Wise words await business class of 2013

Ian Brusasco, in suit and tie, and framed photos on wall in background.
Ian Brusasco AO will be conferred with a degree of Doctor of the University today (Wed).

Guest speaker Ian Brusasco AO has nine nuggets of advice for business students graduating from Griffith University this afternoon (December 18).

They would be well advised to take on board the words of a man who has made success a by-product of his endeavours in the political, sporting, media, charity and business arenas.

Mr Brusasco will be conferred with the degree of Doctor of the University at the graduation ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

While his lips are sealed on the finer details of his address, he was happy to lift the lid on some of its key themes in advance.

He will impress the importance of customer care on the audience and remind all present that it’s not all about the money. In a country “not good on giving” it’s important that a generous spirit is not lost in the rough and tumble of business.

This belief has been sharpened during Ian Brusasco’s 17-year tenure as director of Foodbank Queensland, the largest food relief organisation in the state.

During its first year in existence, Foodbank took in 120,000 kilograms of food for charity. Last year the organisation distributed 10.5 million kilograms of food to 300 charities. The projection for 2013 is close to 12 million kilograms, with fresh food and vegetables now making up half of the stock.

Only two answers

The donations, like grapes from Emerald, come from everywhere and anywhere. But securing donations has never been anything less than a challenge, a welcome challenge, for the son of Italian parents who grew up in northern Queensland.

“You’ve got to ask the question. There are only two answers. Getting people to say yes is a little easier now,” he says.

Today Foodbank feeds 100,000 people each week. With 12% of residents in Southeast Queensland living in poverty it is a service in demand. On one single day last month, it distributed 80,000 kilograms of food.

With 14 staff and up to 70 volunteers a week Foodbank has come a long way since a phone call from the late Clem Jones set the wheels in motion and Ian Brusasco got down to the business of charity from an old Coca Cola warehouse.

“Foodbank is my greatest achievement. I know what it is like to be poor and to go without. That’s why Foodbank gives me the greatest satisfaction, because I’ve made a real difference.”

Alternative and significant achievements include the establishment of a successful pharmacy business in Brisbane, election to Brisbane City Council, securing significant investments for the ALP in Queensland, heading up Football Federation Australia and turning around the fortunes of 4KQ radio.

Prestigious awards

His significant contributions to the community have been recognised by a number of prestigious awards and honours. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1988 in recognition of his service to the sport of soccer.

He was awarded the Centenary Medal for ‘distinguished service to business and commerce’ in 2001 and in 2008 was recognised as a Queensland Great for his significant role in the history and development of Queensland and for his more than 50 years of public service.

In 2012 Mr Brusasco was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for ‘distinguished service to the community of Queensland through leadership roles with a range of public administration, sporting and charitable organisations, particularly Foodbank Queensland’.