The last time I attended the Melbourne Cup was in 1996. We were guests of Lindsay Moore and had a picnic in the car park. I backed the winner, Saintly, a beautiful big chestnut horse owned by Dato Tan Chin Nam and trained by Bart Cummings. I remember its colours – black and white checks with yellow sleeves. There is a story to that. In addition to being a great entrepreneur, Tan Chin Nam was a chess enthusiast. All his silks had the chessboard vest, the sleeve colour varied.

A year later, we had a party on Cup Day to celebrate the opening of our new offices in Southbank. Might and Power won the Cup, but we had other things on our mind.

Brilliant architect, Graham Loughlin had designed our office to suit our purpose and the times. Our consultants lived in an open plan space, a novelty at the time, enjoying the sun and the views across the Yarra River to the CBD, the trains, and Flinders Street Station. Meeting rooms, and rooms for training, and configuring hardware were placed around the core. The marketing department was hidden out the back. The traditional, confined tea room was replaced with a café with tables and chairs.

The office layout has served us well. But we have changed. We no longer have a marketing department; that task is now done by our CEO in collaboration with our consulting staff. We used to configure hardware and software for our clients, test it all then ship it to their premises; that is not necessary any more. Our staff numbers have doubled; we expect to have thirty soon, possibly more.

So, this year we set about the task of refurbishing our office to suit our growing numbers and our current needs without compromising Graham’s design. Graham has now retired, but we employed his long-term partners to undertake the work for us.

The result is an office with modern décor. Pot plants which were out of fashion in 1997 have made a welcome return. Grey carpet has replaced the mottled green. The main yellow wall is now white. The desks rise at the touch of a button so that our consultants can spend some of their working day standing, if they wish. There are more meeting rooms, and there is a bench with stools added to the café.  New tables in the meeting rooms have pallisander timber tops to match existing ones that we have had since our first office in BHP House nearly forty years ago. The training room is equipped with light flexible tables and chairs so that it can be easily reconfigured for alternative purposes; a party on Cup Day perhaps?

Written By Peter Fenwick

Peter was born in Geelong and educated at Geelong College. He studied Civil Engineering at the Gordon Institute of Technology and Melbourne University, graduating in 1966. In 1972 he completed an MBA with distinction at Melbourne University. He studied philosophy under Fr. Eric Darcy and is an alumni of the Cranlana Colloquium and a member of the Mises Institute. For thirty-five years, Peter managed Fenwick Software which he founded in 1976. In 2011, he established an employee shareholder scheme and six of his long-term staff now own seventy-five percent of the company; one of them, Greg Galloway, manages the business. Peter remains involved part-time as a director. He has been married to Jill, a school teacher and author, since 1966. They have three sons and three grandchildren. He enjoys jazz, film and theatre, and plays tennis, royal tennis and chess. He has written two books: The Fragility of Freedom: Why Subsidiarity Matters and Liberty at Risk: Tackling Today’s Political Problems. Both are published by Connor Court. His blogs appear on his website


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