Alison Michalk, whose business was one of Australia’s first to be certified against some of the highest standards in the world for social and environmental responsibility, has won Charles Sturt University Alumnus of the Year Professional Achievement Award.
Michalk, a Charles Sturt alumna, has always marched to her own beat when it comes to business.
Just 10 days after giving birth to her second son, at a time when many new parents are taking leave from work, Michalk was launching a new business, Quiip, based on the Central Coast.
Quiip was one of Australia’s first online moderating service businesses.
Under Alison’s leadership, driven by her enthusiasm for sustainability and ethical business, it has also become one of Australia’s first 250 certified B Corporations, which is one of the highest standards for verified social and environmental responsibility.
Quiip’s success was helped by Michalk’s role as a co-founder of the nation’s first industry body for people in her profession, Australian Community Managers (ACM), which today boasts more than 5,000 members, and her work co-creating the Swarm Conference, which is one of the world’s longest-running conferences for online community management professionals.
“I started Quiip because I wanted to create a business that was flexible and could accommodate the needs of not only busy parents, but the high demands people have in the modern world,” Michalk said.
“I knew that there was a lot of work opportunities in the field of managing online communities, which was an emerging field when I started Quiip.”
Quiip is now a global leader in online community management and moderation services and has employees across Australia, Europe and North America.
Its diverse team of 15 employees includes full-time carers and people living with invisible disabilities, many of whom have struggled with the rigidity of traditional workplaces.
“For me, I needed flexibility and freedom to do my best work and I think that is what many of us need,” Michalk said.
“At Quiip there’s no head office, no commute and no 9-to-5, and because we operate 24/7, staff can choose their hours and blend work with life.
“Flexible work is the way of the future and I encourage companies as they embrace remote work to consider what other practices or expectations they can overhaul,” she said.
When you ask Michalk what she is most proud of when it comes to her career, it isn’t her entrepreneurial work in her field, or that she is the CEO and founder of a successful business.
What she is most proud of is her work inspiring other businesses to be a force for social good and adopt B Corp practices.
Michalk dedicates much of her time, in between juggling children and running a 24/7 business, to support fellow business leaders through the rigorous B Corp certification process, and also provides them with consultation on corporate sustainability and flexible workplace practices.
“I am very involved in the B Corp movement, it is a real passion of mine,” she said.
“I am the Communications Chair for B Local Sydney and currently certifying as a B Consultant to help other companies certify.
“I also recently launched an online community for the Australian and New Zealand B Corp movement during COVID-19 and I am sitting on a global taskforce.”
Michalk’s passion for the environmental and social responsibility can be traced back to her days studying a Bachelor of Communications at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst.
“As an Environment Officer on the Charles Sturt SRC, I spent a lot of time in the late 1990s campaigning for the environment,” she said.
“In 1999, we had the largest representation of all universities at the Students & Sustainability Conference in Tasmania, because we had so many passionate and active members of ‘green action’.
“Now, two decades later, I’ve been able to combine my skills as a CEO with my deeply held beliefs for the environment, as I believe companies can drive the system changes that we need to solve the problems tha the world is facing right now.”
Media release, Jan 15
Charles Sturt University