Director – Peoplelift
National Head of Fraud / Executive State Manager WA – Procare Group
AGSM MBA (Executive) 2013
Tell us about your current role?
At Procare Forensics, I lead a national team of forensic accountants, forensic data analytics and investigators who are engaged by major insurance companies to investigate alleged employee theft and fraud matters, and quantify the amount of associated financial losses.
I'm responsible for the Western Australian office for the Procare Group. It is made up of injury management professionals including rehabilitation consultants and psychologists, loss adjusters, claims specialists, general insurance investigators, and lawyers. My role is to manage the operations locally and drive business development.
Separate to my role at Procare, and as a response to COVID-19, I've also developed a digital platform called Peoplelift, an online service to assist small to medium businesses, particularly with a casual workforce, re-emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown. I recall those first scenes on the news of people queuing up at Centrelink offices across the country and thought how lucky I was that I wasn't one of them. I have numerous friends and colleagues who have lost their jobs and I felt somewhat helpless in what I could do to assist them. Peoplelift is an entrepreneurial start-up and an opportunity for me to support the community.
How would you describe what you do (what you 'make'), your specialist skill?
I would say that I am a forensics and fraud professional, but also a senior executive - I get to wear many hats throughout the course of a day! It keeps me engaged and on my toes!
My skills come from a rather diverse vocational background. I started my career as a police officer and progressed through to become a detective. From there I worked in counter-terrorism with the Australian government before moving into consulting with EY and then into private health insurance fraud. During this period, I also completed my MBA through AGSM. My MBA provided me with the essential business and leadership skills I needed to complement my investigative background. It was a culmination of skills acquired from my diverse background and studies that gave me the courage to start-up Peoplelift, in a time when the economy was extremely uncertain and unstable.
Peoplelift, provides an online platform for small businesses to advertise positions for free. We undertake all of the interview and due diligence processes and hire preferred candidates on casual contracts. The small businesses can log into our website's ecommerce platform and directly hire the candidates for their business, for the dates and times they need. The other big upside for small businesses is that they can pay for their casual staff, via Peoplelift, on credit card. This alleviates some of the cash flow challenges that small businesses will encounter on the back of COVID-19.
Usually, recruitment companies don't target the casual workforce. It's an overlooked segment in the recruitment industry because commissions are lower and many companies focus on specific sectors to provide a more targeted service to their businesses looking for employees. As far as I could see, no one was specifically targeting (and supporting) the casual workforce in the hospitality sector (ie. cafes, bars, pubs and clubs).
How has your leadership style changed or pivoted in the midst of the unprecedented uncertainty we are now facing?
The shutdown of industries across Australia provided a shift in my leadership style from "business as usual" and maintaining an internal focus on my daily operations, to looking externally and gauging overall market performance. I wanted to positively impact my community, and help people emerge from the lockdown restrictions associated with COVID-19 successfully. To do this, I needed to be responsive and back my instincts to ensure Peoplelift was ready to service the needs of small business as soon as possible.
How have you responded, adapted or innovated as a result of this new world reality? What was the catalyst for your response?
I sat down and mapped out the markets, businesses, the recruitment services already available in market and felt that something further needed to be offered to mitigate what I saw as some of the biggest hurdles for small and medium businesses to overcome to commence hiring staff again (once COVID-19 restrictions began to lift), including
- They don't know how quickly the market will grow once the lockdown is lifted. So small business wouldn't know when the right time is to hire more staff, and for how long.
- As they re-emerge from the shutdown, company owners will need to focus on operating their businesses, not recruiting / interviewing new staff. Placing advertisements on seek.com.au is expensive and managing the influx of calls is a distraction.
- Cashflow will be limited and will likely be over-extended upon the recommencement of their operations. What alternatives to cash payment are available for employers?
On the back of these challenges, I developed www.peoplelift.com.au
What were you able to tap into from your AGSM qualification in this new world reality that's been most useful / impactful?
Understanding the business lifecycle has been key to me being able to understand the challenges facing SMEs. It allowed me to develop the business with their needs at the forefront so we were really answering a direct need of the market, not just providing a cookie-cutter product in a time of crisis. I also used a number of analytic concepts / tools such as the strategy diamond, Porter's 5 forces analysis plus a simple breakeven analysis to ensure that the economic logic for the business was sound before we commenced.
The reality of our current economic climate and the layoffs that had to occur due to government restrictions means small businesses won't necessarily have access to, or be able to hire the casual staff they let go a few months ago. Some might be starting from scratch again, and this is where Peoplelift can help. Providing a platform base with individuals who are keen and ready to work with all of the admin requirements already managed.
It's a different type of offering so I really had to do the analysis and calculate what our break-even point is to ensure we were building a platform that could be maintained and was going to be successful post COVID-19. We now know how many active employees we need to have to hit this break-even point - this is I wouldn't have even known how to analyse if it wasn't for my AGSM studies.
What are you most optimistic about over the next few months?
Launching Peoplelift! The platform is ready and we are in the final stages of ensuring our insurance coverage is correct, and then we are ready to go! From there I can see it will be a lot of hard work, but I really look forward to contributing to Australia's economy growing and helping people recover their livelihoods.