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Challenging the status quo

With judging for the 40 Under 40 Awards underway, judge Tiffany De Sousa Machado talks about how changing our ingrained attitude to failure could lead to more successes.

Apr 18, 2023, updated Apr 18, 2023
Adelaide Business School's Dr Tiffany De Sousa Machado is one of this year's 40 Under 40 judges

Adelaide Business School's Dr Tiffany De Sousa Machado is one of this year's 40 Under 40 judges

Adelaide needs to become more accepting of false starts when it comes to new business ideas, according to Adelaide Business School lecturer and InDaily 40 Under 40 judge Dr Tiffany De Sousa Machado.

“I don’t think Adelaide is very forgiving at this stage,” De Sousa Machado said.

“Compared with the Silicon Valley entrepreneur mindset, where founders have six or seven companies on the go and hope one sticks, I feel that Adelaide people still put everything into one venture and do everything they can to make it work for fear of failure.”

As both an entrepreneur and a lecturer at the University of Adelaide in the entrepreneurship discipline, she believes universities have a role to play in changing this mindset.

“In the course I teach, we talk about failing forward, pivoting and having a growth mindset – not taking failings as a personal shortcoming,” she said.

“Rather, needing to rethink and redesign what is occurring, whether that means ourselves, our project or our business.”

Adelaide Business School sponsors InDaily’s 40 Under 40 Game Changer Award.

The winner of the award, she said, will be “someone challenging the status quo” and “courageous enough to take a stance and give something a go that might look different to what’s expected”.

The Game Changer Award was first presented last year, with its recipient Stephanie Lamont-Friedrich recognised for her work at KPMG in promoting the role of women in STEMM.

De Sousa Machado noted that many of the students undertaking a business degree or MBA at Adelaide Business School already had a “side hustle” or emerging business.

“In every cohort that I teach there are a handful or more students who have a huge desire to be entrepreneurs and in business,” she said.

“The change I’m seeing over the years is that most students are working full-time and doing full-time study.”

While she believes this drive to achieve will stand the state’s young entrepreneurs, change makers and leaders well in the future, she said finding a balance and prioritising based on one’s values were essential to avoid burnout.

“I think one of the qualities that makes a great leader is someone who can recognise their strengths, seek out the areas that they don’t have, and round out what they need, using others and collaboration, community and networks,” she said.

In addition to overcoming the fear of failure, she said it was also crucial to develop the ability to self-reflect and “praise our own strengths”.

“It can be really easy to look at what we do wrong, beat ourselves up and put ourselves down for the things that we don’t do well,” she said.

She stressed that universities, as breeding grounds for innovation, also have a significant role to play in changing attitudes to false starts in business and unsuccessful projects.

“The place to first try and fail is at a university where you’ve got the support around you to be able to get back up and give something else to go.”

Winners of this year’s InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards will be announced at a gala night on June 8 at the Adelaide Oval, when twelve of the forty alumni will take home category awards.

Winners will also be featured the print edition of CityMag in June.

Tickets for the gala night go on sale Tuesday, May 2.

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