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A Start Up 4,380 Days Ago

For over 105,000 hours, I’ve thought about and loved this business: the enjoyment of scoping, design and development, building a brand, and the growing pains of scaling; and I’ve dreamed and schemed about our future, just as a parent does.

I can’t believe it was 12 years ago that Julie Mills, the then CEO of the RCSA, formally launched WorkPro at the RACV Club in Melbourne, at her annual President’s lunch.

It was August 2007. In March of the same year, we had committed to an ambitious plan. From mudmap to launch in six months. For what felt like 20 hours a day we brought to life a vision to set a standard in the recruitment industry for workforce compliance, reduce workplace injury by creating practical safety learning, minimise applicant fatigue by allowing a worker to securely share their digital profile with another prospective employer, and promote a positive message to Regulators that temporary workers engaged by Agencies are delivered a consistent screening and induction program, including safety information.

In 2006, there were 132,055 [1] workers compensation claims made and 236 compensated fatalities. The latest statistics, released in December for 2016/17, 106,000 [2] workers compensation claims were made, and there were 182 workplace fatalities.

We’ve signed up 2.7 million registrations (a quarter of the employed population) since 2007, and more than six million safety modules have been completed. On this basis, I’d be pleased to think that we’ve met our objective and played a small part in reducing compensation claims, helped an industry more easily meet their compliance obligations and, most importantly, saved lives.

As our 12 year anniversary passes, I want to take the time to highlight a few stars who have mentored and supported me and the WorkPro business over a long period of time. Starting a company was easy, sustaining and growing a company has been mind-blowing … some are clients who believed in us from the start, and who remain customers today. Others have been advocates, supporters and now friends – IPA (our first pilot customer), Adecco, Peter Langford and the Horner team, Robert van Stokrom and DFP, Hoban and Trudy Macgregor in particular, Graham Bower as our first police checking customer, Col Levander and the Recruitment Yarns crew. Clayton Anderson for his safety knowledge, Julie Mills, Robert Blanche and John Wilson of the Bayside Group, Charles Cameron, Amy Towers and Daniel McConville for your knowledge and passion for safety, and building our content for us, Bernard McInterney, Matt Smith and Toll who gave us our first significant opportunity in the corporate sector, putting faith in an Australian start-up and our partner for close to six years, and the household brands that we have pleasure in supporting every day and helping you to get your candidates “job-ready”, and to remain work-ready. Way too many names to even start listing.

To the beautiful WorkPro team. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic individuals over the years, starting with just two employees. Man did we have energy to burn. As we know, it takes a village to raise a child and my team believe in this and commit to it just as much as I do. I cannot single any one person out. Terima kasih – thank you. A small but very, very mighty team who manage to do extraordinary things every day.

I’ve got so many stories, but one that stands out is the early days of our police checking business some eight years ago. While it was online – awesome – the client needed to POST, yes, physically post the original of every single police check that we transacted, and we needed to reconcile every client file every single month. If we didn’t receive the application, we sometimes drove to the client’s office to get the copies to ensure we were “audit-ready”. We had a great relationship with the local Australia Post office and one of us used to take a small wheelie suitcase to the Post Office every day to collect the applications and we hired a temp worker at the end of every month to reconcile each account. It really wasn’t that long ago folks.

We revolutionised police checks when we were able to reduce the turnaround time from snail mail and six weeks to a 24-hour turnaround, and today it’s 100% online and 20 minutes. The beauty and the power of technology to enhance business process right there.

Then of course the approach from what was then known as the Department of Immigration inviting us to collaborate with them as their first work rights integration partner. That was in 2010, only a couple of years after WorkPro was launched. I’ve still got the signed letter from the Department and a photo to prove it.

As the business becomes a “teenager” – 13 – things are about to heat up again as we turn our attention to some significant investment in our technology and the inter-operability of the system. Wish us luck with a moody teenager 😊

[1] https://www.nswbar.asn.au/circulars/2009/mar09/comp.pdf

[2] https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/australian-workers-compensation-statistics-2016-17

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