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Five minutes with Peter Hughes, Prime Super Regional Manager for Western Victoria

June 18, 2020

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Leanne is driven to ‘give something back’

The unorthodox journey of Natural Selection started in a freezing cold cabin in the Mount Beauty Caravan Park, in 2008.


At the time I operated one of Australia’s most successful SAP IT recruitment businesses, which I had founded in 1995.


I was concerned about being too narrow in our SAP offering and wanted to create another brand that would focus on General IT skills. Over a bottle of red wine that night, the name just came to me - Natural Selection – synonymous with evolution, survival, adaption.


I thought I had stumbled on the best name for a recruitment business ever.


However, despite grand names and plans, Natural Selection Group was to sit on the ASIC shelf for many years.


We became far too busy, building the existing business I founded to over $60 million revenue. I was soon approached to sell the business and it was listed at the end of 2013.


During the next couple of years spent completing my contractual obligations, I had recruitment burn-out and was disillusioned.


It was then time to give back. With some of the proceeds of sale, we set up our family foundation, O’Connor Duffy Foundation. This introduction to the world of philanthropy and then the shock cancer diagnosis of my husband led to a re-evaluation of what mattered.


During my year off, I couldn’t get Natural Selection Group off my mind. My passion for recruitment still simmered. What if, I thought, I could use “business as a force for good” and harness our love of placing people with our love of helping others less fortunate through philanthropy.


I knew many client organisations were already doing their part though CSR programs, but many were not.