• Honesty

  • Accountability

  • Passion

  • Progression

  • Team Work

Meet Houssam

BSc Health Science, BEng Biomedical, HONS, FGLF, MAICD

I am a serial entrepreneur with a dynamic approach to delivering vibrancy and opportunities in Adelaide. With over 15 years business experience in the city, I have succeeded in creating many startup companies in telecommunications, hospitality, marketing and property development sectors. I was elected to the Adelaide City Council in 2010 and strive to offer residents, businesses and students fresh, innovative and “big picture” solutions. I strongly believe community success delivers on business success.

My Life

My father migrated to Australia from Lebanon in the 1960s in search of a better life. I had the privilege of being born in Adelaide, but at three years old, my parents decided to return to Lebanon in the 1979 to be with our family through tough times leading into the civil war. After 16 years of as many happy times as there were grim, I came back to Adelaide with my parents, brother and sister in pursuit of the boundless opportunities this generous country presents to its migrant communities. I have resided in South Australia now for almost 19 years and am soon to marry my fiancée, Ava Anastasia, in the city we call home.

My Career

Having lived in a war torn country with an infertile ground for business, my parents have always been focused on education for their children. I completed year 12 at Norwood Morialta High School and in 1997 I was accepted to study a double degree of health sciences and biomedical engineering at Flinders University.

My dad was an entrepreneur and I have vivid memories working with him in his retail outlets from the age of 10. Entrepreneurial blood has always flown through my veins and in 1999 I decided to establish my first business, Digimob. From a humble retail store on Pulteney Street, Digimob has grown into South Australia’s largest mobile phone service centre, acquiring its competitor Alltech in 2011. But this was not enough to satiate my appetite for start-ups. While studying part-time, I established Felici Espresso Bar on Rundle Street with a quintessentially Middle Eastern love for hospitality. Muscle Online soon followed, providing e-commerce platforms and online solutions for small business.

Adelaide has all the right ingredients to provide a kickstart for entrepreneurs; the combination of our small population, liveability and networking makes an ideal test market for small business. Partnerships are key in Adelaide, and this is why I partnered with many friends and colleagues in all my business interests. The only thing I felt Adelaide lacked was the ability to celebrate itself and the unique qualities that distinguish us from big cities around the world.

Having owned and operated businesses in Adelaide City for over 15 years, I know that it is never easy and that failure is a by-product of success. I felt that talented younger generations were leaving Adelaide because their voices were not being heard due to a lack of representation. I got to a point where I felt I had to be part of the problem if I wanted to be part of the solution. I nominated to Adelaide City Council in 2010 and was successfully elected.

An accompaniment to my entrepreneurial and political life is my contribution to the community that we live in. I have worked for many not-for-profit boards including serving as a deputy chair on the Australia Day Council, the Australian Refugee Association, Engineers without Borders and worked on many international projects with United Nations-based organisations.

If living 16 years through a civil war has taught me anything, it’s the ability to identify a fertile ground for opportunity, and our Adelaide has the balance right.

Althought i have taken a step back from business in the last few years, i am still actively involved in advisory and mentorship roles in various companies.

Key Awards

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Finalist 2011

Australian Leadership Award, Future Summit

First Prize 2010

Governor’s Multicultural Award

First Prize 2008

Pride of Australia Medal

First Prize, Medal for Peace 2007

Flinders University of South Australia

Bankers Award for Best Business Idea 2007

The Australasian College of Physical Sciences and Engineering in Medicine

First Prize, National Best Engineering Honours Project 2007

The Society of Medical and Biological Engineering

First Prize, National Best Engineering Honours Project 2007

Engineers Australia’s College of Biomedical Engineers

First Prize, National Best Engineering Honours Project 2007

Current Appointments & Directorships

  • Independent Board Member, Unley Business and Economic Development Committee
  • Chairperson, Australia Day Council of South Australia
  • Chair, Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Council for Australia-Arab Relations
  • Councillor for the City of Adelaide
  • Board Member, Capital City Committee Adelaide, South Australia
  • Board Member - Migrant Resource Centre
  • Panel Member, Development Assessment Panel – City of Adelaide
  • Member, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Australia
  • Fellow, The Leaders Institute of South Australia, Governor’s Leadership Foundation

Past Appointments & Directorships

  • Acting Chair, Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Council for Australia-Arab Relations 2016-2017
  • Chairperson, Future SA 2016-2017
  • Panel Member, Development Assessment Panel – City of Adelaide 2012-2017
  • Chairperson, Finance & Business Services Committee – City of Adelaide 2012-2017
  • Board Member, Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Council for Australia-Arab Relations 2016-2017
  • Deputy Chairperson, Australia Day Council of South Australia 2012-2016
  • Deputy Lord Mayor - City of Adelaide 2015-2016
  • Board Member – South Australian Motor Sport Board 2014-2015
  • Board Member, Rundle Mall Management Authority, South Australia 2010-2014
  • Chairperson, Australia Day in the City Organising Committee, South Australia 2010-2012
  • Vice-Chairperson, Central Markets Adelaide Reference Group, South Australia 2010-2012
  • Board Member, ARA, Australian Refugee Association, South Australia 2009-2010
  • Group Member, East End Coordination Group, South Australia 2009-2010
  • Panel Member, Leaders Institute of South Australia, Network Executive 2009-2010
  • Chairperson, United for Peace, South Australia 2006-2009
  • Board Member, Engineers Without Borders, South Australian Chapter 2006-2008
  • Board Member, Silicon Vineyard Group, South Australia 2005-2006
  • Executive Director, Digimob 2001-2014
  • Executive Director, Macromanage Australia T/A Felici Espresso Bar South Australia 2006-2014
  • Executive Director, Macrovest Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 2006-2010
Houssam Abiad
I love Adelaide. We live in the greatest city on earth; one that embraces our history, builds foundations for the present and is a canvas for our innovative future. However, I know our city can be better...
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