Empowering the Workforce: Insights from Michael Hui on Digital Training and Soft Skills
In episode 36 of REDD’s Business and Technology Podcast, get ready for this insightful conversation with our hosts, Jackson Barnes, Brad Ferris, and Nigel Heyn with their guest, Michael Hui, a seasoned entrepreneur, technology visionary, and the Managing Director of Arowana. Listen on as we delve into the dynamic world of technology-driven business transformation. As the CEO of EdventureCo, a strategic investment company, and Lumify, a digital training solutions provider, Michael unveils his insights on navigating the ever-evolving tech landscape.
The discussion explores Lumify’s journey in delivering cutting-edge digital skills training, from overcoming operational challenges in the Philippines to the significance of instructor-led learning for impactful skill acquisition. Michael’s astute observations shed light on the struggles faced by IT teams in balancing training with daily operations, emphasising the long-term benefits of upskilling in terms of risk mitigation and efficiency gains.
The conversation pivots towards the realm of cybersecurity and the remarkable shift from a niche to a burgeoning industry, paralleling the surges in cloud and AI domains. Michael paints a vivid picture of Lumify’s role in this transformative era, alluding to the imminent wave of AI training courses set to revolutionise the education landscape.
Moreover, Michael sheds light on his engagement in energy transformation, detailing VivoPower’s innovative strides in converting Toyota Land Cruisers into EVs for mining applications, illustrating his commitment to fostering sustainability across industries.
With riveting anecdotes and strategic perspectives, Michael Hui underscores the importance of soft skills alongside technical expertise, highlighting EdventureCo’s ventures in negotiation training and plain language communication. This podcast episode provides a compelling narrative of Hui’s journey through dynamic tech landscapes, fueling anticipation for what lies ahead in the realm of business and technology.
#BusinessTransformation #TechInnovation #DigitalTraining #Cybersecurity #FutureOfWork
00:00 – Opener
00:27 – Michael’s Introduction
00:48 – Michael’s career history background
02:18 – What does EdventureCo do?
03:17 – What does Lumify do?
04:25 – Why did Arowana buy Lumify?
06:02 – Technology Training and Upskilling Trends
07:22 – AI affecting businesses
09:07 – 3 common trends of business owners
13:15 – Investing in Cybersecurity services
15:13 – Lumify competitors
18:04 – Allotting time for IT Training
20:26 – Lumify’s training courses’ improvement from 5 years ago
21:22 – Other training that Lumify offers
22:38 – AI-related courses
24:01 – Integrating new courses
29:29 – ChatGPT course
30:08 – VivoPower
32:42 – What’s next for Michael Hui?
34:32 – Outro
If you would like to discuss any of the topics discussed in this episode further with a REDD expert or if you would like to be a guest on the show, please get in touch either via our website, [email protected], or through any of the links below. https://redd.com.au
Hello and welcome to Redd’s Business and Technology podcast. I’m your host, Jackson Barnes. I’m your co-host,
Brad Ferris, another co-host Nigel Heyn.
Today we’re sitting down with the Managing Director of Arowana, Michael Hui. Michael, thanks for coming me on the show, man.
Yeah, thank you for having me.
Pleasure to be here mate. Let’s set the scene onto what we’re going to speak at today, which is a bit about what you’ve done in the capital investment space and your journey and also the ICT training space. But let’s start with the background. What did you do way before starting before what you do now? Yeah,
Sure. So I guess what was interesting is at uni I did it and law and so then went off and became a strange combination but went off and just became a very normal lawyer without really applying much of my IT skills and that’s relevant as we get towards the end point. Went into law, always found the commercial side more interesting, had grown up in family businesses and so enjoyed hearing about client’s problems in that space, but less so dealing with the legal side of those I suppose. And over time, managed to find myself in a few more commercially focused positions and then ended up for a point in time running my own firm had a client marijuana that I was doing some work with and after a while they asked me to come on board, help them out with a few things. And then that sort of grew over time and I think it’s been 12 years now that I’ve been at ANA and have sort of focused on a few different areas. We for a while looked at some venture capital space, but our more traditional mandate and what I focus on now is sort of lower mid-market acquisitions and businesses that we can put together into platforms.
Why did you make the jump from a law firm own law firm to why?
Yeah, to be frank, I just don’t like dealing with the public and look, client facing is very difficult and I have a lot of respect for people that can do that. But if I was going to be solving problems, ultimately I wanted to be solving, I guess not my own problems, but problems that were part of the organization that I was working for or contributing to.
Cool. Mate, do you want to dive a little bit deeper into adventure, what you’re doing with that?
Yeah, sure. So Adventure Co is an investee company of Arowana and it’s an education platform that we’ve grown over seven years now through a buy and build strategy, primarily through acquisitions. So I think we’ve done now eight acquisitions over seven years. That started in 2016 in June, 2016, right through to now where we closed an acquisition in August and another in October in 2022. And so we’ve built a business now that is consisting of three divisions, digital skills, soft skills and future skills, and mainly focused on the corporate training markets. So B two B business, but with an element of B two C as well.
Alright, cool. Let’s unpack that a little bit, but maybe we’ll start with if you want to introduce lumify, which is formerly D D L S. Anyone in the IT space probably heard of them or done some training through them over the years? I’d say that are listening. You want to unpack who they are size, what they offer employees, that kind of stuff.
Yeah, so LUMIFY is Australia’s largest IT training business and the market for LUMIFY is in vendor certified training. So we partner with people like Microsoft, a w s, Cisco, all the sort of big technology vendors and framework vendors. So when it comes to things like process iol, PRINCE two and things like that, and we mainly cater towards IT professionals. So people looking to continue their progression through their career and to constantly upskill whether that’s as they gain more seniority in their position or new technology rolls out and their organization might be changing from on-prem to go to cloud or multi-cloud or whatever the case might be. Yeah,
Probably a lot of growth I’d say because we say in the show a fair amount that it 20 years ago used to be very much, you had one IT guy who was across everything, but these days it’s getting so broad with cybersecurity, cloud networking app and endpoints and it’s really very hard for a small team to keep up. And no doubt that means they need a lot more training. So surely it’s a good future ahead there. But do you want to start with I guess why ANA bought lumify? What was the reason and why did you see that as a good opportunity?
Yeah, I guess we saw a lot of strong tailwinds as you just described in the technology industry in the way that that was becoming more and more a part of just doing business and enabling businesses to grow. And so the business when we acquired it had been part of a much larger systems integrator dimension data and it was a small part of that very large business, and so it wasn’t really or didn’t receive a lot of focus. So we saw an opportunity to materially change and improve the way it operated, but then also to move it towards writing some of these waves or technologies they came through. And so at that time, this was about five years ago, cloud was really starting to, cloud had been around for a while, but really starting to gain acceptance. And so the business has always had a very close relationship with Microsoft, but there was an opportunity then to expand that to a w s, Google Cloud virtualization, VMware, people like that and keep growing that out.
Okay. I’ve got a lot of questions I wanted to unpack, but do you knowledge, Brad, you want to start first?
Yeah, so Michael obviously really respect the partnership and the friendship and everything we’ve worked together. Technology is something that has becoming ubiquitous in people’s lives. You’ve got unique skillset and that you’ve got legal and technology. Talk to us about what are the trends you see organizations with training, due diligence. We’ve obviously worked together on a couple of DD projects, but are you seeing any common trends that are leading towards why training and more internal upskilling is really, really critical for the future?
Yeah, we all know, and it’s a bit of a truism I suppose, that the pace of technology change, it’s just ever increasing. And so therefore along with that comes a requirement to train people, whether it’s new people coming into an organization or them fundamentally changing something they’re doing. We see a lot of organizations have late been rolling out Agile or as I said, still moving from on-prem to cloud. Sounds remarkable, but it’s still happening. And the majority of processing is still done on-prem, right? For most organizations around the world. So we think that’s got a way to run, but now all the talks, multi-cloud, private cloud, all the sort of stuff that’s happening, you guys would know much better than me. So we’ve seen that wave and that wave is continuing, but then of late, of course you don’t need to be an expert to see everything about the sort of cybersecurity risks that’s been going on.
And so the rise of cybersecurity as a training segment has just been remarkable over the last three to four years. New vendors coming on basically into a greenfield environment. And so we’ve really had to build out a portfolio there. And you talk about specialization and some of these roles probably didn’t exist two or three years ago. And I think the next one that’s coming is AI and the way that’s affecting business. And so I think the importance is ever growing. We see it in the businesses we own. If I sort of go a little meta, when we acquire a business, we think the fundamental difference we can make at the sort of scale and size of businesses we buy is implementing that sort of digital transformation for the businesses and partnering with people such as yourself, help the business do that. And the best example I can give is when we started acquiring the education businesses, we took a view that we wouldn’t change any of the backend systems that they had in place because those projects can be a bit painful and timely, costly, they never run on budget.
But after a while, we came to the view that we had all this sort of siloed data. We had these archaic systems just because someone knew that system, they didn’t know how to use that system. So we had no redundancy across the organization at all. And to support all that was just becoming more and more difficult. So we just ripped the bandaid off and said, no, no, we’re going to go to all common systems across the organization and we’ve got businesses that might have a revenue of say four and a half million to businesses have revenue of 50 million within the group. So that you have to be careful how we do that. But the way it’s fundamentally changed, our business is just remarkable. And the data we can now get access to big users of things like Power BI and the and way in which we can then make decisions the way in which we can be more efficient in the way we run the business, and then things we can build on top of that when new technology comes along, we’re not building on top of this really archaic thing that is going to be really difficult to support and really costly to build on top of.
So on that vein, can I ask the question if there are three things you see as a common trait when you’re looking for an opportunity to buy an asset or do some sort of deal, what’s three areas that you see business owners tend to be quite deficient in touch on, cyber cloud, all of that, like bi, what are the common trends? Yeah,
I think technology full stop. So quite often everyone’s got an accounting system which is commonly zero. So they’re pretty set there and we ultimately move them to a more sort of sophisticated accounting system appropriate for the size of our business. But accounting systems’ probably one they can take care of. We’ve bought businesses with no C R M, so each sales person has a different system or a piece of paper or an Excel sheet or a Word doc or a PowerPoint doc or a Notepad doc. So we’ve seen that. So CRM is a big one. You’ve got to be selling stuff to make money, no ERPs or if they do very archaic ERPs and it can be hard because a lot of the systems that everyone hears about are really designed for larger enterprises and they’re very costly to roll out, very costly to support. And then probably the third one is pretty much little to know thinking about the cybersecurity risk. Everyone sees it, but no one really knows how to do it. And basic, basic stuff like multifactor, just non-existent sharing of passwords extremely common. The old Excel doc with all the passwords saved in it, pretty much every business we’ve bought has that. Yeah,
Yeah, not surprising. We hear these and see these stories every day. Unfortunately
It’s really basic hygiene stuff, but you can’t fault them. They probably have a relationship with an M S P that probably just does the basic help desk stuff for them and they don’t know what they don’t know or might need. And that M SS P, which wouldn’t be read obviously, but that M S P is not interested in really implementing any fundamental change in that business or advising ’em on anything. It’s just sit back and hope they don’t move somewhere else, I suppose.
Well, that’s a big change that we are seeing everywhere and in a lot of MSPs, as you said, pivot to just doing a help desk provider, get the monthly fee, do the help desk, that kind of thing. And then cybersecurity, that’s a whole nother too hard basket, don’t want to go there, don’t have the skillset, don’t want to employ cybersecurity professionals, which are so limited in Australia. So I think it’s getting to a point where almost a lot of businesses need a cybersecurity company of some kind engaged, much larger like we do here for our current managed customers and all having that as a service they provide but separate just for cybersecurity. Instead of relying on an internal IT team would just focus on operations or an M S P who’s got a couple of staff focusing on keeping the lights on.
I agree. So
It is a worry, right? Because everything you’ve just spoke said is that you think about we want to do the best for our customers, we want Australia to be such a great country and economies to be strong, but if you’ve got MSPs that are deficient in the fundamentals like cyber and then ai, the waivers come in, what you are doing with lumify, the training that is essentially it’s essential service, everyone has to embrace it to become better and uplift all of economies.
The analogy is in the law and back in the day, everyone just used to be a general lawyer. Everyone used to do everything. Things weren’t overly complicated, there was far less legislation around you could just go and see a lawyer and they could solve any of your problems or try to solve any of your problems. It is no different now that all these technologies have proliferated all these new risks because with that new technology comes new risks, you now need specialists. And so just like a law firm that will have guys that work in commercial, guys that work in corporate, guys that work in litigation, some other firm will do the crim stuff, some other firm will do the wills and estates. I think it’s no different now in the IT space.
So the flip side though, it’d be interesting to get your opinion on this and what you see, we see a lot of on our end trying to educate, implement cybersecurity services. And on the other side of the table, people just don’t have the appetite to spend the money. So communicating the risk reward scenario has been, I dunno, is that fair to say a challenge? And people dunno how to price it. They’re like, okay, well if I spend this amount of money, what kind of protection do I get? Does that really cover me? Where does it end almost? So I dunno if you had some thoughts on that in some of your businesses, like how you guys approach it.
It’s hard I guess because selling something that doesn’t really have an R O i, it’s not a revenue generating thing, it’s just a cost. It’s a bit like insurance, but everyone’s happy to have insurance and I think it’ll just get to the point where they have to. And certainly the customers that we sell into and LUMIFY is primarily selling into enterprise and government. Their boards know that they have a duty to their shareholders to do this stuff and if not, when they inevitably get hacked or inevitably there is an incident, they’ll be in the line of fire. So that comes down mandated from a board level and now we’re seeing legislation and it’s the same reason that we see I guess a lot of forms of insurance. It’s either legislation or contractually obliged to have it if you want to be in business with other companies or with the government. And so I think that will just inevitably become a part of a feature and a cost that everyone has to wear. But until then there’s a bit of an education platform to do.
Yeah, it’s definitely hopefully something that, a challenge that you guys can help with in what you provide around cybersecurity training because I think internal IT teams are definitely struggling, getting the right advice from external parties and also the right people internally to actually help when it comes to cybersecurity. And I do like your analogy you had with law actually, because it’s so true that in it it was just an IT generalist. You had a bunch of generalists that was your company or your department internally, but now there’s product engineers, help desk engineers, cloud engineers, cybersecurity analysts and that kind of thing. So it is getting similar kind of specialists.
I mean when I did my IT degree, you could do four majors, information systems, information management, which is not really even IT per se. Software engineering and network engineering. That was it.
I had one more ai, which I actually did
In 1995. Man,
Thinking. 1992, man. What was AI in 19 9 2? I don’t even know, being facetious. Alright, so let’s jump back to the training, CT training industry in Australia just to get some scale there. How many employees in LUMIFY and how many competitors do you have? I actually have no idea.
Yeah, so one of the attractive parts of buying the LUMIFY business five odd years ago was that it has consistently been Australia’s largest for a long period of time. We have about a hundred employees in Australia, but we’ve also acquired a business in New Zealand that is effectively the LUMIFY of New Zealand is now lumify New Zealand, but they have three campuses across New Zealand. And then we’ve also gone into the Philippines as well where we have a campus in the Philippines provide training there.
So it’s online and in person.
And I guess this is very sort of covid driven in some respect, but pre covid, 90% of our training was done and all of our training, not all but 95% of our training is instructor-led training. So there’s a live instructor there, not sort of self-paced online training. So pre covid, 90% of that was face-to-face and 10% was virtual. So you could dial into a Zoom or a teams thing no matter where you were. Covid came along that switched around the other way. And where it’s starting to equalize out now is about 50 50 and we basically run hybrid sessions. So there might be an instructor in our Brisbane campus delivering to two or three students. There’ll be a student in our Adelaide campus dialing into that and there’ll be a person in Sydney at home or at work dialing into that as well. And we’re able to do that internationally now. So someone in Philippines can dial into an Australia, someone in New Zealand or vice versa, however you want to set that sort of matrix up. That’s cool.
Was it Philippines organic or was that acquisition
That was organic? So we did a JV with a local partner up there, so we’ve got 60% of that up there. We’ve had Philippines can be a tough place to do business. Obviously Covid came along, typhoons, we had a volcano, you name it. It’s been difficult. Earthquakes. Earthquakes, but really getting on track now and starting to see and it’s just the commonalities we see between the markets and the ability to say to a Philippine student, well we may not be running that course in the Philippines this month, but guess what? There’s one you can dial into in New Zealand. There’ll be a bit of a time difference to deal with, but you get the opportunity to do the course if you want to do it right now.
Let’s to pick your brain a little bit. Now you’ve been in this for several years around internal IT teams. Why do they find it hard to get time to do training? I get a lot of feedback from IT managers and CIOs saying, yeah, we want our guys to develop and build out our skillset so we can do more stuff internally and not rely partners so much and yada yada yada. But it’s very hard because they’re trying to keep the lights on, they’ve got products they need to do and you typically hard to get funding for stuff. So I guess going to honestly pick your brain on that topic, why do you think they find it hard to do more IT training? Yeah,
I guess what’s the alternative to taking the time to do that? They can do self-paced online stuff, but we know historically that doesn’t have great completion rates. People drop out or they don’t really pay attention. If you’re doing that at home at night after a full day’s work and you’ve got a kid climbing on you and then things like that, it’s pretty tough to concentrate on that. So we like to think that rather than try and do that and space that out over three, four months or whatever it may be with questionable likelihood of completion, how much of that sinks in versus take whatever, it’s three days, four days, five days, carve that out, go and do that in an instructor-led environment, the benefits will actually sort of sink into that employee and that will come back to the business in terms of whatever technology you’re dealing with new tech, whether it’s new technology and I think it attaches as part of an employee proposition, employment proposition. That training piece is so important because if the employee is not getting that from where they are, then they can go somewhere else to get that in the current environment, where are you going to find another skilled employee that’s not going to want the same thing anyway.
So what advice would you have to A C I O who’s struggling to get the rest of the management team buy-in on pulling some engineers out of the field to essentially go and do training? What advice would you have for
Them? Well I think the longer term benefit, and it depends upon the nature of the training. If it’s cybersecurity and I think, and I’m not a sales guy, it’s a pretty easy sell, but I accept that that doesn’t make it necessarily an easy decision for the business to invest that time and money into it. But think of the risk you are mitigating by employ or training your guys in that area, but then in other areas as well, the efficiencies that come with better use of the technology ultimately hit the p and l. And so there is an R O I attached to that training that can be established.
Probably another one to add onto that would be that if you are using a third party company just to do short projects all the time versus scaling up your internal IT team, it’s going to be more cost effective in the long run. But obviously you’ve got a lot of money out and time is put aside and I think that’s what I see is a lot of internal IT teams. They’re like, yeah, I would love to do more training for my guys, but we can’t because they’re already on two projects and they get 20 tickets a day for example. But I want pivot a little bit to cybersecurity, which you mentioned the training courses that LUMIFY provides. What did that look like today versus five years ago around cybersecurity?
I would say we had practically no cybersecurity training five years ago. Really I think one or two vendors at the most, but it wasn’t that talked about, it was still a fairly niche area I’d argue within this technology space. But of we now have Australia’s largest offering of vendors and courses and everything through from some of the, I guess end user cybersecurity training that is not really for technical people, it’s more cybersecurity awareness training through to the highest level of technical stuff you can do. And that’s whether it’s technology based or sort of the frameworks. And we recently just went through our 27,001 audit as well. So we’re now accredited ourselves. So we’re sort of I guess practicing what we preach as well around the importance of that.
What other training apart from cybersecurity is trending up these days?
So the waves are sort of cloud as I spoke of before and that and that’s just continued and I think Microsoft dropped its earnings release yesterday and the continued growth they’re getting in their cloud division is just remarkable given it’s not exactly coming off a low base, it’s still growing at such a high rate cybersecurity obviously just continuing to grow and as I said, we’ve come off practically a non-existent base to go where we are today. I think the next wave is going to be in ai and I think particularly if you look at Microsoft and their investment in open AI and the OR way, they’re about to roll out some of those tools that are integrated into office 3, 6 5 and the sort of tools that everyone already uses. I think that’s the next big wave and where ultimately the training we offer is authorized training. So when Microsoft rolls those courses out, we’ll be first in line to start delivering those
Co-pilot courses will go nuts I think when it first comes out. Absolutely.
Brett, any questions you’ve got for Michael before I carry on?
No, you want to roll here
Mate answered it all.
I did want to ask actually the current state of AI courses you’ve got, have you got any AI courses?
Yeah, we do. There’s some of the more technical ones. So Azure already has some, it’s not MySpace at all, but some elements on its platform and some courses that we already do offer, but they’ve traditionally been very niche and we run some webinar sessions occasionally to brief people on what these are free, just sort of lunch and learn sessions and usually you might get 20, 30 people attending those. The last one we ran on one of those courses got 300 people to attend, which I think just shows the general growth in interest because now they realize that what’s fine for the company to be talking at the front end, all these things we’re going to be doing, whether it’s chat G P T or copilot, but somewhere along the line they’re going to have to support that at the backend as well. So all their engineers are going to have to start looking at that as well. So yeah, we do have an existing offering and we’ve also just launched in our other business in the digital skills space called an execute, which is more end user apps training. So things like Excel, power bi, were non-technical users, we’ve just launched a chat G P T course there and we were just getting constant requests from clients asking do we offer this course? So we’ve developed our own course and rolling that. It’s actually just launched this week.
Brad Keen, fantastic.
Probably a power user already.
Yeah, I could probably come and help it struck,
Don’t pay him enough here. Bring you on As a contract trainer,
How do you pro bono mate, how
Does LUMIFY do that process of finding out what new courses they’re going to bring out? It’s just from demand and what comes in or what vendors like Microsoft push out? How does that
Work? Yeah, so we are primarily an authorized training partner, so we’re very focused and we think that gives the highest quality of training. So if you’ve got the training content delivered from Microsoft via us, then naturally their best place to deliver or to provide that content on their own platform. There are providers that do what’s called gray training out there where it’s not authorized training and they may develop their own content in that, but we are therefore primarily vendor led. When a vendor launches a new course, then that goes on our portfolio when there’s a new technology area, we go and seek out who are the key vendors in that space that we can partner with. And it’s just been a feature of the technology industry for decades that they have these sort of training ecosystems where they have authorized training partners that they can trust and deliver and meet whatever their qualifying standards are to deliver that. Occasionally there’s just no vendor or take something like chat G P T, there’s no ecosystem around that, so you have to develop your own content, but primarily our focus is on vendor authorized training, as I said, for quality reasons.
Yeah, it makes sense. I thought you’d have a really rigorous process on that because technology, like we said before, changes so much.
I do have a question. I’m curious, and you may not be in this much of the detail, but what does that look like? Are they giving, obviously you’re going to have your educators or instructors and then will you have course content creators I suppose on staff? Are they working with the vendors or do vendors have a course outline that then you just tailor to your audience? What does
That look like? It varies vendor to vendor. Some vendors will mandate you must use their content and only their content. And so effectively we have a trainer that is just using slides and repack course outline, not even repackaging, it’s the slides that they’ve presented and that’s one of the terms of the agreement. Other vendors will develop the framework, then they’ll license third parties, maybe one, maybe more than one to develop content. So then you go to one of the licensed content providers and that’s more in their process areas. So things like Prince two and areas like that, I could be wrong, they may do it differently, but it tends to be more in the less the technology, more the process frameworks and you’ll license that from the content providers or you can try and develop your own. But like we’ve said several times, the technology changes so rapidly that the job of keeping that content up to date with whatever is happening in the underlying software or technology is really, really difficult. And you dunno quite often what’s coming around the bend. And so who’s best place to do that? The actual software provider or technology provider.
I mean if you can get them to provide the content, that’s kind win-win really. Yeah,
And what’s changed a lot in the industry was when everything used to be a software package that you got on floppy disc or cd, there’d only be different versions every what, 12, 18 months. You might get a patch occasionally, but it was probably to patch something that was broken not to really add a new feature. And so courses didn’t change until those versions changed. And so it was fairly consistent rhythm now, I mean there are new versions dropping every week if not more frequently in a lot of these things. And so that also means it’s harder and harder to keep up to speed. And so having that authorized content just makes it so much easier.
I was just, I guess following on that, so if you’ve got, say it’s a software platform, will they include in the course like a student or a trial or a demo license if required?
Generally not because the nature of the stuff we train is not end user, so it’s more for the enterprise to roll out. So yeah,
I’m just trying to think. But
The way we train it is on labs. So the student gets access to labs, which a simulated environment.
So you’ve got the gear in there
And it feels like they’re operating on whatever it may be, but it’s obviously just a simulated environment and that way that can set the challenge, it can break something, it can set the task for them to do and then assess whether they’ve done it rather than a sort of live or a live environment that is a real environment, but it’s not set up for assessment or training.
So potentially if it’s a hardware software vendor, you’d have equipment as well on the campuses
Or we can simulate that through a lab provider. Yeah,
Well it helps separate also ransom of the true vendors. I know when we were with D D L S 20 years ago, Cisco, if you weren’t certified through D D L S, you can’t actually sell or service Cisco equipment. So the cowboys that pretend they know how to use the Cisco iOS versus the ones that are fully certified, it was actually a really good differentiator.
Yeah, exactly right. And it’s no different today in the sort of software piece. Would you rather have the Microsoft certificate if you’re working on Azure or would you have the college of whatever certificate college of YouTube? Yeah, yeah, exactly.
That’s a good point. I was just thinking that those AI courses that you planning on running, I feel like you’d have to update them every two, three weeks because the amount of AI tools,
Well, wouldn’t the AI update the course?
Maybe, but that would just get rapidly changed because the amount of AI tools you see in that sales and marketing space alone just coming out all the time is just nuts. I don’t know how you’d possibly keep
Up and we’ve considered that in terms of our chat G P T course that we’re realistic about how long we’ll run off our own content until some of the content providers get up to speed and start issuing their content. And that’ll come with a cost. Obviously if we’ve built the IP ourselves, there’s no licensing costs associated with that, but we’re willing to bear that cost to make sure it’s relevant and UpToDate stuff. Yeah.
Michael, changing gears for a second, something that’s common theme in your life has been transformation, right? Transforming businesses using technology to transformation tool transform education energy. I know you’ve played in that space a little bit. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve done in that energy transformation space?
Yeah, sure. So one of the other investee companies of is a business called Vivo Power. And Vivo Power initially started very focused on the solar space and primarily in the US for various reasons, primarily Trump, the investment environment for solar became very difficult and so we pivoted the business. So transformation one, we pivoted the business into something else in that space and we identified an opportunity that there were a lot of hard to decarbonize sectors that were trying very hard to decarbonize. And in the Australian context, a very obvious one is mining and resources. So whether it’s what they produce or how they dig it out of the ground and produce it, it produces a lot of carbon emissions. And they’re big companies, they have E S G goals and they’re willing to spend the money to try and solve this problem, but it’s difficult.
And so we found this Dutch business that was doing EV conversions of Utes basically, and primarily Toyota Land Cruisers, which is basically the standard defacto standard light vehicle used in the mining industry pretty much globally, but definitely in Australia. And from a Toyota perspective, they’ve been slow, I think it’s fair to say, very slow in terms of major car manufacturers to jump on board the electrification wagon. And they’ve been looking at hybrids and the like, and they’re not going to the Land Cruiser in terms of the Toyota offering is a very low volume seller compared to the Corolla or whatever it may be. So the mass passenger cars are obviously where they’re going to be focusing their time and effort. So we saw an opportunity in that space. So we acquired that business in the Netherlands called Timbo, and over the last few years we’ve been refining their product in terms of a conversion kit to convert land cruises for two EVs to then use in these difficult mining environments, whether it be underground or aboveground.
Fantastic. More transformation. I love it.
Still waiting on your order. Yeah, still
To see you’re in the queue. Just keep getting pushed down the queue.
I just did 4,000 Ks in round trip to Birdsville. Towing a caravan fuel bill was pretty high, mate. There you go. Although I dunno if there’ve been too many charge spots along the way,
You can set some solar panels up and sort you out. Yeah
Mate. Michael, what’s next for you, mate? Obviously there’s a huge, I guess more opportunity what you’re doing with LUMIFY and the other companies you’re investing in. What else has you got exciting happening in the future?
Yeah, well I think from an adventure co perspective, we still see a long way to go in that business and digital skills. We own Australia’s largest, we own New Zealand’s largest. There are always little things we can add on to that business, but it’s tough to start to find areas to grow there. So we did the Philippines a couple of years ago that’s really starting to hit the stride now. We think expansion Southeast Asia in particular can make a lot of sense and we can bring a lot of strengths to those markets in terms of how we do things. And also as that business grows and we cover different areas, the offering to customers grows as well. And as I talked before about scheduling and things like that, it just really helps. We have an international schedule now. When we bought that business, we had a state-based schedule.
So if you’re in Queensland, you just looked at the courses that were available in Queensland and that was it. Then we went national and now we’ve gone international. But outside of the digital space, any of the academic literature on the future of work talks about two types of skills. You need digital skills, which we’ve talked a lot about naturally here today. But the other one is soft skills. And so they’re the sort of human skills that aren’t going to be readily replaced by chat G P T or robotics and the like. And they’re going to be really important to ensure that the role you are in is not one of those roles that is vulnerable to being replaced. And so we have two businesses in the soft skills space. We have a business called E N s, which is a negotiation training business, and we have a business called Plain English Foundation, which is a plain language communication business. We do a lot of work with government and big corporates in both those businesses. And I think there’s more work to be done, not only in growing those businesses, especially continuing to look at other opportunities in the soft skills space where we think they’re going to continue to grow in importance.
Awesome. Appreciate you coming in. We think there’s going to be a lot more growth in that space, so I appreciate the interest just shared today. Thanks Michael.
Thanks for having me. Thanks Jackson. Thanks
Thanks Michael. The titan of transformation, that’s what I’m going to
I’ll let others use that description.