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More than 90 people attended the 2020 Backing Business Forum on Friday, 20 November at the Orange Ex-Services Club.


Over a dozen speakers provided their expertise, insights and advice on a range of topics including digital marketing, HR considerations, strategies for mitigating risk in your business, future planning and the power of brand advocates.


At its core, the forum was about supporting local businesses so they could rebound from the challenges of 2020, and spring into 2021 with new information and tools to enable business growth and resilience.  It was a great day and a wide cross section of the Central West business community attended the forum.


Thank you to Orange City Council, NBN Co, Central NSW Business HQ and Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations for supporting the event.

See the Backing Business Forum 2020 Presentations

Panel One
Toby Mendl, Rabobank
An Overview: Economic Insights and Commodity Snapshot
Caddie Marshall, Orange360
Tourism Overview: Understanding Customer Expectations and Future Trends
Rich Evans, Central West Media
Digital Marketing: Making the Most of Social Media
Craig Murphy, Performance IT
Technology in Business: Adapting and Advanatges of Change
Gavin Williams, NBN Co
Digital Connectivity: Access to High Speed Broadband for Business in Regional Australia
Panel 1
Panel Two
Graeme Hay, Barrack Broking
Understanding Risk: Strategies for Mitigating Risk in Your Business
Joel Connolly, Blackbird Ventures
Building a Community: The Power of Brand Advocates
Tamara James, Pulse HR
Human Resources: The Importance of Workplace Culture
Weston Ryan, pmwPlus
Business Transition: Planning for the Future
Panel Two
Panel Three
Andrew Gee MP, Federal Member for Calare and Minister for Decentralisation
Decentralisation: The Opportunities for Regional Australia and the Central West
James Lloyd, Ribbon Gang
Starting a Business: The Entrepreneurial Mindset and Delivering a Vision
Pip Brett, Jumbled
Jumbled: The Pip Brett Story
Pete Gerber & Tamara James, Pioneer Brewing
Pioneer Brewing: From the Paddock to the Can
Michelle Stivens, Heifer Station
Heifer Station: More than a Vineyard
Panel Three
Wayne Sunderland, Central NSW Business HQ
Biz HQ: Supporting your Business

Backing Business Forum 20 November 2020

Meet the Backing Business Forum 2020 Speakers

Steve Semmens, The Persuader, is an experienced and professional Emcee.

Steve is also known as the King of Networking and is a leading expert in assisting medium businesses and large corporations to work smarter by utilising networking as their primary marketing and collaboration tool.

Networking and building informal strategic alliances for over 35 years, Steve has a strong interest in the development and growth of entrepreneurial leaders within organisations.

Toby Mendl is Rabobank’s Regional Manager for Central NSW and has been working with family businesses with their finance requirements for 18 years.

Initially specialising in family farming businesses with Rabobank, Toby took his banking career to London before returning to Australia and working within Corporate Banking. Toby then moved back to regional Australia and agribusiness banking in 2012 and re-joined Rabobank in 2016.

Rabobank was founded in 1898 by farmers looking to support each other’s businesses and give rural communities access to fair financing.

Caddie Marshall, General Manager of Orange360, has close to 30 years marketing experience.

She provides businesses with deep insight into their strengths and weaknesses to guarantee innovative marketing solutions are converted into targeted growth and long-term success.

Her career success has been in developing brands that better connect with their customer base. This is demonstrated in her work at Orange360 in the development of the award winning destination marketing campaign, Extend the Weekend. Prior to her current role, Caddie ran her own marketing agency.

Rich is the CEO and Editor in Chief of Central West Media, publisher of the Lithgow Village Voice and Bathurst City Life.

Chief Reactivation Officer at The Foundations in Portland, Rich is using his marketing and events experience to reactivate the old Portland Cement Works site. He is also the founder and owner of a software business in the building industry, President of Ironfest and Vice President of the Lithgow Chamber of Commerce.

An advocate for the mental health movement, Rich has a podcast, The Uncommon.

Craig, Director of Performance IT, is a passionate IT professional who has been working in the industry for over 25 years.

Recently moving to Orange to help drive innovation in the Central West, his previous role was leading the Global Entrepreneur Program for IBM Australia. During this time, Craig worked closely with the startup community.

Craig’s technical background is around infrastructure and he has experience in guiding business around software development, using the latest technologies like machine learning, blockchain, and IoT and specialises in wireless solutions.

Gavin Williams was appointed Chief Development Officer, Regional & Remote in October 2019, bringing more than five years’ experience at NBN Co and 25 years within the telecommunication industry across Australia.

He has held leadership roles that have spanned engineering, product management, marketing and strategy disciplines across consumer, business and wholesale markets.

Prior to joining NBN Co, Mr. Williams held positions in Optus, Telstra and was principal of an independent consultancy. He was a Board Director of Southern Cross Cable.

Graeme is an experienced and professional risk consultant and insurance broker having spent nearly 20 years providing advice to a range of industries.

Through his executive roles at two international insurance brokerage and risk advisory firms, and two national Australian firms, Graeme has built a specialty on advising large and mid-sized Australian businesses on risk mitigation and insurance coverage.

Having recently co-founded Barrack Broking, Graeme is responsible for expanding the businesses operations into the Central West to ensure the needs of a growing group of clients are met.

Joel is the Creative Director at Blackbird Ventures – a Sydney based VC. He was Head of Community for 5 years prior to that.

Blackbird Ventures invest in everything from SaaS to Space. Notable investments include Canva, Zoox, Safety Culture and Culture Amp. Joel’s work is focused on bringing creativity to every aspect of the business and he is also building out the philanthropic Foundation.

Before Blackbird he ran an Artist Management business and managed bands! Joel was also Festival Director and Founder of Sydney Craft Beer Week.

Tamara James is the Workforce Specialist and Founder of Pulse HR who supply HR/IR/ER/WHS services to organisations across a diverse range of industries.

Tamara is a well-known workforce specialist and partners with businesses & organisations to remove the worry & stress surrounding the function of people management.

Her toolkit of systems & processes is coupled with her extensive HR/IR experience. This allows business owners & managers to refocus on their core business activities knowing that their people management practices are effective, compliant and reflect best-practice HR principles.

Weston Ryan is a chartered accountant and principal at Orange based accounting and business advisory firm, pmwPlus.

Weston has a wealth of experience learnt as a partner in city accounting firms while working with the Education Division of Chartered Accountants Australian and New Zealand and as a board member at a large not for profit organisation.

Weston’s clients have included local, international, private and publicly listed clients and apart from his work in the pmwBusinessCentre, Weston also co-ordinates the firm’s training and as consultant on special engagements.

A former barrister, Andrew started his political journey in 2011 when he became the Member for Orange. In 2016 he was elected to the House of Representatives, for the seat of Calare.

In January 2019, Andrew was appointed Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister and in February 2020 Andrew was appointed Australia’s Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education, and Minister Assisting the Trade and Investment Minister.

Andrew continues to be a strong voice for the communities of his Central West electorate.

Born and raised in Bathurst, James is a strong advocate for regional business and entrepreneurialism.

After living and working in Sydney, James moved back to the bush to start his own Media and Advertising Agency, Ribbon Gang, with good friend and co-founder David ten Broeke and it continues to grow substantially.

Further to this, David and James have also gone on to set up a number of other initiatives, including data analytics software Hive Business Intelligence (BI) and Bathurst’s first co-working space for Start-ups, Upstairs Startup Hub.

Pip Brett is the owner of JUMBLED, a vibrant and colourful homewares store located in The Sonic in Orange. Operating as both a bricks and mortar store and e-commerce store, JUMBLED specialises in original art and includes an offering of homewares and fashion.

Pip also hosts a weekly podcast, JUMBLED-LOVES-A-CHAT where she interviews makers, artists and entrepreneurs on their journey and how they arrived in their current role.

Pete Gerber is farmer, a brewer and an engineer by trade, this broad career experience ultimately led to founding Pioneer Brewing just outside of Orange in late 2017 on his family farm.

Pioneer Brewing is rather unique being the only brewery on the Australian eastern mainland growing their own malting grain (barley, wheat & rye), harvesting, brewing and packaging all on a single farm location.

Pete is environmentally and renewal energy conscious and firmly committed to making the COVID-19 crisis into a significant business growth opportunity!

Michelle Stivens and her husband Philip purchased Heifer Station in Orange in 2009. The first vintage was produced in 2012 and the cellar door opened in 2016.

Today, Heifer Station is a multi-award winning business, featuring a vineyard, cellar door and animal petting farm. The business offers wine tastings, guided vineyard tours, private picnic packages and functions and events, including A Day on the Green concerts.

Prior to purchasing Heifer Station, Michelle was working as the Deputy Registrar at the Orange Court House.

A former Officer in the Royal Australian Navy, Wayne joined the ATO as a GST Field Officer as an advisor to help small businesses.

Wayne was involved in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, then the Business Enterprise Centre (BEC), and joined the BEC as a business advisor so he could help all businesses.

A business advisor and trainer for 8 years, Wayne then became the CEO for Business HQ and is privileged to work with a talented team of advisors who cover 24 Local Government areas.

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