Reflection, Social Innovation

Keep Calm and Hub On

This post has not been easy to write at all, and I’ve sat here for a few nights now writing, deleting and repeat.

I am leaving Hub Australia in early April 2013.

And before rumours spread, I need to explain how and why I’ve come to this decision.

Before I joined Hub Melbourne, I was in search for stimulations so I was very fortunate to have done some work with the QLD Department of Communities, Volunteering Queensland and Foundation for Young Australians. Then in August 2011, I sat down with Brad who invited me to join the Hub Melbourne team.

016290_04_of_09_750x450It was clear to me after a few days at Hub Melbourne that it was a functional but inefficient team of 5 people, the business was growing really slowly, but what we did have and I can proudly say we still have until today is a close-knit, trusted, passionate and inspiring community. At the centre of the entire business lies this bright flame, or in the members’ words “seething pit of awesomeness” – i.e. the members.

Over the next six months, we rebuilt, restructured, redesigned, rebranded and refreshed the entire organisation – we being Brad, Jan and myself. We worked 12 hours days, often including weekends, public holidays and all through summer. It was actually, contrary to what you may think, a lot of fun! It was like a little family working on a family business together.

Leslie joined our team when we expanded Hub Melbourne to triple its original size, and with her support we were able to innovate further, introducing new systems, initiatives and rebrand the organisation.

Since our humble beginnings, Hub Melbourne has grown into Hub Australia, a network of coworking communities across Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, employing 7 FTE, hosting a passionate and inspiring community of over 700 very diverse Hubbers and have won numerous awards including Australia Coolest Microbusiness, Global Hub Culture voted by our peers, and Top 10 SMEs that walk the walk.

I often say I have the best job in the world, being able to immerse myself within another world far from the pessimism, hopelessness and scepticism that reality can sometimes bring. A world that is literally building the future, one idea, one connection and one organisation at a time.

While our country complains about the cost of solar panels, we have WattElse, an idea of Marty and his business partner who joined Hub with just an idea and a laptop. Over the next one year, we helped him build his network, provide him with the connections he needed, and the organisation just turned over several million dollars, employs about 5 FTE and have put hundreds of solar panels in communities across Australia. While artists struggles to make ends meet, we have Pozible, who have raised over $7million to fund creative projects.

These are just two examples of the magic that happen at Hub Melbourne. So as you can imagine, there is not a day I wake up feeling pessimistic about the world watching OurSay engage citizens with people in power answering the difficult questions, Illumination Solar replacing hundreds of thousands of kerosene lamps around the world and so on.

You are probably now asking yourself, so why are you leaving?

hub_melbourne_25With these incredible energy comes the hard work. As I wrote in my end of year post, I’ve invested a lot of energy into this baby which have grown up rather quickly before my eyes. The hard work that I’ve put in also meant that I haven’t had the opportunity to spend time developing, exploring and stimulating myself.

Hub Australia is at an extremely good position right now for me to leave.

I’ve had sleepless nights just coming to terms with the decisions, and at times have become quite emotional – like now getting rather sad reflecting on the time I’ve spent at Hub. Afterall, this wasn’t work for me, I’ve invested everything I could into this organisation and community which have grown beyond what I thought the power of diversity and connections could bring.

In order for me to be of any use to Hub Australia again, I needed to develop and have a whole new lens on the business and organisation. Although I am getting a lot of inspirations from books like The Power of Pull and A New Culture of Learning which are very relevant to Hub, I didn’t have the luxury of time to observe, plan, design and implement.

So, what’s next?

hub_website_039The truth is I don’t know! I am keen to get my hands dirty and learn, hack, unlearn, create, relearn, play and geek out on whatever that comes my way whether its project work, research, keynotes or back to consulting again. I have quite a number of keynotes for the next few months including but not limited to Young Minds, Australian Heads of Independent Schools Conference, Online Youth Engagement Unconference and so on. I’ve also booked my flights to New York City for the Sandbox Gathering, and possibly The Feast and the Social Enterprise World Forum. I’m also about to book my flights to Singapore for a project work, Hub Singapore’s 1st Birthday Party and the Creating Social Impact: Blending Philanthropic and Investment Capital Conference.

I will continue to work with the Hub Australia team on a contract basis to ensure smooth hand-over and also to deliver the Hub Disrupt membership. Although I leave Hub with a heavy-heart, I am also incredibly proud and very honoured to have been on a very profound, emotional and rewarding journey with the organisation. I am very excited for Hub Australia and our community, under the visionary leadership of Brad and a very dedicated team – Jan, Leslie, Caroline and Brian – who holds the culture and wellbeing of the community very close to their hearts.

And who knows, I may rejoin Hub Australia again at some point in the future having explored and be inspired again by the world! I will also stay on as the Hub Global’s Associate, helping new Hubs get off the ground and support existing Hubs to become better.

As they always say, onwards and upwards!

And if you’re developing, working on or cooking something awesome and epic, and you think we should work together, get in touch.

  • Luke Marshall

    Nice words mate and good luck with the next venture!


  • Andrew Duong

    Good luck mate! See you when I see you :)

  • Nicolas Arney

    Great read Ehon – seems you’re on an epic journey!!

  • ehon

    Thanks mate! Appreciate it! :-)

  • ehon

    See you very soon indeed! Thanks, AD!

  • ehon

    Hopefully the journey will be epic! :-) Thanks for connecting, Nicolas.

  • Nicolas Arney

    I’m sure it will be — perhaps we’ll connect in person tonight at Wine Down! Kristina Stoney and I are visiting HUB Melbourne :)

  • Jane Deany

    Hi Ehon, thanks for your help along the Hub way, sorry you won’t be around for a while, but excited for you and the next stage of your career & life. Enjoy. Cheers, Jane Deany