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The Family Business Conference 2023 – Wrap up & Key Learnings

Another successful Family Business Conference has come and gone. It was great to see so many attendees connecting and enjoying the wonderful stie visits, events and speakers throughout the conference. We hope everyone who joined us learnt lots and got some invaluable knowledge around legacy building.

21 June, 2023
Conference, Family Business Excellence Awards, Article
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Another successful Family Business Conference has concluded, and it was fantastic to witness numerous attendees connecting and enjoying the wonderful site visits, events, and speakers throughout the conference. We hope everyone who joined us gained valuable insights into legacy building.

After a whirlwind few days, we're thrilled to reminisce about the event and share its highlights from our time in Adelaide. Continue reading to discover the best insights from our keynote speakers, panel sessions, site visits, and relive the memorable moments from the social and networking events.


On the first day, we all had the opportunity to explore and visit prominent family-run businesses in South Australia. These site visits showcased a diverse range of businesses from various industries, offering attendees great insights behind the scenes.

The teams from Beerenberg Farm, Drakes Supermarkets, Haigh’s Chocolate Factory, SA Mushrooms and Ahrens were incredibly generous in inviting delegates to experience their operations, tour their facilities, and share their wisdom on successfully managing a family business.

After the site visits and just before the official conference commenced, delegates gathered at Kingsford in the Barossa for the Longest Lunch and the Emerging Generation Longest Lunch. It was a chance to mingle, get to know each other, and learn more about what the Family Business Conference 2023 had in store.

The Longest Lunch and the Emerging Generation Longest Lunch:



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Site Visits:

Beerenberg Farm

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SA Mushrooms

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Drakes Supermarkets

Haigh’s Chocolate Factory

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Thursday marked the official kickoff of The Family Business Conference 2023. The day commenced with the B2B Speed Networking Breakfast, followed by the official opening, which began with Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O'Brien leading the Welcome to Country ceremony.

Following that, we had the pleasure of listening to fantastic speakers who shared insights into various aspects of legacy building. These knowledgeable individuals hail from diverse family-owned businesses, offering a wealth of experience and expertise.

Keynote: Shaping Hill-Smith Family Estates for Future Generations 
Robert Hill-Smith Robert Hill-Smith, Hill-Smith Family Estates, Facilitated by Susan Hawkins, ANZ Private


As a fifth-generation descendant of Samuel Smith, the founder of Yalumba in 1849, Robert Hill-Smith didn't need to seek out an industry to forge his career. Being born at Yalumba, the world of wine was ingrained in him before he even realized it. During this fireside chat, Robert delved into the family's history and discussed how he cultivated an understanding of legacy and restructured the ownership under his leadership. He detailed the process of navigating familial change and explained the reasoning behind the decision to rebrand the company as "Hill Smith Family Estates," positioning the business for future generations.

From a Family Business to a Family Brand,
Jaid Hulsbosch and Carolyn Pitt, Hulsbosch


The independently owned branding and design agency, Hulsbosch, has not only collaborated with and crafted some of Australia's most recognisable brands—such as Woolworths, Qantas, Eftpos, and Virgin Australia—but, as a family business, they recognize the unique opportunity that leveraging family ownership presents when formulating their branding strategy.

Sustaining both Family and Business Legacy
Sarah Anthony, Heyne's Wholesale Nursery, Stuart Gerring, Parks Towing Facilitated by John-Paul Drake, Drakes Supermarkets


John-Paul Drake led an insightful discussion alongside a panel comprising fellow next-generation family business members. They shared insights about their challenges, motivations to further enhance that value across future generations, and their perspectives on continuing to honor the legacy that has been established.

Sarah Anthony expressed her motivation as 'making the previous generations proud.' Stuart added, 'Ownership comes with responsibility, and, like Sarah, you have to take pride in what you do.' John-Paul Drake summarized it by saying, 'As a business, we always speak in terms of generations, not just years'.

The Pursuit of Legacy
Paul Crawford, Miles Crawford, CMV Group Facilitated by Brad Scott, EWM Group 


Brad Scott conducted an interview with the Crawfords regarding the Legacy of CMV Group.

During this session, they explored various options for families aiming to protect and pass on one of their greatest assets – Legacy. The discussion encompassed philanthropy, family governance techniques, preparing the next generation, and education as a vital tool in this pursuit.

Key Takeaways:

  • It's crucial to leave the business in a better position than when you acquired it, ensuring a more streamlined operation for the next generation to build upon and contribute to.
  • Be mindful of your words as they cannot be unsaid.
  • Take ample time for transition; preparing the next generation requires a growth mindset shared by all.
  • Emphasize community contribution through philanthropy, exemplified by the CMV Foundation.

Additionally, the session highlighted the top five values for businesses:

  1. Safety first
  2. Doing the right thing
  3. Adopting a can-do attitude
  4. Cultivating mutual respect
  5. Encouraging curiosity by asking questions.

Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Family Business Legacy
Ross Doonan, DECO Australia, Katie Pote, Cowell Clarke Commercial Lawyers 

While succession planning plays a significant role in securing the future of family businesses, safeguarding their intellectual property is equally crucial, yet it is often disregarded. Ross Doonan and Katie Pote discussed the importance of a business's success as it expands, how the brand identity evolves in tandem, and why it's vital to protect the brand elements that customers and businesses associate with your enterprise."

The Kelly Story: Family Business to Business Family
Jo and Shane Kelly, Kelly Engineering, Facilitated by Dr Chris Graves, University of Adelaide Business School

Second-generation husband and wife, Shane and Jo Kelly from Kelly Engineering, delved into their strategies for innovation, the growth process, and the significant challenges within the family concerning differences and comfort levels surrounding risk. They also highlighted the advantages of integrating non-family managers into the family-run operation as a part of the succession process.

Joining the Family Company Board - Should I be Worried?
Yvette Gray, Actron Air, Alinta Wilson GAICD, Woppitt Bloodstock Facilitated by Robert Powell, Family Boards 


Robert from Family Boards had a conversation with Yvette and Alinta about the factors they took into account when they joined their family business boards. A customary rite of passage for family members often involves joining the board of directors of their family company. This might encompass individuals who have solely worked in operational roles within the family business, lacking experience as professional directors and skills, and without a comprehensive understanding of the fiduciary obligations and legal responsibilities they are undertaking.

A key takeaway is that for board members, aligning with and comprehending the business culture, values, financial literacy, and belief in the Family Business's legacy are far more crucial than possessing skills, experience, and personality alone 

Keynote: An Enterprising Family in the 21st Century - How the Legacy has helped the Family & Business be more Resilient
Arnaud de Coninck, Trusted Family 

Solvay has been adapting to an ever-changing world for over a century and a half. Throughout its history, the company has reinvented itself multiple times, consistently leveraging a robust heritage of social responsibility, technical excellence, and a familial character. Arnaud de Coninck, a sixth-generation family shareholder, shared the company's unique evolution and highlighted how the family business has maintained its longevity by remaining prepared to evolve and innovate.

The Challenges of Legacy
Natalie Grace (nee-Faber Castell), Count Andreas von Faber-Castell, Facilitated by Dr Donella Caspersz, University of Western Australia

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Dealing with the loss of the family patriarch is difficult enough, but dealing with the unexpected loss of the owning patriarch in a large family business adds extra complexity, especially for the business decisions that arise during – and after – such a significant, emotional event. This session explored the challenges faced by global brand, Faber- Castell to maintain the family business legacy following the tragic loss of 8th generation Count Anton Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell in 2016.

Keynote: Let Your Light Shine
Scott Hicks, Kerry Heysen AM, Scott Heysen, Kino Films Group of Companies, Jett Heysen-Hicks, MindChamps, Facilitated by Peter Goers OAM, ABC Radio Adelaide 

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Scott, Kerry, Scotty, and Jet guided us through collobaroting with family and the influential capacity of storytelling to inspire in both life and business, reminding us of our connection to something greater than ourselves.

After a day packed full of learnings and inspiration, Thursday evening brought one of the biggest nights of the year within the family business community with the Family Business Awards Dinner. It was a fantastic evening of fun, food, dancing and most importantly, recognising those who have made outstanding contributions over the year.

This year’s winners were:

Family Business Excellence Awards

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Small Business Category
Rochele Painting
Medium Business Category
SSS Strawberries 
Large Business Category
A.H. Beard

Category Awards

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Emerging Generation Achiever Award
Rachel Beard, A.H. Beard
Accredited Advisor Award
Martin Tobin, Kin in the Game 
Leading Women in Family Business Award
Penni Donato, Allin Towbars

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Sustainable Development in Family Business Award
A.H. Beard
Distinguished Family Business of the Year Award
SSS Strawberries


The final day of the conference commenced with the Women in Family Business Breakfast, featuring insights from Karen Fistonich of Fistonich Family Wineries, Bec Hardy of Bec Hardy Wines, and Corrina Wright of Oliver's Taranga Vineyards. Facilitated by Lea Boyce from BOYCE Family Office, this insightful event provided a glimpse into the unique and dynamic challenges faced by women in business.

Key takeaways:

  • It's never too early to start
  • Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without
  • Call sh%t out!

Attendees were then treated to more exceptional talks from a diverse and engaging range of speakers, who once again shared their expertise, contributing to another inspiring day.

Keynote: How Identity is Changing the Face of Family (Enterprises)
Natalie McVeigh, EisnerAmper 


Natalie guided the packed crowd through the transformations within modern family units in family businesses and elucidated how these changes can influence each stage of a business's lifecycle.

Key Takeaway: "Our yearning to belong surpasses our need for safety."

Seven Steps to a Remarkable Workplace 
Mandy Johnson, Founder/CEO, The People & Culture Accelerator Program 


With massive labour and skills shortages, technological advances, and generational change, it is not uncommon for family business workplaces to change more rapidly than the underlying business principles and practices which support them. Finding and keeping good people is, more essential than ever, no matter the organisation or the industry: we're now all in the 'people' business. This thought-provoking presentation explored innovative ways to navigate this rapidly changing world effectively.

Mandy spoke about recruitment and finding the right people for your business growth, looking at your job adverts and how you speak about your business—finding the best way to catch the biggest fish or as she calls it "Catching a barramundi".

Key Takeaway - Build a team that can help you continue to build a legacy.

Digital Business Invigoration by the Younger Generation
David King, Rachel Turner, Annabelle King, Sticky, Facilitated by Kirsten Taylor-Martin, Grant Thornton 


In this session, we heard from David, Rachel and Annabelle about how the two generations communicated during the covid crisis and, as exciting as the sales results were, what new challenges they brought with them. They also discussed how they manage dinner table conversations when Annabelle's sister is not involved in the company and how their business model has changed because of their pandemic pivot to 'Tik Tok'.

David said "The next generation look through the lens with a different perspective… We need to harness this as our competitive advantage. Some people come into your world, and they can be like family"

Annabelle "It’s not because tik tok is really cool that we are on the platform, it was because as a family business you do things to help your family and business – I just saw an opportunity".

The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of Family Councils
Lydia Blakemore, Emily Hammon, Hammons Holdings 


We heard of the importance of ‘hat wearing’ and being able to switch between the many hats required when a person is a member of the family (mother, daughter, sister, aunt etc) as well as a member of the family council. We were left with no doubt that a family council benefits significantly by having a professional facilitator to run proceedings and including a professional accredited advisor as part of the council. Importantly, family council meetings should not take place at the dinner table of a family member, but rather should be held at a neutral location, and it's essential for family members to check in on each other pre and post-meeting to gain an understanding of emotional states that could impact a meeting or familial relations.

"Faraway and Beyond": Ensuring a Family Legacy 
Nathan Wessling, Jane McBride, Nick McBride, AJ & PA McBride Facilitated by Dr Jill Thomas, University of Adelaide Business School 

Celebrating over 100 years in business and into its 6th generation, there are very few family members currently working in the business, but all 130 shareholders of the AJ and PA McBride company are descendants of Albert McBride. During this session we heard from the family as they discussed how a strategic focus has contributed to the ongoing sustainability and longevity of the family business.

Adapting to Tough Customers
Jean-Yves Heude, Chessmate Consulting, Anthony Paech, Beerenberg, Ennio Mercuri, Ennio International, Facilitated by Bevan Roberts, Succession Plus 

We heard from Jean Yves about negotiating with supermarkets. When a key client aggressively negotiates pricing, family businesses often feel powerless and feel like they are facing a dilemma. They can't afford to lose the business, but they can't afford to satisfy the buyer's request either. Confrontation will poison the water, but compromise will destroy their margin. We heard how Beerenberg has learnt the art of negotiation through mentoring.

Key takeaway - We are moving away from the win-win and toward a power model in negotiations with large markets.

Unpacking the Keys to Successful Sibling Relationships in a Business Family
Zoe Detmold, Sascha Detmold-Cox, Pippa Detmold, Detmold Group, Facilitated by Lowen Partridge, Peartree Brand Strategy 


We witnessed Lowen interviewing the Detmold Sisters—Sascha, Zoe, and Pippa—in an exclusive interview.

Key takeaway – Each sibling is best placed to run separate divisions in the business rather than have to work with each other directly. They also all report to their father and are on very different salaries, which are justified depending on experience, level and contribution. All are on a different journey professionally and as parents. They also respect each other's time and ensure they catch up on a personal level. Arguments are natural, but having the ability to approach them with empathy is important.

Communicate clearly and regularly. Communication is key to any successful relationship, but it's even more important between siblings who run a business together.

"You may know your siblings well as people, but you have to make sure no one is left guessing about what's going on in your business".

Keynote: How to Think Like a Futurist 
Dr Ben Hamer, Global Future of Work Expert 

 Disruption is the new normal. We need to be able to anticipate and respond to change, irrespective of our role in the organisation. We need to learn the art and practice of future thinking. We heard from one of Australia's leading (and few accredited) futurists on the mindset and methodology so that you too, can think like a Futurist and design your preferred future.

Key takeaway – Everything is rapidly moving; our workforces as we know them today, will look very different in a matter of years, with several jobs not even known yet. All businesses need to invest more in AI and cyber security.  

Three things to look at when future thinking - Foresight, Insight, Action

Final Dinner

The final dinner on Friday night provided a wonderful opportunity for all of us to come together and reflect on the remarkable experience that was The Family Business Conference 2023. We celebrated the achievements of the past year and eagerly anticipated the next 12 months. It was the perfect moment for everyone to share their personal highlights and reconnect with those in the community whom they had met during the conference. After such an incredible time, we're eagerly looking forward to seeing you all in Cairns for the Family Business Conference 2024!

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