Larissa Robertson

2016 Young Alumni Award

Managing Director, SCO Recruitment and Trim and Proper Property Services

Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting), 2004

Larissa Robertson believes that there is far greater risk in inaction than in making the tough decisions, and she certainly doesn’t let age, fear, or inexperience stand in her way.

When the management and board of the ailing organisation she was working for repeatedly rejected her rescue plan, the company spiralled into bankruptcy. But while others would have simply accepted the decision and sought new employment, Larissa instead saw an opportunity to build a new, stronger business from the ashes.

At just 28 years of age – little more than four years after graduating – Larissa had never before run a business, but she had a plan, and the determination to put it in place. She raised a modest capital investment, purchasing liquidated assets and establishing her company, SCO Recruitment. She convinced a great many of the former company’s clients to join her in the venture and was able to save the jobs of 180 of the 250 employees.

In little over a year – during which time she discovered she was pregnant, suffered the loss of both a multi-million-dollar client and her business partners, and gave birth to her son – she had taken SCO Recruitment from bankruptcy to the Smart50 list of Australia’s fastest-growing small to medium enterprises.

Through her entrepreneurial talent and managerial excellence, the company has gone from strength to strength; within just four years of establishment, she had guided SCO Recruitment to a turnover in excess of $16 million, employing more than 400 people. In 2012, the company was named BRW’s second fastest growing company in Australia, and in the same year Smart Company singled Larissa out as one of the nation’s top 30 entrepreneurs – just two of many accolades recognising her entrepreneurial impact.

At the heart of Larissa’s success is her view that the greatest asset to any organisation or society is its people – an ethos that is reflected in her approach to the company’s clients and employees. Productivity and happiness are valued as equals, and SCO Recruitment offers job security, flexible working arrangements, and free onsite crèche services – on the proviso that staff eat lunch and play with their child. A reflection of this, the company’s staff turnover is virtually non-existent.

Larissa also believes that business has both the opportunity and responsibility to do good. Her company is redefining business in Australia, through showing other high-growth businesses that they can have a real and positive social impact. She established Trim and Proper Services alongside SCO, as a self-funded charity that provides cleaning and maintenance services to the Department of Housing. It works as an ‘employment incubator’, alleviating poverty through helping long-term unemployed to re-enter the workforce. In the past three years, SCO Recruitment has contributed in-kind services to the value of almost $700,000 to Trim and Proper – an amount equal to 15 per cent of their gross profits each year.

This exceptional young alumna is also a keen supporter of the Australian start-up ecosystem, and as Ambassador of Startup Australia has provided support and guidance to other entrepreneurs and innovators working to establish their own dreams and transform our national economy. She also gives her time as a speaker at a great many events, sharing her experiences and inspiring others.

Larissa Robertson’s story is one of hard work, perseverance, and the ability to learn and adapt. She is a powerful example that ambition and success need not be at the expense of others, and of just what can be achieved through shared vision and passion.

Chancellor, Larissa Robertson is an exceptional and inspiring young graduate, and it is a great honour to present her for the 2016 Young Alumni Award.

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