Category Archives: Inspiring people

The Medal Maker

Copyright Victor Kovalenko 2014

Copyright Victor Kovalenko 2014

Someone who inspires me…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover!”
– Mark Twain

Two of my greatest passions are Blackmores and competitive sailing, so it is little wonder that the numerous metaphors that align business performance to yachting resonate strongly with me.

Sailing and business are both impacted by who is ‘at the helm’, the tactics employed, adaptation to changing external conditions, the effectiveness of the team, the ability to read the conditions – the analogies are endless.

A couple of years ago, I invited Victor Kovalenko to speak to a team of business leaders within Blackmores and he did not disappoint with his wise words.

The Australian Sailing Team Head Coach, Victor is known as ‘The Medal Maker’, a title the humble Ukrainian-born coach is embarrassed by.

He has a unique gift for getting the best out of people. He brings high levels of discipline to the teams he coaches. He is never complacent about the success of his teams after a win and sets new challenges and reshapes his approach to achieve greatness.

He is currently working with Mat Belcher, Rolex World Sailor of the Year who won gold in the London Olympics, and Will Ryan, an up-and-coming talent. Mat and Will are the current world champions in the 470 yacht class.

I’m proud to be part of the supporting team and love seeing a wind-filled spinnaker sporting the Blackmores brand.

Victor has said, “I think of life and use it as a role model. Life is like a big race – sometimes you win by skill, sometimes you are lucky to meet interesting people and learn from them.”

As a sailor and as a great Australian, Victor Kovalenko is someone I’ve learned from. He places as much value on character and friendship as skill and discipline. He knows that in sailing, as in life (and business), there is skill and technique but it is feeling and passion that will take you over the line first.

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Vale Allen Oliver

I was getting mightily tired of the disruption to my working day with Daph Price regularly asking me to leave my office and put a replacement roll of shrink film on our one and only shrink wrapper. I guess it was my own fault as I had previously made a decision to shrink wrap our bottles, only the second company in the whole of the Pharma/health food industry to do so.

So I quickly decided Blackmores needed a ‘hands on’ Production Manager. One of our directors, Graeme Berman, arranged for me to meet Allen Oliver at North Sydney Leagues Club and the deal was done. Allen and Graeme had worked together at Scott and Bourne some years before. So began nearly 15 years of amazing commitment by Allen Oliver to Blackmores before his retirement in 1989. And what a contribution. I vividly remember meeting Lee McNichol in our foyer one day waiting to meet with Allen and lamenting how bad things were and how much wages had risen and that he had no alternative but to raise the prices on the products his company supplied us. I wished him luck! I met him again after his meeting with Allen only to be told that he had just reduced our prices by 2%. Allen’s catchword to suppliers is indelibly printed in my brain, “you will have to sharpen the pencil”.

In Blackmores early days, we couldn’t afford security services so the factory was well alarmed. Allen and I lived close to work so when the alarms went off at some ungodly hour of the morning it was a race to see who got to the factory first to catch any intruders. It was one of those races you never wanted to win for fear of getting a whack over the head when you arrived, I’m pleased that Allen won most of those races.

I was a member of Manly Rotary Club and asked Allen to join the club as my replacement. That cemented many years of outstanding community contribution by Allen and Betty Oliver. For some, charity means simply writing a cheque to a deserving cause but of even greater significance is giving one’s time and Allen did both of those in spades.  The 32 years of Rotary Christmas hampers would not have happened without Allen’s enthusiasm for that project.

Allen Oliver came up the tough way, he did the menial tasks, he swept the floors and his promotion in business life came as a result of nothing less than hard work. Australia would be a much better place if there were more Allen Oliver’s in life.

Allen Oliver was a man of substance, a man of generous spirit, he gave much to Blackmores in our fledgling years, I will never forget him.

May he rest in peace.


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Losing a man of great wisdom

Today is a very sad day. I have just heard of the passing at 84 years of age of a great friend and true pioneer of Nutritional Medicine in Australia, Dr Archie Kalokerinos.

Archie had a wonderful knowledge of the clinical use of vitamin therapy in particular the use of IV VitC, but of even greater significance was his amazing dedication to his work with aboriginal people.

He practiced in a number of places but I particularly remember Collarenebri and Coober Pedy, I believe he wrote his book entitled ‘Every Second Child’ in 1981 when he was in practice at the former town. When he first went to Collarenebri infant mortality amongst aboriginal children was one in two, hence the title of his book.

Archie was able, largely through the use of sound nutrition and vitamin C in particular, to achieve normal caucasian rates of infant mortality with the aboriginal population.

I distinctly remember Archie and I doing a public lecture in the Adelaide city hall some 25 years ago; what was incredible about that night was the number of aboriginal people who had travelled, in some cases hundreds of miles, to see Archie. He was deeply admired by his aboriginal patients and the aboriginal professional health care workers with whom he came in contact.

In his lifetime he was not afraid to voice his objection to the overuse of vaccination or other medical practices that he believed warranted either re-examining or investigation by his own profession.

He had many detractors for his controversial views but among his patients he had many ardent supporters.

In 2000 Archie was awarded the title ‘Greek Australian of the Century’ by the Melbourne based Greek newspaper Neos Kosmos. I have little doubt that Dr Archie Kalokerinos will go down in our history books as a man before his time, much like my own father.

Archie, may you rest in peace, you have made a wonderful contribution.


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Someone who inspires me – Petrea King

You may have read about Petrea King in the Women’s Weekly or seen her remarkable life profiled on ‘Australian Story’ or ‘This Is Your Life’.

Or you may have heard her interviewed on ABC radio giving thoughtful insights and advice on dealing with the problems life can throw at us – often without warning.

Since her unexpected recovery from acute myeloid leukaemia in 1984, Petrea has devoted her life to providing practical skills and strategies for people facing a range of life challenges.

Now, Petrea runs the Quest for Life Foundation, which through its Quest for Life Centre in Bundanoon NSW, offers day and residential self-help programs for people living with cancer, grief, loss, depression and trauma.

More than 80,000 people have benefited from these residential programs and services. The NSW Health Department and Quest’s own fundraising efforts make it possible for all programs to be subsidised for people in financial need.

This beautiful retreat centre set in nine tranquil acres provides the perfect environment for learning new skills in mindfulness, meditation and living with increased awareness, as well as a range of complementary approaches to healing and creating wellbeing.

Whether it is the ‘Healing Your Life’ program that caters for people at a cross roads in their life due to depression, loss, grief or past trauma; or the ‘Quest for Life’ program for people with cancer or other physical illness and their loved ones, people leave Quest feeling confident and equipped to deal with the challenges they face.

Petrea and her team of facilitators, counsellors, naturopaths and therapists provide the latest information on naturopathic, meditation and neuroscience’s most current perspectives.

All programs are presented in an integrated way, tailored to support individuals exactly where they are, and help each person find their own best answers.

The atmosphere at Quest is of warm welcome and support providing the perfect environment to find a healing and healthy pathway forward.

If you or a loved one would like to find out more about the programs Quest for Life provide, please visit or call 1300 941 488.


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