Valuable community meetings
Last week Steve (CEO) and Alexa (COO) headed out on the road. Firstly, to Timber Creek about 300km west from Katherine and then Barunga about 80 km east of Katherine. Some serious kilometres were covered! This photo was taken at the Bagala Board meeting in Barunga.
Hot, exhausting but immensely valuable, these trips are part of a quarterly service provided by AIG in the business and governance support services (learn more). This trip was to visit two key clients: Gunamu Aboriginal Corporation in Timber Creek and Bagala Aboriginal Corporation in Barunga.
Both corporations own multi-million-dollar businesses in their communities, and our job is to support the board members to make their businesses financially viable. For Steve, spending time in community helps him to evaluate AIG’s services.
It’s not until I get out into community that I get the real connection with our clients. Being on the ground as opposed to in our Darwin office offers the chance to properly analyse what’s been achieved and what more needs to be done to make our services work for everyday people in community.
Board meetings start with a tour of the store
Every three months AIG heads out to Timber Creek and Barunga to facilitate meetings with our client’s board members. The meeting starts by walking through the store analysing the products on the shelves and the pricing. This gives opportunity to adjust the existing stock if needed and review the Mob’s Choice range in the store. The Mob’s Choice is a range of essential items identified by store users and are kept as low priced as possible (more about the Mob’s Choice range ).
The walk through offers an opportunity for the business owners to engage in their business. By increasing the level of engagement from the board in the day to day operations of the store they can make informed decisions about pricing and product range that is better suited to the people who live there, says Steve.
In the case of Barunga, having board members engaged has led to an increase in sales because there is a better understanding from us about stocking products that meet the needs of the shoppers.
The Bagala Aboriginal Corporation Board having a break in the shade.
And then it gets serious
After the tour of the store, the meeting heads into the board room and gets serious. Governance training focusses the board members on being realistic about what it takes to manage their multi-million-dollar enterprises. Big business is complex, and an important part of the board meetings is to help the members to understand what is going on so they can move forward with confidence to make their business successful.
Steve explains it’s not just about presenting financial information and saying what is working and what is not working. It’s also about education and facilitating the skills to make better informed decisions.
It is our role to assist them to manage their assets we don’t believe its ok just for us just to make decisions for them. We facilitate training and awareness, to ensure they can make informed decisions about the business they manage. If we are truly committed to creating stronger communities then training and skills transfer needs to be a part of business and asset management.
Every community is different
One of the key lessons we’ve learned is that all communities are different. The stores for example in Timber Creek and Barunga have had a management approach that has been almost identical, but the outcomes are starkly different. What that means for AIG is that we need to be flexible and adapt to different environments.