Sarina Russo Lead by Example

It has been many years coming and going from the Gold Coast and in fact I flew everyone to Southport for my Wedding for an intimate beach ceremony for 30 Guests.  In that time everyone has told me Sarina Russo is the person to know.  I have never gone into great lengths to get to know Sarina or talk to some length about business, but on further inquiry that we can bring everyone into our home and see the person they are, I can see Sarina is driven, strong and will weather a storm.

I find that so many people feel that they are owed something from the world.  The fact is that we live in an extremely privileged country full of opportunity and we can make what ever we want.  From what I can see from Sarina Russo has passed on her knowledge and no how to enable many who would not be able to find their full potential.  I feel that we should all be grateful that we have such a wonderful female role model for business in this country and is refreshingly down to earth.

Have a read of this article that was printed in the Daily Mail

How to become a millionaire: Woman fired from eight jobs over her 'attitude' now runs multi-million dollar recruitment business - as offers up her five tips on how you can turn your career around

  • During her early years Sarina Russo was constantly fired from jobs  
  • Let go from a job she enjoyed Ms Russo started a business with $2500
  • Influenced by fear, she expanded the business to what it is today 
  • Running a multi-million dollar company she helps recruit job seekers 

 Beginning her career as a legal secretary, Ms Russo found herself unhappy at work.

'I was really miserable, I hated all the jobs that I was applying for except for one job which was teaching people to type.

'I was obviously a dormant entrepreneur and the bosses didn't like my style, they didn't like my can do attitude.

'They were also very conservative. In a legal office 36 years ago, you weren't allowed to wear lipstick and I couldn't fit in to that disciplinary environment,' she said.

Ms Russo's strict Italian upbringing meant she struggled to work in controlling environments that reminded her of home.

A strategist at heart, Ms Russo found herself organising a number of jobs within days of each other under the impression she would eventually be let off.

'I would program myself to go to say five job interviews a day and then I would set them up.

'They would give me the job and I would say I can start that one on the 10th and then I'd have another one on the 17th in case I lost that one on the 10th. I would have another one prepared for the 24th.'

Getting fired from a job she enjoyed-teaching students to type, was Ms Russo's final straw.

Praising her teaching style, the students Ms Russo taught went to the principal of the school to complain resulting in her reinstatement.


'They had to reinstate me and that's when I realised I was good at something because I had never been endorsed for anything in my life.'


Reaching a stage of frustration and understanding where her talent lay, Ms Russo took on an 'I would do it or die' attitude.

'I had $2600 to my name and I decided to start a business. I called it business college and I had ten students.

'I got them all jobs and my business just grew. I was making more money a week then I was making a whole year as a legal secretary. That inspired me and motivated me to work really hard.'


Upon starting the business in 1979, it was being placed in a crisis situation and fear of the future that pushed Ms Russo to continue expanding the business to the empire it is now.

'They say there are two things that motivate a person, one is fear and one is inspiration.

'In the first two years of the business we had this ugly building in Brisbane. We got pushed out and so I went to this beautiful high rise building and I took half a floor.

'My rent bill went from $5000 to $50,000, so I was really motivated by fear.

'Once I took up this three year lease I had to make it work so I was driven,' she said. 

Since starting the Sarina Group there has been bumps in the road as Ms Russo tried to make ends meet. 

'In 2009 I lost half of my business. I lost 50 million dollars worth after my contract was let go and they told me I had to fire 200 people. 

'But I refused, I'll sell a high rise building but I wasn't going to fire anyone, that wasn't fair on them.'

Ms Russo informed her workers there was nothing to worry about before re-engineering the company, collaborating with her opponents in a bid to make it work.  



Winning a major contract in June this year with the Federal Government, Ms Russo has expanded her business from 25 to 95 offices as part of the $6 billion Jobactive and Apprenticeship program to help job seekers. 

'This roll out has been the most challenging operation of my business history. It has not been easy.

'When I started this roll out what I thought was going to happen did not happen. 

'Everything changes, the economy, the job seekers behaviour, the employers change and so you have to continue evolving, change is inevitable,' said Ms Russo. 

Placing a strong importance on being a leader and helping her workers progress in their career, Ms Russo happily offers to mentor those who ask.   

'You get to a stage in your life, like I have, where you want help the community and start giving back. So I became a mentor for others,' said Ms Russo.

Since starting as a small business, the Sarina Russo Group has developed into an empire with an estimated turnover rate of $106 million annually.

It is made up of the Sarina Russo Schools Australia, Sarina Russo Job Access, Russo Recruitment, Russo Corporate Training, Sarina Investments and Russo Higher Education, a partnership with Queensland's James Cook University. 

Sarina Russo's five tips on starting your own successful company

1- Self-belief 

The most important and fundamental aspect is self-belief - 80 per cent of success is psychology and 20 per cent is tools.

2- Cash flow

You have to start up a business that gives you immediate cash flow because if you don't have a cash flow you won't have a business.

For instance, look at Uber and B&B, they've sourced from elsewhere. They've gone out and found someone else's assets and used that, Uber didn't hire limos and B&B didn't build hotels. You've got to think differently you have to look at how you can get revenue immediately and that has to be more than your expenditure.

3- Be innovative and competitive

You don't necessarily need all the skills but you have to be able to collaborate, you have to be innovative and competitive, developing alliances so you personally don't need to do everything. 

Don't be fearful if you don't have it all. You have to figure out what you do well and outsource what you don't do well. The 21st century is a time that allows you to do this.

4- Problems and rejections are normal

When you start a business you are going to be surrounded by good quality problems and rejections. People are going to say no to you and that's why the number one thing is you have to have self-belief. 

You have to believe that what you're starting is great. Regardless of the quality problems that are going to come your way and the number of people that are going to say no - your family, friends, clients and businesses are going to say this isn't going to work, but this doesn't matter. 

What you think is what is important.

5- Educate and disrupt yourself

If you don't disrupt yourself someone else will. Unless you re-engineer and re-think what the trends are today, you will miss out. 

If your business looks like a square, tomorrow it could look like a cylinder and that doesn't mean that it's bad, it means that business shifts – through technology and through the speed of innovation.

6- Don't take for granted what the customer wants

Do as Steve Jobs did and predict what you believe the customer wants. The reason Steve Jobs was a genius is because he predicted, he pre-empted what the customer needed and wanted.


Thank you to the 'Daily Telegraph' for this story by M Azzi


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