Jackie Dujmovic admits she knew little about aviation or robotics when she started drone company, Hover UAV.
Five years later, her Port Stephens-based business is involved in some of the biggest drone programs in Australia and she has gained national recognition as a trailblazer in the technology.
After winning the contract to trial a shark-spotting service on NSW beaches, Hover UAV took off - literally and figuratively. The business now works across a range of projects providing photography and video services, aerial mapping, surveying, surveillance, conservation monitoring and asset inspections, with an impressive client list that includes the NSW government, Surf Life Saving Australia and Google.
Hover UAV's journey will feature as part of the Hunter Business Chamber's first innovation event tonight at Fort Scratchley. Jacobs are sponsoring the event.
This new event series acknowledges the importance of innovation to business success and will provide a platform to better connect entrepreneurs and start-ups with established local businesses who can benefit from their products and services. This first event will also demonstrate the practical application of VR technology in planning and design.
The chamber is partnering with Hunter iF to present the event as part of the Hunter Innovation Festival.
Jackie's story is the classic entrepreneur's tale of identifying an opportunity and capitalising on a first-mover advantage.
"We were one of the first companies working with drones. And there was no real reason I got into it, I didn't have an aviation background, but I could see the potential that drones and robotics had," she says.
It's also a great story of home-grown success in the field of innovation and technology - the kind we hope to hear much more of as we continue to evolve as a smart region.
The chamber attracted a good crowd to its workplace compliance update, held in conjunction with Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors last Wednesday.
A keen topic of interest for the businesses in the room was the confusion over the status of casual employees created by last year's decision by the Federal Court in the Workpac vs Skene case.
The court held that a contracted 'casual' worker who had been performing regular shifts for the labour-hire firm was, in effect, a permanent employee, meaning he was entitled to leave payments in addition to the casual loading the firm maintained was provided for in his contract.
This ruling has created unease over the classification of a casual worker and raised the prospect of casual employees 'double-dipping' on entitlements.
The NSW Business Chamber has attempted to address these concerns by proposing to the Fair Work Commission the creation of a new 'perma-flexi' category that would provide employees engaged on an ongoing basis with leave entitlements and a 10 per cent loading.
In the meantime, ABLA encourages employers to scrutinise agreements with casual workers closely and, where practical, consider offering long-term casuals permanent status.