Missed Great for the State? Here’s a Snapshot

 In Articles and case studies, Churchill in the Community, Lincoln Elliot

The primary goal of Business News is to deliver a high-quality news and information service that advances business confidence through intelligence. This is symbiotic with Churchill Consulting’s purpose ‘To build a more prosperous, vibrant Western Australia’.

This made it an easy decision for us to partner with Business News on the Great for the State lunch held on Friday 7 February at the Hyatt Regency.

As a business management consultant, I am always looking to stay ahead of trends to share with our clients to deliver successful solutions to their biggest challenges.

The lunch brought together prominent WA business leaders as guest speakers who shared their thoughts on how WA fared in 2019 and the focus areas of their respective organisations in 2020.

Here’s a summary of their speeches.

Michael Chaney (AO), Chairman, Wesfarmers

Topic: Organisational Purpose

Overview: Purpose doesn’t always have to be about helping customers, sustainable futures and altruistic intent. The Wesfarmers purpose “to deliver satisfactory returns to shareholders” enables the group to stay focussed on delivering their fiduciary goals, whilst retaining core principles (supplier respect, acting in the interest of customers, and caring for the environment).

One stand out moment was in the introductory video where Wesfarmers proudly communicated they paid AUD$1.5billion in taxes last year. This demonstrated Wesfarmers actively drive the prosperity of the country that has enabled them to flourish.

Key Takeaway: Purpose can be worded in different ways, but what really matters is that your people understand their primary goals and are inspired by the way in which the organisation goes about achieving them.

Elizabeth Gaines, CFO, Fortescue Metals Group

Topic: Importance of International Relations, Diversity & Education

Overview: Governments and the business communities have played a key role in developing ties with international superpowers such as China reaping significant benefits (WA represents 46% of exports, with AUD$290 billion in 2019).

Elizabeth reinforced the importance of carefully crafting that narrative in particular in difficult times (e.g. current issues with Coronavirus).

The second theme was particularly inspirational as she described some of the fantastic programs to provide life changing education through apprenticeships to people of Aboriginal heritage (LEAP program) and other less fortunate demographics (VTEP program).

Key Takeaway: When big businesses use their position to actively improve the lives of the people in communities around them, they can make a huge difference across generations of people whilst ensuring business prosperity.

Steve Harris, CEO, The Brand Agency

Topic: The Narrowing and Dilution of Media Content

Overview: Steve painted a very real and bleak picture of the ways in which news media is being produced and consumed.

With 73% of people accessing their news online we can all say that we are all still informed. But the ability of social media to funnel news bites and the emergence of clickbait headlines is creating false narratives and diminishing the perceived integrity of the news itself.

From a production lens, cost cutting has been necessary to stay afloat, but this has been at the cost of 3,000 journalist jobs in the last 10 years. News is coming from fewer sources and the hardest hit are those in regional areas.

Key Takeaway: Bold strategies are required to reverse the current trend in news production and dissemination that will require the collaboration of business and government.

Sinead Taylor, CEO, Bankwest

Topic: Tackling Elderly Financial Abuse

Overview: Sinead summarised the important lessons learned by the recent Royal Commission and the need to live up to their purpose ‘to improve the financial wellbeing of their customers’.

Bankwest have developed initiatives to deliver on their promise, but Sinead spoke most notably of their attempts to curb financial abuse of the elderly e.g. scammers and even family members.

Bankwest have instigated training for all staff to help identify the signposts of this behaviour and how to intervene and assist. This is supported by advanced analytics to spot issue areas. Providing emergency support for customers which have suffered at the hand of family abuse is also a key initiative.

Key Takeaway: We all have to look after each other, and that includes the businesses we trust with our most important commodities.


Well done Business News on hosting such a great event, and speakers for your valuable contributions.

Churchill Consulting Great for the State Western Australia

Members of the Churchill Consulting team in attendance at the Business News Great for the State lunch, including author of this post Lincoln Elliot (middle).

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