Dubbo’s Jillian Kilby is on a mission to understand what people in regional NSW need to turn their business dreams into reality.
The 34-year-old winner of the AgriFutures Australia 2018 NSW-ACT Rural Women’s Award has a $10,000 bursary to launch the Regional Start-ups Insight Study.
A company owner in Australia and the United States, Ms Kilby reports that currently “we have no data on these people”. “They are sitting at home at their kitchen bench, thinking through their business ideas and no one has captured the information around how we are best to serve them,” she said.
Ms Kilby, a civil engineer now focused on “stakeholder facilitation” within her business called the Infrastructure Collaborative, is promising to feed the data produced by the study to people “most able to make change”.
In the interim she has some advice for regional NSW residents eager but anxious about starting a business. “Reach out to someone else who has started a business,” she said a day after being presented with the award by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at Parliament House in Sydney.
“Ask them ‘Would you mind mentoring me’. Find people who will listen to your idea and say ‘This is great how can I help?’.
“Mentors can’t get the job done but they can put you up on their shoulders. They can connect you with the right people and join the dots.”
The graduate of Stanford University in California said there were “a lot of government services in play” including grants and support in obtaining an ABN (Australian Business Number). “But that’s not the level of support we’re being told they need,” she said. “It’s all about those conversations.”
Ms Kilby, who calls Dubbo and San Francisco home, went to the award ceremony on Tuesday with her expectations “well and truly in check” after spending time with “wonderful” finalists and learning of their projects that she is certain will “go ahead”.
With a “regional collection” of old school friends and Dubbo-based parents Greg and Shane by her side, Ms Kilby was speechless when she was announced the winner. “I looked at Mum and Dad and I think Dad had his hands up in the air cheering,” she said on Wednesday.
Ms Kilby is now a finalist in the national competition for the AgriFutures Australia 2018 Australian Rural Women’s Award.