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A Panel of Perspectives: "Queensland Business Growth 2010-2015"


Mr Ian Runge, Founder and Non-Executive Director of Runge Limited, Mr Nick Bonifant, Development Director at Mirvac, Mr Tom Potter, Founder of Eagle Boys and Mr Rob Whiddon, Managing Director for Trade and Investment Queensland addressed an AICC Cocktail event on Wednesday 8 December 2010 at Grant Thornton in Brisbane. This event was kindly hosted by Grant Thornton.

The GFC has demanded dramatic changes to the way we do business in Australia and in particular in Queensland.  In the last three years we have seen; an increased reliance upon the resource sector; increased focus on improved business practises; changes to the labour market and employment as well as dramatic effects to the retail and tourism industries.

This “not to be missed” Brisbane forum will provide attendees with insightful opinions and discussion from key leaders in industry around the current issues and challenges faced by the sectors locally and some of the opportunities arising for Queensland in the coming five years.

An expert speaker panel has been convened, comprising:


Ian Runge, Founder and Non-Executive Director, Runge Limited

Ian Runge is a mining engineer and economist, and is the founder of Brisbane-based Runge Limited. Runge Limited, one of the world’s largest mining technology services firms, provides mine planning services and software implementation for building and managing mining operations to many blue chip companies including BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.


For the last 20 years Ian Runge has been recognised as a leading expert in the field of mining economics and strategy, and is the author of the world-recognised textbook “Mining Economics and Strategy”. His lesser known second book “Capital and Uncertainty” closely relates to the recent proposed mineral resource rent tax debate by providing in-depth analysis of the way large investments – and particularly mining-type investments - are made.


Amongst other responsibilities, Ian Runge is also Chairman of the Brisbane Institute, a member of the Advisory Board of Queensland Leaders and is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Nick Bonifant, Development Director, Mirvac

As Development Director for Mirvac's Gainsborough Greens development, Nick Bonifant provides strategic direction, leadership, and support for the development of this billion dollar 2500 lot master planned subdivision on the Gold Coast. Nick is also the Senior Vice President of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (Gold Coast) and is a co-founder and non-executive director of Youngcare, a non profit organisation providing alternatives to young people living in aged care homes. 


In his career which spans over 20 years in the property industry in the South East and Regional Queensland Regions, Nick has held a variety of other senior positions including Executive Director of his family business, Bonifant Developments, Acquisition and Marketing Manager at Wilbow Corporation and State Acquisition and Development Manager of AV Jennings.


Tom Potter, Founder, Eagle Boys

Former apprentice baker Tom Potter opened his first pizza shop in Albury, New South Wales at the tender age of 23 years. Over the next 20 years and using a combination of radical change, innovation and at times unusual business and marketing tactics, Tom built Eagle Boys to become Australia and New Zealand’s largest privately owned home delivery and takeaway pizza franchise and the $100-million-plus business it is today.


Along the way, Eagle Boys won various National Franchising Awards and Tom was awarded with the Australian Financial Review’s Young Business Person of the Year and a scholarship to attend Harvard Business School to complete a three year Owner President Manager program, of which he graduated Class Valedictorian and gave the valedictory speech.

Tom has served on several Boards, including the Ports Corporation of Queensland, Wallace Bishop Jewellers, Brumbies Bakeries, The Board of Brisbane and a Commissioner on the AFL Queensland. Tom has also been honored as an Australia Day patron (on more than one occasion) and was inducted into Australia’s Inaugural Franchising Hall of Fame in 2003 to be recognised as one of the 20 most successful and influential franchising people in Australia.



Rob Whiddon, Managing Director, Trade and Investment Queensland


Rob Whiddon is Managing Director of Trade and Investment Queensland, following the recent merger of Trade Queensland and the Queensland Government’s investment arm, Invest Queensland. Rob was originally appointed General Manager of Trade Queensland on 7 February 2008.     

Prior to his appointment to Trade Queensland, Rob has been responsible in a number of senior Government positions including:- Chief of Staff to the former Premier of Queensland and Minister for Trade, the Honourable Peter Beattie MP; Senior Ministerial Policy Advisor to the Honourable David Hamill, Minister for Transport and Minister Assisting the Premier on Economic and Trade Development and later Minister for Education; Assistant Private Secretary and Private Secretary to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Honourable Bill Hayden.

Rob is also currently a member of a number of organisations including; Director of Australia Trade Coast; Member of the Queensland Education and Training International (QETI) Committee; Member of the Queensland China Council; Member of the Queensland Trade and Export Committee.


And moderated by Kieren Perkins, Australian Gold Medal Winner, Motivational Speaker, Coach and Banker

With 11 world records, 2 Olympic Gold, 2 Olympic Silver and more than a dozen Commonwealth and World Championship swimming medals, Kieren's sporting achievements are legendary. Since his retirement from swimming in 2000, Kieren has transferred his knowledge and experience in creating sustainable elite performance to businesses around the world, working as a partner at global firm RogenSi. He is currently the Head of Business Development and Acquisition Qld at NAB Private Wealth. Kieren is a board member of the Starlight Foundation and the ANZCA Foundation Board and was made an honorary Doctor of Philosophy by Queensland University in 2001.