Dan Hughes - Consultant with Astrolabe


Dan Hughes is a senior consultant with the Astrolabe Group, a consultancy for urban planning projects.

The change management agency started in Sydney’s Surry Hills almost six years ago and wanted to grow its client base in the Hunter area, so Astrolabe now has a permanent office at the Landing Pad and has recruited four locals to their Newcastle team including a student from the local university.

Dan says Hunter Valley clients appreciate the Astrolabe team’s local knowledge of the area. “It makes a big difference being located here. We take local insights into consideration, such as the geography, climatic conditions, demographics and any economic changes or trends affecting the area, so we’re fully informed when advising the government.”

Through the Landing Pad’s connection to the University of Newcastle, Astrolabe has engaged a young uni student on a work placement. “He is doing some really interesting data analytics for a thought-leadership piece. It’s also something he can add to his C.V. Potentially, he wouldn’t have had that opportunity before we moved here.”

Astrolabe’s Hunter team use the Landing Pad as their office and regularly meet in the boardroom and conduct workshops in the seminar space. Sometimes their clients come to Newcastle from the Upper Hunter and use a Landing Pad hot deskfor the day.

“Just by virtue of being in the building you have so many corridor chats with fascinating people. And those conversations have led to opportunities. For us, having a presence in the Hunter region is great for attracting staff and clients,” says Dan Hughes.

Astrolabe staff enjoy a hybrid work arrangement - sometimes working from home and other times coming into the office to access the facilities.

“Everything in the Landing Pad is tech-enabled for a hybrid working environment. Even the board room has a webcam and everything you need for sound connectivity, so you don't get dropouts on team calls. We do a lot of hybrid workshops, so everyone needs to jump online - which is data-heavy. It's a good environment to be productive.”

The Astrolabe team in Surry Hills also like to jump on the train at Central to Newcastle to tackle projects in a collaborative environment with local stakeholders. The Sydney staff has been pleasantly surprised at how Newcastle has changed. “It's got a definite vibrancy and it’s growing.”

The Landing Pad has made setting up in the Hunter Region simple and taken the headache out of finding an office, installing wifi, printers and other equipment. It’s freed up the Astrolabe team to get on with their projects. They like the professional space and are proud to show off the building to their clients.

Dan Hughes and his family moved from Canberra a year ago to Cardiff just outside Newcastle. “Our location has access to hospitals, schools, transport routes; it's got it all.” Besides the conveniences, Dan also enjoys the social side of his new community.

“My wife and I were successful in our work in Canberra but what’s more important to us is the liveability of a place. We love boating, the beach and a warmer climate.

We get a much stronger sense of community here. When we walk down our street, people stop and say, ‘hello’. In the past couple of years, seven different families have moved from interstate into our neighbourhood. We all socialise out in the street. We have a wine bench and barbecue nights and things like that.”

One major contrast to Dan’s former life in Canberra, is the laid-back attitude of his new community. “Novacastrians are very laissez faire. No one's wound up here. I was consulting with a local business and at 3 pm about 20 staff members packed up their stuff and left the office. I said to the boss, ‘What’s going on? Is there a protest or strike?’ And he said, ‘Nah, it’s just that the surf’s really good today.’”

We are inviting you to join our innovation community in Newcastle, for free!

We are offering domestic and international innovators a three-month free membership at the Landing Pad, until June 2023.

The membership includes hot desk passes and/or a two person office space with access to the maker space, seminar and event spaces, various software platforms such as Adobe and Office 365, commercial business address and more. Explore facilities and membership options here.

Apply now button