Former International Executive and CFO Mike Charter works alongside his AVAAL business partner Gareth Pike to ‘add value at all levels’.
From his early years, packing boxes in his father’s business, Mike has had a fascination with finding better ways to do things. Working at McDonald’s during high school, taught Mike there was always a job to be done and processes and technology could be built to streamline and drive quality.
A strong work ethic led to post-school cadetship with Price Waterhouse, where Mike was thrown in at the deep end of auditing and business advisory.
“It was a fantastic grounding,” says Mike. “I had to make fast assessments because we were in and out in a few weeks, and we had to talk to everyone, from the warehouse manager to the CEO, to determine how the business worked.
Seven years later, chasing global experience, Mike headed to the UK for a stint with telcos ‘Cable and Wireless’ and ‘Worldcom’. “I started in strategic planning then took on European projects that were at the cross over between Finance and technology, including billing systems and capital management systems.
“At Cable and Wireless I was involved in long-term planning, and the massive task of bringing all European subsidiaries under the one accounting platform. It was a complex project for a 27 year old, involving 10 companies and five languages, but we came in on time, and on budget!”
On return to Australia, Mike took up a strategic planning role with Coca Cola Amatil utilising his ability to connect planning with execution. Never one to shy from a challenge, he headed-up a Balance Scorecard project which saw the unpacking of the organisation’s operations, before he wrote the code to suck relevant data from existing data bases, and then built the reports along with automating their management reports.
Next stop was international pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which saw Mike head to Denmark for the CFO position (which also covered Iceland). It was here Mike was able to flex his abilities to immerse himself in multiple business functions, seemingly simultaneously.
“I was keen to get back into a company with an international focus,” he says. “In this position, legal, market research and analysis, and sales force effectiveness reported through me, on top of the usual finance, procurement, logistics and IT .
“I was instrumental in a Nordic company restructure, that meant I made myself redundant. There was an 18mth stint as CFO in Italy, before we returned home and I headed up strategic planning and business development for AstraZeneca here in Australia.
“One of the things I like most about the pharmaceutical industry is we really could help make a difference to a huge number of people. I wanted to be a part of the bigger picture, and to have an impact. “For example, I led the licensing of global products into the country. It was a real buzz knowing we would impact so many people.”
Then it was decision time.
After 11 years, with AstraZeneca Mike felt he’d reached his own corporate career goals and it was time to do something for himself.
“My wife and I bought a gourmet food business, which my wife now runs. Spoonfed Foods has a range of specialty meat ‘jams’ which recently won their category at the Royal Sydney Fine Food Show. We don’t sit around much,” he laughs.
So it was serendipity when mutual friend and fellow businessman Angus Ross introduced Mike to franchise CEO Gareth Pike.
Angus recognised the pair had complimentary skill sets, business interests and ambition. “We also have a high values alignment,” says Mike. “Something great was bound to happen!”
“I needed a new logistics partner, Gareth needed a new distribution partner. That started things off. We solved our problems in such a powerful way we felt compelled to do something. We realised together we could achieve a lot more than we could do on our own. By combining our forces, our networks and our resources, we knew we had a value set that would resonate.
And so AVAAL Group was born in March 2016; an acronym, whose purpose is to Add Value At All Levels – to help others achieve results beyond what they could achieve on their own.
AVAAL specialises in building scalability and amplifying our resources and technology to create opportunities for people and organisations.
We consult, but we also invest sweat equity into businesses we feel we can deliver great results and gain a share of the benefit achieved.
Secondly we develop distribution channels for a variety of products.
The AVAAL philosophy has seen the birth of a powerful organisation, which is already making enormous inroads into the Australian business environment.
AVAAL has interests in a number of great businesses that are delivering significant value to their customers and beyond.
For example their CCP (Charity Convenience Product) business, aptly named Uhelp, can be found in more than 3,000 sites across NSW, with new sites jumping on board to support National Breast Cancer Foundation.
But that’s just one of the many projects AVAAL has undertaken. There’s Exhale magazine, a medical information platform, working with The Garvan Institute and there’s a partnership with super-vet Dr Katrina Warren which all take advantage of our distribution channels.
“We could not be more excited about the future. We love what we’re doing and the impact we’re making.”