Entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in Australia

Monday 4 September 2017

Grainne Oates, Lesley Gillespie OAM and Ronnie Fink speaking to a crowd

The renewed Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship will be industry focused and partnership driven.

In summary

  • Successful entrepreneurs joined Swinburne guests to relaunch the AGSE
  • The panel discussed the highs and lows of start-ups and the risks they had to take
  • The new school will focus on current trends and needs of industry

Starting a business takes resilience, hard work, risk-taking and the ability to learn from your mistakes, the relaunch of Swinburne’s renowned entrepreneurship school has heard.

Successful entrepreneurs from Bakers Delight, Seek International and Quitch joined hundreds of Swinburne guests to relaunch Australia’s first ever dedicated school for budding innovators and entrepreneurs.

Launching the event, journalist and Swinburne alumnus, Tony Featherstone told guests that the reborn Swinburne Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) will be industry focused and partnership driven.

In a panel discussion moderated by Mr Featherstone, the three entrepreneurs discussed the highs and lows of launching into the unknown and the risks they had to take. 

Founder and Director of Bakers Delight, Lesley Gillespie OAM, attributed her company’s massive growth to the decision to push themselves out of their comfort zone and franchise the business. 

“It sounds like it was easy, but it wasn’t,” Ms Gillespie said.

“You need to be able to learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up and start again.

“Resilience is so important.”

Corporate Development Director of Seek, Ronnie Fink, told guests the multi-billion-dollar online recruitment giant continues to succeed because it retained a start-up culture and an entrepreneurship mind-set. 

“We’re still founder-led, which keeps our entrepreneurial spirit alive and ensures we are nimble and remain focused on growth and opportunity,” he said.

Swinburne Business School’s Dr Grainne Oates, who founded start-up business Quitch, spoke about the early days of her educational app that uses gamification principles to engage students in their university subjects. 

“We quickly realised if the app’s not going to be easy to use, then it’s not going to be helpful and no one is going to use it,” Dr Oates said. 

“That’s a fundamental principle all start-ups need to consider.”


Swinburne’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Business and Law, Professor Michael Gilding, described the relaunch as the beginning of a new chapter that will result in the AGSE being a major industry influencer in the era of digital disruption. 

“Re-launching in 2017 means we have the opportunity to use what we have learnt over the last four decades to re-imagine what entrepreneurship looks like for this new era of digital disruption and evolving industries,” Professor Gilding said. 

“Through our strategic partnerships, industry insight and tailored courses, we are able to provide a personalised experience for students. 

“This prepares our graduates to drive social change, deliver industry-leading research and run multinational companies.” 

Director of the AGSE, Alex Kaiser, said the new school, to be housed in Swinburne’s Faculty of Business and Law, would be focusing on current trends and needs of industry. 

“We produce graduates who are future-ready. We are in a constant discourse with our partners in the market to figure out how to deliver what is needed to our students,” he said.