How A QUT MBA Helped This Accountant Pull Off A $47million IPO

The transition from private to a public company and having shares traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is one of the most exciting and challenging periods in the life of any company.

For the executives managing the Initial Public Offer (IPO), the process requires a deep understanding of multiple, complex business functions including finance, strategy, legal, and compliance.

Felix Group (ASX: FLX) Chief Financial Officer and QUT MBA James Frayne said the opportunity to be part of an IPO was the highlight of his career to date and his contribution wouldn’t have been possible without an MBA.

“The IPO was the culmination of many years work for the whole team here at Felix, and while it was an incredibly difficult process, it was also very rewarding,” he said. “We were all motivated by the confidence we have in the business, our platform and our people and we got there in the end.”

Brisbane-based Felix has developed a cloud-based enterprise SaaS and marketplace platform that automates and streamlines a range of critical procurement-focused business processes for leading organisations from the commercial construction and related industries.

The company listed on the ASX on January 12 this year after raising $12 million from investors and listed with a market capitalisation of $47 million.

James credits his MBA with not only providing the skills to play a key role in the IPO process but also the personal credibility to gain the respect of the investment community.

“As we moved towards the IPO and preparing the prospectus, we needed to be able to document our business plan and strategy to regulators and new investors; the MBA tooled me up to be able to make a valuable contribution to that process,” James said.

“As a senior executive in the company, the investors and regulators need to know you have a strong grasp on all the elements that go into building a strong and sustainable business. The MBA was critical in doing that.”

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“The fact you have the degree also brings with it an implication that you know what you are talking about. The value of the qualification is universally understood and respected so the people you are dealing with – investors, regulators or lawyers – all appreciate your level of understanding of critical business functions.”

James’ MBA journey started with an undergraduate degree in Business/Commerce followed by the Chartered Accountants (CA) program through the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.

After working with Grant Thornton he joined Felix in 2014 and quickly realised the difference between working for a global advisory firm and an early-stage start-up.

“I had moved from a large company with a big support network and a commitment to helping employees upskill, to a small company where access to professional development and further training was limited and needed to be self-directed,” he said.

“I realised pretty quickly that if I wanted to continue my learning journey it would have to be under my own steam and the MBA was the logical next step.”

Having completed his undergraduate degree at QUT he had a healthy respect for the university’s culture of openness and accessibility, and it made deciding to enrol in the QUT MBA an easy choice.

“I didn’t want to do an online program because I learn best in a collaborative environment and I wanted to have that cohort experience of meeting new people and building relationships.”

Undertaking two subjects in each teaching period, together with credit for his CA qualifications, meant he was able to get through the program in two years and graduated at the end of 2017. The program was everything he expected it to be and delivered on his goal of expanding his knowledge of the business.

“There was a real lightbulb moment for me early in the program where it dawned on me how little I knew about so many aspects of business,” he said. “There is a whole world of models and systems and processes that I never knew existed and I think it was that content that inspired and excited me.”

“There were so many components of the MBA that I used every day during the IPO process that helped us get a good result… having worked so hard for the knowledge it would be silly not to apply to the real world.”

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).

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