MEET GRAHAM SEGAL:
CHIRON! THE BUSINESS DOCTOR’S™ HELMSMAN
Graham is the Founder and Sole Proprietor of Chiron! the business doctor.™, an Australian ethical business consultancy with a primary focus on helping small and mid-size companies to raise equity capital for business development and expansion purposes. Graham has a particular focus on helping shari’ah-based entrepreneurial companies, business developers and business pioneers.
Warning: This is an information-rich report on my capacity, capability and competence. This information will be important to you when you have to select someone to help you either improve your company’s operational performance or dramatically expand your business activities. It is most important therefore that you know who you are dealing with. Consequently, this is a long read.
A personal message from Graham Segal
Hello. Thank you for opening this page of my website. I guess you did so because you want to get to know me a little better. Well, let me start by first mentioning that I am one of a select few who commenced working life at 15 years of age as an apprentice tradesman, and subsequently rose to become chief executive of substantial commercial enterprises employing over 200 staff. As well, I have successfully fulfilled appointments as both a Managing Director and an Executive Director of public (unlisted) companies and proprietary companies in Australia and Malaysia. Along this career path, I also became:
- a Chief Industrial Advocate who lead a team of professionals that provided business and industrial relations information, advisory, consultative and representational services to an important Australia-wide industry group of 2,500 companies that employed more than 100,000 people, and
- a freelance small business consultant with a primary focus on helping growth companies to raise equity capital (sometimes called investment capital or growth equity) for business development and expansion purposes.
When you and I work together to improve your company’s productivity, international competitiveness, cash flow, profitability and shareholder value, you will be drawing on my competence, capacity and capability as illustrated below:
1. Equity Raising: Here’s how my experience can help you
As you would have undoubtedly realised from my webpages The First Australian Islamic Finance Equity Capital Board and The Australian Small & Midsize Companies’ Equity Capital Board, the primary focus of my work is to help clients like you to raise equity capital for business development and expansion purposes. To that end, I have spent some time in this website:
- explaining the issues that you must think carefully about before seeking to raise equity capital,
- explaining the law that covers the act of raising equity capital,
- explaining the process of raising equity capital, and
- explaining the implications for you personally when you no longer have the unfettered right to manage your company as you personally see fit, but you must now share that power and authority with one or more shareholders.
I know it sounds strange to say this as a consultant, but I do have some have limitations. Before we go any further, there is an important caveat to my equity raising activities that you need to know. There is a somewhat unfortunate perception among clients seeking equity capital that once I am on their case and involved in the process of raising equity capital, that equity funds will automatically flow to the clients’ ventures. Sadly, that imputes too much power or authority to me. I do not personally provide the equity capital; I simply provide you with the road map and act as your navigator to try and get you to the point where you yourself can discuss with venture capital firms and private equity investors why they should entrust you with the equity capital you are seeking. Four key issues arise from that:
The first key issue. The first key issue is that I have said elsewhere throughout my website and reiterate here that that there are no guarantees in any equity raising program that investors will contribute funds to a particular venture. Investors have venture selection criteria and investment guidelines that govern their investment activities. They will not depart from those venture selection criteria and investment guidelines.
The second key issue. The second key issue is that investors will not consider any investment proposal where the venture Principals do not, or cannot, represent their venture face to face directly to the investors. Investors place great emphasis on how venture Principals respond to questions and react to investor suggestions to make changes to the venture business plan to improve venture viability.
The third key issue. The third key issue is that investors will not participate in any investment proposal where they cannot develop a rapport, a mutually respectful working relationship with the venture Principals.
The fourth key issue. The fourth key issue is perhaps the most critical and obvious of all. The investors have to like your venture.
That leads to the essential point that is of most concern to you. Just what is it that I do in conjunction with you to raise equity capital. What I do in conjunction with you is this:
- I help you to get your company investment ready and investor friendly,
- I ensure that you can effectively and pragmatically present your venture to potential investors, and
- I seek opportunities for you to meet with potential investors.
2. General management: managerial skills that you can draw upon for help
I have set out below two actual case studies relating to my general business management skills that illustrate my managerial expertise in difficult commercial trading circumstances.
These case study examples are necessarily brief. They are set out in more detail elsewhere in my website.
a. A True Life Case Study: EcoHydra Australia Limited
Company profile. EcoHydra Australia was a manufacturing, marketing and distribution company with exclusive international rights to manufacture and market unique ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) pharmaceutical products with Australian TGA and United States of America’s FDA approval. The products consisted of a unique range of the latest generation of topical antimicrobial products focused on hand hygiene, the major source of a rising number of antibiotic resistant infections that were causing widespread international alarm. Effective hand hygiene therefore was the single most important defence against infections, and this provided the focus of the company’s business objectives.
Identification of the niche market. At that time, most hand wash products available for use by healthcare workers and consumers used alcohol as the active ingredient. Unfortunately, healthcare workers and consumers would not use these alcohol-based products on a long-term, repeat-buying basis because the frequent repeated use of alcohol-based products often caused skin damage, skin dryness and irritation. EcoHydra Australia’s new generation antimicrobial infection control products did not use alcohol at all.
Getting involved. In 2006, the Company Chairman contacted me with an invitation to join the Board as an Executive Director. I was happy to accept. In 2002, I had helped EcoHydra Ltd, a British company, to transfer its commercial operations from the United Kingdom to Australia and re-establish itself as an Australian public (unlisted) company. In that role, I helped EcoHydra Australia to prepare and implement its business plan.
Difficulties identified. The Chairman explained that the company was unexpectedly facing serious financial, trading and managerial difficulties that threatened the close-down of the company and a consequent loss of shareholders’ funds. The situation had arisen because two Australian-based directors had not properly managed the affairs of the company. The Chairman (who resided in London, UK) sought my assistance to turn the company around.
Survival action. The Chairman initiated action through Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs) that approved the removal of two directors for inadequate performance and approved my appointment as an Executive Director. I was one of four Executive Directors. However, as I was the most experienced of the Australian-based directors, I personally dealt with the business turnaround activities.
EcoHydra Australia was successfully turned around.
Here are the Business Success Milestones:
- A stringent cash management strategy was immediately implemented to ensure that the company remained solvent at all times.
- All legitimate creditors were paid in full.
- Because the directors removed from office had not accurately reported EcoHydra Australia’s financial dealings to the Board and external accountant, the Board converted the company to a proprietary company to give greater legal protection to the Directors now dealing with this difficult situation. Given the surrounding circumstances, ASIC accepted this action.
- By shareholder agreement through an EGM, a corporate restructure based on a new business model developed by the Board transferred the business of EcoHydra Australia to a newly created company registered in the United Kingdom.
- This newly created United Kingdom company was 60% owned by EcoHydra Australia. Newly recruited investors resident in the United Kingdom owned the remaining shares.
- All of EcoHydra Australia’s intellectual property rights, manufacturing rights and international sales and distribution rights were protected from loss through timely legal transfer to the United Kingdom company.
A further EGM of EcoHydra Australia shareholders approved a pro-rata share-buyback arrangement proposed by the Board under which EcoHydra Australia offered the shares it held in the United Kingdom company as consideration for the share buy-back purchase of the EcoHydra Australia shares.
The EGM further approved that EcoHydra Australia be wound up and appointed me as liquidator.
EcoHydra Australia’s shareholders thus became direct shareholders in the United Kingdom company. Following the completion of the share buy-back, EcoHydra Australia was wound up in accordance with Corporations Act 2001 requirements and ASIC regulations.
The company is now trading profitably in the United Kingdom.
b. A True Life Case Study: Lori Malaysia Berhad
Lori Malaysia Berhad was Malaysia’s largest heavy haulage transport company. At the point of my engagement as the most senior officer in a small survival management team, Lori Malaysia was facing closure as a consequence of a creditors’ winding-up petition. The petition had been initiated because of serious financial, trading and managerial difficulties that were the direct result of mismanagement by executive directors and corruption by senior executives.
This mismanagement and corruption had led to massive financial losses and a consequent critical reduction in shareholder value. With strong support from my small multiracial, multidisciplinary and multicultural management team, I was able to return the company to profitability.
Here are the Business Success Milestones:
- I personally prepared (for principal banker/creditor approval) a comprehensive two-year business survival plan based on proactive marketing and business development objectives that were accepted by creditors without amendment as the basis for future commercial activities.
- As the company’s internal management and accounting controls were either ineffective or nonexistent, I imposed and enforced effective management control systems, cost control techniques and pragmatic risk management strategies to ensure a high level of fiduciary responsibility.
- Within six months, the company’s sales increased from a negligible sales income base to the achievement of sales exceeding $MYR 140,000 ringgit per month, a figure accepted by the principal banker and creditors as indicative of the company’s return to profitability.
- Rig serviceability increased from 4% to 70% during the sales expansion period, financed entirely from work in progress as investment funds promised for this purpose were not received.
- I implemented proactive human resources and employment management systems that applied policy discipline to the application of best practice human resources policies and procedures.
- I coordinated a positive management-client operating regime under which the company avoided the necessity of resorting to protective legal devices available under the Malaysian Companies Act to evade its debts and other legal liabilities.
3. Change Management: useful help available to your company
Why change management? Change management is a very useful tool for small and mid-size businesses like yours because they have the flexibility to adjust quickly to changing commercial circumstances. The reality here is that there’s nothing mystical about change management. Change management simply utilises techniques such as enterprise restructuring, process improvement and performance management reviews to help bring a company to its optimum performance level; a level that you determine is acceptable.
I have change management experience across industries and across companies that you can draw upon.
Change management in action. In a past life, I was the principal industrial relations policy adviser to national Textile, Clothing & Footwear (TCF) industry councils and individual TCF companies. As a consequence of changes in both government industry policy and industrial tribunal wage claims assessment criteria, my team and I successfully implemented a ‘top down’ industry-sponsored change management program. This program involved a total review of all aspects of each individual company’s operations, not just those aspects associated with direct labour costs. I was therefore directly involved in the determination of industry and corporate policy objectives and the methodology and process used in achieving them.
Change management & business survival. In this situation, my team and I worked with management and staff towards the achievement of specific performance goals in circumstances where the company’s culture, focus, systems and infrastructure were undergoing substantial change. Put simply, we maximised enterprise performance and innovation to increase productivity, profitability, cash flow, international competitiveness and shareholder value, thus ensuring business survival.
4. Australian Industrial relations: get access to my 25 years of expertise
As a client, you will have first call on my extensive industrial relations experience, which covers the following:
I have many years of hands-on experience as the principal industrial relations policy adviser and principal industrial advocate to various national industry groups and individual companies. In these positions:
a. I actively participated at the highest level in major industry policy/industry strategy issues that required attention (whether or not these issues were directly involved with industrial relations/employee relations matters), the reality being that there are very few industry issues that do not have an impact on corporate industrial relations/employee relations policies and practices.
b. I personally dealt with complex matters coming before industrial tribunals, including
- sensitive disputes involving industrial strikes and other forms of work limitation,
- public interest test cases concerning matters of employment law principle and policy,
- appeals against industrial tribunal decisions,
- applications to vary industrial awards and agreements, and
- issues related to allegations of unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal and unlawful dismissal.
c. I provided proactive policy options to companies on industrial relations issues and employment management systems and assisted in their implementation. Importantly, the design of these policies and strategies had to support geographically dispersed senior line managers.
d. On behalf of employers, I developed and implemented effective tactical responses to evolving industry circumstances arising from government regulatory policy or trade union industrial policy.
e. I conducted high-level negotiations on behalf of companies with senior executive staff in relation to their contracts of employment and matters related thereto, and trade unions in relation to industrial awards and agreements, employment policies and work practices, including issues related to occupational health and safety.
5. Malaysian Industrial Relations: working overseas? use Graham’s expertise
I worked for a number of years with Lori Malaysia Berhad and the Raintree Club of Kuala Lumpur (two Malaysian corporations that each employed over 200 personnel). In these positions, I was personally accountable for the successful management of all human resources functional activities as part of my wider senior management responsibilities. Consequently, I dealt directly with Malaysian employment laws and employment standards while successfully respecting the cultural, racial, political and religious differences that exist between Malaysian employees.
6. Graham’s electronics background: the final cog in Graham’s wheel of experience
(Yes! I did start at the bottom rung of the ladder: I did sweep the workshop floor, make the tea at
smoko’, and carry the technicians’ toolboxes!)
Apprenticeship training. I completed a five-year apprenticeship in military aircraft electronics systems in the Royal Australian Air Force (radio communications, radar, navigational aids & electronic countermeasures). This included two years’ full-time study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (now RMIT University) and nearly one year’s full-time study at the RAAF School of Radio. I later completed RMIT post-graduate studies in industrial electronics for industry.
Field work. Consequently, I worked for a number of years as an aircraft radio and radar technician in a variety of hazardous and dangerous workplaces. This work experience made me particularly conscious of workplace safety issues, especially in connection with the use of electricity and control of fire hazards.
Technical supervision. I subsequently filled supervisory positions where I had two responsibilities. The first was to ensure that tradesmen under control worked to prescribed safety standards both for their own protection and for the protection of their workmates. The second was to ensure that work carried out on aircraft reflected high standards of workmanship to ensure aircraft safety.
We have now looked at my past, so let’s think about your future!
Use my talents. Are you now thinking about how you can use my talents to improve your Company’s commercial operations? Good. That’s what I’m here for – to help improve your company. For you to think that way however, you must have some idea in the back of your mind about a venture that needs starting or a problem that needs fixing. Right? Right!
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Perhaps for example you would like to raise a million dollars or two to implement that major business expansion you have always dreamed about so you can hit the lucrative export markets and outdo your competition. Whatever you want however, always remember that where there’s a will, there’s generally a way. So why not call me now on 61 (0) 405 702 644. There’s no time like the present to start a new venture, is there?
I would be thrilled to receive a call from you. Please note that I have no objection to your calling me at any time However, I do live in the Australian Eastern Standard Time Zone, GMT +10 hours.
Could I leave you with this thought? Picture yourself three or four years from now. Where do you want you and your business to be? Do you want your business to be operating at a much more profitable level than it is now? Do you want your company to be able to give your family a substantial improvement over their present lifestyle? They deserve it, don’t they! To reach that goal however, you must expand your company exponentially. There is only one practical way to do that within a reasonable timeframe. That is by using equity capital. But you really didn’t need me to tell you that, did you?
Please Note This Personal Limitation. As a sole-practitioner, I simply cannot accept every assignment I receive. There are unfortunately not enough hours in each day. That’s why, if you can see the advantages of you and I working together to improve your business, you must call me without delay on 61 (0) 405 702 644 or email me. For fairness, I must operate on the ‘first up, best dressed’ principle. Why not call me now, this minute, and go for it!
Thanks again for visiting my website. Please feel free to visit my other webpages. I am sure that you will find them informative.
Date this webpage was last reviewed/updated: 4 May 2013