About Us

The Owner Manager Program is a business accelerator program adapted for the Australian market. Initiated by Rob Douglas, the then Director of Executive Education at the University of Queensland Business School, in partnership with The Icehouse.

In late 2016, Australian Owner Manager was formed with foundation partners UQ Business School and the Icehouse. At its core, Australian Owner Manager delivers practical, effective development to Australian business owners and their senior managers.

Nearly 250 business owners across Australia have completed the Owner Manager Program, all of whom are extremely positive about their experience. There are several keys to its success. 

The most important, perhaps, is the selection and ‘design’ of each group. Great care is taken to ensure each program includes like-minded business owners from different industries. Different people are brought together who share common challenges and, through shared experience and observation, shed light on a path forward.

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More business accelerator programs emerge!

Built on this solid foundation, Australian Owner Manager expanded its portfolio of programs in 2018 to include the OM Leadership Program (OML). OML is Australia’s first entirely practical leadership course created specifically for senior managers of privately owned companies. Next created is the Owner Manager Exchange (OMX), a next level program designed exclusively for graduates of the Owner Manager Program. 2022 has also brought two new programs. The Small Business Owner (SBO) Program designed for owner of businesses with revenues between $750k-$3m. OMP+, the alumni-exclusive ongoing extension to the flagship Owner Manager Program, is the most recent program addition.

Our Journey

2011 US market entry strategy for Lorna Jane
Lorna Jane Completed the Wharton Program
Wharton About Us

Rob Douglas established the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum in Australia at UQ Business School. This unique program helped Australian businesses enter or expand into the US market.

The first client was woman’s active wear retailer, Lorna Jane. As part of the program Rob Douglas, UQ MBA students and various advisors including board member Chris Robinson, developed the US market entry strategy for Lorna Jane. 

2012 Australia needed for a non-academic program for the Owners of mid-sized companies
Australian Owner Manager Program was Founded
OMP About Us

Building on the Wharton program, Rob Douglas saw a need for a non-academic program for the Owners of mid-sized companies. As the Director of Executive Education, he analysed various programs including the Harvard Owner Presidents Program. After review, he decided to adapt the approach from the Icehouse in New Zealand for the Australian market. The Australian Owner Manager Program (OMP) was born! 

2013 OMP1 cohort included ARIA Property Group, Woollam Constructions, Michelle Bridges Body for Life and VideoPro
OMP1 Launched in QLD
Owner Manager Program OMP1

The first Australian Owner Manager Program commenced in Queensland. The OMP1 cohort included ARIA Property Group, Woollam Constructions, Michelle Bridges Body for Life and VideoPro, amongst a range of companies. OMP2 commenced in late 2013. 

2014-2016 Owner Manager Program
OMP Successfully Continued
UQ Business School About Us

The program continued to run in QLD in 2014-2016 at the University of Queensland.

2017 UQ Business School and the Icehouse become Foundation partners
Australian Owner Manager Launched
Australian Owner Manager AOM About Us

In late 2016 the decision was made to commercialise and expand the program with UQ Business School and the Icehouse as Foundation partners. In early 2017 Australian Owner Manager was launched.

2018 OMP expanded into NSW and the OML and OMX programs commenced
OML & OMX were Launched
OML OMX logos

OMP expanded into NSW with a Sydney based program. The OM Leadership program was also launched for senior managers in private companies, along with OMX for OMP alumni.

In addition, NAB identified the Australian Owner Manager Program as a key option to support and assist their business clients. NAB undertook a pilot with part scholarships to a dozen customers.

2019 NAB joins as the Principal Partner of Australian Owner Manager
NAB joins as Principal Partner
NAB About Us

The NAB pilot program concluded with exceptional feedback and NAB entered in an agreement to become the exclusive Principal and Financial Partner of Australian Owner Manager and provide part-scholarships to NAB business clients for the next 3-4 years.

2020 Topical webinars support business during COVID lockdowns
OMP Expanded: QLD, NSW & VIC
Sydney Opera House About Us

The OMP program expanded into VIC with programs in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. COVID19 disrupted the face-to-face sessions, which continued into late 2020 where feasible. The OM Leadership program for senior managers and OMX for alumni continued to run. Australian Owner Manager supported businesses during COVID with a range of ongoing interactive webinars 

2021 PWC joined as an advisory partner and Family Business Australia joined as an associate partner
Small Business Owner Program was Created
SBO About Us

OMP Program continued to run in QLD, with sessions in NSW and VIC put on hold. PWC joined as an advisory partner and Family Business Australia joined as an associate partner. The Small Business Owner Program (SBO) was developed. 

2022 Ongoing expansion as COVID restrictions end
All Programs Running and OMP+ Launched
OMP+ About Us

Strong demand following COVID sees programs scheduled in QLD, NSW and VIC. The OM Leadership program, OMX, and SBO for small business owners are also scheduled. OMP+ an additional program for alumni has been developed.

“Fundamentally we set out to create something for business owners that was, first and foremost, delivered significant value. There are hundreds of courses out there for business owners – the vast majority of which are theoretical at best. The Owner Manager Program (OMP) was designed to be the absolute opposite – it’s entirely practical, it’s focused, it’s immersive and it’s about helping you and your business move forward”

Rob Douglas, Executive Director
Australian Owner Manager

Advisory Committee

Prof. Andrew Griffiths

Executive Dean, Faculty of Business, Exonomics & Law, University of Queensland

Andrew is an internationally recognised Professor and expert in Business Sustainability and Strategy. He is responsible for the Schools of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Queensland. He facilitated some of the original Owner Manager Programs in Australia and is an ongoing supporter of the program.

Liz Wotherspoon

Director of Growth and Coaching. The Icehouse

Liz is responsible for leading a wide range of activities and is primarily focused on improving the capabilities to grow established mid sized businesses. Liz has held various management roles at a wide variety of organisations such as Grafton Consulting Group, TMP Worldwide and the NZ Institute of Management. She has facilitated the Owner Manager Program for the last 10 years.
Chris Robinson Headshot
Chris Robinson
Principal at MYMAX
MYMAX is an investing and consulting business specialising in accelerated growth of private companies. Chris’ background is in finance and he is currently a Fellow of CPA Australia. He was the CEO and then owner (via MBO) of Amart All Sports and principal growth advisor to Lorna Jane. He has been a supporter of the Australian Owner Manager Program since its inception.
Rob Douglas

Executive Director, Australian Owner Manager

Most recently Rob was the Director Commercial Enterprise and Director of Executive Education at UQ Business School. He established and setup the Australian Owner Manager Program in 2011. Prior to his roles at UQ, Rob had commercialisation roles at UniQuest, ran a business performance centre in New Zealand and founded a number of start-up companies.

Our Partners