Watch Light at the End of the Tunnel 34, our exploration of the benefits and challenges of Employee Ownership with Lucy Burke-Smith and Janna DeVylder. Access the CPD questions below.

This session we hear from the directors of two practices that have embraced employee ownership trusts – Lucy Burke-Smith of Purcell and Janna DeVylder of Meld Studios – in conversation with Naomi Stead and Justine Clark.

These two practices have very different histories, different pathways to empoyee ownership and work in quite different fields. Founded in 1947 the UK, Purcell is an architectural practice of approx 200 people with offices in Australia and Hong Kong and particular expertise in heritage work. Purcell became an employee owned business in May 2021. Meld Studios is a design studio founded in 2009. In now has 24 employees and became the first Australian company to become Employee Owned by Trust (EOT), also in 2021.

Janna and Lucy are clearly aligned about the benefits and opportunities of employees ownership, with a strong emphasis on the importance and value of cultures of trust and transparency. They also discuss the challenges of transitioning to employee ownership, particulary as this is a very new model of ownership in Australia, and the the complexities of distributed decision making and learning new processes. As Janna comments in the bonus footage at the end of the video, “I always talk about the three angles to EOT. There’s the financial side, there’s the legal side, and then there’s the cultural mindset side. And I actually think that is probably bigger than the other two.”

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This session was recorded on Friday 24 September. The 2021 Light at the End of the Tunnel series is presented in collaboration with the Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne.