Career Piece – Jacqui Duncan – BA International Business
1. Tell me a bit about yourself? My name is Jacqui Duncan, originally from Portlaoise, Co. Laois and now a dual citizen of Ireland and Australia. I hold a BA in International Business from DCU and a MSc in International Management from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
2. You’re a good bit away from home, how did you come to the decision to move to Australia and tell us a bit about that process? I have always been interested in living abroad and I recall even writing an essay about it in primary school. I think that is ultimately why I was attracted to study International Business and Languages in DCU. Before moving to Australia, I lived in Spain, United Arab Emirates and Chile for different work / study opportunities. I spent my Erasmus year in Madrid and returned after graduating from DCU to complete an internship in Digital Marketing in Seville. I then went to Abu Dhabi where I worked in Marketing for a luxury hotel chain and worked on cool projects like the Fast and Furious 7 movie activation. As part of my MSc in CEMS International Management I went to Santiago where I completed my masters.
After completing my masters, I applied for the Enterprise Ireland international graduate program which is intensely competitive and was fortunate to be placed in the Sydney office where I worked for two years. We worked on many trade missions supporting Irish companies looking to export to Australia and New Zealand. I was lucky enough to host Michael D Higgins during my first month on the job and other high profile delegates over those years. I worked in the software and services team and got to develop a sportstech strategy for Irish companies in Australia supporting their growth in the market and even got to seed the idea of a sportstech incubator between Enterprise Ireland and IRFU which has since come to fruition.
3. Talk a bit about working in startups/ business in Australia & building new networks My time in Australia has always been about supporting companies to grow and sitting in roles as an expert facilitator to open doors to create commercial opportunities. The key to doing that is through networks. At Enterprise Ireland there we had a huge Irish diaspora to tap into who were willing to meet and share their networks which is incredibly powerful. Now I lead the ecosystem team in New South Wales for Stone & Chalk, the largest innovation community in Australia. As Director of Ecosystems, my role is to assist 170+ startups and scaleups on their journeys by creating deliberate experiences that result in growth. I always say I have the best job because I am constantly meeting new people, finding ways to collaborate and connect the dots in my network to create successful outcomes.
4. Talk about the Innovation & Creativity behind your brand. Introduce your new initiative in creating a pet friendly work environment. Stone & Chalk exists to support entrepreneurs and make building a business easier. We aim to remove friction so the founders and their teams can focus on doing just that. We provide residency to innovation hubs where we take care of all of their physical space needs as well as offer strategic programs to access expertise, capital and customers.
In the last year we opened the first dedicated scaleup hub in Australia supported by the NSW government which provides 8,000 sqm of space for domestic and international tech scaleups. When we were conceptualising the hub, we were in the second COVID lockdown and we were thinking about how we could remove barriers to get people back into the office post lockdown. In recent years, competition for tech talent has been high so we wanted to make sure the scaleups could offer their teams an experiential workplace where they would want to spend time. We fitted out a bespoke prayer room and parents room so people have dedicated spaces and privacy for the moments where they need it. We also recognised that there was an increase in pet ownership over COVID and to accommodate that we created a dog friendly workplace so people can bring their furry friend to work.
5. What’s next for Stone & Chalk & Jacqui Duncan? I am excited to continue to play to my strengths to create value and impact for the startup sector, design more experiences for collaboration and build out the innovation economy in Australia. As our brand echoes, some things are written in stone while others are written in chalk so who knows how we will innovate and grow over the next few years!
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