Five minutes with Simonne Bailey

Five minutes with Simonne Bailey

Simonne Bailey, the Australian Managing Director and Global Head of Strategy for our JAHAMA business, was recently appointed to the re-instated Australian Design Council. We spent five minutes with her.

Can you give a brief introduction and overview of your role at GFG and JAHAMA?

As Global Head of Strategy and Managing Director of JAHAMA, I am responsible for GFG’s property portfolio in Australia which was launched last year by Sanjeev. We are here to support our GFG businesses to be more efficient with their land and property requirements.

We have over 170 properties in Australia alone which comprises of approximately 1.25 million square metres of industrial warehouse space nationally. Right now, we are focussed on creating significant redevelopment opportunities in our portfolio by applying an end-use strategy to our work and forming strategic partnerships with other industry leaders.

Design-thinking isn’t a concept that everyone is familiar with, can you explain a little bit about what it is?

Design-thinking is a process for creative problem solving. It can be applied across multiple industries and market sectors. It isn’t just about design-based products or sectors which is often a misconception.

Design-thinking is ultimately human-centred. It encourages organisations of all scales to focus on the people they’re creating for, which leads to better products, services, and internal processes. It’s really very simple. When you sit down to solve a business problem, the first question should always be; what does the end-user need?

What is the Australian Design Council (ADC), and what does it do?

The Australian Design Council (ADC) is a not-for-profit that advocates for a design-led future for Australia. The Council champions the importance of design in addressing complex social, economic and environmental issues.

Originally formed in 1968 as the Industrial Design Council of Australia, it has recently been re-established to foster and promote high standards of design in Australia.

The reformation of ADC shows an acknowledgment of design’s role in our future. Do you see design having a bigger role in the wake of the pandemic?

Yes, absolutely, the Council members and I share a collective aspiration to embed design-led innovation as a national priority for Australia.

Design and innovation has always been a core strength of Australia, but it is required now more than ever given the pandemic and the need for more local sustainable manufacturing and just-in time-supply chain solutions. Of course, another important role of the council is to equip the next generation with creative problem-solving skills so they can help solve some of the biggest issues of the future.

The council has confidence and support from all levels of Australian Government in its task to empower design in Australia, including the Prime Minister. In a letter supporting the Council, Prime Minister Scott Morrison penned, “Good design, created by smart people in smart industries, is essential to a country that wants to grow and be prosperous.”

How will the different members of the council work together to create an impact?

The members of the Council represent leading businesses and industries from across Australia, and it is a mark of GFG’s work to be included among them.

The Design Manifesto we recently launched has set the foundations for how we will work together. Our goal is to build on the Council’s legacy and to make the difference we have challenged ourselves to create.

I believe the diversity of the Council is its strength. Our ability to bring the group together and establish a strategy and purpose during the pandemic’s peak is testament to that.

(Simonne Bailey, pictured top left, with other members of the Australian Design Council).

What makes you proud of being a part of this council, and what do you want to get out of it?

I am proud to be given the opportunity to build on such an esteemed design-legacy. The Australian Design Council is based on the UK Design Council model, which was originally established by Winston Churchill’s wartime Government in 1944 to support Britain’s economy recovery.

The original Design council was chaired by Managing Director and Chairman of BHP, Essington Lewis, who we have a direct connection with through our Mayfield site at the Port of Newcastle.

Building on this inherited design legacy, I’m hoping that GFG can lead a national design challenge for the Australian Design Council at our Newcastle site to unlock the unrealised potential today and challenge ourselves and our industry to push the boundaries in innovation, design and manufacturing.

Have you seen any notable examples of good design in Australia and across the globe?

We have a world class design capability in Australia, and are really at the forefront of design globally. You can see it in everything from Australian technology solutions to our architecture.

One example would be international renowned Cochlear, an Australian company who design and produce implantable devices to restore hearing. Another is the Atlassian’s recently announced hybrid timber tower which will be the tallest of its kind in the world.

What is Sanjeev’s expectation of your role on the Council, how does he see the ADC contributing back into the Alliance?

Sanjeev and I have often discussed how creative problem solving and design can play a larger role in not only our property strategy, but our business strategy as well.

My question to myself and my team is; how do we, the property industry, support sustainable industry and growth in our communities? More specifically, how do we take a responsible yet innovative approach to repurposing large, heavy industrial sites in our cities from capital intensive single purpose assets to high performing, intelligent assets that provide a range of benefits to their communities.

What excites me most is our ability to work and integrate our offering with our GFG Alliance supply chain, technology and sustainability capabilities. We have such scale and diversity in our businesses in Australia that we have a unique opportunity to find new ways to approach development and delivery.

It’s important for our businesses across the globe to take an innovative, creative approach to their work, and consider all the ways we can all set up our businesses to add even more value for our customers and communities into the future.

How have you used design to inform your own work at JAHAMA?

My team and I are constantly challenging ourselves to use design-led thinking to solve some of our most complex portfolio challenges. Being open to new ideas and allowing ourselves the time and headspace to be iterative with our work and strategy is key. We bring this approach to our day-to-day work when we can, including in shaping commercial property scenarios, complex acquisitions and general property-based issues.

Looking to the future and using a design-lens to strategically strengthen the Alliance for the future is an important part of my work.

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