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Lesley Marchioro

For more than 10 years, Tonsley Innovation District has been a leader in innovation for South Australia. To mark Tonsley’s first decade of success, Renewal SA sat down with some of the District’s greatest champions, those who have actively contributed to its collaborative ecosystem and influenced the exemplar incubator it has become. 

Full interview: Lesley Marchioro, Group Executive – People and Culture, SAGE Group

What is SAGE Group and what companies does it involve?

There are four main companies that make up our group; SAGE Automation is the historic business and is centred around industrial automation and systems integration; Nukon is very much about the future and digitalisation; then there’s Embedded Expertise where we take fantastic people like our own team members and embed them into client organisations; and the other business is Skills Lab, where we are growing people’s capabilities to meet the needs of Industry 4.0. SAGE has got this really great group of companies that all work together beautifully to serve our clients really successfully and get great outcomes.

What are the benefits of being located at Tonsley?

I think there’s a real melding here of industry and education. Having higher education at one end of the space and a technical college at the other end and all different types of industry in between means that we can interact with those education businesses and make sure that we are getting really great talent coming straight out of university or technical college and helping people to grow and apply the skills that they’ve learned.

People might come here to be educated, but then they’ve got great opportunity to interact in organisations and see what their future could possibly be and potentially get a job here as well.

It’s also fantastic from the perspective that there are beautiful spaces to be in and from a wellbeing perspective, when we’re trying to attract people into the organisation, it is a big advantage. There are places where you can relax, go for a walk and take some time out to regroup before you come and work hard at SAGE.

How would you describe Tonsley in one word?

If I had to use one word to describe the Tonsley Innovation District, I think it would be collaboration. It really lends itself to collaborating. There’s a lot of talk about innovation coming from diversity of thought and different people coming together, and that’s actually what this space is – it’s somewhere that you can innovate and we’ve definitely benefited as a business from that.

How do you think South Australians should feel about Tonsley?

I think what Tonsley has become is really quite remarkable. It’s a great space for innovation, collaboration and bringing different sectors together and I think that’s the cornerstone of innovation. I think for people who might not understand what Tonsley is about should take the opportunity to come and have a look, especially families.

You can bring your kids to roller blade and scoot around the space, but also it can be an opportunity to talk about what kind of career they might want to have in the future. It is not just a place for families to come and go for a walk, but it is also about what is possible for your children’s future. You can see that here, in one space which I think is pretty exciting.

Can you imagine what the opportunity missed for South Australia would've been had Tonsley been redeveloped as a housing or industrial estate?

I think the opportunity for South Australia that would have been missed is that opportunity for collaboration between the education sectors and industry. There is so much innovation in this space because we are bringing all the right people together to make that happen.

They talk so much about innovation coming from diversity of thought and different people coming together. That is actually what this space is, it’s somewhere that you can innovate and SAGE has definitely benefited as a business from that.


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