Faces of Cairns | Together We Stand

While tourism is a driving influence in the success of our city’s economy, it’s the hard- working and dedicated business organisations and people who deserve applause for their dedication in making Cairns one of the best places on earth to live.

While we are blessed with incredible natural beauty, we are also lucky to have access to so many talented specialists across various industries.

We are so fortunate to have highly-skilled doctors and health specialists here who save us from travelling elsewhere for treatment. We have builders who design homes best suited for our tropical lifestyle and restaurants that serve our local produce in award-winning ways.
Our aviation industry is enhanced by providing education, freight services and professional helicopter services, while our lawyers, recruitment staff, brokers, travel specialists, real estate experts and small business owners all improve the top-of-the-line services that are easily accessible to all of us.

In this issue of CityLife magazine we’re proud to feature some of the city’s most devoted people and businesses. We know you’ll enjoy reading about them, just as much as we enjoyed talking with them and learning more about their daily commitment to improving the lives of us all.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Colin Neate | Neater Constructions (Q) Pty Ltd

According to Col Neate, one of Cairns longest working builders with 43 years of service to the housing and construction industry, it takes discipline and determination to endure the ups and downs of an industry where the successful share an evolving passion to be the best at what they do.

“It’s about feeling emotionally connected to your occupation as a builder, rather than just a duplicating customer,” said Col, Managing Director of the Neater Group. “I believe that cautiously watching and listening to the financial economists has provided those who are diligent with early instinct to stay on or downsize. That is paramount to success.”

Col has followed his instincts from a young age, when not long after completing his apprenticeship in 1979, he registered in 1982 with the Builders Registration Board of Queensland. For 37 years, he has assisted with the design and construction of inspiringly beautiful and stand-out enviable buildings throughout North Queensland, under the banner of Neater Constructions.

As a multi-award-winning Master Builder, Col says that it’s Neater Constructions’ disciplined team focus and attention to detail that delivers high-quality finish, which has provided continued client satisfaction and, ultimately, a fortunate and successful building company.

Should you have driven to the southern end of Lake Street lately, you would have noticed extensive remodeling works being undertaken to the entry façade of Cairns Corporate Tower.

Neater Constructions are reconstructing the appearance of the iconic building, by installing 7m-high curtainwall glazing, incorporating automated curved Dorma Doors. As an additional part of the project, the Neater team has already delivered stunning new tenant and public amenities to the ground floor as well as upgrades to the lift lobbies and tenant amenities on the upper floors of the building.

The ground floor lobby and concourse areas are being entirely remodeled as well and include a licensed restaurant and coffee shop.

Neater Constructions were appointed by the owners Garda Capital, to modernise the iconic 56m (184ft) building which houses professional suites for the top end of town. Peddle Thorp Cairns are the appointed architects to prepare the design documentation, which include stunning 3D modeling.

Neater Constructions maintenance division Q-Maint, a specialist contractor with technical expertise and contracting resources, who have implemented a comprehensive remediation and protection service to the four elevated facades of the building. This included upgrades to the building air-conditioning, fire systems, electrical, car parks and roof-top membrane.

Q-Maint were selected to work under the direction of ARUP Consulting Engineers to assist with the extensive $15million Cairns Corporate Tower remediation.

Passionate about passing on the trade to younger generations, Col has made his mark with his dedication to training more than 40 apprentices for the future of the Cairns construction industry.

According to Col, there is nothing more satisfying than helping young people achieve their trade qualification. Advising those coming through the ranks to set goals, stay focused and listen, he says.

“Don’t be disappointed with the occasional failure,” he said. “Keep going. It makes you smarter and stronger for the future.”

“It’s about feeling emotionally connected to your occupation as a builder, rather than just a duplicating customer.”

Words By Janie Mary Barton | Photo By Catherine Coombs

Neater Constructions
Ph: 07 4055 2500
Col: 0418 773 772

Nathan and Jenna Shingles | Founders, FNQ Hot Property

Get out & about

What made you start FNQ Hot Property in 2008?
We opened the business during the global financial crisis. These were difficult economic times, and we recognised sellers required a more personal real estate experience. We wanted to be agents who were more creative and driven during the negotiation process in order to achieve desired outcomes.

What makes FNQ Hot Property stand out from the others?
We have established a professional boutique approach to selling property. As an independent agency we have been able to offer a simple, flexible and effective sales and marketing strategy to our clients, which has provided something different to our clients than the typical mainstream policy and rhetoric that major franchise real estate agencies offer.

What do you like best about working in the real estate industry?
We enjoy the selling process, which allows us to work in partnership with our clients to achieve the best result. The relationships we have formed with our clients, both buyers and sellers, are certainly the most rewarding part of the journey.
How was 2018 for FNQ Hot Property and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 was an exciting year for us with six homes sold for over $1million with one of them being $2.65million, which was the highest sale for Cairns for the year, and 40 properties sold overall. 2019 started out a little slow off the mark. However, the Cairns market fundamentals are there for continued growth. Cairns would have one of the most balanced markets in Australia, which is positive for buyers and sellers. Southern buyers will continue to realise their dreams of relocating to Cairns and surrounds because of the value and lifestyle, attributes that will be here for the foreseeable future.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
We both owned several properties which we had bought and sold over the years and decided that we could provide a better service than we had received from the old-fashioned real estate mindset. It really hits home when a first home buyer who has bought through you calls you first when they have had their baby!

What do you think is FNQ Hot Property’s secret to success?
Definitely our personalised service and dedication to getting the job done exceptionally. With only either of us to deal with there can be no mistake of accountability. We are our brand, and our reputation is everything. Community is also important to us. We have always given back to our community through sponsorships, donations and supporting causes that have a direct effect locally.

What resources do you use to stay up-to-date with trends in the real estate market?
In the digital world that we live in there are so many opportunities. What works for us is opportunities from international real estate trainers and highly successful mentors, and constantly following the overall real estate market including monitoring our local market on a daily basis. Knowledge is the best resource that we have.

What qualities do you believe make an excellent real estate agent?
We really do believe having life experience with previous careers has really assisted with our operation. Jenna worked in visual marketing for a leading Australian export company prior to FNQ Hot Property, and Nathan served in the Royal Australian Navy. Honesty, hard work, always making yourself available and being ethical at every opportunity are important.

How do you balance work and family life?
It is not easy. However, real estate does offer some flexibility that other careers do not. Real estate is the career that the more you put in the more you get out of it. We can rest in retirement one day!

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Keep overheads as low as possible, allowing more options when offering a tailored service to our sellers. Cherish and reward your referral base.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a career in the real estate industry?
Get out and about. Be social and network at business events. Tell people what you do as everyone loves to talk about their real estate. Work hard, be honest and absolutely always be available.

What do you do outside of work?
Spend time with family and friends. We make time for this.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
We love Cairns because it has so much to offer. It is small enough to get to know a lot of people and yet big enough to have plenty of things to do. If you want to start a business in Cairns and work hard and offer first-class service, you will have a high chance of succeeding.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

FNQ Hot Property
2 Ragamuffin Quay, Trinity Park
Ph: 0416 254 730

Charmaine Saunders | Co-owner Mainie

Why did you launch Mainie in 2015 and how has it grown since?
The Mainie start-up involved three years of market research, product trials and business planning. When we launched in 2105, we knew had the right product for the right market. Our sales revenues have increased five fold from our first year of trading to the last financial year.

What do you think is Mainie’s secret to success?
We are market leaders because we can reliably supply a better product than our competitors. Mainie not only makes fashion that looks good, we do good too. We embrace Fair Trade ethics and support Aboriginal women artists in remote communities to earn an income and preserve their traditional culture. Mainie proves small businesses in regional Australia can successfully compete in national and international markets.

How was 2018 for Mainie, and what’s the forecast for 2019?
In 2018, we achieved strong growth across our B2C and B2B operations. Our wholesale revenues alone increased by over 100 per cent. In 2019, we will increase the number of our stockists, grow our conference gift and corporate uniform business and improve our eCommerce capacity. We will also open an art gallery at our Scott Street premises.

With all artwork featured on your products from Aboriginal owned and controlled arts centres, how much travel is involved in visiting these centres?
We make annual visits to Central Australia. Most of our artworks are sourced from the Warlukurlangu Artists at Yuendumu, an Aboriginal community about three-hours’ drive from Alice Springs.

How do you source your artists?
We ethically source our artworks from Aboriginal owned arts centres in accordance with the Indigenous Art Code.

How many artists do you work with and where do they come from?
We have purchased and licensed artworks by over 20 Aboriginal artists from the Northern Territory and Queensland.
What do you like best about your job?
I love being inspired by the people who believe in our Mainie vision. Our staff, customers, artists, shareholders, and our many supporters from across the Cairns community are the reason we succeed.

How many different products and designs do you have?
We have over 50 product lines featuring 38 art designs. We also sell original artworks from Aboriginal art centres in the Northern Territory.

How is the online component of the business working for Mainie?
Our eCommerce business component is of vital importance as it allows us to sell globally.

What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Put more into your business than you take out.

What advice would you give to others wanting to start their own business?
Surround yourself with smart people who believe in what you are doing.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Mainie Australia
Cairns Central Shopping Centre
Ph: 4032 2186

Chris Pigott | Business Manager, Cairns Aviation Skills Centre (CASC)

Why did you join CASC in 2005?
I joined because I am a great believer in quality aircraft engineering training and growing the aviation industry by supplying quality trained students for the aviation industry. I became an apprentice aircraft engineer in NSW when I was 17 and have held many senior aircraft engineering positions over the years, including being the director of engineering for three regional airlines.

What does your role at CASC entail?
My role as business manager has me managing the training operations for FNQ, the Northern Territory and the Asia Pacific region.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Working with true aviation professionals and being part of the aviation industry.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
I have always been passionate about aviation and my passion has seen me travel all over the world as part of my career.

How many apprentices does CASC put through each year?
We train around 40 full-time local Certificate IV Mechanical and Avionics students, 40 Certificate II high school students and 40 apprentices. From the Northern Territory we train 45 apprentices and 27 Certificate II high schools students.

How was 2018 for CASC and what do you see for 2019?
2018 for us was extremely busy and 2019 will be busy as well due to the recent State Government funding announcement for a $10million dollar manufacturing hub in Cairns. Part of this hub will be the establishment of an aircraft composite repair and overhaul facility that will greatly enhance the aviation industries’ capabilities in Cairns.

What do you think are the advantages of having a career in the aviation industry?
A career in the industry is a global career and well paid. The Boeing aircraft company’s latest forecast shows the Asia Pacific region having 2.5 jet deliveries a day for the next 20 years. The industry will need an additional 242,000 aircraft engineers to service and maintain them.

How important do you think the aircraft repair and maintenance industry is to Cairns?
It is very important to Cairns as it attracts aircraft owners from all over the world to bring their aircraft here for servicing.

What do you do outside of work?
I spend time with my family and my weekends are usually taken up by riding my motor bike, relaxing on the beach or taking my Alfa Romeo Spider for a drive up the coast.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The lifestyle. Cairns is a fantastic city to live in, not too big yet not too small and has direct flights to every capital city in Australia.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Cairns Aviation Skills Centre
1 Tom McDonald Drive, Cairns Airport
Ph: 4034 8101

Aaron Finn | CEO, Nautilus Aviation Pty/Ltd

What made you decide to join Nautilus Aviation in 2012?
It was just by chance really. I was doing a little bit of weekend flying for Chris Morris and his Orpheus Island transfers when he asked me to join him on a full time basis, I wasn’t sure at the time but it’s turned in to one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.

How was 2018 for Nautilus Aviation and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 was a year of consolidation and minor expansion, we’ve had some great people join our team and we’ve watched our systems evolve and our standards rise. 2019 will see our staff increase to over 90 people and the implementation of new contracts in Qld and the Northern Territory

As you celebrate Nautilus’ 26th birthday this year, what do you think its secret to success is?
As with any business you need to be prepared to listen to what your clients want and embrace change.The key to all successful businesses is the people they employ, we’ve got some great people

Where does your passion for the aviation industry come from?
Aviation is a challenging environment, it constantly keeps you on your toes and you need to find solutions on the run, this is what I enjoy the most

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
You need to know how your business works at grass roots level and have a hands on approach, whether its sweeping the floor or emptying the bins, know how its done and you can honestly relate with your employees when they come to you for advice.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Not knowing what will happen as soon as I walk in the door, every day has it’s new challenges or achievements

What’s a typical day at work like for you (if there is such a thing as a typical day at work for you!?
Honestly there isn’t a typical day, I just enjoy being busy

What do you do outside of work?
Camping, fishing, family and friends

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The climate and the relaxed vibe

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Cairns Base
Hangar 9, Bush Pilots Ave, General Aviation,
Aeroglen QLD 4870
Ph (07) 4034 9000

Graham Koch | Founder, KIB Insurance Brokers

When did you start KIB and how has it grown since then?
I started in the insurance industry in 1974 and ended up being the Cairns branch manager for a life insurance company in the late 80s. In 1992, my wife Janet and I started what has gone on to become KIB Insurance Brokers.

What makes KIB stand out from other insurance brokers and financial planners?
We are a bit of a one-stop shop as we do all classes of insurance – personal and business lines.

How was 2018 for KIB and what’s the forecast for 2019?
We have had a fairly busy 2018. The year ahead is predicted to be an interesting one due to possible changes brought about by The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. Whatever changes that brings, our clients will always still need advice on managing risk in their business and personal life.

What do you think is KIB’s secret to success?
We always have our clients’ best interest in mind and will recommend covers we feel they need even if they haven’t thought of it. The main benefit of insurance is transferring risk from yourself to an insurance company, and this is something I always keep in mind when advising clients.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
I went to a conference years ago and I remember one keynote speaker coming out on to the podium and saying he was going to give us all three secrets to business success and to get pen and paper ready to write them down. There was a lot of noise from the audience as they got ready and then he told us: 1- See people; 2 – See people; 3 – See people. I am sure no matter what business you are in, if you or your staff are not constantly communicating with customers and prospective customers, you are probably stagnating at best.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a career in your industry?
These days you need qualifications, so get a relevant degree before you start.

What do you like best about working in this industry?
The social aspect, talking to clients and other business people.

What’s the most satisfying aspect of your job?
Getting a good result for someone who has a claim.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I have been a Rotarian for nearly 40 years and that is a main interest, along with chairing the Dr Edward Koch foundation. I am quite proud of the work being done there, mainly in mental health, first aid and suicide prevention.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

KIB Insurance Brokers
606 Bruce Hwy, Woree
Ph: 4054 8300

Megs Walker | Managing Director/Lead Agent, The Industry Estate

What made you decide to start The Industry Estate in 2017?
I had a vision to create a premium brand with quality marketing and service at an affordable price. Having my own agency where I can control and create this was where I saw the next step in my career. Since making this decision, I have never looked back, and my team and I are extremely excited for what the future holds.

What makes The Industry Estate Agents stand out from the others?
Our aim is to be the best real estate agency in the Cairns greater region and provide the highest level of customer service to our clients whilst achieving premium results and maintaining upmarket branding – all at an affordable price.

What do you like best about working in the real estate industry?
The challenge it creates on a daily basis and the growth I have experienced on a business and personal level that only this industry could have brought out in me.

How was 2018 for The Industry Estate and what’s the forecast for 2019?
We set a goal and target for our company in 2018, and under training and guidance from our coach who is the number 1 Realestate coach in the world, we exceeded our expectations and goals. Our forecast for 2019 is growth, training and continuing to uphold premium customer service and experience.
Where does your passion for the industry come from?
From starting as a receptionist in my dad’s real estate office at the age of 18, I was lucky enough to find my passion early in life and have continued to grow, learn and help as many people as I can with their property needs and transitions in life.

How has your team grown since you started the business?
We started with a team of two, and in 12 short months have grown to a team of 12.

What do you think is The Industry Estate’s secret to success?
Consistency within our brand, marketing strategies and upholding a creative and supportive office environment, with continual international training systems to ensure we are always at the forefront of Realestate trends and technology.

Working in the real estate industry often involves working weekends and nights. How do you balance work and family life?
I’m still yet to find a happy balance, I’ll keep you posted. At the moment I’m concentrating on growing and sustaining a young business.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
I get to work with my best mates everyday.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The tropical lifestyle it offers me and my family. I’m a frog and don’t like the cold.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

The Industry Estate
11C Johnston Street, Stratford
Ph: 4055 1551

Joanna Magee | Director and clinician, AUDiOHEALTH

How long have you been part of the family-owned businesses?
Our family were all involved in one way or another since the 1960s. My father ran an Audiology Practice in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a child of 10, I sometimes went to work with him on a Saturday morning. I loved helping out his clients with their hearing devices. I would clean them, do retubes and fit batteries. This is where I learned my love of ‘service’.

What stands AUDiOHEALTH apart from others in the same industry?
I believe service and innovative products. The successful formula of combining old-fashioned service with the latest state-of-the-art technology saw our clinics in Sydney win awards and experience enormous growth. We are an independent clinic able to source and offer any product that is available and not aligned with any one manufacturer.

How was 2018 for AUDiOHEALTH and what’s the forecast for 2019?
This year we look forward to assisting even more people experience life with better hearing.

Last year we opened a full-time clinic in Atherton offering a local service for people living on the Tablelands, and it has been welcomed and embraced by the community. We’ve invested in the latest state-of-the-art technology and our clinical support team have been up-skilled offering in-house servicing on any brand of hearing device.
What do you like best about going to work every day?
I love helping people! It is very fulfilling. I am passionate about what we do, how we do it and the results derived from our efforts. People come back with stories of how their life has changed and they are happier and more fulfilled. What could be better than doing this on a daily basis?

Where does your passion for the wellbeing of others come from?
To me it is a very natural way of being. By nature, I am a people person, a problem solver and an ideas person. I don’t see problems, I see challenges and that keeps me fresh.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love a great meal, cooked exquisitely, with fine ingredients and with great care or skill.

I also enjoy making things happen. It may be doing a permaculture class, then planning and making a sanctuary for white-lipped treefrogs or setting up a collaborative space for learning, engaging others.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
It’s the environment. After an overseas trip I turned the corner into Palm Cove Esplanade and wondered why I had even left! It is a unique place of wonder and attracts some very special people. There’s always more to explore, learn and grow from.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

1/125 Grafton St, Cairns city
3/3 Cook St, Atherton
Ph: 1800 301 231

Nettie Herselman | CEO, Good Start to Life (GSL)

When did GSL start and why?
GSL is a local provider of specialist disability services to children, young people and their families living with disability. The organisation was established by Lyndsey and Rudolf Kotsch with the aim of providing integrated and coordinated regional services, capable of meeting the needs of local families to give them a good start to life!

How long have you been with GSL, and what made you join?
I joined GSL in August 2012 as practice Coordinator. New to country and Cairns, I was fortunate to have been provided with the opportunity by Lyndsey. Seven years later, I’m still here and loving every minute of it.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
The variety my day offers me. Constant interaction with people and families, the buzz of potential around every corner and the ability to work autonomously would have to be up there as ‘bests’ too!

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Working and growing in an innovative and clever environment where value, initiative and talent is celebrated and motivated, and having the ability to contribute to others having a good start to life.

What do you think is GSL’s point of difference from other providers of special services to people with a mental or physical disability?
We listen! To families, to our community and to our clients. Tailor made and bespoke in nature, our services are moulded and shaped to fit the varying needs of our participants.

How was 2018 for CSL and what’s the forecast for 2019?
Sobering! Full NDIS roll out occurred in July 2018. We found ourselves in an open market with a pre-determined fee structure, a very different landscape for sure. Now, eight months into the new world of disability service delivery we are stronger and more focussed than ever before. Looking forward, we are actively improving our agility in this market sector, ensuring we continue to remain community responsive.

What main messages would you like to share about people with a mental or physical disability?
Come for a chat, we’ve got you!

What do you like about living in Cairns?
The sense of community and, of course, the best of both worlds – rain forest and reef! We are living in paradise.

What do you do outside of work?
I love the outdoors, camping, cooking, a bit of painting and I write – poems and life experiences. Watch this space for memoirs of a South African expat living in paradise!

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

1/196 McCormack St, Manunda
Ph: 4031 0123

Nicolas Devic | Owner, C’est Bon French Restaurant

C’est Bon is turning 16 years old this year. What do you think the secret to its success is?
We are offering what we believe should be served, but also listening to our clients who are the locals. Having their favourites is everything to us.

How was 2018 for C’est Bon and what’s the forecast for 2019?
Steady in 2018. Which gave us the opportunity to think about what we can do for 2019. We reinforced what we had in place and implemented a few changes to adjust to the market. Very high hopes for 2019. I am very confident.

What makes C’est Bon stand out from other restaurants in Cairns?
First of all, the cuisine. We are the only French restaurant in the region. We care about people’s experience and make sure they leave happy, so they come back for more.

Any changes planned for 2019?
Yes, big time. Seven days trade breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are also working on an after-work menu from Monday to Friday.

Where did your passion for the industry come from?
I love eating and cooking, but watching others enjoying what you have just prepared is extremely satisfying. I have always known that is what I wanted to do.

What do you like best about working in the restaurant industry?
It’s the people. I love the interaction, the social aspect, seeing people having fun as a group, watching the romance happening, a business lunch being conducted or a family with kids digging into the food they wouldn’t normally eat. I love seeing my team working well together, and it makes me happy when customers are commenting on how pleasant it is to see the staff being happy working for at C’est Bon. We are in an industry that delivers good news and happiness. We only harvest smiles. And when something doesn’t go to plan, turning the situation around is very satisfying and rewarding.

Do you use much local produce? If so, why?
Beside a few exceptions, like some wines and cheese, yes. It is easier to access and you can have a better relationship with the producer. Also, you cut any middle man, so it is a win-win for everyone. For our new breakfast menu, we are using pasture eggs from a local business located in Deeral called Hansons Hill Hens. Terri-Lee, the owner, was approached by us a few months ago to see if they could come on board to be our egg suppliers for the breakfast menu. The condition of her hens and eggs are beyond excellent. In fact, the hens are racing towards you to get picked up and have a pat. We have also ruled out any packaging with the delivery of the eggs. We use specially designed crates that we return upon every delivery. No wastage is produced, which is a plus.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
We are doing what we love so it makes it fun. Our staff are amazing. We always try to recruit the right people who can fit into the team as much as possible. We have people from any demographic and walk of life, but we all get along very well, and it is a pleasure to witness on a daily basis. Big credit to them. I am proud of them.

What do you do outside of work?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a great deal of time off, but spending time with my family and pets is what I usually do. We will travel and enjoy a calmer life when we retire!

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
While it is not perfect, it is pretty close. Watch the news around the world, travel around, step back a little and you quickly realise it is a very pleasant place to live in.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Ces’t Bon French Restaurant
20 Lake Street, Cairns City
Ph: 4051 4488

Chenoa Daniel | Resort Brokers, Far North Queensland

When and why did you decide to work for Resort Brokers?
After a few years into running the family resort in Cairns, I started my own consultancy and relief management business, specialising in management rights, and when Resort Brokers approached me in 2016 to join their team, it was a natural progression for me.

What stands Resort Brokers apart from others in the same industry?
Resort Brokers Australia has a proven track record of sales success stretching from Brisbane to Broome, Tasmania to the Top End and beyond Australia’s shores.  The company is uniquely licensed in all states and territories.

How was 2018 for Resort Brokers and what’s the forecast for 2019?
The Cairns economy is looking strong with the Crystalbrook Collection and Nova City projects underway, the city’s beautification projects and new investment opportunities continue to flow the region. There has never been a more exciting time for savvy investors to buy in Cairns. I had a record year in 2018 completing in excess of $36 million in management rights sales, which I think is a remarkable achievement for a relatively new broker operating in challenging economic times.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
I absolutely love mixing my work with the tropical lifestyle in Far North Queensland, and as a new mum I realise how fortunate I am to have chosen a career that I am passionate about which blends work-from-home flexibility, complex negotiations and the excitement of closing deals.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
I have been entrenched in the industry for over 10 years and can see how lucrative and sensible a home-based accommodation business can be. As the youngest female working in the industry nationally, I have a different approach compared to others. In my view, both buyers and sellers need to be understood and provided with exceptional service. With technology, people are more connected and more informed than ever, making them much savvier.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Remember that failure is a comma, not a period, and always make sure you take advice from someone who’s going in the same direction as I am.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
I absolutely love Far North Queensland and the tropical lifestyle so, with my management rights background, I’m very well placed to help people enter the industry here. When I’m not working, I will be with my family fishing on the Great Barrier Reef or relaxing at one of the beautiful local beaches.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Resort Brokers
Ph: 0428 499 620

Kristen Lowis | Resort Brokers, Far North Queensland

When and why did you decide to work for Resort Brokers?
Tourism is a $25 billion industry in Queensland, and I wanted to be part of it. With a long and successful career in small business sales, I joined Resort Brokers, Australia’s network of more than 40 specialist brokers who have experience, insight and superior analytical skills in the accommodation industry. But it was Chenoa’s energy, enthusiasm and savviness that made it easy to join the team.  We come from similar backgrounds and both of us value honesty and integrity, and we both work hard to educate and support the accommodation industry in Far North Queensland.

How was 2018 for Resort Brokers and what’s the forecast for 2019?
As a result of the banking Royal Commission, we will see a degree of credit tightening and a more cautious approach by banks which means that we need to let the market be our guide. This just means that it is more important than ever that buyers and sellers have the advice, help and experience of industry professionals (like us) in orchestrating successful outcomes.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Living and working in tropical Far North Queensland is pinch-worthy and so rewarding. On any given day, I am driving past a beach, walking into a luxurious resort foyer or meeting with savvy business-minded people who are wanting to buy or sell a business.
Where does your passion for the industry come from?
I have not only started, grown and sold my own businesses, I have had the privilege to represent hundreds of other business sales as a business broker. I have seen just about every story of success of failure and learned many lessons along the way.

What brought you to Cairns?
After selling my Townsville-based broking firm (NQ Business Sales), I moved to Cairns and joined the Resort Brokers team to provide a professional and first-class service to buyers and sellers of management rights, motels, backpackers and caravan parks.

What do you do outside of work?
I travel to see my daughter in Townsville at least once a month.  I am an avid reader and writer.  Through my company (Zoom in Business) I have published a series of workbooks on how to buy, grow, value and sell a business, and I am currently writing a book for teenagers on understanding the business of business.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
I love the rich and diverse culture that seamlessly mixes locals and tourists. There are so many mountains, beaches, tidal wetlands, freshwater swimming holes, fishing spots, festivals and events to offer a lifetime of memories – especially as a local.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Resort Brokers
Ph: 0428 499 620

Carla Gray | Owner, LOOT Homewares

When did you take over the ownership of LOOT?
I purchased Loot Homewares Smithfield in 2008.

Have you always had a passion for homewares?
My passion has always been in retail. I started working in the field when I was 15 years old. When I was 18, I attended The Sydney Institute of Technology, where I studied Visual Merchandising. I then travelled overseas and on my return to Australia I landed my dream role, as a Business Support Representative for Kodak. I left Sydney in 1995 and spent the following eight years in Regional and National Management roles in the retail sector.

How was 2018 for LOOT and what’s the forecast for 2019?
Loot 2018 was our highest sales year ever. 2019 year to date is even better, so we are right on track to achieving our goals. We have just launched our website, and although still in its infancy, it is proving to be successful (www.trendindoor.com.au).

What do you think the secret is to LOOT’s success?
Our position opposite Bunnings is extremely convenient. Our product mix is eclectic, and of high quality. Our importing has been hugely successful, all of our timber furniture is non-mass produced and Plantation. We offer a huge range of colour timber options, which is also quite a unique option. Our customers can actually pick their piece of furniture and choose the finish.
What sets LOOT apart from other homeware stores?
I am not sure as we don’t compare ourselves to other stores. We are fully focussed on growing and working on our own business. Many people have assumed that we are a franchise, but this is not the case. Our store is independent, locally owned and operated.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
I love the ever-changing environment of homewares. I am literally working in dream job. Our customers are amazing! The store is gorgeous, and I am lucky enough to work with a fantastic team.

What do you do outside of work?
Like most working mums, I am busy with my family, house work, exercising and socialising. I also love lazy nights watching Netflix and am guilty of playing my music way too loud! I really enjoy seeing live music.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
It’s the beauty. I never seem to tire of the mountain views and the fact that we can walk around the corner and be on the beach. I love how laid-back Cairns is and our sense of community. Also, I have a great respect for how small businesses seem to support other small businesses. It is the best environment to raise a family.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

LOOT Homewares Smithfield
2 Mount Milman Dr, Smithfield
Ph: 4038 2061

Dr Suki Ahluwalia | Founder, Coral Sea ENT

When did you open Coral Sea ENT, and why did you decide to go into private practice?
I opened in 2016 because I wanted to provide a more personalised and comprehensive service to my patients.

Where did your passion for being an ear, nose and throat specialist come from?
When I was a medical student in London, I observed an ENT surgeon treating patients using his skills and instruments and realised that in ENT, I could treat both children and adults with operations of great diversity using endoscopes and microscopes and still doing big open surgeries.

How was 2018 for Coral Sea ENT and what’s your forecast for 2019?
2018 was a great year, we opened our new rooms on the corner of Lake and Upward streets, have employed more local staff and started an Audiology service. We hope to treat more patients in 2019

What do you think Coral Sea ENT’s point of difference is from other specialists in the same field?
We strive to provide an excellent service and engage with our patients, through every member of our team ,and we are all Cairns locals.

You’ve expanded your team since you opened Coral Sea ENT. What do you think the practice’s secret to success is?
We do our best for each and every patient, and everyone works hard. There’s a great team spirit and we enjoy a great working environment.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
I like meeting new people, working out their problems and then providing a surgical solution.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the ENT field?
It’s very hard work and demanding but worth it every single day. Learn as much as you can from as many surgeons as possible during the training years.

How do you keep up with the technical advances in the ENT field?
I attend national and international courses and conferences every year, alongside researching and reviewing journal articles.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your career?
Treating patients with difficult problems, often with straightforward operations that have dramatic results.

Where are you from and what brought you to Cairns?
I’m from England, trained in London but born in a small seaside town called Cleethorpes, a bit like Cairns but without the sunshine!

What do you like to do outside of work?
I like driving exotic cars, being out in the ocean, scuba diving and strumming my guitar.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The diversity of not only the people here, but also the natural beauty of the surroundings and our amazing wildlife. Having travelled extensively around the globe, I think Cairns is the most beautiful place in the world, and I’m very happy to call it home.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Coral Sea ENT
Suite 2, 193 Lake St, Cairns
Ph: 4232 4911

Damien Swain | Founder, Alpha Cargo Solutions

When did you start Alpha Cargo Solutions and why?
I started it in 2008. I wanted to provide an exceptional level of industry knowledge through expertise of key staff and familiarisation of the local market. These factors in correlation with pricing structure, service level and world industry contacts have since established Alpha Cargo Solutions on the local, international and domestic market and facilitates continued sales growth and company expansion.

What stands Alpha Cargo apart from other custom brokers?
We pride ourselves on personal attention to each business. Customers deal directly with the broker. It is a more personalised service where we take the time to understand a customer’s business and provide genuine solutions to assist them, as opposed to being bounced around multiple staff where they are “just another number”.

How was 2018 for Alpha Cargo and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 was a great year, and we are excited about the increase in automation across all industries that will lead to greater efficiencies in supply chain management.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
The knowledge that we are genuinely assisting local businesses.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
Former employees and industry associates that provided me a wealth of knowledge and mentoring. Gentlemen such as Kevin Singleton, Chris McMahon and my father Des.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Be the first through the door and the last to leave.

What do you think is Alpha Cargo’s secret to success?
Respect for our clientele. Their business is our responsibility.

What do you do outside of work?
I am currently the president of the Barron Trinity Bulls Rugby Union Club. I also enjoy travelling, hiking and fishing.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The access to an amazing natural environment.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Alpha Cargo Solutions
77 Mansfield St, Earlville
Ph: 4033 5535

Maryanne Tranter | CEO, Vocational Partnerships Group (VPG)

How was 2018 for VPG and what’s your forecast for VPG in 2019?
2018 was a year of opportunity for VPG – we redefined our strategic goals and purpose, we expanded our servicing footprint and we exceeded our youth employment targets by 20 per cent. 2019 is an election year, and VPG will need to be nimble and adaptable to potential changes in program funding directions and commissioning.

Where does your passion for helping young people come from?
I started with VPG by chance. I was not long out of uni and the idea of helping young people develop their aspirations appealed to me. It was a good match, as VPGs values and purpose align with my strong social justice principles. I think working with children/youth affords us a unique opportunity to shape our future communities, and I’m passionate about creating opportunities for them to succeed.

What do you think VPG’s point of difference is to other similar organisations?
VPG is an advantaged thinking organisation – we focus on identifying and developing the aspirations, skills and capabilities of young people so they can establish sustainable lives. Disadvantaged thinking defines people by their problems and focuses on building services to manage those barriers. We believe that by making a positive investment in young people we focus on developing their assets and on co-creating solutions to enable them to achieve independent adulthood.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
I look forward to seeing our team every day; we laugh, we work hard, we make a difference,
we have fun.

What is a typical day like for you?
No day is typical at VPG. The variety of work, location and challenges of the role makes every day an adventure.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Stand-up paddle-boarding, hiking and gardening.

What do you like best about living in Yungaburra?
I love the village feel, the rolling open countryside and outdoor activities whilst being easily accessible to Cairns.

What’s the best business advice you have received?
Staff are our greatest asset. Hire the best people, give them the framework and tools to achieve and get out of their way.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Maryanne Tranter
CEO, Vocational Partnerships Group (VPG)

Deb Johnstone | Transformational Life and Business Coach | NLP | Dynamic Mindset

When did you start Transformational Pathways Australia and why?
I started my coaching practice in 2012 and renamed it to Transformational Pathways Australia in 2013. I was quickly approaching 50 when I started, my sons were grown men and I needed new purpose. I wanted to do more meaningful work, where I could really make a difference.

What stands Transformational Pathways apart from other coaches and NLP practitioners?
I am a fully accredited life coach, NLP Practitioner and EDISC consultant and trainer. It’s important to me to be in full integrity, so I do continuous study and I walk my talk.

Sustainable change and achievement is about developing ourselves and becoming who we need to be first. I use my career and life experience, professional knowledge, skills and my intuition to help business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs transform their life, business or career. Essentially I help them hear their own voice clearly and develop their thinking so they can create sustainable change and achieve what they want from the inside out.

How was 2018 for Transformational Pathways and what’s the forecast for 2019?
Last year was filled with new opportunities. It was a maintain year in some ways too, building and improving on the things I have already accomplished. 2019 will be a year of change for me. I have some really cool plans but you will have to wait and see.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Everyday is different! I get to connect with some incredibly courageous people. Some sessions can be challenging and some are filled with laughter and celebration. I love my clients and I learn from them too. Other days I network and work on my business. I love the variety, freedom and flexibility my work gives me.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
I was a very quiet and shy child. I found it hard to speak up and was bullied at school. The change training I have done has transformed me. I now love to speak on stage to a crowded room. Something I would never have dreamed of before. I am living proof that anything is possible and that’s why I am so passionate about my work with others.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
“There is always a way”. Even though I’ve never been one to give up easily, this advice has made me even more committed, persistent, flexible and willing to do what it takes.

What do you do outside of work?
Exercise and spiritual rituals everyday. Beach lounging, reading, personal development. Family dinner catch ups. Holidays. Social stuff like lunch/dinner, drinks with friends. Date nights and ride on the back of my boyfriends bike (probably not enough of that last one!)

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The outdoor beach lifestyle.
The winter months are divine.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Deb Johnstone
Transformational Life and Business Coach | NLP | Dynamic Mindset

Vlasta Eriksson | Founder and recruitment specialist, Signature Staff

Why did you start Signature Staff?
I believed there was a need to supply quality hospitality personnel to the region and since my background was in hospitality and I was also passionate about the industry, I thought I could add value to the region.

As you celebrate Signature Staff’s 21st birthday this year, what do you think has been the secret to its success?
Simple perseverance, determination, hard work and never losing sight of the big picture. I am passionate about small to medium size enterprises (SME) because they are doing it tough and don’t have the same resources as larger enterprises. To be able to give a local business an advantage over the big brands with their staffing, whether it’s recruiting, onboarding, HR or WHS related functions, gives me enormous pleasure.

What stands Signature Staff apart from other recruitment agencies?
We are a complete workplace solution provider because we believe that it’s not just about recruitment it’s also about the way businesses onboard, manage, train and look after their staff health and wellness. A business is good as its people, and we help business owners to achieve just that.

How was 2018 for Signature Staff and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 has been up and down as it was the last few years, some great wins and some challenges. 2019 started with a bang on full throttle. We set the foundation in 2018 for this year, and we are off and running. 2019 is looking positive for us as it should do for many business owners in our region.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Connecting with people from different walks of life and being able to match the right candidate to a business is a huge bonus.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
As I mentioned, my passion is SME, who have been doing it tough in our region, and my love for people. If I can contribute in a positive way and combine business and people together it makes it worthwhile.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Failure is not a failure; it’s an opportunity to grow and learn.

What do you do outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with family and friends, jumping on social media and exploring the Far North and all it offers.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
What is there not to like? I am very fortunate and grateful that I visited Cairns many moons ago and stayed.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Signature Staff
345 Sheridan Street
Ph: 4050 3838

Patty Poutanen | Your Personal TravelManager

When did you go into partnership with TravelManagers, and why?
I became a self-employed mobile travel business owner in partnership with TravelManagers in June 2016. After working for a corporate company for 16 years I decided to take this step because I wanted to be in control of my business. Being self-employed enables me to offer a truly personal service that is tailored to my clients.

What do you think is TravelManager’s secret to success?
TravelManagers has exceptional partner supplier agreements with all the major travel providers and without the overhead costs of traditional retail travel agencies, I receive the best deals. They provide support in various ways, for example in marketing. TravelManagers are members of IATA, AFTA, ATAS, are insured by an audited client trust account and are fully licensed and insured.

What stands a Personal Travel Manager apart from other travel agents?
I will come to clients at home, work or even to their favourite café at a time that best suits them. I also have an office that I operate from three days a week. I offer a full travel service and specialise in a number of areas including airfares, tours, cruising, accommodation and travel insurance. Also, if something unexpected happens while you are away, I am on hand 24/7 to help sort everything out. Having me as your personal travel manager is just like having a personal trainer or hairdresser, you trust a professional who can ensure that you’re making the best decisions with your travel.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
I love that my office varies. It could be at home, cafe, someone’s home or by the side of a pool! I enjoy turning people’s travel dreams into reality, with dedication in making worldwide travel arrangements as convenient and as flexible as possible. I have 19 years’ experience and can give the best recommendations from personal experience and passion for travel. Piecing together all the intricacies that come with the travel puzzle is my speciality!

Where does your passion for travel come from?
When I was 11 my parents took us to Italy to visit family who they hadn’t seen in two decades. I was taken in by the surroundings and the people and their culture. Pen-pals from around the would send me postcards of where they lived and places they would visit. I still have all those postcards. That interest and intrigue grew to passion when I got into the travel industry.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The lifestyle here, and it’s a fantastic place to raise a family.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Patty Poutanen, Personal Travel Manager
Ph: 0427 786 500

Dr Neil Gordon | Founder, Cairns Urology

Why did you start Cairns Urology in 1997?
I had been in practice for eight years and was ‘head-hunted’ to come to Cairns. At that time there were no urologists working at Cairns Base Hospital (now called Cairns Hospital), so after coming up to visit and see what Cairns was all about, my wife and I decided to move. We had four young children and so we looked at the education, community and overall facilities for sport and, of course, an international airport. All the children completed courses at JCU in their chosen fields and all have careers. You can’t complain about that! It was really all about the opportunities that are there for everyone.

As Cairns Urology celebrates its 22nd birthday this year, what do you think its secret to success is?
I think that it is that people have always been treated with respect and that their care and management has always been carried out in a personal way. No-one wants to be unwell, but they want to be treated in a timely manner and not have to wait months or years for care. It’s not ‘one size fits all’. People usually want to be around for a good time and a long time. Tests and treatments should not be worse than the condition needing care.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
The best thing is being able to help sort out the patients’ conditions and being able to work with staff at Cairns Urology and also the team at Cairns Day Surgery where I do almost all of my surgery. If you don’t have a good team to work with then the patients don’t do as well as they do with that team.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
It probably comes from the fact that there are better things to do than be sick but when the unfortunate happens, if I can help sort it out then it is very satisfying, and people can then get on with doing what they enjoy.

What do you do outside of work?
I had very little time for outside work as I had around 18 years of being on-call and available 24 hours per day, but I enjoy the AFL particularly as well as other sports and try to keep active. The family keeps me busy too.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
The best thing would be the reasons we moved in the first place plus the friends we have made since being here.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Cairns Urology
98 Spence Street, Cairns
Ph: 4041 0700

Nardine Collier | Owner, Colliers Lawyers

When and why did you open Colliers Lawyers?
Ten years ago my business partner became unwell and we had to wind up our practice, so I went out on my own. It was a great move, having no one to answer to but myself.

What made you decide to become a lawyer in the first place?
I had no idea what else to do so my mum suggested law. She was right, as mums almost always are!

What sets Colliers Lawyers apart from other Family Law specialists?
I believe we have a different approach to affordability. We offer flexible payment options and don’t ask for large upfront fees, instead clients pay in stages. We are also approachable and offer great service. I am not saying that sets us apart from other law firms, but it is something we are proud of. If we can’t help you, we will find someone who can. We don’t charge for a 10-minute consultation, which is all you need to get you started and in the right direction.

How was 2018 for Colliers Lawyers and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 had some challenges with staffing issues. Apart from that, I felt the business slowly but surely reaching its potential. To be honest, it has been hard to break into a town where there are many good and well-established lawyers, but we are getting there. We have lots of great projects for 2019 (involving a lot of video, much to my despair!)

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Apart from my morning coffee from NOA, it is achieving something positive for a client – resolving a problem and watching the difference that makes to someone’s life.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
The same thing – achieving something positive for a client. We lawyers have the knowledge and ability to make a difference and the duty to do the best job we possibly can. For me, it’s never been about the money. What I love most is knowing how to help someone and then just doing it.

What do you do outside of work?
Wait, there is life outside of work..??? Seriously, we love concerts, eating out and camping.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
It is just such a beautiful place. I still feel like I am on holidays sometimes.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Colliers Lawyers
Suite 1/132 Collins Avenue, Cairns City
Ph: 4214 5666

Danae Jones | Founder, Danae Jones Consulting

When did you start Danae Jones Consulting and why?
It was established nine years ago to meet the needs of a few long-standing clients of mine who had grown their business ventures considerably and needed more ongoing marketing and PR support.

What sets your business apart from other marketing and public relations companies?
We pride ourselves on being boutique, and I like to remain very hands on with my clients. I have founded and operated much bigger agencies in my time, but this time around I wanted to deliver immediacy for my clients so they felt like they had their own in-house PR and marketing department that they could call upon at a moment’s notice.

How was 2018 for Danae Jones Consulting and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 was an extraordinary year for us. I am extremely grateful that some of the biggest corporate, advocacy and government entities called upon my team and I to work with them. When you’re a part of something that can bring about a real difference in the lives of others, it makes getting out of bed each day so much more rewarding. 2019 has showed no signs of slowing down. Traditionally I would get to have a nice Christmas/New Year break and then get back into the swing of things by end of January, but not this year. We literally didn’t stop for anything other than public holidays as our clients were pumping out work at a rate of knots!

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Working with my clients. I am constantly inspired by them.

Where does your passion for the industry come from?
As a child I was always into media. My parents couldn’t get me to stop watching TV, listening to the radio, reading or writing. I was renowned for collecting marketing material wherever my family went. I would arrive home with piles of brochures, business cards, posters etc. I have been an avid consumer of content and a lifelong committed learner since I was born, I think.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Follow your gut instinct EVERY SINGLE TIME.

What do you do outside of work?
My family are my down time. I love being with them and just enjoying the simple things in life – time together.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
What’s not to like? It’s the best place in the world to live! I could be slightly biased though as my family had a fair bit to do with pioneering this city, so it holds a very special place in my heart being a fourth generation local.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Danae Jones Consulting
Ph: 0487 901 054

Suzanne Hadley Founder, Hadley Family Law

When did you start Hadley Family Law and why?
I was the Family Law partner in a medium sized firm which practised in a variety of areas. In 2013 I seized the opportunity of having a boutique practice that allowed a focus on my client’s needs without the distractions of a larger practice and made a graceful exit from my previous partnership

Why did you become a lawyer in the first place?
I am laughing as I write. I am a late blossomer. I started work before finishing high school, married early and equally early started a family. Life Plan A did not work out there and Life Plan B kicked in. Working as secretary to an incredibly supportive lawyer, I was encouraged to study. I completed high school at night school (there was such a thing) followed by law school externally at QUT.

What stands Hadley Family Law apart from other Family Law specialists?
My focus is on a civilised resolution to family problems without the court room process and assisting my clients to plan their new life with the minimum of fuss. I take a holistic approach to the grief and adjustment of relationship loss by referrals to to health professionals, meditation and exercise. This can help calm my clients’ minds while we work together to leave the past and move forward to developing Life Plan B. A little bit quirky too with Chaos, my gentle Lurcher, coming to work every day. He’s good at knowing who needs a cuddle.
How was 2018 for Hadley Family Law and what’s the forecast for 2019?
2018 was an evolving year for my practice and 2019 is set to improve on that. My word for the year is ‘change’. It is important to continue learning exploring and innovating with technology to provide a better service to my clients

What do you like best about going to work every day?
My passionate and enthusiastic staff.

Where does your passion for Family Law come from?
The desire to help my clients move from a lost relationship into a fresh start in life, leaving the baggage of the old one behind.

What do you do outside of work?
I am a selling artist, painting large tropical blooms in full glorious colour across large canvases. When I’m not painting, I’m gardening or travelling.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
What’s not to like about our beautiful city with ready access to the natural world, remaining relaxed but sophisticated while retaining her tropical charm? And a world-class airport making domestic and international destinations super simple.

Words By Janie Mary Barton
Photo By Catherine Coombs

Hadley Family Law
82 Scott Street, Bungalow
Ph: 4044 5000

Dr Phoebe Hong | Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

When did you open your private practice and why?
I have been in private practice since February 2017 because it allows me to offer continuity of care to my patients and gives me the ability to perform more advanced laparoscopic surgeries.

Where did your passion for being obstetrician, gynaecologist and laparoscopic surgeon come from?
I enjoyed my obstetrics and gynaecology rotation immensely as a fifth-year medical student. The joy from parents is the motivation for me to continuing with obstetric. My passion in laparoscopic surgeon arises as I find laparoscopic surgeries, especially advanced laparoscopic surgeries, challenging but very rewarding.

How was 2018 for your practice and what’s your forecast for 2019?
My practice has been continuing to grow, and I see myself offering more obstetric and gynaecology care in 2019, especially now that we have access to more laparoscopic equipment due to the support from Cairns Private Hospital. This offers more advanced laparoscopic surgeries to women within Cairns instead of them travelling south to access such service.

What do you think your point of difference is from other specialists in the same field?
I think it’s my additional training in advanced laparoscopic surgeries. I have two years intensive training experience in advanced laparoscopy, one year in Melbourne and one year in Sydney, mentored by renowned laparoscopic gynaecologists. I have the experience and training to allow me to offer laparoscopic cerclage (cervical suture for cervical insufficiency) or laparoscopic myomectomy (removal of fibroid without removal of the uterus). I am also the only obstetrician and gynaecologist in Cairns who is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, and I am able converse in basic Japanese.

What do you like best about going to work every day?
Knowing most women that I am going to see that day will leave my rooms happy and satisfied is the main motivation for me going to work every day. Making a difference in their lives motivates me to continue to improve and expand my knowledge and skills.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your career?
It is seeing that expecting parents having a good outcome from their pregnancy. For my gynae patients, it is hearing that they are feeling or getting better.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I have an interest in exercise, especially high-intensity training. My husband and I have also registered for the Cairns Marathon 10km run in April. I also enjoy cooking, baking and foreign languages.

What do you like best about living in Cairns?
Cairns is a lovely town that is neither too small nor too big. I enjoy the friendliness and the convenience of the international airport. It really makes travelling a lot easier. The beautiful weather of Cairns, especially its mild winter, is also another part of Cairns that I enjoy.

Words By Janie Mary Barton

Dr Phoebe Hong
Level 2 Cairns Central Plaza
58-62 McLeod Street, Cairns city
Ph: 4230 0030