From cattle property to award winning consultancy
[supplied by Mary Bolling]
Patrice Brown. Image: supplied
Patrice Brown, founder of CQG Consulting, is CQUniversity’s Alumnus of the Year for Industry Excellence, and has shared her experience on How to Change a Life podcast.
It was her experience of the natural world, growing up on a Central Queensland cattle station, that inspired Patrice Brown to pursue environmental science.
But to build her big-impact career, the trailblazing businesswoman had to stand up to stereotypes, and prove that her region could grow the local talent and expertise to get the job done.
Ms Brown, founder of CQG Consulting, has been named CQUniversity’s Alumnus of the Year for Industry Excellence.
The award comes as Ms Brown marks CQG’s 20th year of environmental consulting in the male-dominated resources and development sectors.
The passionate Central Queensland advocate has reflected on her career achievements, challenges and sometimes “crazy” decisions in the new series of CQU’s How to Change a Life podcast.
Working as an environmental manager at a Gladstone aluminum project in 2003, she realised the growing demand for consultants across CQ industry – and that most were being flown in from cities.
“It was probably a bit of a crazy thing to do at that time, but I just thought I’ll just give it a crack – and if it didn’t work, I’d still have my degrees and experience to go back to,” she explained.
“It was really about wanting to do something where I could employ people I wanted to, work with the companies I wanted to work with, and also help shape opportunities for people in regional areas, and stop the need for companies to fly consultants into Central Queensland and North Queensland and the like.”
Growing CQG to five offices across Queensland, and nearly 40 staff, Ms Brown has also been able to help create new jobs and training for Traditional Owners, as a founder of local Indigenous business Tunaba, a joint-venture between the Darumbal People and CQG.
She said the idea for Tunaba, founded in 2019, came from shared frustration, and a “lightbulb moment”.
“I was doing an environmental assessment at Stanwell Power Station, and I was there with a Darumbal Elder who was doing a cultural assessment. And we’re sitting around, waiting waiting waiting, because a consultant had been flown up from the city, and they’d gotten lost between Rockhampton Airport and Stanwell,” she explained.
“I said to (Darumbal Elder) Trevor ‘this is really frustrating, this is work a local could have been doing,’ and Trevor said to me, ‘how do you think we feel?’”
“That was a lightbulb moment for both of us, because I’m thinking, ‘yeah mate, you guys have been around here and managing the country for 60 thousand years, why aren’t your people doing the sampling, and getting the jobs to look after the country?’”
CQUniversity commended Ms Brown as “a highly skilled entrepreneur who has demonstrated significant leadership and resilience to develop an award-winning enterprise and strong knowledge-sharing and capacity-building partnerships in complex and specialised areas.”
Graduating with a Bachelor of Industrial Chemistry from CQU in 1992, the mum-of-three also served on the CQUniversity Council across 2018-2022.
In 2016, she was recognised by the Telstra Women’s Business Awards as Queensland Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2017, she also received the Owner/ Entrepreneur Award with the Institute of Managers and Leaders Queensland, and in 2021 was named the Economic Development Australia's National Community Champion Award.
As an employer in the region, Ms Brown advised that young people “should not underestimate the value of having that CQU brand on your qualification, because it is sought-after – CQU grads come out with a really good attitude, good foundation, and great practical experience.”
“Don’t let that be the end of your education though, every day you make mistakes and every day you should be learning something new!” she said.
Ms Brown will receive her Alumnus of the Year – Industry Excellence Award at CQUniversity’s Rockhampton Graduation later in the year, and you can hear more from her on How to Change a Life podcast at https://pod.fo/e/16a2eb.
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