Nick Northcott is a one-man juggling act of epic proportions. In 2012, he started an MBA at The University of Western Australia (UWA). Having relocated back to Perth in late 2011, over the next five years he had two children, and broke into the c-suite before founding his own business.
Launched in April this year, Chrysalis Advisory is a healthcare-focused management consulting firm mixing profits with social purpose.
Nick wants to help drive developments in healthcare technology, and use big data analytics, to produce better outcomes for healthcare patients and providers alike. He’s aiming to expand the business across Australia and Southeast Asia.
Nick joined UWA’s MBA with over a decade’s experience in human resources roles for top multinationals like KPMG. At the time, he worked for the Telethon Kids Institute, a non-profit medical research firm dedicated to the prevention of childhood illnesses. By the end of his MBA, he’d been promoted to chief operating officer (COO).
He left the c-suite to take the leap into entrepreneurship. And his ties to UWA stay strong. He’s now a guest lecturer at the school.
How did the idea to start Chrysalis Advisory come about?
My early life was massively shaped by the death of my father during university. My corporate career was great, but to some extent lacked meaning. After my MBA, it felt like the natural time for me to transition out of my COO role and into running my own business.
What is the thinking behind the business?
We’re a values-led organization, which means every business we support has to make some kind of positive dent on the world whilst also being commercial and profitable. So that might be a healthcare tech company that that improves the efficacy of a respiratory device, or an energy efficiency business that creates a more sustainable world.
Whatever it is, I want to do high-value work that supports clients to achieve their ambitions, whilst being a great dad and enjoying my life.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at UWA?
The location, the UWA brand, and the Sandstone University with strong links to the corporate world in Western Australia. The flexible nature of study was another factor. I knew I was likely to have kids and UWA allowed me to take my time over four years.
How did you apply your learnings in the workplace?
I utilized whatever I learnt in my MBA classes into that COO role at the Telethon Kids Institute. It was a fantastic experience for me. We developed a new strategy, grew revenues substantially, restructured the institute, and did a number of significant partnership deals, including a A$20 million philanthropic deal with BHP Billiton.
I also ended up taking on a lot of MBAs to help with projects. It was kind of a strange scenario. One minute I was a classmate doing my MBA, and the next minute I was a project lead back in my COO role.
What advice would you give to MBAs looking to start their own business?
Ultimately, it comes down to a massive amount of self-belief. You have to be able to manage yourself, your team and deliver sustainable results. Be confident in who you are to actually get out there and back yourself. And talk to as many people as you can about what you’re passionate about and what opportunities are in the market.
The MBA, in many ways, helped prepare me for the jump into entrepreneurship. I’ve got a much broader network now. The dean of the business school, Phillip Dolan, has been really helpful. He has links from Stanford University and his investment banking days at Macquarie Group. I’ve appreciated his ability to personally connect me with people.