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Brisbane Grammar Connect

“These are tough times – unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. This is a time for communities to look after each other, to help out where they can. To lean on each other for support. This is the value of community, and we should all invest in it more than we do.” - John Barton, BGS Old Boy ’86

As we are all encouraged to maintain our physical distance, connecting virtually has never been more important. If there are any positives from this pandemic, it may be the rekindling of old friendships as people look to connect virtually with each other.

One place to do that is through Brisbane Grammar Connect, a networking and informal mentoring platform, set up by Brisbane Grammar School and the Old Boys Association.

BGC is a place for Old Boys in a variety of professional fields to connect with each other through informal mentor-mentee relationships. The site also features a jobs board, groups, social media feeds and a photo gallery section.

BGS Old Boys are encouraged to sign up at brisbanegrammarconnect.com to:

  • Connect with fellow Old Boys, see what they have been up to and stay in touch.
  • Mentor, introduce, support or employ young BGS Old Boys.
  • Network and meet others in your field.
  • Rekindle friendships and support each other. 

John Barton ’86 is managing partner at financial advisory service MGD. He has joined BGC as a mentor, something he has enjoyed doing throughout his career. His son Fraser ’18 is currently undertaking the second year of a combined Industrial Design / Business program at QUT.

Can you tell us a bit about your career? 

I started in retail banking and moved in financial planning in the mid-90s. In the 2000s I spent my time in Sydney and Melbourne in various superannuation and financial services roles. Just as the GFC was peaking, I went back into private wealth management and moved back to Brisbane. Since the GFC, I’ve spent most of my time as managing partner of an integrated firm here in Brisbane doing tax, accounting, investment management, financial planning, superannuation, risk and insurance advice. We are now a firm of 60 based in South Brisbane with a small Sydney office.

What contact have you had with BGS since finishing in 1986? 

Like many, in my era at least, I had a significant number of years with little interaction with BGS, other than ’86 year reunions. After moving back to Brisbane, I began attending the annual dinner regularly. In 2014 my son Fraser started at BGS, and that ensured my interactions ramped up significantly.

What do you think is the benefit of a social network such as Brisbane Grammar Connect?

Connections and relationships are a massive part of life. Shared experiences, even across generations, bind us over time and give us access to the wisdom of others. We would be mad not to share and contribute where we can.

On joining, Old Boys are asked if they would like to mentor another member. Can you tell us a little about your mentoring experience? Who have you mentored, and how? 

I have done a bit mentoring, formally and informally over recent years through UQ and QUT, and of course, in professional life. I have been fortunate in the last few years to mentor a student each year while completing their EMBA at QUT.

What’s the value of mentoring for graduates and other people at the start of their career? 

There is value in mentoring for people of all ages, but for young people starting their careers, effective mentorship can assist in many ways. It can help you to understand where your real interests may lie, to navigate complex workplace situations or to make simple introductions. Sometimes just getting a coffee with the right person can make a massive difference in gaining the right opportunity at the right time.

What are the benefits for the mentors? Why is it worth doing?

I have found mentoring others to be a tremendously rewarding experience. I continue to be in regular contact with a number of former mentees and have enjoyed learning about their journey, their successes and their challenges.

These are tough times – unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. This is a time for communities to look after each other, to help out where they can. To lean on each other for support. This is the value of community, and we should all invest in it more than we do.

You can read John’s article COVID-19: dealing with uncertainty and ongoing financial implications here.

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