Industry veteran Branko Panich new leader of Fujitsu Consulting

Global IT services giant Fujitsu has named Branko Panich the new Executive General Manager of Consulting for Australia and New Zealand. 

Branko Panich joins Fujitsu from accounting and advisory firm Grant Thornton, where he was partner and head of digital transformation. He brings over thirty years of experience in technology and consulting to the firm, including spells at CSC (where he was a senior partner), Deloitte (where he was a partner), as well as at Accenture and strategic consultancies Boston Consulting Group and Strategy&. 

Outside of consulting, Panich spent several years in senior roles in the banking industry – including General Manager of Technology Strategy & Transformation at National Australia Bank and Head of IT Strategy at Westpac.

“Branko’s extensive consulting experience and in-depth expertise in driving digital transformation projects will be instrumental to our continued commitment to delivering value to our clients. His appointment fuels our ambition to continue growing the Fujitsu business as one of the leading ICT providers in the region, and I am thrilled to welcome him onboard,” said Graeme Beardsell, the CEO of Fujitsu in Australia and New Zealand. 

In his new role role, Panich will lead Fujitsu’s consulting offerings, spanning digital transformation, ICT strategy, sourcing strategy, CIO advisory, ICT operating model, cost optimisation and change management, among others. 

“A key area of focus is expanding expand Fujitsu’s existing consulting business to help customers accelerate their digital transformation goals, a proven differentiator to help drive growth in the market,” said Panich.

The appointment comes months after Fujitsu made its first local acquisition since 2009 with the purchase of data analytics specialist Versor. The Melbourne-based firm specialises in data engineering, advanced analytics and data sciences and is now part of Fujitsu Consulting.


Chamara Somaratne joins Elabor8 as practice leader

Australian-origin business consultancy Elabor8 has welcomed senior expert Chamara Somaratne to its team. 

Based in Elabor8’s Melbourne office, Somaratne brings over two decades of experience in management consulting and technology to the firm. Over the past years, he served two boutique consultancies in senior roles, and before that he led the Strategy, Transformation and Innovation practices at both global giant Wipro and local player DXC Consulting. 

His track record centers around helping clients close the gap between strategy and execution in the digital realm. He specialises in business transformation, technology strategy, operating model design, performance improvement, cost effectiveness, and change management, and has served clients across sectors including financial services, healthcare, energy and utilities, manufacturing, retail and the public sector. 

“We’re delighted to welcome Chamara to our team,” said Paul Velonis, an ex-PwC’er who co-founded Elabor8 in 2009. 

Somaratne has been appointed leader of the Cloud and Teaming Models practices. “Our Cloud practice helps clients navigate the challenges of adopting the cloud and using it to drive innovation and enable transformation,” explained Chamara. 

Velonis: “Chamara has extensive experience in technology management across strategy, the cloud, and transformation for major organisations around the world. This makes him ideally qualified to further our Cloud practice.” 

The Teaming Models practice is a relatively new service line that brings to market Elabor8’s offerings around building and grooming successful teams. The unit provides capacity for project execution, and advises clients on how they can build high performance teams, aligned to the strategic agenda and corporate culture.

“We’re pretty excited to leverage Chamara’s experience to guide the development of these two important services for Elabor8’s and to integrate them tightly within our overarching service offering.” 

One of Australia’s fastest growing consulting firms (Elabor8 was listed in the AFR Fast 100 list six years in a row), privately-held Elabor8 works over a quarter of the ASX50. Among the companies on its client roster are majors including AstraZeneca, Australia Post, BHP, NAB, Qantas, Rio Tinto, Vodafone and Westpac.


Davidson Group on the hunt for financial partner to drive growth

Davidson Group, a professional services group specialised in enhancing workplace performance, is on the hunt for a financial sponsor. 

The Queensland-headquartered company, which has around 300 employees according to its LinkedIn account, helps clients with an end-to-end offering for workplace performance. The firm’s business advisory arm advises clients on workplace strategies and performance management, and supports with the execution of these plans. 

Davidson Group’s search and recruitment business provides executive search services for senior and medior positions across mainly back-office functions (finance, human resources, sales & marketing, supply chain, procurement), while the technology wing helps clients with designing and building solutions for data, cloud, analytics and more. 

With the help of Ord Minnett, Davidson Group has launched a search process for a private equity backer. According to reports from AFR, Ord Minnett last week mailed out flyers promoting the business to potential parties. The auction process is understood to be in the indicative bids round, with offers expected to be received in the coming fortnight. 

The flyer highlights Davidson Group’s healthy status – for the 2022 financial year, the group expects revenues to hit $207 million and EBIT to hit $10.4 million. The company also forecasts strong gross margins at around 50% per cent for its technology division, 32 per cent for the search and advisory unit and 20 per cent for recruitment solutions.

In the last financial year, Davidson Group welcomed more than 200 new clients, and looking ahead, the firm is expected to ride a bullish market for workplace performance services as organisations transition to new ways of working in the post-Covid-era. 

Davidson Group was founded in 1991 and is majority owned by Bruce and Rob Davidson, who are still heavily involved in leading the business.


Jamie Ayers joins sustainability consultancy Engie Impact

Engie Impact, the sustainability and decarbonisation consulting business of energy giant Engie, has bolstered its senior team in Australia with the hire of Jamie Ayers. 

With more than 2,000 consultants across 20+ offices globally, Engie Impact is one of the world’s larger sustainability-focused consultancies. The company has one simple mission: helping companies (the firm works with over a quarter of Fortune 500 companies) accelerate their climate change and net zero ambitions, providing both advisory and implementation services.

As part of its expansion strategy, at the start of this year Engie Impact expanded into Australia, launching hubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth – leveraging the existing footprint of parent Engie, which has 1,200 staff in Australia and New Zealand.

Commenting on the launch at the time, Engie Impact’s CEO Mathias Lelievre said: “Engie Impact serves clients with locations around the world, so having deep, in-region expertise of the Australia market is critical to our ability to enable sustainability transformation to leading organisations.”

Over the past ten months, the consulting firm has hit the ground running, winning a number of high-impact engagements, including leading the delivery of the roadmap and business case that helped ARENA secure $42 million in funding for one of its green hydrogen facilities, and helping an ASX 50 client with its decarbonisation roadmap. 

Appointed a Director, Jamie Ayers has been tasked with expanding Engie Impact’s presence in the non-industrial space, serving clients including financial institutions, retailers, and property developers. He joins the firm from Energetics, where he was the head of Property and Finance, responsible for developing approaches to climate risk, climate adaptation and energy management. 

Before that, Ayers spent nearly four years at EY, most recently as a Senior Manager in the firm’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services. Prior to EY, he was a Senior Associate of Climate Change and Energy Services at Net Balance (which was acquired by EY in 2014). He also spent more than a decade in Engineering with the Royal Australian Navy. 

At Engie Impact, Ayers is reunited with Joshua Martin, his former colleague at EY and Net Balance, who currently leads Engie Impact across Australia and New Zealand.


Deloitte, DXC, TCS and specialist firms bag AWS partner awards

Deloitte, DXC Technology and Tata Consultancy Services have been named among the winners of this year’s AWS partner awards in Australia and New Zealand. Boutiques Itoc and Intellify also took home awards.

Deloitte was named AWS Global Systems Integrator Partner of the Year for the second year running, continuing a recent winning streak of the firm across a range of disciplines, including for design (Good Design Awards) and innovation (AFR’s Most Innovative Companies).

The Big Four firm was recognised for its heavy investment into building up its AWS expertise firm-wide and driving innovation, making the biggest impact “with its ability to disrupt industries and provide leadership, risk management, and multi-disciplinary technical delivery capabilities for cloud transformations.”

A collaboration with the University of Newcastle was cited as one outstanding client outcome, the university the first in Australia to be migrated “all in” on the Amazon Web Services cloud platform.

Australian Consulting Partner of the Year went to Brisbane-based AWS specialist consultancy Itoc, which gained AWS SaaS Competency status as one of only two outfits in APAC upon its launch last year. The company, which has more than tripled its headcount over the past eighteen months, was noted for developing a globally scalable SaaS solution for ecommerce transactions which had grown to unprecedented levels due to customer demand through the pandemic.

“Itoc was one of the first AWS partners in the APAC region that was truly born in the cloud,” commented Itoc co-CEO Richard Steven. “We’ve built our business using the AWS ecosystem to solve our customers’ biggest challenges and create new opportunities. We have de-risked and accelerated hundreds of customer journeys to date. Winning this award is the culmination of almost ten years of customer obsession by the great team at Itoc.”

Backing up its win in 2019, boutique data science and machine learning consultancy Intellify was once again named AWS Data, Analytics, and Machine Learning Partner of the Year, this time for helping weather prediction provider WillyWeather to build a machine learning “nowcasting” alert system. Headquartered in Sydney, Intellify has since its last AWS award grown its headcount from 15 to 50, with over 150 projects delivered.

Other winners included Tata Consultancy Services as Application Transformation and Migration Partner of the Year for its work in setting up “cloud migration factories” for the Commonwealth Bank, with 95 percent of its workloads to be migrated to the cloud over the next few years, while DXC Technology took out the Customer Experience Partner of the Year honour for implementing an Amazon Connect voice automation system at BOC Gas.

“Cloud represents one of the biggest technological shifts in our lifetime and has the ability to transform companies in a way we have never seen before,” said Corrie Briscoe, AWS head of partner success for the Asia Pacific and Japan. “Customers want to work with partners who have deep technical and business expertise across industries, workloads, and use cases. They are looking for specialists, rather than generalists.”


Simon Cathro launches insolvency & restructuring firm Cathro & Partners

Cathro & Partners, a boutique insolvency and corporate restructuring firm, has opened to help clients create and preserve business value and survive financial distress. 

The firm’s founder and Managing Principal is Simon Cathro, an industry expert with more than 25 years of insolvency and corporate restructuring experience. Joining him are key team members, Damien Beven, Kira Yu and Will Evans, with access, when required, to the support of approximately 80 staff through resourcing alliances. 

Cathro said he saw an opportunity in the restructuring sector for a firm that specialised in delivering tailored solutions to clients based on achieving the right outcome for their unique situations. “We want to be the firm that does the right thing by solving problems for clients and helping them make decisions that are right for their business, employees and stakeholders,” he noted.

“Our goal is to enable our clients to survive financial difficulty and come out stronger. For businesses where that might not be possible, our clients can trust us to give them expert advice based not only on our extensive experience but a deep understanding of them and their market to ensure they achieve the best outcome possible.” 

The Sydney-based firm specialises in restructuring, turnaround, insolvency, safe harbour,  secured enforcement services and pre-lending services. 

Prior to launching Cathro & Partners, founder Cathro was a partner at Ernst & Young, Deloitte and Worrells where he and his team were involved in recent restructures including Napoleon Perdis, Custom Bus, Foodora and X Blades. 

“As Australia emerges from the economic disruption caused by the global pandemic, many businesses will need insolvency and restructuring services to help them navigate their recovery,” Cathro said. “Cathro & Partners will be the firm that has the skillset and focusses on a client’s individual situation to guide them through it and ensure the right outcome is achieved.”

Other home-grown independent players in Australia’s restructuring consulting scene include Jirsch Sutherland, Mackay Goodwin and McGrathNicol. Meanwhile, major consulting firms such as the Big Four, Alvarez & Marsal, Ankura (which recently launched in Australia) and FTI Consulting also have leading turnaround practices.


Cedrent Enterprises claims PwC’s indigenous business prize

The PwC MURRA Boost Initiative has selected an indigenous-owned vehicle hire company as its latest recipient, with Cedrent Enterprises profits helping to support Far West Coast youth.

The South Australian-headquartred vehicle hire company – which is majority Indigenous-owned – will receive $30,000 worth of in kind consulting support from a specialist PwC team to help strengthen business practices and build capacity for future growth.

Now into its sixth cycle, the PwC MURRA Boost Initiative is part of Indigenous Business Month, which was established in 2015 by alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class Program. The aim of Indigenous Business Month – this year held under the theme ‘Powering the Indigenous Economy’ – is to highlight and foster indigenous economic participation.

“PwC is extremely pleased to continue our support for Indigenous Business Month,” said PwC CEO Tom Seymour. “We have been privileged to work with many great Indigenous businesses over the six years of this award – and see them thrive and grow. This continues to demonstrate the growth and diversity of Indigenous businesses and their ambitions have a significant impact.”

Seymour also noted the extremely high quality of this year’s applicants “This year’s winner, Cedrent Enterprises, run a successful commercial operation as well as providing a valuable service to enable access to many regional and remote areas across Southern Australia and Northern Territory. PwC is really looking forward to working with Cedrent and contributing to the next stage of their growth journey.”

Founded in 1991, Cedrent Enterprises today serves customers from locations across the South Australian outback and through to Alice Springs and Darwin, with a range of commercial utes, trucks, vans, and buses on offer together with large to small passenger vehicles. In 2017, a controlling stake in the company was bought by the indigenous business Munda Wana Wilurarra.

Indigenous owned and operated, Munda Wana Wilurarra is in turn a business arm of the Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation’s community’s trust, a body overseeing management of the Far West Coast lands of South Australia, a region stretching roughly from the western side of the Eyre Peninsula across the Nullarbor Plain to the Western Australia border which was granted native title in 2013.

“Cedrent Enterprises has empowered the indigenous economy by growing our Enterprise Rent-A-Car franchise throughout Australia, helping us to involve more Aboriginal communities and provide more opportunities for our mob,” said Far West Coast Investment director April Lawrie, who noted that profits went towards providing education programs and scholarships to Far West Coast youth.

Previous winners of the PwC MURRA Boost Initiative are: GWS Engineering and Construction (2020), BlackCard (2019), Kakadu Tiny Tots (2019), Marrawah Law (2018), Biodiversity Australia (2017) and Ngakkan Nyaagu (2016).


Julian Dolby leads Advisory division of engineering firm Aurecon

After twelve “incredible years” at Deloitte Consulting, Julian Dolby has crossed to Aurecon, where he has been named leader of the Advisory division.

Julian Dolby was a Deloitte leader for more than a decade, including serving as a member of the Deloitte Australia Board and the Australian Consulting Executive Leadership team. In his most recent role, he was the Lead Partner of Operations Consulting as well as the Lead Consulting Partner for the firm’s Brisbane office. 

“I have had amazing opportunities to lead extraordinary talent and be led by great leaders at Deloitte,” said Dolby. “Aurecon is an organisation that I have followed with much interest and I am therefore super excited by the prospect of being a part of the next wave of development and growth. I am incredibly excited by the opportunity to lead the Advisory practice.” 

Dolby takes over the reins from Brad McBean, who led the division for the past four years – in the period doubling its revenue and profit. “We are very ambitious for our Advisory division, which is now at a size where someone of Julian’s calibre can take it to the next level,” said Aurecon CEO William Cox.

Some of Advisory’s key offerings include: asset optimisation, infrastructure advisory, program and project management, communication & stakeholder engagement. “Our Advisory practice, aligned with our digital and data capability and engineering competencies, allows us to be impactful through the whole engineering lifecycle. This is a high growth area for Aurecon.” 

Founded in 2009, Aurecon is an engineering and design company. The Australian company has around 7,500 employees working from offices across Australia, Middle East, New Zealand, South East Asia and South Africa. 

Dolby sees strong growth potential for the Advisory group amid a rapidly changing environment. “As digitisation becomes mainstream, our clients are increasingly looking for technically led advisory services to help them make well-informed capital decisions. When you bring the engineering mindset together with advisory capabilities, something powerful happens – especially when you embed data analytics in everything you do.”

He also expects growth opportunities in smart cities and helping clients to manage emerging risks, including climate change, social license to operate, and asset integrity.

Earlier in his career, Dolby worked for Australian-origin consultancy Partners in Performance (focused on the mining, utilities and heavy industry sectors) and Jamiesons.


Moore promotes Anthony Hayley to APAC head of transfer pricing

Moore has promoted Brisbane-based Anthony Hayley to partner and regional leader of its Transfer Pricing division. 

Anthony Hayley has been with Moore – a global accounting, audit and advisory firm with over 30,000 people – since 2018, when he joined from BDO. An expert in transfer pricing, Hayley has contributed to the growth of Moore’s practice in Australia, bringing in and working the new clients and supporting the development of innovative offerings.

Hayley has more than 20 years of experience in transfer pricing, gained at several leading consultancies both in Australia (Moore, BDO, RSM and EY) and in the United Kingdom (KPMG). He works with businesses of all sizes, from some of the world’s largest companies to small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups.

Commenting on his admission into Moore’s partnership, Greg Mallam (a board member of Moore Australia) said: “Anthony is a valuable asset to our group, with his expertise in the transfer pricing space, he has been instrumental in the development of the Transfer Pricing service line for Moore Australia.”

“His acceptance as a partner is a reflection of his persistent effort to help make our clients and colleagues thrive in a changing world. On behalf of the shareholders, I would like to congratulate him on this success and am pleased to have him join us as a senior leader at the firm.”

Across Australia, Moore has over 450 people working from 14 offices. The network generates to the tune of $80 million in fee income.

Speaking on his elevation to APAC head, Mallam added: “Anthony has demonstrated his ability to connect and liaise with contacts anywhere in the world and facilitate projects across multiple regions.” In the role, he leads Moore’s transfer pricing services across more than 25 countries, including the major economies of China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.


Independents join forces to establish cyber consultancy Sekuro

Four independent IT consultancies from Sydney – Privasec, Solista, CXO Security and Naviro – have come together to form Sekuro, which hopes to take on the big players in cybersecurity.

A new challenger has emerged in the Australian cybersecurity consulting market with the merger of four independent IT consultancies from Sydney; Privasec, Solista, Naviro and CXO Security, which boast combined revenues pushing $70 million and a headcount of close to 100 across the country. The new entity, Sekuro, aims to take on the likes of Accenture and the Big Four and compete for larger clients through an end-to-end offering.

Indeed, Robert McAdam, the former CXO Security boss who will lead Sekuro as inaugural CEO, threw some immediate shade on the bigger players when speaking to the AFR on the merger announcement. “The big four consultancies are acquiring smaller, well-established but uncompetitive, or market-tired, cybersecurity businesses to bolster their capability in terms of people and processes,” McAdam stated.

To the contrary, Sekuro says that each of its founding entities was chosen for its “quality, depth of skill and temperament” and was specialised in different areas of cyber strategy, combining to form an end-to-end player which could now bid on client projects previously beyond the scope and reach of the individual companies. This will span the cyber defence journey, from initial assessment through to capability building and network monitoring.

CXO Security was founded in 2017 to support clients with cyber-governance, advisory, compliance, penetration testing and incident response services. Privasec and Solista, both established around 2013, provide similar offerings, the latter with cloud architecture and digital CX capabilities, while Naviro (2008) is a specialist cybersecurity, cloud and digital transformation recruitment advisory. Their various founders will take up leadership roles with Sekuro.

The new company – formed through a traditional M&A process but as a pure merger sans typical buy-outs – is also backing itself in, with all four of its founding companies having previously rejected what McAdam describes as some very attractive private equity and acquisition offers from well-known players in the Australian market. The aim now is to establish a foothold, before offering up 20 percent of its holdings in an IPO on the ASX later next year.

“Today marks a pivotal moment in our journey!” said COO Romain Rallu. “In a time of rapid change, where big funds – mostly foreign – are snapping up Australian cyber security firms, we are very proud to have created our own path allowing us to go into hyper-growth whilst staying true to our values, people and clients, as well as to the care and quality that defined our four legacy brands and will continue to underpin Sekuro.”

In 2019, a group of twelve cyber security firms joined forces (with the backing of private equity) to establish CyberCX, which today has over 400 staff across Australia.