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2 December 2015


YOUNG Professionals Gold Coast was pleased to be involved in the Gold Coast Business News Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards – an event highlighting the exceptional young talent this city has to offer.

In collaboration with the news organisation, YP Gold Coast launched the Young Professional of the Year award, an award recognising those kicking big goals for the businesses they work for.

Six finalists were chosen and although they hail from different backgrounds with different experience, they all have one thing in common - they want to see the Gold Coast flourish as a world-class business destination.

All of the determined individuals listed below were finalists in the Young Professional of the Year category as part of the 2015 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, with the top gong presented to Maggie Zhang.

Maggie Zhang, 28, Greater China Business Development Manager – JLF Group of Companies

Maggie ZhangIN 2013 Maggie Zhang was headhunted by JLF Group of Companies CEO John Fitzgerald to expand his Australian operations into China. 

With a brief to source and vet potential partners in China, to help people build wealth through property investment, Zhang conducted a number of successful negotiations.

Since then, Zhang has built a team and forged a successful business venture with Chinese partners, leading to annual turnover of more than $60 million a year.

Zhang is also on a mission to forge the Gold Coast as a leading destination for Chinese tourism.

More than 100 million Chinese tourists travel abroad each year, with this number set to double before 2020.

Zhang says it is disappointing that the Gold Coast, the tourism capital of Australia, only attracts less than 1 per cent of those travellers.

“I think the key phrase for all Young Professionals is ‘embrace China’,” says Zhang.

“Chinese are good people who provide great opportunities to Gold Coast through investment, tourism and education. I see the Gold Coast being number one for Chinese tourism and education.”

To improve its prospects, Zhang says the Gold Coast needs to create a strong identity that is not reliant on tourism.

“The biggest challenge we face on the Gold Coast is establishing our identity,” says Zhang. 

“We have expanded past the ‘theme park capital of Australia’ and that is so exciting, but we need an identity that will set us apart from everyone else.

“We need to work hard to promote the Gold Coast as a secure investment region underpinned by our commitment to tourism growth and education, and with institutional banking support.”

Amanda Williams, 31, Manager Gaven Electoral Office – Queensland Parliamentary Service

Amanda Williams StandingAMANDA Williams is proving to be a woman of influence in the political arena, having executed successful media and communication campaigns for both federal and state politicians.

The young professional has spent the last three and a half years travelling to Parliament House Canberra while working as a media advisor for Karen Andrew MP and Bert van Manen MP, assisting with legislation analysis and media relations.

She now works in the office of Sid Cramp MP, Member for Gaven, where she advises on political campaign strategies and tactics to help him secure a favourable position for re-election.

Williams says she is grateful for the opportunity to live and work on the Gold Coast, but she says those opportunities are rare.

“You only have to see the flow of traffic heading north on the M1 during the working week to see how many Gold Coast professionals commute away from our city for work,” says Williams.

“I believe the Gold Coast can grow its corporate culture and provide more jobs for local professionals but we have to ensure we are putting the pressure on our city leaders to attract and drive investment into our region.

“Additionally, professionals, government representatives and community leaders alike should be campaigning for the decentralisation of the public service from the Brisbane CBD to provide more opportunities on the Gold Coast.”

Offering advice to young professionals starting a career, Williams says ‘pick your boss, not your job’.

“You will save so much time having a great mentor who believes in you and provides you with the opportunities to grow and excel in your career,” she says.

James Ledgerwood, 30, Residential Real Estate Agent – McGrath Estate Agents

James Ladgerwood YPHE IS behind the sale of some of the Gold Coast’s most prestigious properties, including a record $9.8 million achieved for a Southport home on the Nerang River.

James Ledgerwood is fast establishing a big name for himself in the real estate industry, recently being recognised in the top 10 agents within McGrath Estate Agents in Queensland. 

With a love and passion for the city, Ledgerwood says in order to grow the corporate culture and encourage more job opportunities for those wanting to work in the city, the Gold Coast needs to realise its potential.

“We need to work towards retaining the talent coming out of our universities, which are some of the best in the country,” says Ledgerwood.  “Also we need to attract large Australian and international firms to base themselves here for the long term.”

He says that while the city is focussed on the 2018 Commonwealth Games, it needs to look beyond the 10-day event.

“We need to ensure that the infrastructure legacy left by the 2018 Commonwealth Games is one that leaves our city with new opportunities into the future both from an economic and liveability stand point,” he says.

Philip Taylor, 34, Director – Sol Cleanse

Phil Taylor YPHIS background might be in architecture, but Philip Taylor is proving that a change in career and industry can be just what a professional needs.

After working for large architectural firms in London, Sydney and Byron Bay where Taylor designed, built and project managed a bunch of homes and subdivisions, he is now extending his project management skills to Sol Cleanse.

As the director of the company, Taylor is responsible for organising, managing and further establishing the wholesale branch of the juicing company, and has helped build turnover for the wholesale arm of the business to around $40,000 per month.

Although there has been plenty of discussion around diversifying the Gold Coast economy, Taylor says to ensure the future prosperity of the city, it should stick to what it does best.  

“Maintaining Gold Coasts corporate structure begins with the focus at tertiary level,” says Taylor.

“For both trades and business education, this area already has the lifestyle to provide the foundation needed with people. Now it just needs to maintain and create the opportunities.  

“I see constant growth around the city, yet the sustainability of these ventures also needs to be measured in longevity. Focus on what this city does best and do it well – tourism.”

Emily Georgopoulos, 24, Physiotherapist – Pogo Physio

Emily Georgopoulos YPEMILY Georgopoulos has managed to turn a role in administration into a thriving career in physiotherapy.

Georgopoulos started her career working on the front desk, but with a determination to fulfil her dreams, she now works as a top physio and clinical pilates instructor at Gold Coast-headquartered Pogo Physio.

She says the ultimate aim is to specialise in women, whether assisting pregnant females with exercise or assisting someone recovering from breast cancer.

“Sometimes being a young person and having older clients who doubt your knowledge due to your age can be quite challenging,” says Georgopoulos.

“It has been a great learning opportunity as how to phrase things and show my knowledge and therefore gain trust.”

Looking to the future, Georgopoulos says the city is set to face a few challenges, with the population expected to double in the next 35 years.

“I think some of the biggest challenges the Gold Coast will face over the next five years is residential capacity for everyone moving to the Gold Coast for work, especially with the upcoming Commonwealth Games, and for public transport to service more areas,” she says.

“I think extending the tram line to meet with a train station and increasing car parking so people can park somewhere and then catch the train/tram/bus will really encourage people to utilise public transport and reduce traffic and our carbon footprint as a city.”

Matthew Taulke-Johnson, 34, Senior Web Developer – iOnline

Matthew Johnson YPMATTHEW Taulke-Johnson says the city needs to establish itself as a hub for tech startups, if it wants to grow as a worldly city.

“I believe more work can be done by the community to promote the Gold Coast as a hub of innovation through attracting tech startups,” he says.

“Making the Gold Coast an attractive proposition for tech startups will bring with it more job opportunities and a modern technical focused culture which the Gold Coast needs.”

As a web developer at iOnline, Taulke-Johnson has worked with big names, including Baskin Robbins, to deliverer digital solutions.

Through his job, he has seen the impact of the lack of high speed internet and says this has an impact on investment on the Gold Coast.

 “Many companies and tech startups will choose not to settle their offices on the Gold Coast simply due to the lack of reliable high speed broadband, and will choose to migrate to larger cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.”

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27 November 2015


Investment in infrastructure projects is vital in fostering economic growth in a city.  Because of this, it is imperative that high-level community consultation is integrated at the initial planning stage for future development, to ensure our city’s future leaders will not pay for today’s spending and (potential) mistakes.  

With this in mind, Mayor Tom Tate and the City of Gold Coast recently announced a feedback campaign which will determine the path of the light rail’s third stage, indicating that the extension will move south, focusing on the area from Broadbeach to Burleigh and beyond.

While there has been debate around the second stage of the light rail, with some business leaders critically noting the route passes through ‘no-man’s land’, it is a priority of YP Gold Coast to make sure this is not the conclusion of the third stage.

YP Gold Coast is urging young professionals to get involved in the feedback campaign, which is one of the largest community consultations in the city’s history. 

The airport is the obvious end point, being the inter-state and foreign gateway for the city. The question lies with ‘how’ we get there? With so many vested parties lobbying for different routes along the Coast and through more western suburbs, the consultation is sure to raise some very viable options and some controversial debate.

The tram system is expected to travel south down the spine of the city, from Broadbeach to Burleigh, with plans for spur lines to Robina or The Spit.  However, there has already been discussion with some industry leaders suggesting it travel west of Broadbeach and connect straight to the Nerang heavy rail, via Metricon Stadium.

The Gold Coast needs a dedicated and reliable public transport system and one that leaves a legacy for the city - the community consultation process is a great opportunity for Gold Coasters to share our wish-list with current city leaders, and direct the city’s transport to the wants and needs of residents.

Ultimately, as future city leaders, it is important that we have a voice in major decisions that impact the viability and liveability of our City.

The campaign kicks off on 30 November 2015, with results of the consultation compiled early in the New Year.

YP Gold Coast will keep readers up to date with the progress of the campaign. 

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26 November 2015


THE cruise ship terminal debate has once again re-surfaced with Mayor Tom Tate unveiling his vision for the divisive project just three months before the March 19 election.

Tate envisages a pylon-type structure situated on the ocean side of The Spit which includes a floating platform to be built in the ocean with a jetty connecting the terminal and mainland.

This comes on the back of the Queensland Government’s axing of the $7.6 billion terminal at Wavebreak Island, part of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s election promise.

While YP Gold Coast is in support of growing tourism numbers, and ultimately the Gold Coast economy, its support for the cruise ship terminal project is dependent on final plans which includes the cost of the project, the environmental impact and the surrounding infrastructure initiatives.

Looking at the project as a whole, it is great for boosting tourism on the Gold Coast – it is another avenue for holiday makers to reach our wonderful city. 

It will also boost jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries, and it is expected to inject millions of dollars a year into the local economy.

If the project can be done in a cost-effective way, with limited impact on the environment, and, if hard figures are supplied that indicate it will significantly impact business and tourism on the Gold Coast, then YP Gold Coast is right behind the investment. 

Also importantly, consideration needs to be taken in regards to infrastructure surrounding The Spit to mitigate traffic and congestion issues.

The cruise ship terminal debate is not going to go away, and it shouldn’t – the Gold Coast is full of passionate people that want only the best for the city.

But, the debate needs to be civilised.  There needs to be some sort of compromise to ensure that future generations of Gold Coasters can benefit.

YP Gold Coast will continue to follow the debate, and update young professionals on the project including the pros and cons of the development. 

Do you want to see a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast?  Comment below. 

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21 October 2015


IF THE city wants to provide a sustainable economic pipeline, which provides vast and diverse opportunities to future generations of Gold Coasters, it needs a strong and supported CBD.

Suggestions of a second CBD, such as Robina or Coomera, are unmerited and only weaken the economic strength and integrity of our region, while hurting the city’s reputation as a place to do business and invest.

Southport has always been the CBD of the Gold Coast, and its position as the city’s business capital was only cemented when the state government declared Southport a Priority Development Area in October 2013. 

Since then, more than $2.5 billion in commercial, residential and industrial development has been committed to the area, showcasing the significance of having a dedicated business hub.  In addition:

  • Southport has the highest concentration of employment of any statistical division of the Gold Coast, providing 25,000 jobs, with these figures expected to grow to 60,000 by 2036. 
  • Southport has the highest amount of commercial floor space in the city, with more than 150,000sqm over close to 100 buildings.
  • Mayor Tom Tate recently predicted Southport’s current population of 30,000 will more than double by 2036.
  • Southport will be the epicenter for the Commonwealth Games, as home to the 30ha athlete’s village at Parklands and the $50 million Aquatic Centre.
  • Southport is home to the vibrant Chinatown precinct, adding a multicultural flavor to our emerging city centre.
  • Southport is home to the Gold Coast University Hospital, the G:Link which connects Southport to Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, the world-class Broadwater Parklands, and Griffith University.

Anyone who suggests that the Gold Coast doesn’t need a CBD or should have multiple CBDs, is not considering the future viability and sustainability of the city.

Business supports business, and prosperity and business confidence is created in a region when efficiencies are made and supply chains are formed.  A CBD that boasts an array of businesses and industries gives businesses the best chance at long-term sustainable growth. 

Historically, the Gold Coast’s greatest failing is its cyclical economy, with big booms and big busts, rather than other cities that experience a more stable economic pattern. For the reasons explained above, the focus on a core CBD can help ease this cycle providing more business certainty and confidence.

Ultimately, the Gold Coast’s turf wars need to end if the city wants to grow and reach its full potential.  

It shouldn’t be a question of: how can we claim the city’s CBD status? Business leaders should be asking: how can we leverage off one another to not only better our area, but also the city as a whole?

The Gold Coast is the sixth largest city in Australia and arguably the fastest growing city in the nation.  It makes sense that the Gold Coast has a strong and diverse CBD, and a CBD that is supported by all.  

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1 October 2015


INVESTMENT and development is vital if the city wants to grow and establish itself as a world-class destination.

The Spit, which is an iconic piece of real estate on the Gold Coast, is gearing up for massive transformation, with high-profile companies recognising our wonderful city as a place to lay down roots.

Sunland Group has taken a leap back into the Gold Coast high-rise market with plans for a $600 million redevelopment of Mariner’s Cove.

The vision for the tired site incorporates a major aquarium compromising three separate tanks with species from three oceans, a 1000-seat convention centre, a five-star hotel, a retail and dining precinct, a floating park and a science and arts museum which is located under a sculptured roof. 

Dubbed The Mariner, it is expected to bring in an additional 500,000 tourists to the city each year and the company says it will lay the groundwork for the city’s evolution as a world city.

Although it is yet to receive council approval, these are the sorts of projects that make the Gold Coast stand out on a world map. 

Meanwhile, Chinese billionaire-backed empire Aquis has snapped up properties across the city and launched bold plans for major developments, including an integrated resort at The Sheraton Mirage.

Labor has also given ASF its blessing to develop an integrated tourism resort and casino on a vacant 5ha site south of Sea World and north of the fisherman’s co-operative. Details of the development are yet to be finalised with ASF expected to present its initial proposal in the first quarter of 2016.

If the city wants to grow and prosper, it must embrace projects like this and invest in developments and assets that move the city forward. If it doesn't do this, the Gold Coast will remain at a standstill.

While there is still opposition surrounding the development of The Spit, these sort of projects and commitments only assist in forging the Gold Coast ahead as the Australian tourism capital and ideal residential destination. 

The Spit is wasted land in its current state and has so much more potential.  If we want to be taken seriously as a city then we need to give these developments the tick of approval and support them.    We need to embrace development and new concepts.

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30 September 2015

Ensuring the city reaches its full potential

WE live in a city that is overflowing with greatness – it is a place to raise a family and retire, it is a leading tourism destination, it has thriving education and medical hubs and, most notably, it is forging ahead as a powerhouse for business. 

But so often the Gold Coast’s corporate culture is overlooked because it isn’t a capital city. This is despite start-ups and top ASX-listed businesses choosing the Gold Coast as their stomping ground. 

Varsity Lakes-headquartered Opmantek is proving that the city can be a world leader in the technology field, recently winning a flurry of international awards including America’s favourite systems management product, ahead of computer technology giant Dell.  On top of this, its CEO Danny Maher edged out corporate heavyweights David Thodey and Alan Joyce in the 2015 Stevie Awards. 

Meanwhile, young entrepreneurs Justin Cameron and Lex Pederson are building a global empire from Burleigh Heads.  SurfStitch (ASX:SRF), the former Billabong subsidiary, has emerged as a big growth story in the retail actions sports sector and recently beat prospectus forecasts by posting a $4.1 million net profit for FY15.

The list outlining the exceptional talent the Gold Coast has to offer could go on.  But the trouble we are facing is that it is difficult to portray this side of the city, and it is often clouded by the beaches and tourist attractions.   

This isn’t to say that tourism is not vital to the economy – it most definitely is. The sector underpins the local economy to the tune of $4.8 billion, supports 8700 local tourism businesses and employs more than 35,000 full-time employees.   

However, we shouldn’t rely on tourism.  The city has everything that major cities around the world aspire to have and we need to make the most of all of our assets.

The Gold Coast is on the cusp of greatness, but investment in innovation and entrepreneurship is needed if the city wants to reach its full potential.  This is one priority for the Turnbull government. 

Secondly, we need strong economic leadership– if we get strong economic leadership at a federal level it will ultimately create a strong local economy.

And thirdly, Investment in infrastructure is vital.  Most importantly, the second stage of the light rail needs to be a priority and delivered before the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

YP Gold Coast is calling on the Turnbull government to recognise the importance of investing in vital urban infrastructure projects, which were often ignored by Abbott.

Although public transport is not a responsibility of the Federal Government, this project needs the support of all tiers of government if it is to come to fruition before 2018.

With the appointment of three Gold Coast federal members to ministry – Stuart Robert, Steven Ciobo and Karen Andrews – we have a stronger voice at a national level. 

We just need to make sure our voice outweighs those of vested minority groups that can often scream the loudest. 

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27 September 2015

Looking beyond the 2018 Commonwealth Games

THE countdown is on until the Commonwealth Games hits the shores of the Gold Coast. 

With the Games set to create more than 30,000 jobs and inject $2 billion into the economy, it is important as future city leaders that we work to ensure it leaves an overwhelming legacy for the Gold Coast, and provides opportunities well into the future. 

At present there is so much talk about the preparation of the Games and the lead-up to the event, that sometimes it seems like 2018 is the end of the road for the Gold Coast.

In reality, the Commonwealth Games is just a springboard to a more prosperous future.

As the host city, it is a unique opportunity to truly showcase the Gold Coast to the rest of the world and change the perception of our city. 

We want to prove that not only is the Gold Coast a great place to visit, but it is a city coming of age and establishing itself as a world-class destination.

We need to maximise this opportunity and ensure the 2018 Commonwealth Games is a stepping stone to economic prosperity and social enrichment.

So, what should the city do to ensure the Games realises a lasting benefit? YP Gold Coast has listed three key areas to assist in building a legacy.  We need to:

  • Develop top-class venues and facilities that don’t only cater to the athletes that will visit in 2018, but also serve a future purpose.  The Games Village is a great example of this, with it set to provide an enduring residential and knowledge precinct.
  • Invest in proper transport and infrastructure, importantly the second stage of the light rail, to ensure we can move the influx of people efficiently around our city.  We want to show a city that is easy to navigate and easy to access.
  • Encourage business partnerships locally and provide jobs locally. The city is home to so much talent and we should be utilising and promoting our assets.  We want to show that Gold Coast businesses are competitive for contracts to offer services to major projects internationally.

We only get one shot to do this right. Our international audience needs to see that we can deliver quality and inspiring events and provide opportunities for local businesses and community groups to grow. 

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Response to Gold Coast Bulletin Article: Gold Coast Cabs to launch new app against Uber and win back passengers, published 10th August 2015

Restricting Uber from operating within the Gold Coast Airport precinct and other major tourist spots is growth prohibitive and counter-productive for a city which is working to boost tourism and diversify its economy.  International and domestic tourists have come to expect the choice of using Uber. YP Gold Coast believes that enforcing a ban on Uber’s operation will make the Gold Coast less desirable as a destination, especially for Gen Y and X’s.   

The CEO of Gold Coast Cabs is reported as saying “Uber had only had a “relatively small” impact on taxi patronage” but would not provide figures.  If this is the case, then why is a ban on Uber so important to the transport service provider?

 YP Gold Coast believes that the taxi industry should be lobbying for less restrictions and responding in a positive way that acknowledges the changes customers are readily embracing, so they can be allowed to compete with Uber.  Ultimately, that is what will benefit customers and will benefit the Gold Coast.

We recognize that this is not a Gold Coast centric issue; however, due to our strong tourism drivers, urban sprawl and the geographical nature of our City, the Gold Coast must respond in a proactive way. 

YP Gold Coast commends Gold Coast Cabs on planning to introduce a new app with GPS tracking and a reduced credit card surcharge. However, there is still more to be done to be competitive with Uber.

YP Gold Coast calls for Council and Government leadership by removing cumbersome regulations (such as surge pricing) on the taxi industry which can be much better regulated by a competitive marketplace, creating nimble and responsive business sectors.  

Ride share companies are disrupting taxi businesses worldwide andYP Gold Coast has been monitoring some of the worldwide responses. Of note, Portland, Oregon has allowed ride-sharing services to operate, with some rules imposed on them including background checks for drivers, liability insurance for drivers, 24/7 operation, and "service performance measures" to pick up disabled passengers.

We believe a response in tune with allowing a competitive marketplace, whilst introducing some rules for ride-sharing companies to operate within, would create a best-practice service for Gold Coast residents and visitors.

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