Jason Lim, Forbes
For many companies, maintaining growth is an ever-present challenge that executives struggle with. To help shepherd executives, Professor Jana Matthews launched the Centre for Business Growth within the University of South Australia in September this year. The goal of the centre is to deliver world-class programs that unlock growth potential of Australian SMEs.
To be eligible to participate in the programs, companies need to have 5 to 200 employees and revenues of AU$5-$50 Million.
There are two options for companies to choose from:
1. Growth Check-up – For the CEO or MD: A one-day program to identify company ‘growth stoppers’ and develop a strategic Action Plan to bust those nasty stoppers
2. Specialist Growth Programs – For up to three executives per company: A one-day course, where the company can select from one or more of the following modules:
- Navigating Growth
- Accelerating Growth
- Sustaining Growth
- Attracting and Retaining People for Growth
- Leading and Managing Innovation
- Leading a High Performance Company
One-day programs are priced at AU$5,000 and three-day programs are AU$20,000. Although The University of South Australia doesn’t have the same clout as a Harvard or Stanford, the quality of the teaching from Professor Matthews is comparable, yet much cheaper. The important thing is that participants come away with an Action Plan, which outlines the critical changes they need to make. The Entrepreneur, Owner, President (EOP) at Harvard Business School costs US$38,000 per person per year for two weeks over three years plus travel and living expenses.
Originally from the U.S., Professor Matthews is an esteemed expert on entrepreneurial leadership and business growth. She was a founding member of the Kauffman Foundation’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the world’s leading research institution on entrepreneurship. She has a doctorate from Harvard and has founded 5 companies of her own including M&H Group, named by BusinessWeek as one of three companies that understood how to make cold spots hot. She has consulted hundreds of CEOs and corporate executives. Earlier this year, Mercury Payments Systems, a decade long client of Professor Matthews was acquired for US$1.65 Billion. She advised the company over the three years it took them to grow from 30 to 300 people and Founders claim they couldn’t have gotten to that point without her sage advice.
As the Foundation Partner of the Centre, ANZ Bank has selected a set of their high-potential SME clients to participate in the program and has covered the cost. This was structured under the white-label training offering the centre offers to corporates. One of the first few companies to undergo the program was Styletread. Lee Munro, Managing Director of Styletread said “The program was an excellent opportunity to stop, look and assess my business and myself as a leader. With the assistance of experts who had vast experience on business growth, I was able to validate that I was on the right path to growth, improve my leadership and learn the skills and knowledge required to take my business to the next level.”
“Based on our research and meetings with over 50 CEOs across Australia, it’s clear to me that there is a huge potential for Australian companies to grow – if we can teach the CEOs how to grow. None of the CEOs we worked with understood the stages of growth, or the different roles they needed to play at various stages. They did not understand the specific responsibilities of the leader or the various strategies for growth, or the importance of communicating effectively. In just one day at the Growth Clinic, we were able to provide them with an idea of “What to do”, an understanding of “Why it’s important” as well as a roadmap for “How to do it”. Some of them have already begun to make changes that will enable them to grow. Our courses are designed to provide every CEO of companies in our target range of $5M – $50M with the knowledge, tools, and skills to grow. We’ve developed a “science of growth” and look forward to helping many CEOs develop an action plan for success,” said Matthews.
So far the Centre has worked with 35 CEOs in the Growth Clinics and 11 companies have been selected to participate in the intensive Business Growth modules.
As the business world hurtles forward at an unprecedented speed, companies must adapt quicker and avoid being swallowed up by leaner and more innovative competitors. For this reason, corporates are now adopting startup principles of Agile development and more risk-taking. The Centre for Business Growth, under the leadership and experience of Professor Matthews, is in a prime position to prepare corporates and SMEs alike to be well equipped for the brutal business world out there.