Mark Bouris helps Illawarra Connection reminisce on 25 years of networking

The Wizard of Aus: Mark Bouris is thanked by Yellow Brick Road Wollongong colleague Justin Bailey at The Illawarra Connection. Pictures: Greg Ellis.
The Wizard of Aus: Mark Bouris is thanked by Yellow Brick Road Wollongong colleague Justin Bailey at The Illawarra Connection. Pictures: Greg Ellis.

There were many special moments when a quarter of a century of networking was recalled at The Illawarra Connection on Tuesday night.

TIC’s silver anniversary dinner at the Novotel started with inaugural president Peter Kell taking to the lectern for the first time in nearly 15 years.

Mr Kell was introduced by emcee Geoff Phillips who recalled the many speakers from the last 25 years including his favourite, Tim Cope.

“I can’t really proceed without acknowledging the wise advice I received from our patron Gerard Sutton. Who when I approached him in 1993 to ask for his support in setting up The Illawarra Connection said he would do everything he could to see it succeed. “But Pete” he said. “I have to warn you that a black-tie dinner on a bi-monthly basis in Wollongong will never last”. Well Gerard TIC, and you and me have lasted the distance and thank you for your support over the years”.

Founders: Roger Summerill, Bob Millward, Jim Pearce, Peter Kell, current president Graham Lancaster and Martin O'Shannessy at the 25th anniversary dinner.

Founders: Roger Summerill, Bob Millward, Jim Pearce, Peter Kell, current president Graham Lancaster and Martin O'Shannessy at the 25th anniversary dinner.

Prof Sutton did not mind being proven wrong. He and many people who have supported TIC over the years were thanked including foundation sponsors Access Law Group, BlueScope Steel, Illawarra Mercury, University of Wollongong and WAVE FM. And Wendy Gee, of Grant Broadcasting, was awarded a life membership.

President Graham Lancaster invited founding directors Rod Cunich, Bob Millward, Jim Pearce, Peter Kell and Martin O'Shannessy forward for a special presentation acknowledging what they did in helping to start something strong that has stood the test of time. And mentioned founding directors Peter Newell and Dennis Banks who could not be present. As well as the late Peter Hilton and Phil Buckland.

Mr Kell said there were many other people worthy of recognition such as Janine Cullen, Warwick Hansen, Barry Wood, Mr Phillips, the String Quartet, Michelle Marine and the Novotel.

The after dinner speech that followed had everyone captivated. Invited to speak about mentoring in front of a record attendance of 260 people Mark Bouris recalled the three things Kerry Packer told him that changed his life.

He said mentoring was not something he had really thought much about earlier in his career until his first meeting in Mr Packer’s office.

Now known as The Mentor on television Mr Bouris went on to encourage all in the room to take advantage of any mentoring opportunities that present themselves.

And said “a good mentor asks questions you may not have thought about before that only you can answer”.

“I consider there is a movement of mentorship in Australia. I am trying to bring it to the surface and talk about it”. 

Mr Bouris said he was honoured to be at TIC’s 25th anniversary the night after he attended another 25th anniversary dinner for the chair of the Sydney Roosters. It was also the 19th anniversary of his life changing meeting with Mr Packer.

The Illawarra Connection began in 1993 when a group of community thinkers inspired by Jim Pearce saw the need for a networking entity in the region that would help develop leadership in business and community enrichment.

“And would help assist us to believe in ourselves as a dynamic region with a vision for the future,” Mr Kell said 

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