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17th October 2022
Cheats guide to the Hunter Innovation Festival
Kara Sullivan
Written by:
Kara Sullivan

In case you missed it, the Hunter Innovation Festival was on last week, full of mind opening and inspiring sessions, joyfully delivered face-to-face with human interaction! 

 Here’s our top highlights: 

  1. Be adaptable

Loved his energy! Gus Balbontin shared his experience from working at Lonely Planet, its demise and what not to do. It’s not the strongest or smartest that survives but those most adaptable to change. Routines are the enemy of innovation, so don’t drive the same way home every day and don’t build a website just to sell more books. Momentum can be deadly if your customers change direction. 

Don’t wait to solve the big complex problems. Do the small, simple things now, like today. And the crazier it sounds the more you should pay attention. 

Sarah Sivyer and one of her 3,000 free range chickens
  1. Gypsy chickens

What a cool example of innovation that’s changing the world. Sarah Sivyer studied at Oxford and worked as an analyst for Rabobank, Arup and the World Bank then left corporate life to become a fifth-generation farmer, doing it her own way on the family farm in Barrington. She started Just Been Laid in 2017, creating her own business model with the first egg subscription business, where customers pick-up her eggs from local cafes, building community and avoiding the cut-throat margins offered by supermarkets. One in 12 eggs sold goes to charities like Oz Harvest. She now has 3,000 free range chickens which she hand-trains to live in caravans that get moved around her paddocks each night. She shared a great stat too from Harvard Research that emotionally connected customers are twice as likely to buy as satisfied customers. 

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Gus Balbontin presenting at Hunter Innovation Festival 2022
  1. Radical flexibility!

The message was clear. Employees want autonomy over when they work, where they work, who they work with, what they work on and how much they work. Employees market anyone?! Will be interesting to see how this plays out in Australia with some recent stats revealing a slowing of the great resignation here. Loved some of the out of the box ideas shared by both Kate Broughton (Mercer & Tech Girls Movement) and Aaron McEwan (RMIT & Gartner) like switching public holidays, sustainable travel rewards, home swaps and pawternity leave?? Both emphasised the importance of listening to your employees and nailing your EVP (Employee Value Proposition) – the one reason to work for you. In Mercer’s research brand and reputation was the biggest reason to join a company after job security (up from #9 in 2020). Lots of awesome talent moving to Newcastle and working remotely for big tech companies, I think Annabelle from Atlassian summed it up best explaining why she decided to join their ‘team anywhere’ “I wanted to work for a company that put’s its employees first.” 

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How the Hunter can compete on an international scale in the war for talent’ by Aaron McEwan (Gartner)
  1. The future of energy 

So many inspiring organisations in our own backyard leading the energy revolution: 3ME, DriftEX and LAVO by Ampcontrol, MGA Thermal, Port of Newcastle, Bykko, solar paint. Loved Glenn Platt’s idea of “transformation Tuesdays” start small – inspire the entire region to use renewable energy on just one day of the week and build from there. And that innovation will come from large organisations who can deliver solutions of scale, we can’t expect start-ups to do it. The Hunter is the fastest growing region in Australia with all the building blocks to be a renewable energy superpower, we just need to work together. We need a Brand Hunter and common purpose, like Tassie has done so successfully. Put a plan on a page, tell our story and start doing. According to Vivian Miles from NRMA there’s lots of ESG money looking for places to go. Heidi Lee from Beyond Zero Emissions summed it up well: “The Hunter is small enough to change and big enough to make a difference.” 

Gutscreative Blog image | Brand Strategy Consulting
LAVO Hydrogen Battery Energy Storage System a collaboration with Ampcontrol one of Guts’ clients

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Guts Creative acknowledges the awesome culture and creativity of the traditional custodians of the Country where we work: Awabakal Nation and Worimi Nation. We walk humbly in their footsteps, support the protection of their invaluable knowledge, and are inspired to do better by Elders past and present.
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