How An MBA Helped A Former Broadcaster Land AWX Group Adviser Role

AWX Group adviser Damian Morgan
AWX Group adviser Damian Morgan

A decade ago radio broadcaster and producer Damian Morgan would have been an unlikely choice to be a member of the “brains trust” for the rapidly growing AWX Group but an MBA at the University of Queensland gave him an unbeatable edge.

Mr Morgan, a country boy whose radio career spanned many roles from business reporter to drive show host in Canberra, decided in 2003 that he wanted to get out from behind the microphone and go into business.

To help with that, he enrolled in an MBA on a part-time basis.

It is a decision that Mr Morgan credits with smoothing his transition into the corporate world as it gave him a valuable range of contacts and a broader perspective on business.

“I did the MBA because I wanted more generalist skills and an understanding of where marketing fits in to the bigger picture of commercial strategy,” Mr Morgan said.

“Too many marketers are interested in creativity for creativity’s sake not creativity for commercial gain.”

For that reason, Mr Morgan chose electives that were outside his marketing specialty, so he could gain insights into how his operations would affect other aspects of the business he would not normally be involved with.

“It opened my eyes up to areas like Human Resources and Administration and Finance,” Mr Morgan said.

“Even though you only get a general knowledge it does help with putting the communication or marketing function into perspective.”

“From a messaging point of view you are more mindful of the strategic direction of the business.”
“And you can add value by questioning some of the strategies because you understand the strategic process more.

“You become more valuable in the strategic planning process rather than being someone management goes to when they’ve decided – this is the type of ad we want so you go and make it.”

Following his MBA, Mr Morgan has gone on to found a successful integrated marketing agency, Morgan Productions, offering strategic planning, advertising, and public relations services.
The company has a portfolio of clients across a number of industries including media, mining and agriculture.

AWX Group Founder and Managing Director Tom Strachan, who has appointed Mr Morgan to his informal corporate “brains trust”, agrees that Morgan has gained a unique perspective from his MBA.

“Having an MBA in the group just brings in a bit of sophistication – I’m sure it’s been beneficial,” Mr Strachan said.

“Damian has a good view on risk and a good sense on brand risk and market positioning.

“He is good at seeing where the real opportunity is and has a very good sense of being able to see when something is going to work in the marketplace.”

AWX Group founder Tom Strachan
AWX Group founder Tom Strachan

The brains trust meets every month to help AWX Group’s top executives with key strategic decisions that they want assistance on.

AWX Group is a national portfolio of businesses that are engaged in the construction, mining, civil, meat, manufacturing, agribusiness and hospitality industries with a core competency in workforce procurement and management.

Members of the trust submit their questions in advance and only the top one or two are chosen for consideration.

Since being appointed Mr Morgan has played an active role in many key decisions. These include a decision not to pursue the development of a mining simulator, which turned out to be a good move because of the subsequent mining slowdown, and also one whether to pursue a corporate acquisition.

Mr Strachan said he believes that if someone has an MBA it is a good sign that they’ll make a valuable contribution to his team.

“It’s a sign of dedication. It’s a sign of ambition and it’s a sign of discipline,” Mr Strachan said.

“It doesn’t maketh the man but I think if everything else is there in terms of attitude, core values, and previous track record and they have an MBA on top of that it’s the icing that makes the cake.”

Morgan agrees that the value of an MBA comes when it is combined with lessons learned from real life business experience.

“You learn more from great entrepreneurs like Tom than you do from textbooks but the two together are a powerful combination.”

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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).