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A challenge faced by all peak bodies is to be in the vanguard of change and provide leadership to membership on the commercial, technical, digital and regulatory evolutions occurring that will enable them to adjust their business models to be sustainable into the future. Here at MTA Queensland, we are doing this by building on the success of last financial year’s focus on governance, expanding commercial interests, and the strategic restructure and industry re-alignments which included the emerging digital and technological innovations.
As Group Chief Executive, I’m determined to capitalise on the benefits of these significant gains to provide the members with a competitive advantage in their operations. Key to this is maintaining the leadership and momentum on digital disruption and emerging technologies which, according to expert presenters at Carmageddon – Leading the Way, will impact business by 2020 with the major rollout and effect by 2022. In the context of a timeframe, it is closer than we realise!
The July Motor Trader highlighted the launch of the MTA Queensland Innovation Hub in space specially designed for the purpose in the Sir Jack Brabham Automotive Centre of Excellence. This Innovation Hub is the first in the state to be geared solely at the automotive industry and designed to cultivate a community of entrepreneurial minds that can come together, collaborate and develop ideas into viable business propositions for the automotive value chain.
To gather ideas for the Hub, I visited the Advance Queensland innovation precinct at Fortitude Valley. It brings together Queensland startups, incubators, investors and mentors under the one roof. In addition, I had several face-to-face meetings and teleconferences with startup operators who had enterprises suitable for our automotive Hub. I’m pleased with the interest from startups in locating to the MTA Queensland Hub.
One of the outcomes from Carmageddon – Leading the Way was the commitment from three startups to locate at the Hub, joining 3D Space Labs. They are C2S (Contact to Sales), sponsored by the Queensland Government to bring the product from Brazil to Australia. It assists sales performance through an innovative mobile/web solution by tracking every lead from phone calls, walk-ins and internet messages into one place to increase sales. Already some members are working with C2S. TheCarTest from Melbourne is an automotive marketplace that provides new car buyers with access to trusted mobility advisors. Buyers can select from a short list of cars they would ‘love’ for a 3-7 day ‘try before you buy’ experience. The third is a Sydney startup with innovative software that assists business, consumers and the motorists with parking. It is in the process of relocating to the Hub. I’ll have more to say about this startup in September’s From the desk of the CEO.
Carmageddon – Leading the Way
The feedback from Carmageddon – Leading the Way was overwhelmingly positive - especially from social media. In all, there were 144 Carmageddon-related tweets with a total audience reach of 21,000. 19 people directly interacted - that is posting tweets, replying with questions etc. One of these was the Canadian Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Science and Economic Development – an advisor to the Canadian Prime Minister who has a 3,200 following. One of our Carmageddon presenters on Innovation and Intellectual Property Law, Professor Matthew Rimmer, has a 13,300 following. There were 13 uses of the hashtag #CarmageddonMTAQ. In all there were some 70 persons who watched the live-streamed symposium.
As Deputy Group Chief Executive Kellie Dewar says in Viewpoint, we place strong emphasis on advocacy, services and benefits that help members with their operations. One special advocacy event is a dinner with the Reserve Bank Board and senior members of the Brisbane community to which I’ve been invited.
In conversations at the dinner, I’ll represent the views of members and contribute to discussions from the perspective of the automotive value chain. As Kellie intimates in Viewpoint, we met with Queensland Senator James McGrath to discuss deregulation and red tape reduction. We briefed the Senator on the Association’s role in preparing members for the digital and technological transformations and the impacts on their businesses. Additionally, we stressed that Government decision-making on automated motor vehicles and the emerging technologies and associated regulations must be responsive, flexible and support business and consumers.
In the near term, members may see a new set of wheels gracing the Sir Jack Brabham Automotive Centre of Excellence. No, not motor vehicle wheels! These will be bicycle wheels! Over recent weeks, I’ve been meeting with business representatives and distributors from the bicycle industry. They are keen for MTA Queensland to be their peak industry body.
Whilst the decision ultimately rests with the MTA Queensland board, there are compatible synergies with such an arrangement. In training terms, it would align with the national skills agenda as the bicycle sector sits within the automotive training package. There are about 900 bicycle retailers and distributors in Queensland.
As indicated in previous From the desk of the CEO, the MTA Queensland has a seat on the Automotive Industry Reference Committee (IRC). Recently, I participated in the PwC’s Strategic IRC to determine and review priorities for the automotive sector.
To ensure collaborative stakeholder relations, I liaised with the national Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) Chair Terry Keating and the Chief Executive Office
David Blackall. With the automotive sector in transition to an import-only industry, there were issues to be discussed as well as other domestic matters. Recently, I attended the national meeting of the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries, AADA National and the Motor Trades Association of Australia members to progress key industry issues. One of these was the Industry Agreement on Access to Service and Repair Information, the effectiveness of which is being reviewed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in its current wide-ranging Retail Car Industry Study. It is due for completion this year.
And the last thing
MTA Queensland, as a peak industry body, other than its constitutional obligations to members, has a duty to be a good corporate citizen. On behalf of the Association I’ve met with Queensland Overseas Foundation (QOF) representatives to indicate that MTA Queensland will support an overseas scholarship for a successful graduate technician who will bring the learnings back to Australia.
The QOF Inc. is a voluntary, non-profit organisation. It provides young people with the opportunity to broaden horizons and improve their career prospects by working overseas. It was established in 1976, and is sponsored by industry and supported by the Queensland Government. It operates through a Board representing a range of industries and expertise.
Applications are currently open and will close on 17 October 2017. Interviews will be held in November 2017. Applicants will be notified by the outcome of their application by December 2017. The Award ceremony will be in Brisbane in March 2018. The scholarship funds travel-related expenses and provides a settling in allowance, worth up to $7500.
For eligibility details and the selection criteria see the website: qof.org.au. Additionally, details are on the MTA Queensland website.
My schedule for the coming weeks is crowded. Although it means busy, it is busyness that spins from the momentum of growing and supporting the membership and securing new commercial and other opportunities to advance the Association. I’ll continue the liaisons with startup operators for compatibility with the Innovation Hub.
Until May, as Henry Ford, the industrialist and the founder of the Ford motor company said, ‘execute ideas with enthusiasm . . . as it is the bottom of all progress’.