If you are thinking about engaging a consultant to help with managing your business then you need to know if that person’s professional experience fits your needs. This is the reason for including this section of the web site.
Let’s not beat about the bush – I have to own up to being born in Adelaide in May 1945. The advantage of being born so long ago is that I have learnt a few things along the way and that is why I am able to provide worthwhile consulting services. Don’t stop reading at this point! Whilst I am a grand mother and I guess semi-retired, I love a challenge. I cherish the opportunity to help people turn great ideas into viable business ventures and at the same time make a worth while contribution to our world.
I grew up in Adelaide being the only daughter of an entrepreneurial father as well as grandfather. Both were exceptional welders. My Dad started Autowelders Pty Ltd in his garage when I was three years old. Later he built a factory down the end of the street and successfully ran the business for 30 years until his death in 1984. The business was then sold to the employees who kept it running for another 20 or so years. I grew up hearing about the “sundry debtors” and the innovation of “change over cylinder heads” for motor cars. Dad invented the “drive in drive out” service to fix the failing car cylinder heads at the time.
I was the second only member in my family (Auntie Zena had a degree and was a head mistress of a technical college) to attended Adelaide University where I studied physics and mathematics receiving a Bachelor of Science and top distinction in physics. After working for 10 years I wanted to broaden my studies towards understanding the art of managing businesses and organisations. Thus in Perth, during the arrival of my second son, I studied for a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Australia specialising in business policy, market research and accounting.
I have (gulp!) 45 years experience in Australian industry, covering both private and government sectors encompassing computer applications, market research and analysis for industrial/technically oriented products, corporate strategic planning, solar energy research, product development from concept to full commercialisation, the marketing and manufacture of products developed and the successful management of several wholly owned companies.
After a series of positions in engineering consulting, banking and manufacturing, I was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Western Australia in 1978. This was an exciting time where the state government of the day wanted to funnel seed money into promising, practical solar energy research with commercial potential. My job was to facilitate this activity with the help of a lively Advisory Committee. In 1981 I decided that I wanted to be closer to the action in the commercial world and in partnership with Good Samaritan Industries (a sheltered workshop) established the Australian distributorship for Arco Solar Inc, then the world’s largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products.
In 1982, together with husband Dr Robert Booth, we founded Bardak Pty Ltd as an energy consultancy. At that time, having just relocated to Melbourne, I worked in collaboration with Rob developing a spreadsheet based model that predicted long term future electricity costs throughout Australia. The model was used extensively by large electricity consumers who needed to negotiate pricing with suppliers.
However, my passion was with the prospects for solar energy and in 1983, I realised my ambition to further my work in the solar energy field by establishing the Suntron Energy Company Pty Ltd – my first independent venture.
At this point I need to explain what happened to Bardak Pty Ltd as Bardak Ventures Pty Ltd (an offshoot of Bardak – is the holding company of Business in Control). During the period from 1982 to 2005 the original Bardak Pty Ltd became a holding company known as the Bardak Group encompassing many activities focussed mainly around Energy and Management Consulting but including fund and property management activities. These activities carried on in the background continuously and were a joint effort between me and my late husband, Dr Rob Booth.
In mid 1992 after a successful career in the large scale power industry, Rob took over and expanded Bardak trading as Bardak Energy Services. Dr Booth had had senior positions in the Victorian and Western Australian power utilities (Chief Engineer and Engineering Commissioner respectively) and as Vice President – Energy in CRA (now Conzinc Riotinto).
As Bardak Energy Services, Rob expanded his area of advice to encompass the whole field of electric power and energy in Australia and South East Asia. He subsequently developed a wide range of clients in large industry, industry associations, government and the energy distribution sectors and was one of the instigators of the Dampier to Kalgoorlie pipeline and the power station in Kalgoorlie. He was passionate about the changes being made in the Electricity Industry in Australia and championed the large energy consumers’ needs during the time when the national energy market systems were being debated and introduced. He wrote the book “The Warring Tribes – The Story of Power Development in Australia”. Many of his ideas and knowledge of the industry its highs and lows are recorded in the pages of his book.
From the inception of Suntron Energy Company, there followed eighteen years of my pioneering the solar photovoltaic systems market with the need to develop new and innovative products to realise the potential of the technology that was in its infancy at that time. Suntron developed and marketed solar and hybrid small scale power systems for water pumping, household and communications applications. The latter activities included the need for sophisticated computer modelling of energy systems, market research and business strategy development, installation of a quality assurance system to ISO 9001 standard for our manufacturing and the implementation and operation of a fully integrated computer based financial management information system – quite an achievement at the time given that the company was quite small employing around 10 persons.
During this period, I needed to seek other sources of income to support my research and development activities. Thus I founded and operated MacForce, a temporary staff agency for Macintosh computers and ran the State distributorship for the Unidata range of data logging equipment.
Suntron’s premier product was its comprehensive range of solar water pumping systems for both surface and borehole applications. Suntron developed (from scratch) a high efficiency, permanent magnet DC motor to drive a modified Mono borehole pump including control equipment on the surface and a tracking solar array.
In 1997, the solar business, which by that time was specialising in the manufacture and marketing of its solar water pumping systems, was sold to Mono Pumps (Australia) Pty Ltd. Mono Pumps, with their in-house machine tools and global market were able to lower the cost of manufacture and with a large sales force were able to increase the market for the new product. The product is still sold by Mono today and competes on the world market with others that copied the concept.
In 1997, Robert and I moved to Perth. It is interesting how sometimes life changing decisions are made on a family basis and not purely the logical career move. At that time, Bardak Management Services was booming with Rob’s top class consultancy services and large scale projects to attend to in the West. It was too difficult to manage two large businesses in the one family. Hence the step to sell Suntron.
Thus from 1997 to 2001, I set out to run Bardak Management Services (another new activity within the Bardak Group) as well as take on the position of executive Vice Chair and Director of Curtin Consulting Services (CCS) in WA. I also took on the WA distributorship for the Business Manager accounting software and consulted to businesses covering a broad range of varied assignments. With CCS, I recommended and implemented a major organisational development programme to decentralise activities and to improve their management procedures.
By 2001 Robert and I were inclined to slow down a bit and move to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland in 2001. We decided that our consultancies could be carried out from anywhere and we chose to live in the beautiful, semi-rural Noosa hinterland. We set up our house with downstairs for office and upstairs for living. It worked well with Maroochydore airport just 20 mins away, Rob could easily service his capital city clients or work via computer link as required. I simply moved my management consulting to the local area carrying out a number of assignments with local companies as well as being involved in a database software startup operation.
After Rob’s passing in December 2005, I continued on in the Sunshine Coast with the Management Services arm of Bardak. At the time, I was frustrated with having to use spreadsheets to individually model my client’s businesses. Much of my work involved setting strategy, planning and implementing performance measurement systems. I was searching for a better way to manage the planning and control function of these small businesses. Thus in January 2008, I moved to Melbourne, settling in the CBD to conduct research at RMIT University with the added benefit of being close to immediate family.
My research was aimed at finding ways to improve the management practices of small businesses – those that have up to 20 employees and may turnover up to $10m pa. Could a software planning and control system that integrated with popular accounting systems make a difference? I wrote a complete software package known as the Business in Control Model (BIC Model) and tested its effectiveness in five case studies. Having completed a PhD with this work, I formed the consultancy Business in Control as a trading arm of Bardak Ventures Pty Ltd in late 2011.
I have since worked with a number of foundation clients using the BIC Model. One client has used the software successfully for 5 years – initially being a guinea pig during the software’s development.
However, I have been somewhat diverted from marketing the one software package per se as my client businesses need help to improve their overall management information systems before they are able to make full use of the BIC Model. This has involved assistance with well known online accounting and point of sale products and general improvement in basic management control systems. The work has also involved the development of some other custom built FileMaker database systems.
In addition to consulting work during 2015 and 2016, I am involved in data analyis and software development for a fund manager – my son’s company Tribelet Capital Management. The aim of the work has been to derive signal generating mechanical trading systems that have the potential to out perform market indexes. The work has involved both Options and Futures markets and the models were built using the FileMaker package.
As part of my contribution to the community, I am secretary for our building’s Owners Corporation – Hero Apartments and vice president of Residents 3000 a community of residents who live in the Melbourne CBD and have the 3000 post code. Among other duties, I maintain both web sites and have had a substantial role in creating content and ideas for the sites. I have developed and run the Members Relationship Database for Residents 3000 again using the FileMaker platform.
When I am not learning new skills or consulting, I am a keen runner/walker/elliptical stepper, do some weight training and practice yoga. The Melbourne city lifestyle provides many oportunities to enjoy ballet, orchestra, the cinema and wonderful dining experiences. Grand children living in the same apartment building and nearby continue to delight. I wholeheartedly embrace the importance of lifestyle balance between work and play, an important factor in the business ethic learnt from living in the Sunshine Coast region for many years.