Meet Jonathon Colbran

Meet Jonathon Colbran - Partner, Restructuring and RecoveryJonathon Colbran

Jonathon is a Partner of the National Restructuring and Recovery division and is based in both Canberra and Melbourne.

He is a trusted advisor to investors, financiers, and directors and has helped many distressed companies restructure and save jobs, eliminate old debt, and position themselves as market leaders. Jonathon is passionate about helping people solve a problem that they were adamant was unsolvable. 

How long have you been in Restructuring and Recovery? What did you do previously? 

I joined RSM as a full-time undergraduate with the National Restructuring & Recovery Division and have been based in the Canberra team since 2002. I worked as a full-time undergraduate for 18 months with a boutique Canberra tax and accounting firm before I joined RSM. My first job was as a casual retail assistant with my local Go-Lo discount store. 

 What led you down this particular career path? 

Like most people, I fell into it. Business always fascinated me, I was always passionate about helping people, and I loved solving problems so, by the time I had completed my 2nd year studying Commerce at ANU, I was clear that I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant.
The problem was that by the time I had reached my final year studying at ANU, it was clear that I didn’t really enjoy traditional small business accounting work. So I made a call to a good friend of mine who was working at RSM at the time (and still works here today actually) and asked if he could get me an interview with RSM. He said that the only team that was recruiting was the Restructuring & Recovery team, organised me an interview with Frank Lo Pilato, now head of RSM in Canberra, and I was lucky enough to be offered the job.

"Straight away I loved the fast-paced unpredictable nature of the work we do, and I knew that I had almost by complete fluke, found what I wanted to do."

What are common misconceptions people have about Restructuring and Recovery? 

Telling people that I am a Registered Liquidator and a Trustee in Bankruptcy has scared more than a few people. The names of those registrations conjure images of doom and gloom and don’t help to paint a positive picture of either the breadth of complex work that we do or the ways that we regularly help Government Departments, directors, creditors, business owners, lenders, not for profits and individuals solve problems and navigate through difficult times to come out the other side. I am very fortunate to have clients and referrers all across Australia that I have worked with for almost 20 years now, so thankfully they understand the value that we can add and the benefit of our unique skill set to help them to solve their problems. 

Have you worked overseas or in other parts of Australia?

 I have never worked overseas but I am fortunate enough to have worked in every State and Territory in Australia.
Some of my more interesting appointments have seen me manage a trading whiskey distillery in Tasmania, manage the Administration for a Land Council that was involved in the largest Aboriginal land rights claims in NSW history at the time and managing and selling an operating gold mining operation located in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia that saw me sleeping in a donga in the middle of the desert.

More than 50% of my day-to-day work is assisting clients and referrers who are either themselves based outside of the Canberra Region or who have problems that need solving outside of the Canberra Region. In fact, many of my referrers and clients are based in Sydney, Melbourne and Regional WA and I simply work as a team with my many Partners to work virtually or in-person wherever I am needed. I have not managed to visit all 34 RSM offices around Australia but I have either visited or worked with team members from most of them.

What do you like about where you are now? 

I have lived in Canberra almost all my life, having moved here from Country NSW when I was 2.
I love the fact that when I am in Canberra, I am able to leave home at 8am and by 8:05am I am in the office, having dropped my girls off at school on the way to work. Professionally, I love the fact that I am only ever a direct flight away from all the major Capital cities and working across the country gives me the ability to regularly work across the full spectrum of personal and corporate restructuring and insolvency solutions. Personally, I think the best thing about being based in Canberra is that I am less than 2 hours from the beach and the snow and I’m surrounded by some of Australia’s best mountain bike trails.

Tell us something we do not know about you... yet. 

Two little known facts are that firstly Frank Lo Pilato and my work anniversaries are both 26 August, albeit they are 10 years apart. I was also a football goalkeeper for 25 years who once played in the Junior National Championships in Japan.

Who has influenced you and what inspires you? 

I’ve been really fortunate that I have grown up working with many amazing practitioners, some of whom have now retired but many of whom I have worked for and now with as their Partners for almost 20 years at RSM. 

Each of them have taught me key lessons that have influenced me:

  • Frank Lo Pilato (my Canberra Partner) taught me that emotional intelligence is critical to success in business. 
  • Peter Marsden (my Sydney Partner and a big Sydney Swans supporter) taught me the value of the famous Sydney Swans "no d#@*head" policy (a policy during former coach Paul Roos' time at the helm) meaning that confidence comes from hard work, preparation, diligence and thoroughness. 
  • Neil Cribb (my Perth Partner) taught me the importance of mateship and your internal networks and relationships with your colleagues. 
  • Greg Dudley (my boss) taught me that you can be successful even with a terrible dress sense.  
  • Daniel Bond (my former Canberra colleague and good friend) taught me that team culture was critical to success but that passion for your work sets the tone.

"What inspires me is that sense of accomplishment when I go home to my family, having helped someone solve a problem that they were adamant was unsolvable."   

What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received? 

Our clients are not jobs, they are real people with real feelings who need our help. Focus on helping your clients and success will follow.

What is one thing you are currently trying to make a habit of? 

Commit to my rehab for my broken hip that I sustained last year whilst skiing on Father’s Day so that I can ride more mountain bikes and play more golf.

What is one thing that surprised you about working at RSM? 

The culture. In all honesty, RSM has always felt like a family, where my colleagues and the Partners have always made me feel that they genuinely care about me and have supported me to achieve all that I have ever wanted to achieve.
I was very surprised by how approachable everyone was when I joined RSM and how the National Chairman of the time always remembered my name, even as an undergraduate. It also regularly blows me away that team members who join RSM do not just stay for a few years, they stay for decades. There is an honour board in our Perth office that recognises all the team members who worked with the firm for more than 40 years to prove it. 

So my journey of almost 20 years with the firm is really just par for the course

Learn more about Jonathon Colbran




Jonathon Colbran

Partner, Restructuring and Recovery


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