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John Foley

As chief executive of the MS Society for many years, John was non-executive chairman of several successful start-up businesses including home attendant care services, management consulting and direct marketing. He has also been involved in the serviced apartment industry. John enjoys his SBMS role and believes Mentors also benefit from the experience.


  • Finance-
  • HR-
  • Management-
  • Marketing-
  • Planning-
  • Governance-


  • Education and training-
  • Professional, scientific and technical services-
  • Health care and social assistance-
  • Transport, postal and warehousing-
  • Administrative and support services-
  • Public administration inc. Government relationships-
  • Arts and recreation services-
  • Tourism, hospitality, accommodation and food services-
  • Financial and insurance services-
  • Administrative and support services-

Spoken Languages:

  • French-

Primary Locations:

  • Melbourne CBD-
  • Melbourne East-
  • Melbourne South East-

Current Occupation:

SBMS Mentor

Detailed CV:

John’s 17 years' experience as managing director of six subsidiary businesses of the MS Society had him working with general managers in each case. As managing director of each subsidiary, he was responsible for results, strategic direction, key appointments and financial control. The six businesses were established as start-ups with very little capital in the service areas of direct mail processing (Melbourne), telemarketing (Melbourne and another later in Sydney), personal care/home attendant care (Melbourne and another later in Sydney) and management consulting (Sydney and Melbourne). Over eight years, the direct mail processing business grew from scratch to $7 million turnover with 100 staff and over five years the Melbourne-based home attendant care agency grew from scratch to $8 million turnover with 400 staff.

John's strengths lie in his ability to combine encouragement and coaching with objective and realistic analysis. A marketer and financial manager, he believes in goal setting, measurement and the utilisation of technology. Of particular interest to John is the growth of entrepreneurial start-ups to the next stages. This usually involves particular attention to marketing, cash flow, credit control, operational management, planned systems establishment, human resources, and training and planning. John feels that it is imperative that industry change be monitored and indeed, forecast. This requires non-speculative research even at the early stages.

In 2000, John began phasing out of his MS involvement and spent several months in Europe in the apartment business. This business involves real estate investment, financing, renovation, decoration and furnishing, marketing and quality management. More recently, John and his wife developed a small apartment business providing short-term serviced accommodation to corporate and private clients in Sydney and Melbourne. John has found his mentoring relationships beneficial and rewarding and strongly believes that small businesses could broaden their perspective in this way.


  • Former Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
  • Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Fundraising

SBMS is proudly supported by the Victorian Government & Small Business Victoria