Home' Spice Magazine : SPICE FEB 2016 Contents Tell us about the history
of the business?
Joan Saxton famously and singlehand-
edly founded the Australian speaking
industry from her lounge room in
1965. Delving into Saxton's old stories
is a treasure trove of precious social
history of national importance. Even
the war hero Weary Dunlop took the
lectern at one of Joan's original lunch-
Joan sadly passed away late last year
but she saw the celebration of the 50th
Anniversary of Saxton -- a rare feat for
any business. She was the founder of
an industry and a wonderful friend
In 1988 my partner Nanette
Moulton and I purchased the business
from Joan. We have been delighted to
see what has been an extraordinary
expansion into the leading Australa-
sian bureau and a world player. There
is a huge satisfaction that comes from
building on a heritage. It's a heritage
we're very proud of.
We're also proud of all the people
who have come together to create
what Saxton is today and over that
28 years it's developed without los-
ing the personal care and attention
to relationships that makes the
What services do you
offer and to whom?
We offer speaking and management
expertise. We are essentially a marriage
counsellor between speaker and client.
This is only partially a joke. We
match the corporate side to the speak-
er. But what we do know from being
in the industry for so long is that
having a speaker at an event is quite
a special thing. It's the speakers who
often leave those lasting memories --
special moments affecting so many.
When you are engaging a speaker,
you are not just engaging 40 minutes
or so, but often 40 years of priceless
experience and one salient message
can change your business or your life.
And we've seen it.
So, booking a speaker is very much
an investment. If you consider 1000
people in a room for one hour, there
are 1000 hours or 25 old fashioned
working weeks on the line. If you have
a critical message to get across, then a
high-quality speaker may be the best
investment you ever make.
Over the years you have
maintained a very strong
integrity for both client
and speaker. How do you
juggle that so well?
To us integrity comes with the people
you choose to work with and integrity
is a precursor to joining the Sax-
ton family and is indeed one of our
values. That provides the platform
and from there it becomes a living,
breathing part of our culture and it
What are some of the
biggest challenges you
have faced in the business?
How did you resolve them?
Our biggest challenges have focussed
on managing an international spread
of people. We use state-of-the-art
Spice caught up
with Miles Munn
to learn more
about this ultra-
technologies, our database, intranet, videoconfer-
encing and an integrated VOIP telephone system
to cover the mechanical issues. For this challenge,
however we have needed to select our people very
carefully. We look for excellent communication skills,
self-motivation, openness and honesty, and a results
driven focus. Above all, and it seems fundamental,
but they must be 'nice'. We then have generated op-
erational systems that reinforce these characteristics.
We are delighted with the Saxton family from both a
team and speaker perspective.
What's the most memorable
event you've worked on?
The extravagant Saxton fiftieth birthday celebration
we hosted in Melbourne last year.
Mike Munro hosted an historical perspective of
the development of the 'Spoken word' in Australia,
introducing 22 Saxton luminaries along the way
including Ita Buttrose, Gill Hicks, Mark Bouris and
We had fantastic support from industry legends
including Nanette Moulton from Saxton (Event
Director), Mike Hall from Rigoni Hall (Event and
Creative Director), Meri Took from Staging Rentals
(Producer) and PurpleMonky (Video Producers). We
couldn't have wished for a better team.
It brought so many of the people who have been
critical to Saxton together and distilled that 50 years
into a little over two and a half hours. It was a proud
moment for all of us.
What are the big trends in your
industry? What are clients asking for?
Our business mirrors society, now and in the future.
There are big trends associated with business growth,
future scenario planning and, in particular, the
extraordinary technology growth. I cite digital futurist
Chris Riddell, thought leader Rachel Botsman, entre-
preneur Mark Bouris and social entrepreneur Ita But-
trose as some of the people driving the trends. What
48 Spice February 2016
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