03 March 2022

Meet Paul Barnett, one of our trailblazing founders

Combining his environmental experience with a passion for innovative change-making, Paul Barnett is bettering the future of business sustainability one solution at a time. Paul has a multitude of places within The Growth Drivers’ ecosystem including Impact Designer, Strategic Advisor and Co-Founder. Based in Meanjin, Brisbane, he strives to make sustainable product design practical and accessible across a plethora of industries.

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Raised in rural New South Wales and spending time on his family’s sheep farm, Paul grew up in and amongst the elements which sparked his connection to natural environments and animals. This connection was nurtured throughout his university career as he studied a Bachelor of Science (REM) and gained a base knowledge that allowed him to take his love for the environment to a professional sphere.

After graduation, Paul’s entrepreneurial career flourished as he started his own environmental consulting firm in spatial information and remote sensing. Further down the track in 2006, Paul also worked in business development and strategy roles at CSIRO, focussing on water agriculture and the services sector.

A highlight of this period for Paul was working in partnership with BoM on the Water Information R&D Alliance (WIRADA) project, a $50 million deal that brought together some of the world’s leading informational technologies. Paul has also done work surrounding community organisations, co-ops and critically rethinking how these organisations scale and which capital structures are required. These experiences led him to co-found a co-op funding and venture business called Ethical Fields, as well as the first co-op accelerator in Australia. He’s even co-founded a Blockchain venture, diving into the world of decentralised technology. A true go-getting entrepreneur, he has worked in a wide diversity of domains, from agriculture to finance and technology to business.

It was during this enriching period that Paul paired his love for the environment with the possibilities of technology, realising his vision of a sustainable business future. However, he also realised that there was a barrier standing between him and his vision. While his previous work and studies had taught him what changes businesses needed to make, actually making these changes was proving slow and ineffective. In short, Paul was seeing too little focus on the businesses whose tangible action drives these environmentally-crucial solutions. Little did he know that this realisation was pulling at the thread of what would eventually become The Growth Drivers.

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Armed with multi-industry experiences and a problem that needed solving, Paul decided that to make real change, products and services that are both the best choice and the most sustainable were critical. Essentially, he set out to change conventional ways through designing not only better solutions but sustainable solutions too.

From here, Paul joined forces with co-founder David Ireland to create The Growth Drivers; the answer to the lack of sustainable business solutions across all industries. In fact, he was the company’s very first employee! Acting as Managing Director for nearly three years during the company's beginnings, Paul has worked exceptionally hard to form meaningful relationships internally and externally, creating a space for The Growth Drivers’ unique solutions across industries.

Choosing to work more closely with his partners and clients, Paul is currently an Impact Designer and Strategic Advisor, meaning he spends his days speaking to partners, building alliances and implementing the development of solution-driven products and services. Placing great value on meaningful connections with clients, Paul loves the human relational aspect of his current position. Not only does he thrive off of sustaining connections between companies, but he also sees intra-connections within the team as vital. Indeed, meaningful change can only stem from meaningful interactions.

At the moment, Paul is particularly excited to be working in collaboration with Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Seafood Industry Australia and Austral Fisheries, to find real-world solutions to address climate change in wild-catch fisheries of Australia. True to his roots and passion for innovative product design, this project is forecast to transform the industry’s climate impacts. As one of many projects that span across an array of industries, Paul loves that he can work within a wide variety of spaces, turning complex and technical problems into solutions for a smarter future.

A true problem solver at heart, Paul’s favourite part of the product development process is actually identifying an issue, and then collaborating and innovating new solutions. And, as can be seen in the leaps and bounds The Growth Drivers are making in global sustainability, this creativity and momentum are the key ingredients to the success of Paul’s ever-growing career.

With spectacular innovations behind him and plenty more to come, there is no stopping this sustainable change-maker. And, as he plans to continue driving tangible results, pro-active change and meaningful solutions for a better world, we can’t wait to see what Paul comes up with next.

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