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The Serial Entrepreneur: Using An AGSM MBA To Grow A Consulting Business

Professional rugby player turned business owner, Tony Caine, is gaining the strategy and leadership insights he needs to expand his own consulting business abroad through a flexible MBA

Tony Caine began his career in 2006 as a Professional Rugby League (NRL) player in Australia, playing for the Cronulla Sharks, before moving to the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2007. 

He was only 19 and thought he had set out on a set career path. But after sustaining a leg injury during his professional debut, the course of his career changed forever. 

Tony left the sport in 2008 and shortly afterwards discovered a passion for finance and an entrepreneurial drive. He infused his competitive energy into his business venture and launched two financial start-ups from inception to sale.

Today, he draws on this experience to help other business owners thrive through his most recent venture, Tony Caine Business Coaching. 

Tony also started his MBAX specialising in Technology at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales Business School in Sydney in June this year. 

He started his MBA after growing his business for over a decade and wanted to take his business acumen to the next level.


The road to launching a consulting business

When Tony was forced to leave rugby behind, he quickly discovered finance as an alternative career path. 

“I had always been fascinated by economics and finance at the level of individuals, and wanted to take that interest further,” he explains.

He completed the AMP Horizons Academy program, a course designed to help aspiring financial advisors enter the profession, and found a job with leading financial advisory group, Navigate Financial. After five years building his financial experience, he decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship and created his first two start-up companies.

“There was no way I could live the lifestyle I wanted while I was working for someone else,” Tony explains. “My wife and I are passionate about travelling, and to do that you need time and resources.” 

Tony’s first venture was a financial planning practice, which he later sold to leading Australian wealth management firm, MLC Australia. Shortly after, he founded Next Lending Solutions, a financial brokerage that connects customers with tailored lending solutions. 

This led Tony to launch his own consulting business, a coaching venture that combines his enthusiasm for finance with a drive to help other entrepreneurs succeed. He launched Tony Caine Business Coaching in 2010. 

His unique approach helps clients to focus on their broader lifestyle goals first rather than as arbitrary business targets. They then work together to create a strategy to achieve these goals.

With every client Tony helped, his experience grew. But he was keen to gain insights from business leaders in other industries and expand his technical knowledge of strategy. The part-time, online MBAX at AGSM was a no brainer. 


How the AGSM MBA is helping Tony to grow his business

Tony already had experience of AGSM before he enrolled in the MBAX. He had completed an AGSM certificate in commercial management a few years earlier in 2017, and the school left a lasting impression.

“I wanted to study at the best institution I could find,” he notes. “I was also excited by the program’s flexibility, which meant I could learn techniques today and then help a client with the same issue tomorrow.”

Although Tony began his MBAX just a few months ago, he is already applying these new strategies and leadership skills to his business.

“During the Strategic Management module of the MBAX, I learned how to understand where I am now with my business, where I want to go, how I want to get there, who I need to help me, and how to monitor the progress.” 

These new strategic insights are backed up by AGSM’s focus on leadership development, Tony adds. He recently completed the Leadership module, which equips students with the ability to tailor their management style to different contexts.

The module has encouraged Tony to consider his team’s individual needs and adapt his leadership style accordingly. Before joining the program, Tony admits, his intense and energetic approach did not motivate every teammate.

“You need to lead with a coaching style, and understand that work isn’t always a sprint,” he reflects.


Using the MBA to expand the business

Tony is combining these strategic and leadership skills with insights from his MBAX peers. 

The diversity of the program, which brings together professionals from engineering and telecommunications, banking and finance, technology, government and not-for-profit, and pharmaceuticals, means that the business perspective each student gains is vast, and spans a wealth of industry experience. 

“I really like understanding how leaders in other industries approach things, and whether I can use a similar approach to my own start-up,” Tony says.

Before the MBAX, Tony planned to work with Australian businesses, knowing the domestic landscape intimately. After conversations with his peers, however, he has decided to branch out into other countries, reflecting that without the MBA he would never have thought about a global strategy.

He would heartily recommend the MBAX to other entrepreneurs who want to expand their technical knowledge and their business. To help aspiring and current business leaders access world-class business MBA, AGSM also offers a AGSM Leadership Excellence (Entrepreneurial Leadership) Scholarship,  providing funding to promising entrepreneurs who wish to complete the Full-Time MBA program.

With his plan for global expansion underway, Tony is optimistic about the future of his own venture.

He is already using the technical knowledge gained through the MBA to develop a universal guide for businesses leaders hoping to grow their impact and profits.  

“My plan for Tony Caine Business Coaching is to help as many people as possible to transform their business—and their lives,” he says.