11 November 2022

Time is now for Corowa trio with win at NSW Business Awards

| Oliver Jacques
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Three people on award podium

Business NSW Regional Director Anthony McFarlane and Region Riverina’s Adam Drummond present Projectura’s Karina Dooley with her award.

The director of Corowa-based consultancy Projectura, Karina Dooley, glided onto the stage to the tune of wrestler John Cena’s song The Time is Now to accept her Region Riverina-sponsored Excellence in Micro Business prize at the 2022 Murray-Riverina NSW Business Awards ceremony at the Whitton Malt House on Thursday, 3 November.

“Apologies for that song, my children chose it and I had forgotten until this morning, it made me laugh when I heard it,” she joked.

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Ms Dooley said she was thrilled to accept the award on behalf of her unique consultancy business, which was able to thrive during COVID-19 by adapting and working smarter.

“I wanted to develop a business that would enable to me to do something challenging and exciting while still living in a country area,” she said.

“We work with government, health and natural resource organisations. We aim to improve public policy and reduce social inequality … during COVID we transitioned to being a fully remote business, we don’t have a physical office anymore. During that time, we were able to double the number of awarded contracts we received during tendering.”

The Projectura director said the type of work her team did was not something people always understood. But the micro business has an impressive list of achievements. The group has developed a newcomer attraction and retention strategy for Red Cross Australia, engaged with 100,000 people across eight rural councils to devise community strategic plans, run consultation workshops for the Victorian Government, evaluated a school-to-industry pathway program and conducted strategic reviews of health services.

Ms Dooley grew up in Corowa and worked in the property sector for Lend Lease and Centro Properties Group before going into consultancy. She launched Projectura in 2014, a business that’s slightly younger than her two boys Eli (12) and Tom (10).

“Over the eight years we’ve been able to design the business to overcome problems … we have a niche of rural clients, we do rural projects so we don’t compete as much with city-based consultancies,” she said.

READ ALSO Community champions shine at 2022 NSW Riverina Murray Business Awards

At present, the consultancy has just two other staff – Brooke Hermans, a senior consultant, and Tori Cutajar, a graduate consultant. All three staff work from home. Ms Dooley said the keys to success for a remote business were trust and good communication.

“The expectation to be there in person is much less than what it was,” she said. “It was a team decision to go remotely. We meet every week … we use a lot of software to stay connected, workflow management software to keep us connected without being in the same room. I absolutely believe in a mature organisation you trust your staff and I haven’t had any problems. We are flexible. I couldn’t care if [staff] log on at 10 am and work later and do a shorter day every now and then. The important thing is we [maintain] client satisfaction and check with others in the team as part of workload management.”

Adam Drummond

Region Riverina’s Adam Drummond.

The Projectura director has some simple business advice for those who aspire to follow in her footsteps.

“Just be brave and have a go,” she said. “Don’t forget professional services and coaches, get that coaching earlier. Stay connected and network well. Always treat people well.”

Ms Dooley will now head to Sydney on Friday 18 December for the statewide finals of the NSW Business Awards.

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