Influencers & Profiles

Tour de Force: How Conrad Bates manages the ascent and descent of C3 Business Solutions

Yolanda Redrup /

In seven years, Conrad Bates’ C3 Business Solutions has experienced remarkable growth. Founded in 2006 alongside Cameron Wall, the business has grown from two to 100 people and has experienced annual growth of 30-40% each year, compounded year on year. It also has offices in five capital cities.

An information management and business intelligence company, C3 Business Solutions helps companies with the operations of all aspects of their business, from people to technology and infrastructure.

C3 Business Solutions has already attracted high-profile clients in both the public and the private sector such as NAB, Qantas, Treasury Wines Estate, SBS and Medibank Private and the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

Before starting C3 Business Solutions, Bates worked in large consulting organisations including PwC and IBM. Essentially, Bates and Wall felt there was “an opportunity for a specialist consultancy in the technology space, which would provide advice to clients to get a competitive advantage”.

The business now turns over $16 million annually, has 11 partners nationally and has won a variety of awards, including recently being named ninth on BRW’s top 50 Best Places to Work in Australia.

SmartCompany spoke to Bates about managing business growth, overcoming challenges and the Tour de France of business.

Name: Conrad Bates

Company: C3 Business Solutions

Location: Melbourne

Mornings

A keen cyclist, Bates is in France taking in the excitement of the Tour de France.

Just as he believes in setting business goals, he has a personal goal of riding 12,000km in a year, which sees him up early every morning.

“Last year I rode 7000km on my bike, which was more than I drove, so this year I set myself a goal of 12,000 and I’ve just completed 6000 odd, so I’m on track so far.

“My day starts with getting the kilometres in on the bike. I get up at 5am and go for a long ride. Now it’s winter, it’s getting cold and wet, so it’s had to be a focus,” he says.

Following his morning ride, Bates heads to the office where he meets with the various leaders of the different sections of the business before engaging with clients.

Daily life

Bates says his daily work routine is a combination of sitting on steering committees, providing advisory services, and as the business has grown, he’s started flying interstate more frequently.

“We do a diversity of things in the business and there is no one task I spend a lot of time on. There is no predictability or routine in the business, so you’re always being challenged. There are constantly interesting conundrums testing people to make sure they’re making the right decisions,” he says.

Growth management, Bates says, is about getting the right team in place and establishing a strong management structure.

“We now have 11 partners and we operate on a national level with specific regional focus areas. Essentially, we’re a big people business,” he says.

Bates says engaging his employees is critical to achieving client outcomes.

“The client-centric nature of the business is embedded. We’ve been implementing a program which makes excellence a habit. It’s all about getting people into the habit of focusing on the perfect outcome all the time.

“The other part of our culture is the innovation arm of the business, it keeps the employees and the customers engaged,” he says.

In year one, Bates says the business’s growth was a result of “relationships and networking”, but now the business has matured and C3 Business Solutions now has a national head of sales and intellectual property section.

“We also have a focus on growing intellectual property and internal assets to develop more innovative solutions. This grows organically, but at a fast rate.

This article continues on page 2.

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