Greek-Australians are one of the largest minority groups in our country. Estimates vary but between 400,000 and 600,000 Australians are believed to be of Greek Ancestry. Greek-Australians connection with our country, like many groups who now call Australia home, began with seven convict sailors.
These seven men in 1829 were ordered to be transported to Australia for piracy. Two of these men, Ghikas Bulgaris and Antonis Manolis were recorded in history - and both died naturalised Australians, with honourable careers and families, having left their previous lives of piracy behind.
Greek-Australian and new SCA (Qld) life member Con Iconomidis is no pirate, but like Ghikas and Antonis has built a life in Australia with a tremendous career and centred his life around family.
When you speak with Con, his passion for family, friendship and community shine through. You get a sense of a man who is content with his achievements on a personal level and is seeking now to give back many-fold everything life has given him.
Con’s sense of community and service extends to his ancestry. Con was on the board of Pankaokos – a Greek community association for 14 years, including 10 as President. This organisation is for people for who trace their ancestry to the Greek island of Kos. Con credits this community engagement with helping to strengthen his bonds with his family and creating an understanding of how not-for-profit organisations work. This experience was excellent training for his strong and ongoing contribution to SCA (Qld).
By his own admission, Con fell into insurance, and he notes that people tend to fall into, rather than aspire to enter, both insurance and strata. He himself has fallen twice to land at Strata Community Insurance (SCI) where he has been for nearly 9 years. Con feels he is lucky to have landed in these industries, they are full of simple, salt of the Earth people, and this suits him to a tee.
Con has been in insurance since he was sixteen years old, starting as a mail boy at FAI Insurance before working his way up to Assistant Claims Manager dealing with motor, home and small business insurance. It was this entry level to senior management story in his early career that helped shape Con’s commitment to training new people in the industry.
As Con puts it “you can be as technically minded as you like, but you need common sense, you need to be able to talk with people and solve their problems; technology can’t replace customer service, and that is what you need, in both insurance and strata management.” “You can’t teach a personality, and most successful strata and insurance people are personable people.”
Con landed in strata 22 years ago when he started at CHU as a commercial underwriter, before becoming state business development manager. He then found himself back at CHU as State Manager before returning to his current role. Con has worked across the entire strata insurance supply chain and many SCA (Qld) member businesses.
It was this thorough knowledge across the insurance supply chain that drove Con to join the SCA (Qld) board and contribute his extensive knowledge towards helping solve the ongoing pressures facing the strata insurance market.
As Con explains “we are in a hard CAT cycle at the moment and there is not a lot of capital being invested nor competition in the market, this is something going on worldwide.” “Buildings can help by keeping up to date with maintenance, fix their defects and then most importantly communicate that they are a good building to their insurer.”
Con has seen plenty of cycles in his lengthy insurance career and believes the current hard cycle will plateau over the next 6-12 months.
Whilst it is obvious throughout my chat with Con that he knows its stuff when it comes to insurance, the passion rises in his voice when he talks about the relationships he has built and giving back to the industry and community that has given him so much.
Con says that fellow SCA (Qld) life members Kerri Anton, Colin Archer and Simon Barnard are some of his closest friends, whilst he counts Peter Cassels as his oldest continuing friend, and the first person he met in strata. Con credits Kerri, Colin and Simon for teaching him an enormous amount about business and life and their lessons to him have been instrumental in driving his own desire to pay it forward and bring new people into the industry.
Con has taken a very personal approach to bringing people in the industry by having five daughters, four of whom work in strata or the insurance industry! Illiana works at Direct Insurance Brokers, Christina works at BCSystems, while Karli and Stacey work with Con at SCI. Wife Carla has also dipped her toes working at Hartley’s Body Corporate and has a background in sales and insurance. Daughter Stephanie Works in HR at a pharmaceutical company but Con still loves her despite her aversion to strata. Con’s appreciation for his family is not trivial, it is the cornerstone of his life.
Friends Colin and SCI Boss were both very complimentary of Con when asked about his contribution over the years.
Colin simply said “ Con ,I have had the pleasure of knowing you for your entire 22 years in the strata insurance industry ,during which you have shown leadership and professionalism. More importantly you have supported the body corporate managers and our industry ,and it is no coincidence that first CHU and now SCI have become industry leaders. On a personal note thank you and your family for your friendship and humour – Well done mate !!”
Boss Paul Keating expressed sincere gratitude to Con for his service over the years.
“ All I can say, and I do so with great pride, how instrumental Con has been in our business. From the day he heard that we were going to set up a new business, Con was one the first to put his hand up to be a part of it. Like many others, he took a large pay cut to help us get going in the early days, because he believed in our vision to use the strength of our experience to benefit the strata management industry in the risk and insurance space. Con is a strong leader within our business, mentoring many staff with unique insights as we recruit and induct new members into our fast growing business. I was once told that there were either “givers” and “takers” within our strata community. The givers who are benevolent, what to help our sector better tomorrow than it is today, find time to invest in others without any expectations in return. The takers, those who are in it for themselves, prey on the ideas and generosity of others and give nothing back to the industry. Con’s is definitely a “giver”, and the sector is better off for having him… in fact we could all do with more “Con’s” in our lives!”
With over 20 years of contribution Con was an obvious choice for SCA (Qld) life membership. Anyone who saw Con on the night he was awarded life membership knows just how passionate he is about this sector. The genuine surprise coupled with the outpouring of emotion was atypical of a guy who is generally quiet and driven by service. But it was well deserved and simply reflected a lifetime of service. Con describes himself as a simple man, but perhaps a better description is that he is an uncommon, common man. He is a man who does not seek adulation or applause, but considers his highest purpose to serve others, take care of his family, and be a great friend. It is this simple philosophy that has led to an exceptional life, one very worthy of SCA (Qld) life membership.