19 July 2005

One of the founders of ePharmacy, Australia`s most successful online pharmacy will graduate from his business degree at The University of Queensland tomorrow.

Brett Clark, ePharmacy`s Managing Director, prefers to leave his white coat at home, swapping it instead for a keyboard and mouse. After completing his Bachelor of Pharmacy at UQ in 1988 he decided he wanted to be his own boss and start his own business.

He launched ePharmacy in 2000 and later enrolled in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, from which he will graduate at the UQ Centre on Wednesday, July 20 at 2pm.

After a recent merger, ePharmacy-Chemist Warehouse now employs in excess of 350 staff with an annual turnover of over $100 million.

Mr Clark, from the Brisbane suburb of St Lucia, set up ePharmacy with fellow UQ pharmacy graduates Jeff Wasley and Gary Nipperess.

“During 1999 when the dot com boom was happening I became interested with all the hype,” he said.

Despite not personally owning a computer, he could see the potential for making money.

“I wanted to control my own destiny. I didn`t want to wake up at 40 and think `where did it all go?` You realise that there is more to life,” he said.

In fact Mr Clark admits it would be virtually impossible for him to fit anything else into his life at the moment.

As well as running the business, he has been studying for an MBA at UQ, learning the skills that he said will help him take ePharmacy to the next level.

“Thomas Edison said genius was one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” he said.

“What I`m finding is that there is a tendency in business to want to make the quick buck.

“In reality you have to be prepared to do the hard work.”

Mr Clark said, despite the frequent misconception that MBA stood for Marriage Break-up Assured, he could not have achieved so much in such a short time without the support of his family.

“It was great to have their support, they have always been 150 percent behind me,” he said, despite attempting to use his wife`s (then fiancé) engagement ring as collateral to help finance his first pharmacy.

Mr Clark said the most important part of his MBA had been the social science area where he picked up the so-called “soft skills” that help to build a more cohesive workforce.

“The MBA has provided a framework for me to look at each respective division of my business from an analytical point of view,” he said.

“The negative side of being self-employed is that you don`t get a chance to bounce ideas off other business people.

“The best thing about the MBA is the people I meet and the opportunity to share ideas.”

There are currently 16 ePharmacy chemist warehouse stores located throughout Australia.

Customers can either purchase pharmaceuticals over the counter or order online for immediate delivery.

Registered users also have access to ePharmacy`s health and drug information, allowing users to search for relevant information from home.

Remote areas are the company`s main market due to the lack of pharmacists in those areas.

Mr Clark is keen to share the secrets of his success. As well as speaking at conferences and giving guest lectures, he is writing a book about his experiences, explaining what it takes to make it to the top of the boardroom.

He said it took him a while before he was comfortable with being called an entrepreneur.

“The problem with entrepreneurship is that it has connotations of money and true entrepreneurs, or the ones I know of or have read about, don`t always make money,” he said.

“An entrepreneur is really someone who makes things happen and from what I can see there is nothing that equates it to money.

“Money is an outcome and if you have a good business model and you do something very well you`ll make money anyway.”

Mr Clark admitted he was not your traditional pharmacist but said that doing things differently and taking the risk that nobody else had taken before was one of the paths to success.

“I run around putting out little fires and then start bigger ones,” he said.

“That is, you have to be reactive but also proactive.

“It is about relationship building - building a jigsaw - eventually the piece will fit, even it doesn`t initially.”

Media: For more information contact Chris Saxby telephone 07 3365 2479.