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Redefining success with Angus and Neil of Tanck

15 April, 2024
Redefining success with Angus and Neil of Tanck | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
15 April, 2024
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Meet Angus Crowther and Neil Pharaoh, the dynamic co-founders of Tanck, a consultancy that has swiftly carved a niche in redefining governmental engagement through innovative business strategies.

This detailed interview sheds light on their journey, the significant hurdles they’ve overcome, their approach to business, and how they measure the true impact of their work. Tanck is also a winner of Pause Awards in 2023.

What has been your most significant achievement in business or personal endeavours?

At Tanck, we place a strong emphasis on our clients, making their successes our own. One particular milestone that stands out is when we partnered with an organisation to enhance their government engagement and advocacy efforts at both the state and federal levels.

Working closely with their CEO, we helped define their objectives, developed a strategy to support their campaign, and implemented systems for streamlined engagement. This collaboration led to the organisation securing over $70 million in funding for sector skills training from a Federal Minister. The CEO was so pleased with the results that they described Tanck as one of their most valuable professional mentors.

This achievement was not only a validation of our unique approach to government engagement, but also a realisation of the impact we can have on communities. It inspired us to continue aiming high for both our clients and ourselves.

How does your company measure its success in terms of impact?

At Tanck, a core competency is achieved through others.

While we do focus on traditional metrics such as revenue, productivity, ROI, employee and client satisfaction, we understand the importance of these factors in maintaining a successful business.

However, our true measure of success lies in supporting our clients in achieving their goals, which ultimately benefits the communities they serve.

We provide our clients with the strategy, advice, and engagement tools necessary to effectively communicate with governments. When our approach leads to valuable insights being delivered to and heard by the government, the resulting benefits for our clients and their communities are significant.

Ultimately, we measure our success based on the tangible and substantial benefits that our clients are able to achieve.

How are you managing your mental health and avoiding burnout in your leadership role?

Haha, work hard, play hard!

We have intentionally built flexibility into every aspect of our business from the beginning. This includes remote work and a non-hierarchical organisational structure. We are committed to ensuring that team members, including ourselves, have the time and space to pursue goals and interests outside of work. We prioritise breaks, holidays, and team retreats as part of our regular schedule.

We have also recognized the importance of surrounding ourselves with individuals who share our values, believe in our mission, and provide support and encouragement. Our network of clients, partners, and mentors help energise us and offer valuable insights.

It is essential to make time for activities and interests that are important to you, whether it’s travel, nature, music, pets, or spending time with family. Finding a balance and making space for these important aspects of life is crucial.

Tanck

How have you navigated economic challenges to keep your business thriving?

We started our business in early 2021, which coincided with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This experience has led us to reflect on how our business would have fared in different economic and political landscapes. While our approach to government engagement remains non-partisan and adaptable, it is inevitably influenced by the prevailing environmental and financial conditions, both in Australia and internationally.

One key lesson we have learned is the importance of being able to adjust our strategy in response to the surrounding economic climate. Our clients have also successfully adopted this flexible approach.

Our other main economic challenges have been internal. Firstly, the task of self-funding a new enterprise and developing a groundbreaking product in a field that is not widely understood by Australians – politics. We have always prioritised innovation to meet the needs of our target market.

The second challenge has been striking a balance between making an impact and ensuring financial sustainability. We make numerous decisions every day to ensure that we maintain a strong business foundation while fulfilling our purpose.

Who inspires you the most in the business world? And what are some things that frustrate you?

The passion that is prevalent in the business community is truly inspiring to us. Our clients, and the hard work they put in to benefit their communities, serve as a constant reminder of this passion. Passion is truly remarkable.

One thing that frustrates us is encountering individuals who are set in their preconceived notions. Early on, we often faced the belief that it is impossible to run a business that is both profitable and does good. We are determined to challenge this belief and prove it wrong.

How are you currently utilising AI within your company for innovation? If not, what factors are influencing this decision?

We are currently experimenting with AI in various areas of our business, such as discussions and documentation, record-keeping, check-ins, and content creation. For us, AI serves as a means of exploring and evaluating different tools to determine their optimal fit for our operations.

Navigating the complexities of the political landscape often involves delicate nuances related to individual personality traits and requires the exercise of personal judgement in making strategic decisions. While some AI features have proven to be applicable and beneficial in enhancing our current processes, others have not quite met our specific needs at this time.

What are the top five things you are currently focused on?

  1. Growing Tanck as a business.
  2. Maintaining a balance between doing good and being successful as a business.
  3. The recent changes in the political landscape following the Tasmanian and Queensland elections.
  4. What are the next steps for innovation at Tanck?
  5. The ongoing development of the culture at Tanck – how can we as a team continue to grow in an environment that promotes excellent work and a healthy work/life balance?

What tools or resources do you use on a daily basis to stay productive and informed? 

Primarily news-based resources such as reading newspapers like ABC & AFR, online media newsletters like Third Sector and Smart Company. I also scan through government media releases and social media for information. Additionally, I always make sure to have a copy of the latest business book with me for long plane flights.

Who has played a key role in supporting your vision and growth?

We have a number of partners and business mentors who have supported us on our journey. However, the most significant relationship that has shaped Tanck is the partnership between Angus and Neil.

Our friendship, combined with our previous experience working together on projects, led us to share a common vision for opening up political access and influence in Australia to more purpose-driven organisations.

Angus and Neil bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. Angus has experience working inside government and excels in systems and communication, while Neil has experience outside of government and brings expertise in numbers and big ideas.

These complementary strengths have allowed us to cover all aspects of our business and have fostered ongoing discussions, challenging of our decisions, and occasional disagreements that ultimately lead to better solutions.

If we were to start Tanck over again, we would prioritise establishing this partnership from the beginning. We have learned the importance of having diverse skills and perspectives in a business venture, and would not consider going solo in the future.

How have government agencies supported your business?

The Australian government and its agencies have been very responsive to our new engagement approach, providing our clients with new sources of funding and key policy changes. Additionally, the support available to small businesses have been instrumental in our journey as a new business.


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