Featured Business Leader Naomi Simson
This week’s Featured Business Leader is Naomi Simson, the brains behind one of Australia’s most successful online gift and experience retailers. We’re delighted to announce that Naomi will be joining us as our special guest speaker for the AIB Alumni Event, to be held in Sydney on April 23, 2015 – but first, we’re going to share a little of her fantastic business journey with you.
Naomi Simson is a woman who has held many different titles over her years in the corporate world – her business career started in the marketing discipline, working for key brands such as Ansett Australia and Apple, as well as stints with IBM and KPMG. She first struck out on her own in 1997 with Bright Marketing, a freelance marketing group working with a wide variety of clients including Fuji Xerox, Imation and Aurion Gold – but in 2001, she discovered that there was a potential for serious business growth on the back of the ‘Dot Com’ boom, and RedBalloon was born.
RedBalloon describes itself as a business based on happiness – the core function of the business is as an online experience retailer, a company which sells gift vouchers for a wide range of incredible, life-changing events. From driving experiences to close encounters with animals or the beauty of nature, RedBalloon’s initial offering was a unique one – and it has remained as a leading gift provider in Australia since its inception, recently surpassing a major milestone in selling 2 million experiences.
In addition to its success as a retailer, RedBalloon is widely recognised as a leading employer in Australia – for the last 5 years, RedBalloon has been named on BRW’s Great Places to Work list. Some of the benefits that have been championed by Naomi Simson and have filtered through the organisation include staff discounts for experiences, a day off on your birthday, social functions and wellness programs. These benefits have helped to maintain the strong company culture which RedBalloon is renowned for.
Throughout the success of her business, Naomi Simson has also been recognised as a leading entrepreneur and businesswoman in Australia. Her accolades and awards have included the 2008 National Telstra Business Women’s Award for Innovation, as well as being named Ernst & Young Industry Entrepreneur of the Year and BRW Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. This recognition and success has led to her diversifying her career, and she made the decision to step down as CEO of RedBalloon in order to pursue her other business interests – though she still remains on the board as the Founding Director.
Naomi Simson now dedicates most of her time to sharing the vast array of business knowledge she’s gained over her career in a variety of forms. Primarily, she writes for her website www.naomisimson.com, exploring some of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and businesspeople today. In addition, she is a published author – her first novel, I Want What She’s Having, was reviewed as an ‘essential business read’ by The Australian. Her second novel, Live What You Love, is to be released in early 2015. She is also one of the first Australians to be named as a LinkedIn Influencer – and with more than 750,000 subscribers, there are people across the globe tuning in to her advice and recommendations.
Nowadays, her time is additionally dedicated to television – Naomi Simson was selected as one of the ‘sharks’ in Channel 10 Australia’s new business-based reality show “Shark Tank”, wherein aspiring entrepreneurs present their business ideas and plans to a panel of successful business owners and entrepreneurs in their own right – who may then decide to invest their own money in the burgeoning business, if they believe it’s a solid opportunity.
We’re thrilled to be able to learn more from this amazing businesswoman and her ongoing business journey at our Sydney Alumni Event in April 2015. If you’re interested in attending, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: NaomiSimson.com, The Growth Faculty, LinkedIn, RedBalloon and CMO.