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Blog Post 6 – Martin Haese: From MBA Graduate, to MBA Facilitator, to Lord Mayoral Candidate

Posted: October 2014 Author: Simone Ball, Australian Institute of Business

A Masters of Business Administration offers a wide range of experiences and knowledge to its students. Many MBA students go on to achieve executive level promotions, increase their salaries, become better leaders and managers, and found and operate their own companies. The skills learnt – including leadership, discipline, strategic planning and marketing – are useful in a variety of facets of life, not just the business world.

This notion of all-inclusive skills is currently being explored by AIB MBA graduate and MBA programme facilitator Martin Haese. He has recently announced that he is running for Lord Mayor of Adelaide, to be decided by the residents and traders of the Adelaide City Council area in early November 2014.

Martin has been a part of the AIB Community since he was a member of AIB’s inaugural 12 Month MBA class in 2007. He completed his studies and graduated in 2008, after choosing to pursue the MBA to fulfil a promise he made to himself.

“I had sold my business in 2005, and for many years prior to that had thought about doing an MBA and simply did not have the time or the opportunity – but I made it a goal that when I sold the business that I would do an MBA.”

Majoring in Entrepreneurship was a natural choice for the businessman, who built retail brand “Youthworks” from the ground up in 1993. Completing an MBA with AIB meant he was able to undertake subjects including New Venture Creation and Entrepreneurship, lighting a passion for business studies that lead to his position a facilitator with AIB.

“I absolutely loved the MBA. I didn’t know what to expect before I did it, but I immersed myself in it. After completing my MBA, Selva – the Founder Chairman of AIB – offered me the opportunity to facilitate the Entrepreneurship course.”

The value of facilitating is easy to understand for students, of course, as it provides the opportunity to learn from experts in their field. But Martin says there’s a definite value to the facilitator, also.

“What I found is that as much as you give, you get it back in spades. You learn a great deal from your students, and it actually helps you grow as you help them grow.”

That growth, his business experience, and his love for his city have led Martin Haese to run for Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide in the Adelaide City Council elections in late 2014 – but what has the journey been like from businessman to MBA graduate to MBA facilitator and now Lord Mayoral candidate?

“I can sum it up in a word – busy!” Martin laughs. “In many ways it’s like a bit of a natural progression. From being a hands-on entrepreneur and learning a lot about the world of business, to validating that learning through an MBA, then further validating it through the facilitation role at AIB – that’s not something I’ve ever done before, and it was terrific.”

Facilitation, however, is not as easy as some would believe.

“The skill of facilitation, in my experience, is in multi-tasking. You need to listen, share, swap notes, swap experiences, learn from other people’s knowledge and encourage people to share their knowledge with each other. You’ve got to get the group involved, and invite people to collaborate,” Martin says.

“What I’m aiming to do, in running for Lord Mayor – it’s not that dissimilar to facilitating a class. I’m sharing ideas about how we could progress the city like I would share ideas about entrepreneurship principles with my students. Any councillor, lord mayor or politician is also a facilitator – the way I see it, their job is to listen, to learn, to act and to make things happen.”

Martin’s wife Genevieve is pleased that Martin has decided to run for the position.

“Martin has been very much involved in the City of Adelaide, and I think it’s time for him to put his extensive knowledge and experience back toward the city and see what we can build with that,” she says.

More details about Martin Haese, his experiences as an entrepreneur and educator, and his campaign for Lord Mayor of Adelaide can be found on his website here.

We wish Martin the best for his campaign, and we wish our entire Alumni community all the best in their future endeavours.

Are you an alumnus of the Australian Institute of Business? We’d love to hear what you’ve been up to since graduating – let us know in the comments below!

This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business, from an interview conducted with Martin Haese. The very best has been done to accurately reflect the thoughts and opinions of the participant.

Read Article on Australian Institute of Business Blog


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Blog Post 5 – Adelaide must lift its EQ

Posted: September 2014 Author: Martin Haese


EQ = Entrepreneurial Quotient

Much has been written about the key differences between entrepreneurs and small business operators and the consensus is that entrepreneurs think big, leverage technology and act fast.

In an era where small business plays an important role in providing goods and services, creating employment, occupying premises and generating tax receipts for governments, how then do entrepreneurs and the ecosystems that develop around them help define the competitive stance of our city?

Having started, built and sold a number of small and larger businesses, a founding member of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation in SA and having worked as an entrepreneurship lecturer for MBA students with the Australian Institute of Business over the last 5 years, I have walked the entrepreneurial journey, studied the entrepreneurial journey, taught, shared and now reflected on it.

As a candidate for Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide in the upcoming local government elections, I have some informed views on how Adelaide’s "Entrepreneurial Quotient" (EQ) can define its place on the world stage. This logic applies to many cities and builds the case as to why local, state and federal governments can do more to support entrepreneurship as a means of building greater capacity, resilience and prosperity in our cities.

Adelaide is a medium sized city with a population approaching 1.3 million. With tens of thousands of SMEs, Adelaide has long been referred to as the "city of small business" and that moniker rings true on many levels as Adelaide's small to medium sized business sector does a formidable job of servicing the local economy.

Let's now look at the City of Adelaide's emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem and examine how this community could in fact achieve more in a faster period of time to define Adelaide’s future on the world stage.

In general, Adelaide's entrepreneurs are younger, more adept at leveraging new technology, more collaborative and more outward looking in their approach toward securing markets and customers. They embrace change and readily reach out to mentors as a means of gaining experience and insight. Many of these traits are critical for success in today's global economy.

Notwithstanding the important roles that our SMEs play, it is the entrepreneurs who have the potential to build Adelaide's credentials as a gateway city for research, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship ... and it is the aforementioned that will catalyse greater investment capital from interstate and overseas markets. Access to capital remains the critical ingredient for commercialisation and when we get that process right, the continuum begins to self generate.

In an era where successive Australian local, state and federal governments have struggled to determine where they can add value to SMEs, they struggle even more when it comes to entrepreneurs. Let's demystify the process by first looking at the current lay-of-the-land.

Adelaide is developing a reputation as an "education city", yet many graduates search further afield for work after completing their studies.

Adelaide is often referred to as being a "liveable city" yet in the absence of jobs and commerical opportunity, I would suggest that “livability” will soon become a hollow promise.

Adelaide's economy is in a state of structural transition between “old economy” industries and “new economy” opportunities. Its future is in leveraging its research, education, technology, arts, hospitality, retail, sporting, tourism, conferencing, professional services, intellectual and creative capacities. These sectors gravitate toward CBD environments and attract entrepreneurs.

Looking well beyond the city limits, the state also has significant agricultural and resource sectors. Once the third most influential economy in the nation, SA has slipped to the bottom of the ladder. Whilst few people are comfortable discussing it, South Australia is too often characterised by rising costs, an ageing population, higher public sector debt and deficits, greater welfare dependency, unrealised export potential and a disproportionately high amount of public sector employment. These are all compelling reasons as to why the status quo is not sustainable and governments and business must think and act differently.

With this in mind, I build the case as to why our entrepreneurs are a good bet and encourage us to consider what our local, state and federal governments can do to accelerate the growth of the ecosystem in which they operate.

Although co-working spaces, public Wi-Fi and University led programs are all a great start, they are not nearly enough.

Entrepreneurs inherently know how to "bootstrap"; they keep things lean and don't waste resources. Our governments can learn from that. However, governments do have one commodity that many entrepreneurs often lack and that's information. By providing case managers who have the skills to collate, sort and analyse data on any number of areas including but not limited to demographic shifts, migration patterns, residential density and transport patterns, entrepreneurs can use this information to find the market gaps.

Secondly, governments can create more entrepreneurs by drawing on any number of policy levers to either attract, incentivise, link, reward and acknowledge the endeavours the city's entrepreneurial community. It's all a question of priority.

Thirdly, given that every worthwhile outcome starts with a meaningful conversation, governments can bring entrepreneurs together to learn from each other. I am a Board Director of the Adelaide Convention Bureau (ACB) which brings business conferencing to our city - it's a sector that generates over $150 million per annum for the city economy. By positioning Adelaide as Australia and South East Asia's gateway for entrepreneurial thought leadership, the door opens for all sorts of conferences that bring like minded people together.

State and federal governments can also provide seed funding initiatives for entrepreneurial start-ups who have a solid plan. Given the entrepreneurial community's propensity to "do more with less" the potential sums involved are miniscule in comparison to other projects championed by government. Similar to a successful program operating in Singapore, if our state and federal government’s were to launch a grants based program to co-invest with the private sector as a means of incentivising early-stage entrepreneurial ventures who meet a strict selection criteria, the results could be transformational. With the private sector more adept at picking a winner, public funds would be placed at lesser risk by adopting this co-creation funding model.

Maybe most importantly, all levels of government must play a greater role in changing the state and national dialogue about the critically important roles that creative industries, innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialisation play in determining Australia’s future.    

At a local level, each of the aforementioned measures could become an effective means of kick-starting Adelaide's entrepreneurial ecosystem and positioning the City of Adelaide as a place that welcomes greater innovation, retains talent, attracts investment capital, builds capacity and rewards success.

Let’s consider the city of Berlin in Germany whose Mayor has set a goal for Berlin to “become the number one place in Europe for start-ups.” With 2,500 start-ups having already responded to the call, it is estimated that the sector will employ 100,000 people by 2020. Let’s learn from that.

Like everything in business, the results must be measured. By establishing some metrics around the performance of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, we can then benchmark our performance against other cities across the world ... only then can we measure the City of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurial Quotient (EQ).


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Blog Post 4 – The RAH site is a once-in-a-generation opportunity

Posted: August 2014 Author: Martin Haese


Much has been said about the current Royal Adelaide Hospital site but the fact remains that unless we start planning now for its future, it has the potential to do for the East End what the vacant Le Cornu site has done for O’Connell Street.

Most people know very little about the RAH site which is not surprising considering that few people venture into this part of the city unless they are employed in the healthcare sector or require its services.

Many think of the hospital as one building but the site is actually a maze of interconnected buildings spread over 5.3 hectares which is approximately the same size as two and a half Adelaide Ovals.

The State Government has announced that they want to create a new high school on the site and this proposed campus could occupy approximately one fifth of the total land area.

Whilst I welcome this plan, I have strong views about what impact a new high school, operating for approximately 35 hours per week and hardly at all on weekends and school holidays will have on other potential usages of the site and serious concerns about its capacity to attract people to the broader area.

With several thousand employees and a constant stream of patients and visitors, the RAH
currently underpins the micro economy of the East End. In fact, the East End has relied on the RAH day and night over seven days a week for many decades and a new high school alone will not guarantee the sustainability of the wider precinct.

A Vision

My view is that the decommissioning of the Royal Adelaide Hospital provides the city with a once in a hundred year opportunity to free up and re-activate a part of the Adelaide Parklands. I also believe that we need a vision which retains the heritage and character buildings along North Terrace and Frome Road as they are the windows to the site.

These buildings could be put to any number of uses which encourage visitation, accommodation and activation over seven days a week and 52 weeks a year. These usages may include establishing a new museum or a contemporary art gallery and we only need to look as far as Hobart to see the positive effect that MONA has had on that city’s economy.

They might be used to create a centre for Aboriginal art with the potential to draw international visitors from around the world. Others could be redeveloped to create a boutique hotel or even a ‘people’s museum’ or cultural centre that celebrates and communicates South Australia’s past, present and future.

Additional buildings within the site could then be used to further leverage the site’s medical and educational credentials by establishing (for example) world’s best practice colleges which set new standards for attracting students from across Australia and overseas. As far as education is concerned, let’s strategically pick a niche and become the very best in the world at catering for it.

At the end of the day, it is not exclusively the Adelaide City Council’s role to determine what the site will be used for however it is very much the Lord Mayor and elected member’s responsibility to fight for positive outcomes for all city users whether they are East End business owners, visitors and residents with an interest in the way our parklands are used.

Additional reading and resources:

Visit the News>Announcements section of my web site for further information on my thoughts and vision for the future of the RAH site http://martinhaese.com/news-cat3.html

Visit the State Government’s Office of Design & Architecture web site for information on the design competition held for this site http://odasa.sa.gov.au/rahsite/pdf/openideas-rahsite.pdf

Visit Indaily for a summary of some of the ideas/concepts put forward by the design community for the future of the RAH site http://indaily.com.au/design/2013/12/10/radical-art-gallery-wins-rah-site-comp/

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Blog Post 3 – O’Connell Street North Adelaide is at a turning point

Posted: August 2014 Author: Martin Haese


O’Connell Street and Melbourne Street are the heart and soul of the North Adelaide community.

The lack of activity at the former Le Cornu site is indeed a low point on the streetscape of O’Connell Street and the public has every right to express frustration that the property has been standing vacant for the last 25 years.

Whilst there have been recent calls for the Adelaide City Council to purchase and redevelop the site, there has been less thinking put into how or why Council should take such action and it seems that few have considered the dangerous precedent it would set.

In my opinion, compulsory acquisition, even if it were even vaguely possible, is not the solution.

How and why?  

Even if Council’s finances could be stretched to purchase and redevelop the site - is this really the highest and best use of rate payer funds? I suggest not.

Given that Council has substantially increased its borrowings to fund recent upgrades to Victoria Square and Rundle Mall – should Council be currently contemplating projects of this magnitude? I suggest not.

Should Council put itself in a position where it may need to make cuts in other key areas to fund what is essentially a politically charged foray into property development? I suggest not.

Can Council demonstrate a proven track record of successful property development that is either on par, or better than those of the private sector?  I suggest not.

Should property development even be Council’s core business? Definitely not.

The precedent

‘Land banking’ is the practice of purchasing a property and allowing it to sit idle until such time as its value rises sufficiently to sell it at a commanding profit.

Whilst I’m not suggesting that this is what has happened, my view is that any move to compulsorily acquire this site may set an uncomfortable precedent whereby property owners across the city could in fact be incentivised to delay or cancel development plans if there was even a hint that Council might ‘step in’ and influence the value of their land. 

In today’s environment, it is becoming apparent that mixed use developments provide more sustainable and appropriate outcomes for both developers and communities. It stands to reason that the Le Cornu site would respond better to a development that includes residential, retail, accommodation and a component of shared community space. Sufficient car parking should also be included after careful consideration has been given to the access points.

The solution

Let us never allow frustration to override our clear thinking.

In my experience, property owners and developers are driven by commercial realities and I would suggest that the current owner of the site is no different.

It simply does not make sense to develop a site in an area where there is low demand for commercial space and the fact that this site has not been developed by successive owners speaks volumes about the current state of O’Connell Street.

As a former retailer myself, I am extremely supportive of O’Connell Street’s retail community who are not alone in enduring today’s challenging trading conditions. O’Connell Street has seen better days and what was once the city’s premiere location for fine dining and higher end fashion, already has too many ‘for lease’ signs.

If elected as Lord Mayor, my solution for the former Le Cornu site will be to work with my fellow elected members, property, retail and business owners to restore O’Connell Street to its former glory. I believe that by increasing demand for all commercial properties in the wider precinct will create the conditions where it becomes feasible to develop this site without any further delay.

Notwithstanding, O’Connell Street’s streetscape is a little tired and would respond favourably to a partial upgrade when the availability of public funds permit. This is Council’s responsibility and if elected as Lord Mayor, I would support it in tandem with an announcement made by the owner about a positive and appropriate development proposal of the Le Cornu site.


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Blog Post 2 – Car parking is important

Posted: July 2014 Author: Martin Haese


Let’s face facts - car parking is important

Thankfully our former Lord Mayors and Adelaide City Councillors had the foresight to invest in car parking infrastructure. Along with the efforts of the private sector, these car parking stations have served our city well.

Notwithstanding the above, car parking remains a vexing issue for the Adelaide City Council so it comes as no surprise that they tend to avoid making meaningful comment. When they do, it’s often a glib response which compares the availability and pricing of car parks to other capital cities. In my opinion, these comparisons have little or no relevance to people living, working, shopping and visiting the City of Adelaide.

The truth of the matter is that the issue is much more important because whilst we occasionally grumble about not being able to find a car park, far more of us are worried about what that car park will cost.

Now let’s be clear, Adelaide City Council owns nine of the city’s off-street car parks and they are a significant contributor to the Council’s annual budget - so is it any wonder that the Council doesn’t like to talk about car park affordability? However, by simply categorising car parking as an economic issue doesn’t address all the problems either.

Residents should not have to park two blocks away from their home because someone has taken their on-street park and workers should not have to take residential spaces because their workplace does not have sufficient off-street car parks located in the vicinity.

Also, if we want our retailers and small businesses to survive and thrive, we can’t expect visitors to pay unreasonable car parking fees for choosing to shop in the city. In my own experience as a Rundle Mall retailer, there is a tipping point when people purposely decide not to use public transport and that is when they plan to have their hands full with shopping bags … and, surely we want to see more of that.

Do we really want to give potential shoppers another reason to visit suburban shopping centres? Do we want to make life harder for our many small businesses, or do we want to help them? I support the latter option.

There are also those who think we should all leave our cars at home and make better use of public and other forms of transport. While I could be persuaded that it makes some sense to gradually reduce our reliance on cars over the long term, I’m not at all convinced that Adelaide has sufficient infrastructure in place to cope with this transition any time soon.

So, for now and the foreseeable future, our car parks are and will remain incredibly important to the future of the City of Adelaide.

If elected as your Lord Mayor, I won’t try to pretend that important matters such as car parking do not exist. Instead, I will open up the debate in order to find solutions that work for all city users, whether they are ratepayers, business owners, workers or shoppers.

It is quite clear that for the City of Adelaide to move forward, we must attract more people. Whether that means more workers, visitors, tourists, residents or businesses – we need to find better ways of accommodating their needs … and, car parking is an important part of the equation.

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Blog Post 1 – My Beliefs and Values

Posted: June 2014 Author: Martin Haese


Renowned business consultant, Peter F Drucker’s famous statement that ‘Management is
doing things right, Leadership is doing the right things’
rings even truer today.

Given that our beliefs and values are shaped by our experiences and often determine our future actions, it seems appropriate to begin this blog by sharing my own beliefs and values.

Firstly, I believe in leadership.

Every level of government attracts capable managers – policy is written, processes are followed, forms are filed, the bureaucracy is satisfied and the elected officials and managers congratulate themselves on a job well done.

However, my own experience has taught me that when we settle for management over leadership, the status quo prevails every time. Of equal concern, a predominent management led approach stifles innovation and breeds complacency.

Leadership is the only solution.

I have long held that the most important trait of any leader is their ability to listen because without engaging with other people to better understand their point of view, leadership soon turns into arrogance. I also believe that regardless of their situation or circumstances, everyone deserves to be heard because sometimes the best ideas and the biggest innovations come from the most unlikely sources.

Secondly, I believe in the City of Adelaide.

Over the years, more than a few of our friends have moved away from Adelaide to pursue careers in other Australian capital cities and overseas. I stayed because I always wanted to build a successful local business with national or global reach whilst continuing to enjoy the quality of life offered by the City of Adelaide. Whilst I still believe that Adelaide has a lot to offer, there is a great deal more that can be done to further enhance our residential amenity and assist our business community prosper.

Thirdly, I believe that we must act now to maintain the momentum.

With upgrades to Victoria Square, Rundle Mall, the Adelaide Convention Centre and the New Royal Adelaide Hospital all taking place in the public eye, there is a sense that Adelaide is reinventing itself into a more contemporary yet classical city of the 21st century.

It is therefore no coincidence that we are also noticing a growing sense of optimism around the city as large public works projects often lead to greater pride and confidence. However, I am old enough to remember similar times in the Adelaide’s history which proved to be ‘false starts.’

As a result, I believe that what happens after the last brick is laid is even more important than the construction phase itself. I believe that the City of Adelaide needs an experienced and collaborative leader to maintain the momentum after the construction work has finished. Otherwise, this new found self belief could be short lived.

We must support our businesses, attract investment, retain our talented people and further enhance the City of Adelaide’s reputation for learning, creativity, opportunity and innovation. We must protect and enhance our reputation as a liveable city and never let complacency take hold.

More than ever, the City of Adelaide needs leadership today.

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