Under the Hood with ReGen's Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

When Daniel Smith stepped up to interview then-Federal Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock in 1985, he was nervous but excited.

A 12-year-old boy from Bunbury, Daniel had taken an early interest in politics and communications, and as editor of his school’s newspaper, he was in his element.

The prospect of interviewing the high-profile Liberal was daunting, but it didn’t stop Daniel from grilling the politician.

Now, as the Executive Chair and Founder of ReGen Strategic, Daniel enjoys watching his own children overcome their challenges, just as he had.

“My kids are pretty inspiring, because I see them tackle their own little battles with courage and determination every day,” he says.

“You see them learning things and tackling challenges every day, learning how to speak in front of an audience, solving problems, navigating social situations, making sense of the world.”

Daniel’s two daughters were a driving force behind his decision to incorporate technical sustainability capabilities within the business and repurposing the well-established CGM Communications brand as ReGen Strategic in 2022.

“It had become increasingly clear where the world was heading on a climate change trajectory and my eldest daughter was becoming more conscious of those things,” he explains.

“Whilst I've always felt that I've worked in areas that have helped to make a positive contribution in this area, I felt like I could do more.

“At some point, both my daughters are going to ask me ‘Gee the world's pretty stuffed, what did you do? What have you tried to do about it?’ and I wanted a better answer.”

Daniel has lived in Perth for most of his life and whilst he acknowledges it was not a conscious decision, he is proud to be part of the city’s evolution.

“What makes Perth different from some of the bigger cities is that it is a work in progress, it’s still growing up, it’s still maturing and as a result, you get an opportunity to really shape it through the work you do,” he says.

“I look around at things that have happened in Perth over the last 25 years and find things I’ve had some small or large role in and that’s still very exciting.”

While Daniel has always been entrepreneurial, he believes being fortunate to have good mentors played a large role in his career trajectory.

While completing a Bachelor of Business majoring in economics at ECU, Daniel furthered his political skills, taking on a part-time job for WA Opinion Polls, where he started off as an interviewer doing live opinion polling during election campaigns. Daniel explains it was there that he forged professional bonds that continue today.

“The people I worked for, the work that we were doing and the people I got to meet in the political sphere during that time really broadened my mind with what I could potentially do with my career,” he says.

Not long after completing his studies, Daniel dove headfirst into politics, taking on an advisor position in the Ministerial office for Clive Brown, the Minister for State Development during the Gallop government. As the current mining boom just started to kick off in Western Australia, Daniel provided policy advice on major resources projects.

“Having the opportunity to work with Clive and other people within that office was the start of a trajectory to every other opportunity I’ve had and still continue to have,” he says.

Following this role, Daniel took on a corporate affairs role at BHP before transitioning back into government when Alan Carpenter became Premier, as Deputy Chief Policy Advisor. A couple of years later, he was recruited into national firm CPR Communications, where he worked under current Premier Roger Cook.

“Roger’s a great guy, he’s got values consistent with my own,” Daniel says. “He works hard, he’s strategic and he’s good fun.”

“I became Roger’s understudy in the role of General Manager of the WA office, because he’d just been pre-selected to go into parliament and they needed someone to replace him, so I became that person. That was 16 years ago, and I’ve been consulting ever since.”

Daniel enjoyed working in communications, but the entrepreneur in him wanted more. When the opportunity presented itself, Daniel was able to split off from CPR and start his own business.

Campaign Capital was created, and Daniel set forth on his journey of exploring his entrepreneurial spirit. He acknowledges it was a daunting move, but he made sure he consistently planned ahead.

“Being a business owner really focuses the mind,” Daniel says. “Where are my clients going to come from in three months, six months and a year’s time. Am I going to be able to pay wages this month?”

“I consider myself very fortunate that I had a couple of clients to start the business with.

“It can be very difficult to start a business from scratch, so I feel very fortunate that I had those clients and very appreciative they had the confidence to go with me as an individual.”

For six years Daniel built Campaign Capital into a public campaigning powerhouse, but he also had a vision for integrating other service offerings into the business.

The rebrand to CGM Communications in 2017 reflected an enhanced offering for clients with community engagement, government relations and media services all coming under the new label. It was during this time that managing director Anthony Fisk joined the team as a business partner.

Daniel describes Anthony as a complementary business leader, with the pair both bringing different strengths to the table. Daniel with his experience in public affairs and campaigning and Anthony with his background in corporate communications.

While the business operated smoothly as CGM Communications, COVID-19 was a challenge.

“COVID was an intense period,” Daniel reflects.

“As a business owner, you worried more every day, where this could go next, how it might affect the business and therefore your family, your employees and their families. The management of people during that time took added significance.”

However, it was under this pressure that a new direction for the business started to form.  Daniel began fielding more questions on ESG from clients. As a result, he took it upon himself to undertake education in the sustainability discipline.

“I could see there was a big opportunity coming up the slope in the sustainability space,” Daniel describes.

“This opportunity was a great fit for us, because making sustainability a core part of what we were doing was aligned with our values and gave us a renewed sense of purpose, in addition to providing a whole new business stream.”

Looking back on his career to date, Daniel says he is most proud of where the business stands today, but insists the best is yet to come.

“I can find no other consultancy that blends technical capabilities in sustainability and ESG with equally strong capabilities in stakeholder engagement and strategic communication,” he says.

“Nobody else has put these elements together like we have, and I am really excited to explore the potential of this. If that means growth in Perth, great, if it means growth interstate and overseas, fantastic.

“I think we’re at the start of another exciting phase in the business and I want to fully explore this potential.”

When asked what he would advise his 12-year-old self if given the opportunity, Daniel highlighted the importance of always being positive and working in a collegiate way.

“You meet a lot of people over the course of your career, and finding ways to work with people from a range of the different backgrounds, opinions and political views is critical to getting things done,” he offers.

“If you treat others well and help them in their endeavours, they will do the same for you.  This way, everybody wins, and you enhance your ability to make a positive impact on the world.”


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