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Entrepreneur overcame rockiest moment by drawing on Rocky connection

Entrepreneur overcame rockiest moment by drawing on Rocky connection

Published:06 December 2017

Graduation guest speaker Bevan Slattery

Telecommunications entrepreneur Bevan Slattery counts companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft as his customers and service partners.

He returned to Rockhampton this week to inspire CQUniversity graduates and related a truly edifying experience from the days of the Global Financial Crisis, around a decade ago.

His Pipe Networks company was building a submarine cable connecting Sydney and Guam, through a $200 million project.

Due to the GFC, a bank providing half of the finance walked out of the contract and Bevan found himself short $100 million.

“I can tell you I did not have $100 million,” he said

Bevan said that, during a very stressful period, he spent three months in a financial war room with ‘another former Rocky boy’, Greg Baynton, and they persisted to overcome the challenge.

He shared the lesson with graduates … “persist, persist, persist”.

Bevan stressed that, while he had to leave Rockhampton to become a success in global telecommunications, the ‘soft skills’ he learned growing up in a regional city were a tremendous asset for success.

“Having acknowledged one of the greatest things I have done is leave Rockhampton, one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever had was to be born and raised in Rockhampton,” he said.

“The childhood I had in Rockhampton with my family and friends. The freedom and friendships I had were amazing. We rode our bikes everywhere. On any given weekend, I’d be riding the streets, scampering up to friends’ places with floppy discs copying computer games.

“It was a fantastic time going to Kinka Beach, we’d go swimming, snorkelling and go up mountains, I had a really rich childhood experience.

“I’ve no doubt the level of fortune I’ve had in business was impacted greatly by my time here in Rockhampton .. there is strength that comes from being proud of your heritage.”

Bevan said his connection to his home town and regional Queensland was now stronger than it had ever been “and I wish to return a favour to the place where my heart will always dwell”.

“So as I look to the decade ahead, my thoughts and wishes come back home, and to share what I’ve learned, to reinvest what I’ve earned, to lead by example, and to hopefully change someone’s world for the better.”

Bevan’s advice to graduates included that they did not necessarily have to change the world “as long as they changed someone’s world”, that their most significant achievements would occur before they were 35, so they should make their 20s count, and that it was okay if they were not yet sure what career they wanted to focus on. However, once they realised what their passion was they should follow it.

Mr Slattery is currently CEO of Superloop - one of the most exciting telecommunications companies in the Asia Pacific - and Executive Chairman of Elastic Interconnection company Megaport.

The serial entrepreneur originally graduated from North Rockhampton State High School and is also an Alumnus of CQUniversity. In fact, this week he finally had the chance to receive his testamur for a Bachelor of Business degree based on study he completed years ago.

Mr Slattery has been successfully building IT and telecommunications businesses in Australia for almost 20 years. He is Founder or Co-Founder of 5 ASX-listed companies including PIPE Networks, NEXTDC, Asia Pacific Data Centre Trust, Superloop and Megaport with a total combined market capitalisation of over $2.5 billion.

These businesses in many ways have built a major part of the foundations of much of Australia's internet including international submarine cables, Australia's largest data centre provider and terrestrial fibre networks connecting these major assets together across Australia and Asia.