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Who are we?

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Sourdough Business Pathways is a not for profit joint initiative of the Sourdough Group and the Byron Region Community College. Our purpose is to provide a strong future for the next generation in the Northern Rivers region by building strong businesses that generate prosperity and jobs. We achieve this by helping existing businesses to be more sustainable, overcome challenges and grow. We also inspire and support entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to create new businesses and generate job growth.

We collaborate with the many and varied agencies, associations and businesses in our region to encourage economic sustainability and growth. We come from an authentic desire to use our skills and experience to help others succeed for the good of the region.

Our purpose is…
To increase employment in the Northern Rivers region by stimulating and supporting local business through the use of our asset and by attracting city-based businesses to the region.

Our goals are…
We will achieve this by proactively engaging with the regional business community and providing them access to our asset group who are willing to share their skills and experience for the successful business growth of the region.

Our vision is…
Vibrant, regional growth through passionate skilled people.


Richard Vinycomb has a professional background in exploration geology, science and maths as well as acting and directing for the theatre. He even had a stint as a program manager for a community arts policy for The Australia Council. Since 1990, he has run two award winning adult education centres in Victoria and currently at the Byron Region Community College in the Northern Rivers region. He is a member of the ASQA reference group, a local government business incubation group, and the Board of Co-operative Learning Ltd.

Pat Grier has extensive experience in the disciplines of sales, marketing and general management. He was Sales Manager at Ricket and Coleman, and S.C.Johnson progressing to be their Marketing Manager before moving on to be the General Manager of Revlon Australia. He then progressed into health care industry where he ran several hospitals, one of which, through his business management and innovation, was named “hospital of the year.”  He then joined Ramsay Health Care as General Manager when it had only 8 hospitals and over a 20 year period grew the organisation to over 100 hospitals internationally. Ramsay’s turnover grew from $150 million to $3 billion with 30,000 employees and a profit of $250mill.

Pat was the architect of what is now termed a balanced health care system: between the private hospital sector and the public hospital sector. For this he was awarded the Order of Australia. Pat has been on several company boards, a number of which he has been the chair.

Murray has extensive experience in the food and agricultural sectors having worked for some of the worlds largest food companies. He has established a broad understanding of the food market and the emerging trends that will shape the future of the food industry both locally and globally. From a sales and distribution background, Murray has a developed a strong capability in defining business strategy, establishing clear focus and working with key people to build momentum to effect change.

Murray is chairman of B&R Industries, international licensee of packaging patents; director of Byron Bay Chilli Company Pty Ltd, marketer of chilli sauces, salsa and corn chips domestically and internationally; director Highland Beef Pty Ltd, livestock supply chain manager; and director Livestock Monitoring Services Pty Ltd, collateral manager. Murray is active in the Northern Rivers region and is a foundation member of the Sourdough Group.

Jennifer has enjoyed a 30-year career in health care with experience in finance, business planning, sales, marketing and general management. She has strong international experience, including successful management of diverse distributor relationships throughout USA and Asia. Her passion is building strong relationships with customers, employees and business partners.

Her roles include leading the Australian operations of General Electric Medical Systems, Bayer Diagnostics and Applied BioSystems.  She was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with a venture capital-backed technology start-up in USA before it was successfully sold.

Jennifer served as a Board Director of the Monash Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia for seven years.

Dr James Cowley has built his own businesses and organisations over a period of 40 years creating teams who have been regarded as among the best in their fields. His client list globally reads like a who’s who of Business and Government. In highly competitive areas of both business and social change every one of his organisations have consistently broken new ground and been seen as highly innovative.

In his spare time he completed 4 degrees including a PhD, and has examined 13 doctorates. He has also conducted over $100M of market research. In his philanthropic work he assists people to create and grow businesses and helps develop projects that will create jobs that are sustainable long into the future. His past work has developed a particular interest in knowledge driven businesses.

James is convinced that without meaningful work we will see health, social and community problems increase.

Margaret Robertson was born in the Northern Rivers region and has spent many decades working in the property industry both as a principal of a successful real estate and property management agency and as a consultant. During this time she gained a reputation as an expert in her field that has been perpetuated by the many people she has trained and mentored. Margaret has learned the importance of building connections and community and has a genuine interest in helping others establish their business based on the principles of transparency, friendship and meeting the needs of others.

After an early career in the corporate world (Littlewoods and IBM) Paul Jameson was attracted to small business. He has owned and/or managed a diversity of businesses in a range of industries including hospitality, retail, IT and consulting. As a business trainer and advisor he has held positions that include managing the NEIS program, the network of Northern Rivers Business Incubators and the Tweed Business Enterprise Centre. Currently he manages the Sourdough Business Pathways program where he assesses small businesses and matches their needs with the skills of mentors as well as driving industry development and accelerator projects.

Mark Holden has over 30 years experience as a corporate executive and strategic business coach for some of Australia’s largest and most successful organisations. He is a business author, educator and executive coach who has worked with organisations throughout Australia, the USA, Asia and the Middle East to develop strategies for sustainable business growth. Like many of us, he has moved to this region for the lifestyle and all of the wonderful things it offers – and he isn’t moving! Mark is committed to working with the Sourdough Business Pathways team to create a vibrant community of business innovators building a sustainable regional economy.

Fiona has over 20-years’ experience in Business Development and Partner Management. She has worked with a wide variety of customers and partners, from start-ups and small- to medium-sized business through to large corporates, government departments and educational institutions across Australia and New Zealand. She also has a strong interest in supporting women in business having spent five years as a board member of Women in Technology (WiT)—one of Queensland’s most respected and active technology industry associations—and is currently a committee member of Sourdough Business Women.

As a long-time Byron resident, Fiona is delighted to have moved back to the region full-time. She now works with Sourdough Business Pathways as Mentor Manager, managing the connection of highly experienced business people with local organisations needing advice and guidance with the development of their businesses.