Living Culture at Fortis | An Interview with our Executive Chairman Adrian Gurgone

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Adrian Gurgone sits down with us this week to recount some of the projects that we have worked on throughout the last decade and future plans for Fortis Consulting.


 What has been the most challenging project you have faced?

That is a tough one because we have had a lot. The most challenging would probably be with the Defence Force School of Languages. The project was delivered between 2011 and 2013 and was a major cultural change in defence. It involved them shifting the way they went about training their soldiers in not just language, but in culture.
Firstly, that project was challenging to win because as a boutique consultancy we were going up against some very large competition The project required us understanding the needs of the Defence Force in the 21st century and how to deploy soldiers all around the world. It wasn’t a case that you could give the soldiers essentially what was a TAFE tourist language course and expect them to operate effectively in their roles. The Defence Force of the 21st Century is more about hearts and minds than it is about warfare. Putting it in that sort of context, the course that you’re providing is about building cultural awareness and the ability to engage positively with other cultures as much as it is about linguistics.
It shifted the culturally engrained way of doing things that the Defence Force School of Languages had for many decades, and changed it quite dynamically. It provided us with an opportunity to make a real difference for the Defence Force. We have now built a model for delivering courses that is much more focused on the core skills that people who are deployed overseas need, not just simply providing a basic language training course. Despite the challenge, we are very proud of the outcome that we have achieved for the Defence Force.</span>


On that note, what has been the most rewarding?

It would be a toss-up between our Keys to Diversity training and the Culture, Communication and Relationships at Work (CCRW) program. It is hard to split them because each significantly support the not-for-profit sector. I would probably weigh towards Keys to Diversity because it is more recent.
Keys to Diversity is a project focused on supporting and providing key tools to the not-for-profit sector. It helps organisations providing services to migrants and refugees to enable their volunteers to engage and understand, from a capability perspective, the issues that those people are facing and how to be more sensitive to those issues. Developing that program was massively rewarding for us. Being able to fund the continuing delivery of that program from our pocket is very rewarding because we feel that is it positively contributing to the whole sector.
We are adding several more modules and continuing to look at adding value to the overall product. Keys to Diversity is something we believe in because we think that it can assist organisations across Australia in the not-for-profit sector to better service migrants and refugees who have had a very challenging start to their journey coming to Australia, as well as the things they have faced at home. From our perspective, the more that we can assist that cohort then the better.


Sitting and reflecting on the past ten years, how do you feel about the accomplishments so far?

I am proud of what we have achieved and energised by the foundations we have laid. When measured in terms of impact, what we have achieved is immeasurably more than I could have anticipated 10 years ago. Not only the significant assistance we have provided to the community sector financially (now in excess of $1m), but the large number of lives we have touched including some of the most vulnerable people in our community such as refugees and recent migrants, senior citizens and children. I’m also delighted that the vision of building a top tier network-based firm, not only competing successfully with the largest incumbent firms, but also delivering quality consulting services to sectors otherwise deprived of them, due to budgetary constraints I see as a huge accomplishment.


What are your hopes and dreams for the next ten years?

A mentor early in my career sagely advised me to “shoot for the stars and even if you miss, you may hit the moon”! I believe in never setting our sights too low. Our next 10 years can build on the significant work we have already achieved. Firstly by building on some major community partnerships we have fostered into more sophisticated and mutually beneficial cooperative arrangements that enable greater efficiencies for all partners while enhancing service delivery to those who need it most. Together we can help more people, and better deliver products and services which are tailored to their needs.
We will also be building our own programs, tools and consulting models in an ever more digitally innovative way, to enable people to access the services they need, when and where they need them. This includes gamification and using apps to help people improve the way they work, interact and deliver for employers and clients. Ultimately we want to touch the lives and help many more vulnerable people in the community, while also delivering our quality services to clients across our specialisations of Culture, Capabilities and Diversity.