Don Manifold is helping to create safer, more inclusive and more innovative communities through effective wealth creation strategies.
Don Manifold is the Joint Managing Director of Equity & Advisory (E&A), a corporate advisory firm based in Australia. He has over 30 years’ experience, including 25 years in corporate finance. Don has completed more than 70 business transactions, with a combined value of more than $3 billion and valuation reports on businesses with a combined value greater than $25 billion. Don was recently interviewed about his business activities, interests, influences, tastes, traits and big ideas.
E&A helps family and private businesses with acquisitions, capital raisings, divestments and restructuring. All of our leaders have previously been managing partner or managing directors at large organisations and each is currently a board member at one or more family and private businesses. These leaders are also supported by a team of professionals dedicated to achieving the best results for our clients.
E&A has grown tenfold over the past four years, largely due to our direct engagement strategy with the market. This strategy is heavily influenced by the Sharing, Refining, Proposing and Delivering model developed by Michael Kean, a former Deloitte partner who mentored me prior to becoming a partner. The essence of this approach is to bring to valuable ideas to our clients to help them achieve their goals.
E&A’s purpose is to create wealth for our clients and communities. We believe that wealthier clients and communities lead to healthier communities that are safer, more innovative and more inclusive. E&A’s focus on helping others develop in the business and in sharing ideas with our clients is engrained in our DNA at E&A. Recently, we have started supporting Guildhouse, an amazing nonprofit organisation that supports South Australian visual artists, craftspeople and designers to build and maintain sustainable careers. Our hope is that by helping artists build sustainable careers, we are helping to build a healthier and more creative community.
Growing E&A to its present level. The company was already 21 years old when I joined, but it had been dormant for about five years. My job was to restart the business, based on the idea of creating wealth for our communities. Wealthier communities are better able to create a fair and inclusive society, which also helps our team improve their talents.
What one word would your closest friend use to describe you? Dependable. What is your greatest joy? Spending time with my family, which trumps everything else. What is your greatest fear? E&A is a small, fast-growing company, where team culture is so important. I need to make sure I hire the best people to fuel the next stage of our growth. What occupation, other than your own, do you most admire? Artificial intelligence (AI) consulting businesses. AI won’t replace service providers, although it can help them build better businesses. What is your go-to workout? I enjoy cycling, running and swimming.
What was your first paying job? I started work with KPMG in Adelaide after graduating from university in that city. What book have you repeatedly read? Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish. I consistently see the principles of his work transform family and private businesses. Besides your parents, who has had the greatest influence on your life? My aunt, Josephine Tiddy or “AJ” short for Aunty Jo. AJ was South Australia’s first commissioner for Equal Opportunity and pioneered significant social change that was adopted Australia wide. AJ’s unwavering commitment to a fairer and more inclusive society has influenced my own values on business. What modern technology innovation do you most appreciate? Google Keep, which allows me to track my priorities from any device.
What is your big idea? Identify the top three things you need to do to create happiness and focus only on those things. Stolen focus is one of the greatest barriers to achieving your goals. What change are you working on to effect in your profession or field? E&A is currently leveraging the significant organic growth that’s occurring in the South Australian market. We intend to expand into other Australian States in the future. What mega-trend most excites you? Advances in AI. Most people are aware that an IBM computer has beaten a world chess champion, but they may not know that a computer has never beaten a world champion working with a computer.
After your loved ones, what object would you first save from your burning home? Our indoor plants. What advice would you give your younger self? Take risks and be kind to yourself. Nobody really cares if you fail, but they worry if you don’t try. What day in your life would you choose to re-live? The day our daughter Gaby was born. What period in your life would you do differently, if you could? My early career. I was too stubborn to ask for help, so it took me too long to gain the wisdom of others who would have given me advice if I had asked.
Personal mission: To spend time with people, nurture their talents and allow them to be creative. People are the most important success factor. Personal motto: Work hard, be humble. The greatest mistakes I’ve made in life have occurred when I haven’t followed this simple mantra.