Conference Day One  - 3rd September

The Future of Work: A Glimpse into an Automated Future

Shara Evans, founder and CEO, Market Clarity


Is your business ready for the robot uprising? In the very near future, the shape of our existing workforce will undergo rapid, massive change as automation, robotics and AI make repetitive manual work obsolete. Discover new opportunities for your business by harnessing future technology today. At the same time, realise that only businesses that focus on the creative potential of their human capital, and invest in upskilling and retraining will thrive.


As one of the world’s top female futurists, Shara Evans is one of those rare individuals who merge incredible technical skills with an innate understanding of the social and economic impact of new technologies.

Key takeaways:

  • How to determine if your business is at risk of disruption from automation

  • Look at the major technology trends that your business can embrace today

  • Learn how companies around the world are using tech to innovate for competitive advantage

  • Help your business understand what technologies will impact your business in the next 3-5 years, and beyond

  • Learn about the many new jobs of the future

  • Which skills to look for in the workforce of the future

  • Learn the 6 steps to avoiding a dystopian future

  • How to leverage your existing workforce with reskilling and retraining.

Building Australia’s Leading Horticultural Company

Frank Costa, Costa Group


The descendant of struggling Portuguese/Italian grape and olive farmers, Frank Costa started to learn business from his parents in their Geelong retail fruit shop and on the streets of Geelong as an 11 year old paper boy in the 1940’s. In 1959, at age 21, Frank and his brother Adrian convinced their parents to sell them the business.


From those humble beginnings, today Costa Group is Australia’s leading horticultural company and the largest fresh produce supplier to the major Australian food retailers, with total revenues exceeding $1 Billion.


Frank and Adrian quickly recognised the increasing challenges in the retail sector with the growth of the supermarket chains, and shifted their focus to the wholesale market. Today, when you buy berries, mushrooms, citrus, bananas, table grapes and avocados from Coles or Woolworths – it’s come from Costa.


These key business relationships have been founded on Costa Group’s ability to supply fruit and vegetables 52 weeks a year to their clients from their 56 farms across Australia (equating to some 4,000 planted hectares of farmland), 30 hectares of glasshouse facilities and seven mushroom growing facilities across Australia, as well as six blueberry farms in Morocco and three berry farms in China.


Frank’s business philosophy is grounded in 4 key principles:

  • Aim high and go for it

  • As a business, your most important asset is good quality people

  • Create a healthy culture so that good people want to stay

  • Be open, transparent and honest - always.


In 2002, Costa Group was awarded FBA’s 3rd Generation Business of the Year.


Frank joins us to share his journey and key lessons learnt.

Creating a Sustainable Family Business

Ralph Plarre, Mike Plarre and Steve Plarre, Ferguson Plarre


For 118 years Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has been a family owned and operated business, trading through both World Wars and the Great Depression despite the tough conditions.


Both the Ferguson and Plarre families have early European roots and established themselves in Australia in 1901 in the Northern and Western suburbs. Both families were to become household names in Melbourne.


After refining their 'craft' and significant contributions to the pastrycooking trade, both families merged their businesses to become 'Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses' in 1980.


The fourth generation Plarre family acquired the Ferguson family's interest in 2012. They actively own and manage the day to day running of the business from baking through to retail shop design, operations and bakery franchising. Today the business comprises 76 stores and a large bakery that crafts over 100,000 cakes & savories daily.


Ferguson Plarre see the environment and sustainable business growth as the primary issue for business and community in the future. They see not only an opportunity to reduce their own environmental footprint but to help create an infectious awareness in their stakeholders about how they too can help improve the world we all live in. A belief which has seen them receive numerous awards for their initiatives, including the prestigious Origin Gold Banksia Award.


Join brothers Steve Plarre, CEO & Director, Mike Plarre, General Manager of Manufacturing, and their dad, Ralph Plarre who championed the businesses environmental initiatives, as they delve into their story.


Key takeaways:

  • How 200 years of combined experience has made Ferguson Plarre the success it is today.

  • How the business has successfully combined being a champion of environmentally sustainable business practices with strong growth of the business.

  • What is takes to identify and realise new ways to do business.

  • How they have made ‘doing the right thing’ good for business too.

  • How the business maintains its energy and drive to identify further opportunities to improve.