovators; and  to “learn how to be more innovative through the collective experience of the group”.

The original 12 were Aristocrat Technologies Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, BlueScope Steel, Boeing Australia, Caltex Australia Petroleum, Cerebos (Australia), Cochlear, George Weston Technologies, Jacobs Australia, Mars Food Australia, Roche Products and Westpac Banking Corporation.

The Hargraves Institute is a NSW Leaders Industry Partner.



NEW South Wales Leaders executive member The Copyright Agency has struck a landmark rights agreement with leading Asia-Pacific media intelligence group, Isentia, that will both improve access to Australian online and print content and protect its publishers.

The Copyright Agency has announced it will use this agreement as the basis for “negotiating with all other online and print media content aggregators in Australia to ensure a level playing field and fair compensation to publishers for the use of their content”. 

While the agreement delivers significant client benefits to Isentia clients, it fundamentally helps Australian print and online publishers to invest in quality journalism and the development of content creation programs, with an assurance that they will be paid for its re-use.

The Copyright Agency’s CEO, Adam Suckling said “This agreement provides Isentia with a flexible and innovative licensing solution for its clients and ensures a revenue stream to publishers for use of their content so that they can keep producing high-quality journalism.

“The key publishers that the Copyright Agency represents publish great journalism and analysis which is expensive to produce. The revenue that flows from the new agreement makes a contribution to sustaining outstanding publishing, journalism and analysis in Australia.”

Under the new copyright agreement, Isentia will now provide clients with immediate access to media intelligence drawn from the millions of stories produced each year by Australia’s leading publishers of quality journalism including Fairfax, News Corp Australia, Bauer Media, Western Australian Newspapers and APN.

The media content licensed under the new agreement covers Australia’s most popular digital sites, newspapers and magazines, which reach a combined audience of close to 17 million Australians – about 94 percent of the adult population – and have greater influence and client impact than any other medium in Australia.

Under the new agreement the parties have agreed to significantly enhance the value provided to Isentia’s clients, who will now have retention and access to tailored online and print media content for a full 12 months – up from 180 days – providing Isentia’s clients with a fully searchable, 12-month archive of stories and business intelligence that is compiled on the basis of what is of critical importance to them.

Isentia clients will also now have real-time access to all stories as they are published, lifting a previous 4am embargo on some publications. For the first time clients will get immediate access to stories published across every major publication in Australia, Mr Suckling said.

Another key change is the significant increase in the number of people who are licensed to receive media items in a company, so relevant media items can now be shared with more people within an organisation. 



Isentia chief executive John Croll said the new Copyright Agency agreement recognised the increasingly complex media environment that Isentia’s clients navigate.

“This new agreement ensures our clients will receive high quality content from all the key publishers in Australia,” Mr Croll said. “No matter where a story breaks, Isentia will have the access and the rights to supply our clients with real-time, relevant information. The new copyright agreement also provides significant improvements for clients in the length of the archive and the number of internal users who can access the information.”


NEW SOUTH WALES Leaders is driving a new era of support for the state’s business leaders as it helps to develop the next generation of innovative Australian growth businesses.

Utilising the strong support of its Industry Partners and Industry Experts networks, NSW Leaders is extending its programs across the state to help business leaders drive their organisations to success. 

NSW Leaders is the latest generation of the International Leaders organisation, which began as Queensland Leaders in 2006 and has successfully extended to Victoria and New Zealand while developing the interlinked online Leaders Resource Centre that is assisting and connecting business leaders.

Members of the inaugural year of NSW Leaders, which met for the first time in February, are already tapping in to the mentoring, networks, online learning centre and investment banking framework for business growth, said CEO Dan Liszka.

“This is a very successful program, the likes of which has never been seen before in this state,” Mr Liszka said. “It works because people who are passionate about helping to bring through the state’s next generation of exceptional business leaders are personally involved and they are putting the resources of their organisations behind NSW Leaders.

“This program is led by many of the state’s top business leaders who are paying it forward by giving their own time and resources to help elevate businesses at an early stage of development. We have launched NSW Leaders here because we have seen the great results this program and its subsequent Alumni programs have achieved in Queensland. The potential in NSW is even greater.”

Mr Liszka said even in NSW Leaders’ inaugural year, there is a strong push to assist business leaders in regional areas, through Regional Leaders strand, along with the organisation’s new Future Leaders program that assists leaders of early-stage and fast-growth companies. NSW Leaders would develop at a faster rate than the program had in Queensland, because of the business networks already in place and with the power of the recently-developed online Leaders Resource Centre, Mr Liszka said. 

International Leaders executive director James Paulsen, who founded Queensland Leaders in 2006, said NSW Leaders was expected to play a pivotal role in bringing through fast-developing and innovative Australian companies – and their leadership – because of the unique characteristics of the state’s business environment.

He said the stewardship team of NSW leaders, led by Dan Liszka and supported by Darren Clarke, were vastly experienced in business mentoring and brought strong business, education and financial networks into the equation.

“What we have developed is a multi-various program to support business leaders and build capability, structured similarly to an investment banking platform,” Mr Paulsen said. 

“We are particularly pleased with the interest at the moment in our Future Leaders programs – which are now also starting in other states and New Zealand – for they are immediately helping business leaders who need a structure around them to help develop their companies rapidly,” Mr Paulsen said. “Our Future Leaders program has really hit the mark in these challenging times for early-stage businesses.

“The Future Leaders series is all about assisting the leaders of these young companies and helping them to tap in to the knowledge, experience and networks of NSW Leaders when they need it.”

Mr Liszka said, “NSW Leaders selects leading private or unlisted public New South Wales companies to become Members. Members undertake a structured program over a 12 month period where they receive the knowledge, skills, networks and capital necessary to become the next generation of leading companies headquartered in the State.

“New South Wales Leaders assists Members to achieve sustainable growth, manage succession planning and evaluate entry and exit strategies for their business. Each year, up to 25 organisations are selected to engage through the Executive Series, which also includes a further two years Alumni membership.

“Further to this, up to 100 regional members participate via the Regional Series, providing ongoing professional development and networking online in linking the Executive Series content with the opportunities to expand their business.

“In addition, New South Wales Leaders also supports up to 16 Future Leaders each year. They participate in the Future Leaders Series, providing the insights and skills to ensure the foundations of their business are sound while developing the strategies and resources required to progress their opportunity,” Mr Liszka said.



Mr Paulsen said the entire Leaders network was benefitting from the innovation and new potential markets that came with careful expansion. A good example was the planned Sports Leaders program, designed to develop business acumen and future pathways for professional sports people, which had come out of discussions with Victorian Leaders CEO Robert Ford and chairman and former Australian Cricket coach John Buchanan.

“Queensland Leaders has always been a highly innovative program that could react rapidly to changes in business conditions and in meeting the progressive needs of our members,” Mr Paulsen said. “We think NSW Leaders can take this to a new level.

 “Even though we have seen great success as an organisation – and our success is really in helping to facilitate the conditions that bring success to our members – we are seeing some great innovations come to fruition that will both attract new members and advance our existing members, partners and alumni.”

Mr Paulsen said the organisation was also now underpinned technologically by a versatile and rapidly developing online Leaders Resource Centre.

Apart from the online communication and networking capabilities of the system, its expanding information resource – in a mix of video, text and special report presentations – was proving to be a boon for members and partners alike. Special offers for products and services among members are also introduced through the Leaders Resource Centre.

“This platform is interconnected, so its content develops and becomes even more useful to the network as International Leaders expands,” Mr Paulsen said.

“This was always part of our strategy and we have been careful to under-promise and over deliver in terms of our digital strategy and in how we are building and delivering this powerful business knowledge resource.”

Now International Leaders is investing in a significant technology platform to assist its licensees with the roll out of their individual series.

“This will help greatly with ensuring the continuity of the structure, culture and philosophy of the initiative, and consistency with the content and outcomes delivered,” Mr Paulsen said. 


NSW Leaders has the support of many of the state’s most successful and visionary business people, such as its Advisory Board of Emma Forster-Mitrovski, Dan Liszka, Tim Rossi, Jonathan Rubinsztein, Melinda Snowden, former NSW Government Minister Carl Scully and former Deputy Premier of NSW Andrew Stoner.

One of the strongest supporters of NSW Leaders is Industry Partner Jamie Pherous, whose company Corporate Travel Management was the first to IPO through the Queensland Leaders system.

Corporate Travel Management has gone on to support the new Leaders organisations in other states, while the network regularly receives presentations from other luminary partners such as Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner of Flight Centre, Martin Ward of century-old automotive retail group AP Eagers, Peter Birtles of Super Retail Group, Adrian DiMarco of TechnologyOne and Maxine Horne of Vita Group.

“I have heard Queensland Leaders described as the ‘brains trust’ of Queensland business and you’d have to say that’s quite true,” Mr Paulsen said.

“It’s great to see how our business growth and development network, with its foundations in Queensland, is being so successfully  translated to other states and even international markets. Everyone is benefitting from the innovations being brought through.”

Go to the New South Wales Leaders section.


WOMEN on Boards (WoB) has developed into one of the most effective organisations in Australia in improving board – and hence company – performance.

Not only does WoB assist women to achieve board and leadership roles – under a model that is strategic, systematic and repeatable – WoB also assists organisations looking to achieve greater gender balance on their boards. WoB has proven over and over again that more diverse boards are more effective boards.

WoB practices what it preaches and has been operating as a successfully growing company with a social purpose since 2006, and is associated with the UK-based Women on Boards global organisation.

“Our governance model evolved after four years of work under the auspices of a well-regarded national women’s organisation and volunteers,” WoB chair Ruth Medd said. 

“There is a great deal of material published about the business benefits of a more gender balanced board. For boards that have used the traditional ‘who do we know’ approach, the question is how to tap into a wider pool of candidates.”

Ms Medd said board recruitment has moved from recruiting people with an interest in the organisation to people with ‘wanted skills’.

The key to success for many organisations has come out of an initial exercise to review the skills of a current board “and to look at the skills needed for the 21st century” Ms Medd said.

“Traditionally board appointments were made from the network of existing board members,” Ms Medd said. “Over time this has evolved to the use of executive search firms and/or public advertising. Both options can be expensive.  

“You may not wish to spend $20,000-plus recruiting a director when other options are available.”

WoB and other executive-search organisations offer web based options, with WoB obviously specialising in females who are both existing and aspiring board members.

“WoB offers its services anywhere and, almost, anytime with access to 35,000 members across 85 countries, principally Australia and the UK,” Ms Medd said.

While specialised skills and networks for a particular industry may be useful, Ms Medd said WoB recommended companies look for board members who, as a minimum, have the following generic skills:
Corporate  Governance understanding and experience;

Financial expertise suitable for the size and complexity of the organisation;

Senior experience in the sector where the organisation operates or a related sector.

She said these skills should be supplemented by the ‘board skills deficits’ the company has identified, including risk management expertise; communications and marketing experience; and an understanding of digital trends and social media.

Women on Boards is a 2015 Executive Member of NSW Leaders.




FINANCIAL Wisdom representative Sam Carroll knows the value of taking advice – having helped transform the business with the help of a business coach – but he is worried about how so many Australian business owners refuse to counsel financial advice for their companies.

“For someone who gives advice for a living, I feel it is important to understand what it feels like to take advice,” Mr Carroll said. “We sought the advice of a business coach to optimise our systems and processes, our sales function and ultimately our long term business valuation and attractiveness to potential investors. 

“We’ve learned that there is discomfort involved – an initial daunting realisation of the size of the task in front of you.

“In retrospect this is one of the best decisions we have made for our business to date.”

Mr Carroll said while he observed most business owners had developed sound and often thriving businesses based on their own expertise or skill sets, few then went on to focus on expanding those skills set to encompass other vital business development areas.

“If you look at the typical business owner, we are experts in our field,” he said. “This doesn’t automatically grant us business acumen or the skills to run a successful business…and it’s okay to admit this.

“You don’t have to be good at everything, in fact I’ve learnt I can make more money and enjoy the journey more by outsourcing the stuff that gives me heartburn.”

Mr Carroll said the experience of Financial Wisdom consultants had been that business owners tended to face a few common problems: no clear strategy, no protection of assets, no rainy day insurance and no retirement plan.

“Issues they’ve no doubt thought about but perhaps haven’t known where to go to get the right advice,” Mr Carroll said.

“I often ponder why we (people) don’t seek advice – is it stubbornness; wanting to do things our way, fear of looking bad or incompetent, or having been burnt by bad advice in the past?”

Mr Carroll said people in business rarely extended their strategic planning beyond their business operations – but it was vital that they consider building wealth and planning for exit or retirement.

“One of the first steps in taking advice lies in education… finding out what you don’t know,” Mr Carroll said.


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