Living The Family Values
19th June 2017 Paul Andrews
As a next gen family business member earning the respect of the team around you is critical.
Credit Repair Australia was set up in 2003 by Richard Symes. He’d previously had a business manufacturing snack foods, but when the company went into voluntary administration he found himself with no-one to turn to.
That’s when he had the idea of setting up a business to support other people in the same situation by negotiating with credit providers, helping people consolidate their debts, and coming up with alternatives to bankruptcy. As his son Gavin puts it, “Dad set this up out of the boot of his car, and now we have 165 employees, and we’ve supported 150,000 Australians get back on track. We’ve helped thousands of those people, at absolutely no charge, and that’s something that we’re all really proud of.”
Richard’s three children all work in the company now, and while Credit Repair Australia is talking full advantage of digital and prides itself on being innovative with new technology, it remains what it was at the start: a people business. As Mitchell Symes says, “We’re dealing with people; we’re not dealing with numbers or data or anything else - we’re dealing with people. In our family, we’ve been brought up to believe that life is about giving value to others, so whatever value we can create for other people, will give us value in return. And everyone else in the company is inspired by the same passion.”
Mitchell works at the ‘front end’ in customer service, sales and marketing, Gavin in operations and customer support, and Kiersten in HR and training. But they’ve all had to work their way up. As Kiersten says, “Our father doesn’t believe in free rides – I started in filing and scanning, then moved to reception, and Mitchell began doing data entry, answering phones, doing the hard slog. So none of us were thrown into the business at a senior level; we’ve had to really work our way up. As part of our career progression we have had to be open to receiving constructive feedback. That comes from the way that we’ve been raised.”
So what’s it like being the children of the boss – are they treated any differently?
“One of the biggest challenges that I faced,” says Gavin, “was earning the respect of other people. A lot of people might think ‘You’re only here because your dad’s the boss’, and while that might be true in terms of getting the job in the first place, once you’re in the role you have to work three times harder than anybody else because the spotlight is always on you. And other people don’t see the hours that we put in outside the office, they don’t see us working weekends.” Mitchell agrees: “I think we’re held to a higher standard than other people, and actually we hold ourselves to a higher standard too, because it’s our family business, and we live and breathe it every single day.”
About the piece - This feature forms part of the PwC Next Generation Family Business Survey 2016 and has been reproduced with permission of PwC. Click here to see the full results of the survey and other features.