I have been thinking a lot recently about seven years of my journey with an organisation that was way ahead of its time as a truly ‘conscious organisation’, PanBio.
It had a very strategic outlook from the beginning with a vision to become a significant global biotechnology company. It had humble beginnings in an industrial shed with two employees and with some of the co-founders doing weekend work in said ‘shed’.
I joined in 1997, about 9 years into its journey, as about employee number 20 or so, when revenue was about $2 million per annum.
I found an incredible culture which was cherished by all who were a part of it. Egalitarianism was a clear value, everyones opinion counted and there were lots of forums where all of us got to speak. All significant decisions were made with team participation.
There was a profit share scheme for all staff, an employee share scheme, and generous benefits accessible to everyone like monthly massages and the chance to spend a week in a development program at the Camp Eden health retreat covered by the company.
The culture was one of ‘authentic communication’,’integrity’ and ‘service’, which made for an environment of deep commitment. Along with everyone there I gave my heart and soul to supporting the journey of our ‘collective’.
Being a ‘nice place to work’ is one thing, and it was a laudable achievement to create a culture that makes coming to work a joy for a community of people.
The interesting thing though is that this organisation enjoyed extraordinary success. It began in 1988 with just $500,000 of start-up capital and was valued in 2001 when it listed on the ASX at $34,000,000 (a 64 times multiple). It was in the BRW Fastest Growing 100 seven years running, and won the Australian Quality Award in 1997.
I cant tell this story and crow about the many successes without also acknowledging that the organisation adopted a higher risk appetite in later years, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.
We acquired two US companies in Maryland which are stories for another day, and after listing we invested heavily in an aggressive R&D program which we failed to yield sufficient value from. The organisation ultimately got acquired by a large US medical manufacturer a couple of years after I left.
My focus in this blog entry is on the culture established in the founding years, an enduring culture of egalitarianism, authenticity, integrity, and service and the direct impact I saw that culture have in creating the many successes that organisation did enjoy growing a truly significant organisation. That journey has been very instructive to me on the value of a ‘conscious business culture’.
Many people contributed to the successes of that organisation, and in fact that was one of its charms, we truly were all responsible for its success, because we truly all were fully engaged from the directors to the youngest and newest employees.
I am thankful for the blessing of those 7 years of my journey and for what I learned about the incredible value of organisation culture.
Ura P Auckland
Authegrity Pty Ltd