Executive Director, Benchmark The Practice
Chairman, Board of Governors, The McDonald College
President New South Wales, Women Chiefs of Enterprises International (WCEI)
Member, Executive Women Australia
Member, Diamond Group, She Business
If you do one thing in your fabulous life, make sure you can sustain yourself financially. This is the message from Antoinette Colbran, accomplished speaker and advocate for the importance of financial know-how for women. Faced with impending, life-changing financial hardship, Antoinette was forced to ask
hard questions about her finances. From a lifestyle that included a home overlooking Sydney Harbour with choices in holiday homes, boats and cars, within a short time, Antoinette was left knowing that survival meant having to step up and build a business she had worked in part-time while raising her children.
And step up she did. Great Handbag, Don’t Forget Your Briefcase is Antoinette’s message to women about becoming aware of your financial choices, staying in control and ensuring your future is financially safe. It’s the message every woman needs to hear.
Look good, strive for perfection but never, ever take your eye off the family finances. Make sure that you know precisely what is going on, and dig deep enough to do so. – Antoinette
Antoinette is the Executive Director of her medico-legal business, Benchmark The Practice. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two daughters, their two dogs and a cat. An accomplished piano player, Antoinette credits this training to the discipline she needed to focus on her new business. Antoinette is a Member of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, the Australian Institute Company Directors, She Business as well as being a listed Member in the Worldwide Who’s Who of Successful Businesswomen. Most recently, Antoinette has joined the Board of The McDonald College, College of Performing Arts.
As part of the Confident Woman Series, Antoinette has spoken on a number of occasions about the importance of financial intelligence. Able to engage women of all ages and backgrounds, Antoinette’s candid manner and honest recollections are both appealingly self-deprecating and starkly relevant. Confident speaking to large audiences and smaller groups alike, Antoinette’s poise and presence is collected and professional.
Antoinette commenced her business as Benchmark the Practice in 2000. The business provides expert witnesses for law firms Australia-wide and in New Zealand for matters of personal injury, motor vehicle accident and medical negligence. Most of the experts are from the medical field, although Antoinette has expanded the business to include experts in the building and construction field. In this field, the requirements are for ‘building compliance’ expertise and can include architects and engineers.
The emphasis is very much on the quality of the expert and his or her reporting, but Antoinette says that customer service is a major priority. It is extremely important when dealing with expert surgeons, physicians and lawyers to deliver more than promised at the outset. Timing is critical in this work owing to the deadlines set by the lawyer, their promise to their client and the requested timeframes of the Court in each case. No time for slacking off here. Phone calls are regularly taken late at night or on the occasional weekend in order to meet a demand.
Prior to starting Benchmark, Antoinette had been Human Resources Director for the Radisson Hotel Group in Australia. She travelled Australia and Asia opening hotels and working with Radisson Hotels International, based in Minnesota, U.S.A. where she trained at the start of her career with the Group.
A career in politics preceded this and Antoinette worked as Legislative Assistant to the Federal Member for Mackellar, the Hon. Jim Carlton who was Minister for Health in the Fraser Government and then Shadow Minister for Health, Education, Treasury and Defense respectively. Antoinette stayed on after the 1983 election and worked with Mr Carlton in these portfolio areas. At the end of this time she joined Gary Sturgess, Head of the Cabinet Office in the Greiner Government. Antoinette’s Board work has included President of the Parents’ Association at her daughters’ school for a period of three years, with six on the Committee. She has recently accepted a Board position with the McDonald College, College of Performing Arts.
For Antoinette, the challenge provides the stimulus. Politics fascinated her. Not only for the extremely hard work and long hours, but the opportunity to meet politicians of all persuasions and to mix with them both for work and socially. The depth of knowledge among her peers was inspiring. Equally, the lack of depth was on occasion unsurprising! Politics taught Antoinette to deal with people on all levels, particularly within the business sector. The need to work cohesively towards a common goal, and often to deadline, was a critical learning curve and one that she embraced. Her career in human resources, business and politics readied her for the challenge to set up Benchmark The Practice – now a thriving business.
Antoinette is a gifted speaker. She tells her story of financial stress with eloquence. Given the extent of her loss, both financial and emotional, Antoinette’s story is inspiring and beautifully delivered. Her determination to share her story with others is matched by her dedication to find answers, create solutions and build a secure future for herself and her family.