Geraldton women in business: Chris Rafanelli shares leadership tips

Zoe KeenanGeraldton Guardian

When Chris Rafanelli moved from South Australia to Geraldton she never thought she would be running her own business, let alone two.

Working as a director of manufacturing industries with TAFE in South Australia, Ms Rafanelli first heard about Geraldton during a project with the University of Canberra about regional development.

“A professor said if you looked at Geraldton they had a really balanced economy, it was one of few regional towns with a growing economy,” Ms Rafanelli said.

“They had a balance of fishing, farming, mining and tourism and so when I saw a job pop up at Geraldton TAFE, I took it.”

After working as director of manufacturing industries at the then Geraldton TAFE, she looked for a job that more suited her family lifestyle.

She worked as a regional employment co-ordinator with the Department of Training until 2005, when she and husband Nic bought Davinci Tiles.

At the same time Ms Rafanelli started Rafa Recruitment and Workforce Development, which she runs simultaneously.

She said businesses had to keep a positive frame of mind during challenging economic times.

“Geraldton has experienced very challenging economic times for the last few years so it means you’ve really got to be on the ball running a business,” she said.

“You’ve got to bring a positive frame of mind every day and tell yourself you’re going to run a better business today than yesterday.”

Running two very different businesses helped keep her mind stimulated, Ms Rafanelli said.

“When I went through teachers’ college I did an art major, so I find that working in the tiling shop I can feed my urge to be creative,” she said.

“Then in the recruitment agency you have to be regimented so there’s two opposite skill sets, it means my brain’s kept stimulated and not lopsided.”

When it came to running a business, Ms Rafanelli said she could write a book of tips.

“You’ll be out of your comfort zone a lot but be really proud of what you’re doing and back yourself,” she said.

“You’ve got to be open to opportunities, I’ve been doing it for 13 years and am still learning every day.”

Ms Rafanelli will share her story at this month’s Women Inspiring Better Business Breakfast at The HarbourView Restaurant on Marine Terrace on Tuesday, May 15.

Tickets can be purchased through the WIBBs May Breakfast Facebook page.

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