South Australian Business News

Why property tycoon Theo Maras is now focused on the next generation of businesspeople

Anthony Caldwell
Tuesday, July 18th 2023
Listen to the full interview with Theo Maras on the new ThirtyNiners podcast.

With a legacy as one of Australia’s most prominent businesspeople, Theo Maras has reached a stage in his life where giving back is his primary focus. 

In a recent conversation with the South Australian Business Chamber CEO Andrew Kay, Maras shared his life experiences, career journey, and commitment to empowering the next generation of business leaders.

You know when you do enough, have enough, and have looked after your family and friends? That’s when I started to think about how I could give back. That’s very important to me,” said Mr. Maras.

Theo, warmly regarded as the Emperor of the East End, is an official partner of ThirtyNiners, a bespoke membership segment of the South Australian Business Chamber designed to bring together future-focused leaders under the age of 40 to collaborate, shape, share, and learn.

Today, I still mentor younger people, mind you, they think I’m a bit old hat now,” Theo said with a chuckle and a grin. 

You can see his eyes widen and sense the enthusiasm when Theo talks about young entrepreneurs. It is clear he feels South Australia’s future is in good hands.

You know, giving back gives me a lot of pleasure. It’s not one way. I get pleasure out of helping and seeing somebody prosper. 

You might say I’m too busy to help others, but what am I busy doing? Making another dollar? What does that mean to me now? What does that mean to anybody after you’ve made enough? 

I am very grateful to those who brought me up because they said when you have enough, give back,” said Mr. Maras.

Theo’s life started with humble beginnings. He was born in Ikaria, Greece in 1948 and migrated to Australia with his family in 1952 at the age of four. Like many, they sought a better life and made the journey with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Theo attended public school, worked from the age of 14, and began to shape his career as a property developer at the young age of 23. It was a nudge in the right direction from Theo’s employer, Ian Hannaford, that kicked his career into gear.

Do you want to go out on your own?” Ian asked.

I would love to, but I haven’t got any money,” Theo replied.

Find a premises and I’ll supply you with work,” Ian responded.

But I don’t have any money. I can’t buy paper or drawing boards or anything,” Theo responded.

You just go and open up,” Ian said.

With no money in the bank, young Theo found an office on Ward Street in North Adelaide, and T Maras and Associates was born. 

It was Hannaford that gave me a hand up. He was my mate up until he died last year,” Maras added.

His personal experience all those years ago has clearly influenced Theo’s desire to help guide the next generation of business leaders in South Australia. 

When asked about the future of South Australia and what he wants to see, he responded with three important endeavours.

We need to go forward with modern technology and create new employment opportunities. 

We need housing. If you don’t have suitable accommodation for people to live, near their employment, you won’t grow your population and you won’t grow your economy. 

Then, when you have jobs and places for people to live, you need all the other facilities to complement, like education, health, and lifestyle.”

When asked why Theo wanted to partner with ThirtyNiners, he describes the decision as simple.

Of course, I was going to become a partner with ThirtyNiners. I want the opportunities I had to be translated to the next generation. I love what I’ve done, and I want our children and their children to have the same opportunities I have enjoyed.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Theo Maras, where he shares stories of his childhood, early career, his greatest successes, family, and his involvement with ThirtyNiners, by tuning into the ThirtyNiners podcast by the South Australian Business Chamber. Search for it where ever you hear your podcasts. 


Anthony Caldwell

Manager, Marketing, Media, Communications
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