Meet 2013 My Business Award Winner: Proteus Leadership

In this exclusive Q&A, we chat to Des Penny, Founder of Proteus Leadership, the 2013 My Business Awardwinner in the Best Business Leader category, sponsored by Toro Media.

In this exclusive Q&A, we chat to Des Penny, Founder of Proteus Leadership, the 2013 My Business Awardwinner in the Best Business Leader category, sponsored by Toro Media.

My Business: Why did you start your own business?
Des Penny: Initially it was out of dissatisfaction. I was a HR manager and believed that there had to be a better way to lead and manage people and so I set out to create that way.

MB:How has your business evolved since its inception?
DP: Some 20 years later we are one of the most respected learning and development companies in the country. We have moved from humble beginnings in a bedroom in Melbourne to have centres in five states across Australia. 

MB:What business challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
DP: In such a competitive and changing industry, challenges are always in front of us. But I have lived by the belief that you cannot simply be better than your competitors, because they will catch up very quickly. You must be different. So we have dedicated ourselves to providing exceptional products and services – but always with a Proteus twist. 

MB:What’s the best business decision you’ve ever made?
DP: To back myself and start the business. Although there have – and will – be many hard times, I have never once regretted the decision. 

MB:What does it mean for you to be recognised as a My Business Award winner in 2013?
DP: It is absolutely wonderful to be recognised as a My Business Award winner. Only you really understand the work that you have had to put in to keep your business going and to keep people employed, so to be recognised as Best Business Leader is an absolute thrill for me and my wonderful team.

MB: How did you find the event at Marquee at The Star?
DP: The event was great. I loved that it was a professional event but had that relaxed feeling as well. Great venue and great event!

MB: What are your most effective work habits?
DP: I love what I do, so that helps to create habits. I always set aside creative time every day to look at how we can do things better, even if they are working well. I also start early in the morning, about 0500, as that’s the time I get my best work and thinking done and it sets me up for the day. But the big one is I never ask my team to do anything I’m not prepared to do or support. 

MB: What’s your key to great leadership?
DP: The key is to have great followers. Inject your passion and vision into others so they can see where they fit in and can see the good that they do. I also believe that great leaders lead the way and are brave, but they must also be humble and learn to listen and learn themselves.

MB: Share with us some of your bigger successes.
DP: My biggest successes have been around the growth that I’ve seen in people as they join the organisation and discover the ‘unknown’. Also, the fact that against all odds and most people’s opinion I’ve grown the business. 

MB: Do you have a business motto?
DP: Yes, it ‘s what Gandhi told us to do – you must become the change that you wish to see. This has been a great motivator and challenger for everyone in the business. You don’t really believe in your dream if you’re not prepared to become it yourself. 

MB: Moving forward, how’s the outlook for your business?
DP: Over the next two years we will open up several related businesses that will allow us to provide a total solution for leaders across Australia. 

MB: Would you encourage business owners to enter the My Business Awards in 2014?
DP: Absolutely. It’s a great event and the recognition is incredibly important for people who are trying to grow and build a business.


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