XPotential Australia New Zealand

Teamwork is very important to us at XPotential Australia New Zealand, where we are passionate about delivering the very best outcomes to our clients, together.

Our Unique Approach

XPotential was born out of a passion for brands and people. The belief that brands are the most important asset of any business implies that all strategies and activities must focus on building brand value. A company's most important resource is their people. Teams and individuals aligned towards a common purpose of building brands and armed with the required skills, knowledge and behaviours, will deliver outstanding results.

XPotential was established in Marlow, United Kingdom in 2005. Since then the network has grown with businesses being established in Thailand (2006), Brazil (2009) and Australasia (2012).

The XPotential Australia – New Zealand team, based in Melbourne and Sydney, reflects our commitment to total business alignment with over 100years of commercial experience across multiple functions, markets and industries with some of the world’s leading organisations.

We are proud to be part of the global team and the connections and resources the partnership brings.

Our Beliefs

Delivering brand-centric solutions: Brands live and die by the impact their contacts have with their customers, shoppers and consumers. Every contact must add value to the brand.

Going below the surface: Understanding the underlying issues, deep insights and key trends, will lead to the most powerful and sustainable solutions.

Constructive collaboration: Long term brand value is only built when every individual and team in an organisation is aligned to a common purpose and knows, understands, believes and acts in the best interests of the brand.

Our Team

At XPotential Australia New Zealand, we believe that the way a person feels about their shoes reveals a lot about their character

Mike Harley | Managing Director, XPotential Australia New Zealand

sidiFavourite shoes: My Sidi’s  because I  love cycling  and when I wear them I’m normally riding with friends, going fast, getting fit and there’s always a good coffee to look forward to at the end.

Brands create value through capturing the hearts and minds of people. I believe that brand equity is built through helping people within organisations gain an intimate understanding of their customer/ consumer so it is clear how they create value and bring their brand to life.

In October 2012 I joined XPotential when my company Percolate Consulting became part of the XPotential network. With more than 25 years leadership experience in general management, global and domestic marketing, strategy and innovation across multiple FMCG categories, I have worked for leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies in Australasia, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

My most recent role as Marketing & Innovation Director at National Foods (now part of Lion) provided the leadership to refocus the business strategy on brand building and innovation through greater consumer and customer focus. This included the restructure of the organisation to drive greater strategic clarity, cross-functional alignment and process integration. I also played  a key role in the successful acquisition and integration of the Dairy Farmers business to create the largest dairy company in Australasia.

Prior to this I worked for Fonterra, one of the world's largest dairy companies, in global marketing & strategy roles and Reckitt Benckiser in Spain, France, the UK and New Zealand. In both these roles I was involved in the development and embedding of world-class sales & marketing processes.

In addition to my consulting activities I am also a Non-Executive Director of Sports Dietitians Australia.

Steve Sowerby | Founder of XPotential

VANSFavourite shoes: My favourite pair of shoes is my Vans because every time I put them on I feel at ease and relaxed.  They are comfortable, classic  but still up to date!

I'm a passionate believer that Brands are the most important assets of a business and that every individual in an organisation has the responsibility to add value to their brands every day.

With over thirty years of corporate and agency experience I have built an in depth knowledge in Strategy, Positioning, Branding and Team Building. I am also an experienced facilitator having run hundreds of workshops over the last 15 years, with fifty of the world’s best known companies and their leading brands.

I have been privileged to work globally in fast moving consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, health care, skin care, retailing, media and non-profit organisations. As a senior executive for Reckitt Benckiser and 3M, I managed divisions and ran companies in Italy, Spain, France, Central and Eastern Europe, Thailand, Singapore and East Asia.

My diverse and multicultural background has allowed me to become fluent in seven languages and adaptable to cultural norms.

Dr. Angel Gonzalez/ Senior Associate XPotential Australia New Zealand

20151027_214903Favourite Shoes: My Asics. Yes, they may look like ordinary old running shoes. But mine are pretty worn out. I run for pleasure and run for health and fitness. Running makes me feel free, because it means I can go to places and see many things, depending only on my will and perseverance. No matter how far, difficult the trails, it's just about me and my shoes. They are the only special equipment required. They are part of my life. Always first when I pack, always there when at home. They are worn out because they have been to many distant places. They are a reminder that you can be what you want, achieve what you believe, get where you want to go. It just takes you.

I began my own consultancy firm Alia Consulting International in 1992 in Venezuela, whilst working as an anaesthetist. The firm specialised in developing strategic tools to enhance the performance of sales and marketing teams, based on medical information and training to the pharmaceutical industry in LATAM and the US.

During this time I partnered with both major pharma companies and local/boutique pharmaceuticals including: AZ, GSK, Baxter, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi. I was involved in many diverse and successful projects and campaigns, from working with marketing teams to launch new products, developing digital and physical support tools for doctors, patients, pharma reps, pharmacists & pharmacy assistants. I regularly researched and updated medical content for 6 pharmaceutical web pages to provide meaningful information to various target audiences and adapted global campaigns for local country markets, ensuring alignment to the core business objectives.

I strongly believe that scientific knowledge and strategic thinking can generate great value if combined with the right insights.

Mark Mackay | Senior Associate, XPotential Australia New Zealand

Favourite shoes: My favourite pair of shoes are not shoes at all. They are my Simms Wading boots. They are special because I usually only get to wear them for a week or so each year, but it is always a special week, fly fishing in some pristine wilderness environments, including Patagonia, New Zealand or Tassie.

I have had an extensive management career in business strategy and marketing communications working in some of the world’s leading creative ad agencies including: Saatchi & Saatchi, Young & Rubicam, The Campaign Palace and George Patterson Y&R.

During this time I worked on some of the world’s leading brands across all major market segments; including Retail, Finance, Corporate and Government.

My international experience includes having trained and worked in Sydney, London, New York and Auckland.

In addition to working with the XPotential Australia New Zealand team I am a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and existing Chair of The Australian and New Zealand Recycling Platform.

Dermott Dowling | Associate


Favourite shoes: My Asics running shoes as they double as great runners and comfy shoes to get from A to B and on the bike as well.  Durable, reliable and hard working.

I believe the most sustainable growth strategy in business today is an organic one driven by the twin pillars of innovation and international business.  I enjoy working with clients in the food & beverage industry on their idea-to-innovation process, fast growth companies on their international business strategy and start-ups on concept commercialisation. 

I have over 18 years’ experience building international brands and businesses across Australasia, Asia Pacific and the UK with time spent at leading companies including Fonterra, Foster’s and Lion Dairy & Drinks.  I also lecture on Global Business Strategy @Swinburne University in addition to helping clients grow.  When not out and about helping clients to grow with confidence, I enjoy time in the garden, with family or out for a run or bike ride wearing my ASICs.

Raewyn Wise | Associate


Favourite shoes:

Ah! One pair you ask? I am a girl and have several favourites!

Firstly my gym shoes, currently a colourful pair of Adidas. I’m all about health and fitness. My whole life revolves around this. To achieve success one must first be healthy and comfortable in their own body … and a little colour at 5am helps me into a cheerful mood.

Second pair are my ‘nude’ Jo Mercer heels. Favourites because they are like a chameleon, fitting in anywhere, anytime and comfortable to boot.

Brand building is integral for success. Consumers must trust a brand in order to believe in it. I believe integrity is essential to build trust. A favourite saying of mine is ‘Do anything like you do everything’. Trust is built by delivering what you say you will, when you say you will and at the quality you said you would.

Over the course of my 30+ year career I’ve travelled a windy road. As a tail end Baby Boomer I don’t fit that mold at all. I am more of a Gen X, seeking new challenges regularly, changing direction and learning new skills often. This propensity has ensured a broad range of experiences within the public and private sectors within business development, investigation and health and wellbeing that I now draw upon daily to share with and assist my clients.

Currently, I specialise in assisting export ready companies to explore international opportunities. A desire to help businesses take advantage of valuable opportunities, build capability, competitiveness and sustainability, drives my activities.

I offer personalised professional hands-­‐on service to all clients, assisting them to meet their goals. Having worked in Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and wider South East Asia I have learned much that is of value to companies exploring local and export markets.

Chris Gurney | Senior Associate, XPotential Australia New Zealand

RoccoFavourite shoes: My favourite pair of shoes are my Rocco's, actually I have three pairs. Less than one hundred metres up the street is an old Italian guy who sits at the back of his shop and hand makes shoes, just for the love of creating. The shop is full of shoes from the basic black and brown (leather soled, uppers and lined), to the most outrageous rock star boots decorated with flames in red patent leather on snake skin. I have a pair of each. What I like is their understated style and the authenticity that comes from being made by an artisan craftsman. Oh... and the third pair are yellow, red and purple patent leather which I bought to wear to our Franchisee conference Priscilla Queen of the Desert Night.

I offer strategic advice in the areas of retail, franchising, marketing and operations. My guiding principal is - growth through alignment. In October I joined XPotential as a Senior Associate consulting to their clients in Australia and New Zealand.

During my time at Bakers Delight we have grown from 280 to 710 bakeries. My General Management roles have covered, marketing, operations, recruitment, supply, to name a few! I spent two years in Canada as President of our COBS business mentoring the next generation of leaders and turning the business from loss to profit. Appointed to the board of BDH in 2012.

Previously, I spent ten years working in the linked entities of Sancella/Bowater/Scott/SCA/Deeko and Carter Holt Harvey. Positions held were Marketing Manager Sancella, acting Managing Director Sancella U.K., General Manager Deeko and GM Logistics Carter Holt Harvey Tissue.

My career started in brand management for blue chip FMCG companies Unilever, Nestle, Beecham and Ralston Purina. Managing brands such as Rosella, Dog Chow, Macleans, Ribena, Claytons, Prince Matchabelli and Ponds.

Steve Prescott | Senior Associate, XPotential Australia New Zealand

Favourite shoes: My favourite shoes are a pair of old Keen waterproofs. What makes them special well for one thing I only wear them when I am trekking in some wonderful location whether that be up a mountain in Northern Vietnam or across a great beach in Australia or New Zealand! They always represent special times in special places!

I believe that outstanding brands and exceptional people are at the heart of any winning organisation.
During more than 30 years of my career I have focussed on aligning these two key drivers across brands as diverse as Ideal Standard, Dettol, Absolute Vodka, Chivas Regal and Gaviscon.

The last 4 years have been with The Lixil Coporation (Global leader in Sanitary Ware) as Country Manager Australia and New Zealand. Prior to this I held General Management and Executive Sales Roles within world-class companies in the UK, Central Europe, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia including: Pernod Ricard New Zealand, Cerebos Australia & New Zealand, SAB Miller Central Europe and various roles at Reckitt & Colman (now Reckitt Benckiser) in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Cheryl Gurney

Cheryl Gurney | Senior Research Associate

cherylbootsFavourite shoes: I could probably find more glamorous shoes but these are my favourites and have been my winter 'standby' shoes for many years.  These Italian ankle boots were bought in a wonderful shoe shop in Warrnambool in 1995 - and have been critical to my wardrobe for the past 19 years.  They cost far too much, but have been well worth it based on the number of times they have been worn.  The high quality leather still responds to being polished and they have been re-soled three times.  They are comfortable to wear and walk in all day, make me feel 'good' when I put them on and have out-lasted numerous fashion trends. 

My professional interest lies in the delivery of insights that provide strong strategic and tactical direction.

With many years of experience as a qualitative market researcher, I have conducted projects across a broad range of business categories, applying the full range of qualitative research techniques.

I’ve held senior qualitative positions at TNS and worked Internationally and within Australia for both business and consumer clients, including Motorola, Telstra, ANZ bank, Australian Paper, Heinz, Mars and LÓreal.

Jane Reid | Senior Research Associate

thongsFavourite shoes: My favourite pair of shoes are my thongs (or ‘jandals’ in NZ and ‘flip-flops’ in the UK), and specifically Havianas because they are easy to wear and walk in, and it means great weather and relaxing times.  The noise they make when you walk just says “summer” to me.  I would wear them all year round if I could!

I am passionate about brand positioning and innovation and delivering an in-depth understanding and direction for brand development and growth.

With over 20 years’ experience in market research both in Australia and Overseas I’ve held senior positions with International Market Research Companies NOP, BMRB, and TNS.

I’ve worked across a wide range of markets ranging from alcohol and confectionary to toiletries and consumer healthcare, including well-known brands like Carlsberg, Pedigree, Ferrera Rocher, Wella and Pura.