Reshaping strategy in a volatile world
10 December 2018
Reshaping strategy in a volatile world Greta Andrews-Taylor

Too much Spock, not enough James T. Kirk – this was the primary concern of Professor Allan Trench FAIM when ruminating on the topic of strategic thinking during AIM WA’s recent sundowner titled ‘Strategy is Dead… Long Live Strategy”.

Reshaping strategy in a volatile world

by Greta Andrews-Taylor 10 December 2018
Too much Spock, not enough James T. Kirk – this was the primary concern of Professor Allan Trench FAIM when ruminating on the topic of strategic thinking during AIM WA’s recent sundowner titled ‘Strategy is Dead…Long Live Strategy”.

The UWA Business School MBA Director spoke at length during the two-hour event and drew on his extensive 30-year career in academia and industry – which includes authoring 10 books and 50 peer-reviewed articles – when addressing the current state and understanding of strategy in business. 

“Strategy in its classical form is dead; gone with the old days of large planning departments,” Professor Trench said. 
“We’re living in the VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.

“Is strategy dead? The answer is no – it mutates every time and everywhere. There are forms of strategy that are alive and well, one of which we refer to as scenario planning.”

Professor Trench highlighted the importance of ‘strategy personas’ during his talk, and said it was important for people to “understand their own disposition to strategy” in order to successfully formulate one in the boardroom with other leadership personnel, who each possessed their own strategy persona.

Much like the headstrong Kirk and logical Spock on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, the key to unlocking an effective strategy is understanding one another and playing to the strong suit of each team member.

He likened this introspective approach to the Myers-Briggs framework, which allows users to complete a self-report questionnaire and determine a distinct personality type with its own characteristics and traits. 

“We did this with one of the companies I’m on the board of and we worked out why we couldn’t possibly do a strategy – everybody had totally different personas and were pulling in totally different directions,” Professor Trench said.

“It was no wonder we couldn’t agree with each other. The advantage of that simple questionnaire was it surfaced all the different personas in the boardroom.

“That led to a strategic conversation around how the company makes its decisions and where it’s trying to go.
“Once you’ve got to a truly strategic conversation, you’re in pretty good shape.”

A question of sport

The difference between economists and strategists, according to Professor Trench, was that the former likes league tables while the latter is more interested in a knockout cup-style competition.

“That’s when strategy can really come into play in terms of doing things differently instead of when things play out over a statistical period of time,” he said. 

He cited Russia’s recent FIFA World Cup victory over Spain as a good example of this ‘play your opponent’ strategic mindset; the dramatic round of 16 match saw Russia eliminate Spain after penalties, despite the latter being the far stronger side on paper. The home side simply hung back and conserved energy, counter-attacking from afar and waiting for Spain to tire as the game wore into extra time.

“It was a classic rope-a-dope strategy akin to George Foreman punching himself out to the point where Muhammad Ali comes back in and wins the game,” Professor Trench said. 

“Strategy is fashion, strategy is chess, strategy is jazz, strategy is pretty much everything. Everyone is a strategist. There’s no formal qualification to be a strategist.”

An enterprising spirit

Professor Trench argued applying logic was key to unlocking the fundamentals of strategy.   

“How would you put a giraffe in the refrigerator,” he asked. “Think like a five-year-old.

“Piece by piece. Get a bigger fridge. The top answer is always the most logical one – ‘open the fridge door and put the giraffe in’.” 

This kind of outside the box thinking can often yield the answer to formulating an effective strategy, according to Professor Trench. The rest will follow accordingly, from the deployment of tools to reading the contextual environment and the subject area. 

Returning to his Star Trek analogy, Professor Trench referenced the scene in 1982’s Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan where Captain Kirk is faced with the Kobayashi Maru, a training simulation designed to recreate a no-win scenario. 

Rather than accepting the binary lose/lose scenario, Kirk instead rewires the game, thinking outside the box and formulating a strategy that wins the day, outfoxing or outmanoeuvring the limitations of the test.

In an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world, Professor Trench said this mindset of thinking on your feet and not getting bogged down in theory was integral. 

“Don’t read the literature,” he said. “Don’t bother about the tools. Just get out there and do the strategy.” 

During the sundowner, Professor Trench put forward four levels of strategic thinking, with each level signifying a different type of worker. 

  • Level one – Just do it 
    Logical thinking candidates.
  • Level two – Deployment of tools Tools and framework-based candidates.
  • Level three – Contextual thinking (and reading)
    Well-read candidates.
  • Level four – Research and theorisation
    Candidates who are writing the texts.
Greta Andrews-Taylor

Greta Andrews-Taylor is a Journalist at The West Australia and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

The gamified approach to culture and performance
06 December 2018
The gamified approach to culture and performance Penelope Thomas

Enhancing employee engagement and performance through gamification.

The gamified approach to culture and performance

by Penelope Thomas 06 December 2018

Getting the most from a business eventually boils down to getting the best from its greatest resource – people. 

Gamification has become a powerful tool for workplaces looking to motivate employees, and plays on the psychology that drives human engagement, using mechanics from games to encourage people to change behaviour in non-game environments. 

One of Australia’s leading experts in gamification is PentaQuest Co-founder and Lead Gamification Designer Kerstin Oberprieler, who works with companies to develop new and innovative gamification solutions. 

Gamification is a process that is inherently focused on the user and his or her ideal experience for engagement, performance and fun. Equally, it is about addressing the need of the business and working to achieve objectives.

“Employees today don’t just want a nine-to-five job to pay the bills,” Ms Oberprieler said.

“People want flexibility and a sense of meaning from their work; they expect their workplace to be modern and technologically enabled. A global workforce study showed less than one third of employees are meaningfully engaged with their work, which is a significant number.”

Ms Oberprieler consults with many leading Australian and international organisations to address cultural and performance challenges through designing a gamified approach that draws on psychology, behavioural economics, design thinking and complex systems.

“Gamification comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be applied to a huge variety of challenges, making it suitable for a range of organisations,” Ms Oberprieler said. 

“It is important to know gamification might not be the right solution for every problem or workplace.”

Get your head in the game

Gamification can be a powerful ally when implemented in the right way for the right people. If the system is implemented poorly, people will become disengaged and not want to play.

“Our solutions have included conceptual designs, analogue solutions, mobile applications and even fully integrated platforms. Essentially, it’s a more playful and human-centred approach to the workplace, rather than looking at people as numbers who just spit out profits,” Ms Oberprieler said.

“You might be surprised that even quite traditional and conservative companies are using gamification. We do a lot of work in Canberra with government agencies, which are usually thought to be reasonably conservative.”

Ms Oberprieler is currently working with the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to develop a gamification platform that will provide daily, weekly and monthly activities for employees in a gamified format. The department opted for a professional-looking cloud-based platform, known as Rev. 

“Rev is a platform that builds high performing employees through gamified professional development activities,” she said.

“The browser-based application lets employees access and log professional development activities 
like completing learning and development courses and giving and receiving performance feedback.

“A proof of concept was piloted in late 2017, which was highly successful. We are now working with the department 
to implement Rev across the organisation.”

All work and no play

One of the common misconceptions associated with gamification stems from its name – people assume it must be game-like and is therefore inappropriate for the workplace. 

“Unfortunately, people think about playing Angry Birds at work or awkward team building activities, when really it is neither of those,” Ms Oberprieler said.

Another misconception associated with gamification is it equals competition, which is incorrect, according to Ms Oberprieler. 

“We work with organisations that want to create a positive team environment by building a culture of trust, collaboration and innovation,” she said. 

“We believe competition doesn’t lend itself well to building that environment.”

Gamification is an innovative and refined approach that helps companies address important areas of employee engagement.

“You are going to see gamification a lot more in the future,” Ms Oberprieler said. “It is already being used in products and companies, but people don’t realise it is gamification. 

“If organisations demonstrate top-down control or don’t adapt to a more flexible work environment, I think employees will continue to become disengaged. 

“Gamification is a positive approach helping workers engage by rewarding them for their work. 
It challenges people to make work environments more enjoyable by adding in a bit of celebration and appreciation when certain business goals are met.”

Penelope Thomas

Penelope Thomas is a Journalist at Seven West and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Taming the imposter within
20 November 2018
Taming the imposter within Jack McGinn

Feeling like an imposter? You're not alone.

Taming the imposter within

by Jack McGinn 20 November 2018
In a journal entry dated 1938, and later published for the world to see, novelist John Steinbeck made a stunning confession. 

“I’m not a writer,” the man who would go on to receive the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature penned. “I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were. This success will ruin me as sure as hell. It probably won’t last, and that will be alright. I’ll try to go on with work now.”

The work Steinbeck ‘went on with’ was the soon-to-be-published The Grapes of Wrath, the Pulitzer Prize winner regarded amongst the greatest novels of all time. A fair achievement for a non-writer – especially one who had already written Of Mice and Men and Tortilla Flat.  

Steinbeck’s is one of the more commonly-cited historical examples of imposter syndrome, a thought process introduced to the world of psychology by doctors Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, whereby successful people are plagued by the belief they are not as bright or as capable as everyone believes them to be. Those with imposter syndrome live in fear that they will one day be ‘found out’ for what they really are. 

It’s far from an isolated phenomenon – in modern times, famous faces such as three-time Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep, former World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Atlassian Founder Mike Cannon-Brookes have spoken publicly of their imposter feelings.

But the affliction goes further than those in the public eye, according to imposter syndrome expert and author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women Valerie Young. 

“The statistic you might have seen thrown around a lot is that 70 per cent of high achievers have these feelings at one time or another, which makes us the majority,” Dr Young told Leader. “It’s a very normal thing.”

Imposter syndrome’s potential to impact the workplace is significant, and Dr Young said the coping mechanisms people used had the potential to cost organisations and individuals plenty. 

These include flying under the radar, procrastination, self-sabotage and overworking – all of which succeed for the individual short term but prove costly long term. 

“They do the job, they manage anxiety and they help people avoid being found out, but it’s at a cost,” Dr Young said. 

“If you’ve got bright people who aren’t asking questions or offering ideas, or people are  sitting there not understanding but not willing to ask questions, then you’ve got a drain in your talent pool.”

Perhaps the surprising commonality of imposter syndrome is evidenced by the huge turnout at the third AIM WA Your Best Self Series lunch, where international speaker, peak performance consultant, coach and AIM WA Associate Fellow Shona Rowan AFAIM delivered an interactive and insightful presentation entitled People Pleasing, Perfectionism and Imposter Syndrome. 

Ms Rowan outlined the factors which might bring about imposter syndrome in an individual, and gave the audience practical strategies for overcoming or coping with imposter feelings.  

Having coached thousands of clients to boost their professional success over the past 15 years, Ms Rowan said things such as upbringing, education, organisational culture, socioeconomic status and unfamiliar work environments could all trigger imposter feelings and impact our self-confidence. 

Much of the fix, according to Ms Rowan, came down to identifying and then changing unhelpful thoughts or mindsets; dropping perfectionism, accepting complements, avoiding unfavourable comparisons with others, sharing doubts and accepting credit for your achievements. 

“Our thoughts impact our feelings, our behaviours and our results,” she said.

“We must ensure our mindset is helping us, not hindering us from achieving our goals.” 

What all people with impostor feelings share in common are unrealistic, unsustainable expectations of competence. Based on her research and experiences, Dr Young has identified five “competence types” into which those with imposter syndrome might fit.

Perfectionist: The perfectionist expects to achieve perfection with ease. 
“Managers need to value the fact this person puts a premium on their work, but help them find ways to let go of the idea they can do everything perfectly all the time,” Dr Young said. 

Expert: The expert is more concerned with the amount of knowledge they hold than the quality of their work. No amount of reading is ever enough. 

“The good news about the expert is they care deeply about knowledge and learning, which is why it bothers them so much if they don’t know how to do something,” Dr Young said. 

“Reinforce that but help them let go of the idea they can know everything – that’s the equivalent of trying to get to the end of the internet.”

Natural genius: The natural genius believes if they were really capable or competent, succeeding in a given task wouldn’t require effort or hard work. 

“We can appreciate their love of mastery but help them understand that some things are going to come harder to people than others,” Dr Young said. 

Soloist: The soloist believes achievements only count if achieved on their own and is unlikely to ask for help. 

“These people work really well independently, but sometimes you’re the last to know if there’s a problem because they spend all this time trying to figure it out themselves, rather than picking up the phone,” Dr Young said. 

Superman or superwoman: Rather than a single-minded focus on their career, this person measures competence based on also excelling as a parent, spouse or community volunteer.

“You have to help these people realise they’re not going to be able to perform up to par all the time in all their different roles,” Dr Young said.

Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

A champion for change
05 November 2018
A champion for change Jack McGinn

Nastasha Stott Despoja's political career of over a decade has spawned important policy and progressive debate.

A champion for change

by Jack McGinn 05 November 2018
A fearless voice against the status quo through a career spanning politics, diplomacy and advocacy, Natasha Stott Despoja AM has been fighting since day dot.

Over more than two decades, Australian Parliament’s youngest female politician turned tireless gender equity campaigner has made a habit of challenging the system and delivering results. Appointed a Senator at 26 in 1995 then elected in 1996, Ms Stott Despoja’s political career of more than a decade spawned important policy and sparked progressive debate of huge significance. Leader of the Australian Democrats party in her early 30s, she was the Senator who introduced Australia’s first paid parental leave legislation to the Parliament in 2002 and the nation’s first same-sex marriage legislation alongside Senator Andrew Bartlett in 2005.

Work on technological issues such as genetic privacy, stem cell regulations and the space industry were also highlights – though maybe not as headline-grabbing. Having set such a trailblazing standard through her parliamentary career, it should come as no surprise that Ms Stott Despoja has continued to work tirelessly for theleaving the public glare of parliamentary service in 2008.

As Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls between 2013 and 2016, she visited more than 30 countries in the name of advancing gender equality and promoting women’s economic empowerment. Through this role she worked with partners in government, business and civil society to support the aspirations of women and girls around the world. Ms Stott Despoja is also a member of the World Bank Gender Advisory Council and currently sits on the UN High Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents.

“No one country has achieved gender equality,” she told Leader. “Despite enormous progress, the issues facing women and girls remain a great human rights challenge for our world.”

2013 was also the year Ms Stott Despoja took up her role as founding chair at Our Watch, the Australian not-for-profit which aims to drive change in the culture, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children. The role is considered by Ms Stott Despoja as one of the greatest privileges of her life. The epidemic of gender-based violence – home and abroad – is an issue close to the heart.

“One of the most heinous manifestations of gender inequality is the scourge of violence against women and girls,” she said. “We know that globally, more than one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some way. “Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as the result of violence. “As the World Health Organisation has stated, it is an epidemic.

“Everywhere I have been, including in Australia, I have seen the effect of violence against women and children. I see the shame and the stigma. I see the injuries and after effects, both physical and emotional.”

The statistics on domestic violence in Australia make for chilling reading and highlight the significance of the issues organisations such as Our Watch are tackling. A research project conducted in 2015 by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety based on ABS figures estimated one in three women in Australia had experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

The 2017 National Homicide Monitoring Program report by the Australian Institute of Criminology found on average, one woman was murdered a week in Australia over a two-year period from 2012 to 2014. Meanwhile, the strength in uptake of paid domestic violence leave by WA public servants following the State Government’s introduction of the scheme in August last year caught policymakers off-guard, and vindicated the need for such support in the workplace.

There are countless more anecdotal and statistical examples to draw on, but each point to a need for change and the importance of empowerment. Ms Stott Despoja said tackling genderbased violence was a challenge which required cultural and policy change, with Then Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja AM and Advisor Felicity Volk at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in 2014. Image: Joshua Estey/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Our Watch’s work centred on primary prevention.

“The research is clear – in order to address the violence, we need to tackle the attitudes and behaviour that give rise to violence in the first place,” Ms Stott Despoja said. “The good news is that violence is not inevitable, it is preventable."


The cultural impact of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements hit globally in 2017, empowering many victims of sexual assault and violence to speak up and let their experiences be known. By sparking a conversation and helping people be heard, Ms Stott Despoja said there was promise in people finding their voice, but it was important such movements encouraged further action across the board.

“While these movements highlight the magnitude of the issue, they have also left many asking ‘what’s next?’,” she said. “With greater public awareness and a groundswell of support to amplify the voices of women, we must use this global momentum to change lives for the better and disrupt the gender disparities that are tightly woven into our culture and value systems.” Ms Stott Despoja said Our Watch’s work showed a desire from the everyday Australian to do more. “Our research shows a majority of Australians want to be better ‘bystanders’,” she said.

“They want the tools and knowledge in order to intervene safely in situations where people are at risk, or where they see examples of inappropriate behaviour. “Businesses can assist through workplace giving, or by simply being alert to the experiences their employees may be going through.”

The former Australian Democrats leader said she would speak on the importance of empowerment when addressing the upcoming AIM WA Leadership Summit in October. “I am passionate about people feeling empowered,” she said. The research is clear - to address violence, we need to tackle the attitudes that give rise to violence.

“To me, empowerment is firstly to give someone the tools and information they need to form views on how to improve the world. It’s then to listen closely to what that person has to say. My message is that your community needs you to be engaged in leadership and decision-making. I encourage you to seize every opportunity to seek information, to speak up and to be a leader – you have the power to change."

“Real and lasting improvements to our world, including creating greater opportunities for women and girls here and around the globe, require us all to be leaders – within our families, with our friends, in workplaces and in our communities.”


The youngest woman to enter Australian Federal Parliament – a record which still stands – at a time when the Parliament comprised just 14 per cent women, Ms Stott Despoja believes her gender and relative youth challenged the political system and brought about lasting change. But the environment wasn’t always as inclusive as the public who voted her into power.

“I look back and can’t believe that, at my first business lunch, I was asked if I went into politics to meet a husband,” she said. “Sometimes the sexist commentary was debilitating, but I am proud of the way I handled it and how my entry into Parliament hopefully created change and paved the way for many women of all ages and backgrounds to follow.

“I am proud to be the youngest woman to ever enter the Federal Parliament because I believe ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ – the idea of challenging the stereotypes around what constitutes a politician was important.”

At 32 per cent, women are still underrepresented in Australia’s Parliament in 2018, but things have come a long way since the mid-1990s.

“At the time I was subject to ridiculous and sometimes amusing stereotypes by the media and other politicians,” Ms Stott Despoja said. “However, the public was ready for change – they wanted fresh faces and to see our diversity and difference reflected and represented in our decision-making institutions.”
Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Celebrate arrivals and departures
23 October 2018
Celebrate arrivals and departures Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

An excerpt from "One Small Step... for Leaders" by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

Celebrate arrivals and departures

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 23 October 2018
Strange things happen in organisations in response to new staff joining and existing staff leaving. We are usually delighted to have a brand new face on the team, but when they join, we rush them through an induction and set them to work. We are usually disappointed when someone we value resigns but when they leave we have a party – or at least a morning tea to say goodbye. Why don’t we celebrate both arrivals and departures?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to join an organisation where at 10.30am on the first morning all the staff gather for morning tea to celebrate our arrival? A genuine, warm welcome would help reinforce our decision to take the job and would ensure everyone knew who we were, so they could acknowledge us when we pass in the hallway rather than have them stare blankly for the first month wondering about the new person.

Similarly, we should celebrate it when someone resigns. If they are going on to something that is bigger and better than we can provide, why would we begrudge them the opportunity to advance their career? Let’s see part of our role as good corporate citizens to develop people of substance and character that can go on to make a terrific contribution elsewhere. We can celebrate their departure as a success story that we have prepared this person for that success.

If they are leaving because of a level of dissatisfaction with the organisation, then we gain nothing from being vengeful and not wishing them well for the future. They will at least leave with one positive thing to say about the organisation. Their departure also allows some opportunity to address the issues that led to the resignation, in the hope of heading off the need for others to resign.
A genuine, warm welcome would help reinforce our decision to take the job and ensure everyone knew who we were.
Celebrations such as these can sometimes appear extravagant in both time and catering. Yet the long-term positive benefits from both the arriving and departing staff are significant, plus the goodwill from all other staff in attendance far exceeds any costs. So much so that you may like to consider other excuses to celebrate staff. Excuses like the winning of a big contract or completion of a successful project are easy to spot. Others are less obvious such as a reduction in the outstanding debt levels by the accounts staff, or the achievement of a large number of hours without any computing downtime. Both these examples enable you to celebrate the work of those in the back office as well as those in customer facing roles.

Arrange a first day morning tea to welcome the next staff member that joins your team. Introduce them to the group, sharing a little of their background. Depending on the number of people in your team, you could ask them to do a quick introduction as well.

At the next farewell speech, make a point of not only thanking the person for their contribution to your organisation, but wish them well for the future. Offer to provide support to them in the future to help them be successful in their new role.
Shaun Ridley

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.

Snakes and (corporate) ladders
02 October 2018
Snakes and (corporate) ladders Michael Roberts

This Leader Magazine edition's Professional Member Profiles is Dominique Thatcher AFAIM.Dropping out of university, becoming a bodybuilder and working as a doorman at a couple of Perth nightclubs is not your average start to a lengthy career in executive management, but Dominique has always done things a little differently.

Snakes and (corporate) ladders

by Michael Roberts 02 October 2018
Dropping out of university, becoming a bodybuilder and working as a doorman at a couple of Perth nightclubs is not your average start to a lengthy career in executive management, but Dominique Thatcher AFAIM has always done things a little differently.

Describing those early working experiences as “perfect for the development of your interpersonal skills”, the Fremantle Ports Senior Logistics Officer has embraced every moment of his professional career.

Nearly 30 years ago, the Mauritian-born rugby enthusiast decided to take up another night-time position as a part-time mail officer at Australia Post, in what would prove to be a life-changing decision.

Even at the beginning of this career move, Mr Thatcher believed management skills were part of his DNA.

“I vividly remember telling my colleagues one morning at 2am, six months into the job, that I could easily manage this shift of 40 or so staff,” he said.

“The comments I got back weren’t even fit to be repeated to my rugby mates after more than a few Emu Exports.”
Unperturbed by the remarks, Mr Thatcher decided to begin what he called “the game of snakes and ladders”.

“My experience of climbing the corporate ladder is you must carefully pick your path to climb, and sometimes sideways is better than up, until the time is right to go up,” he said.

Studying extensively at TAFE, going through almost all the internal training Australia Post had to offer and heading back to university in Perth and Melbourne, Mr Thatcher was a man on a mission.

Starting from the small beginnings of that mail room, he spent 15 years of his professional career with Australia Post as a senior executive, successfully motivating thousands of employees to efficiently deliver one of the nation’s most vital services.

 “Having grown from the engine room to the boardroom, I had an unprecedented conceptual and intimate knowledge of the business,” Mr Thatcher said.

“But more importantly I surrounded myself with a team of ‘trusted lieutenants’ with a common goal of connecting Australians everyday by delivering their letters and parcels.

“When you inspire the workforce to believe in that goal, you suddenly generate this synchronised and consistent supply chain, where people genuinely take pride in what they do.”

Playing an integral role in changing Australia Post from an organisation of manual reliance to a mechanised and automated digital workhorse, Mr Thatcher successfully implemented cultural change – something which can be a challenge for businesses.

“From my experience, we focus too much on the ‘element’ of change – may it be process, technology, merger and acquisition, innovative culture or customer centricity,” Mr Thatcher said.

“Over the years I have learnt to question the ‘fitness’ of the current culture to change. You must ask are the people ready to change? And if not, prepare them for the change and support them through the journey.

“Change is not optional, but it is my opinion there is a correct and dignified way to successfully approach it; regardless of the ‘what’ it is about the ‘who’ and the ‘how’.”

After a life-shaping experience with Australia Post, Mr Thatcher took a
12-month sabbatical for travel and study, allowing him to further develop his passion for strategy, technology, management and end-to-end supply chain logistics.

Working in project management roles at Main Roads WA and the Public Transport Authority, Mr Thatcher has recently settled himself at Fremantle Ports as Senior Logistics Officer.

“Having ticked the air, road and rail boxes, I was on the lookout for my ‘maritime’ chapter when Fremantle Ports offered me the opportunity to join its team,” Mr Thatcher said.

“So much excites me at Fremantle Ports. Productivity, efficiency, planning and strategy – the very stuff that runs in my veins, so I’m in my element.

“A peek at the wharf gives you a daily tangible economic indicator of the state.”

Giving an insight into how he manages to switch between different sectors of the workforce with such success, Mr Thatcher said learning the ropes at the bottom rung of businesses allowed him to adapt quickly.

“Driven by my goal and my thirst of learning has made me very adaptable and modest, allowing me to press the ‘reset button’, clear the hard drive and repeat the Australia Post journey,” he said.

“Another important factor is the support of my family and my extensive network built over the past 30 years, what I call my ‘business village’, referring to the African proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.

“A pinch of ‘who you know and not what you know’ comes in handy while successfully navigating between different sectors – so truly maximise and optimise those network opportunities and nurture meaningful relationships.”

Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Learning the hard way
28 September 2018
Learning the hard way Chris Thurmott

A demand for greater collaboration and respect for the needs of the students are some of the biggest issues facing the tertiary education sector in Western Australia at the moment, according to attendees of the latest AIM WA/WestBusiness CEO Voice roundtable discussion.

Learning the hard way

by Chris Thurmott 28 September 2018

A demand for greater collaboration and respect for the needs of the students are some of the biggest issues facing the tertiary education sector in Western Australia at the moment, according to attendees of the latest AIM WA/WestBusiness CEO Voice roundtable discussion, titled The Business of Tertiary Education and Training: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities.

Attended by a diverse range of representatives from across the tertiary education sector, including a student guild president, the lunch session covered some pertinent ideas for how to rectify the issues being faced.

Of the many points raised, there appeared to be one overarching solution; collaboration.
In his opening address, AIM WA Chief Executive Officer Gary Martin FAIM offered some questions for the attendees to consider with regard to collaboration. He asked whether the current level of collaboration between the higher education and the vocational education and training (VET) sector was adequate, and whether there was room for a dual sector university in WA.
The other question Professor Martin posed on this topic was whether WA should look to university mergers, an idea currently being pondered in South Australia between The University of Adelaide and The University of South Australia.
The overall opinion in the room was collaboration is a must if the tertiary education sector in WA as a whole is going to progress.

In addition to his role as Edith Cowan University Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Arshad Omari sits on the board of North Metropolitan TAFE, and was able to offer insight into both education pathways.

“The sectors need to work better together,” Professor Omari said. “We have got everything in place but everything we do is so different, and it makes interaction with students so much harder.”

Professor Omari said interaction with students was a key marker in changing the perception of tertiary education in the state, suggesting a “market of one” mentality was the best way forward.

“We need to be more flexible in our thinking and understanding what the needs of the individual are,” he said.
“Students are all different and have different requirements; some of them want to study at North Metropolitan TAFE and ECU at the same time. We need to be able to facilitate that and deal with them on an individual basis to meet their needs.”

Focusing on the distinct needs of students was a point raised by Sheridan College Academic Principal Natalie Leitao, who said the school’s relatively small student base played to its advantage.

“The student experience is something we must always keep sight of,” she said. “It’s not about delivering the product, it’s about what it’s like for the recipient and making sure we know our students.

“We can do that because we’re small and developing the culture for the future.”

Curtin University Vice Chancellor Deborah Terry AO FAIM said coordination between the VET sector and universities was a good idea, but felt a unified system would spell disaster.

“There needs to be much clearer pathways between the two,” she said. “Instead of having to negotiate things on a course by course basis, which simply isn’t workable, we have to have more principle-based agreements between the two sectors.”

Greater collaboration was also endorsed by StudyPerth Executive Director Phil Payne FAIM, but the collaboration Mr Payne referred to was between the tertiary education sector and other government departments, such as workforce planning, tourism and international migration.

The benefit of doing this would enhance WA’s international student population.

“They are doing this very well in Queensland,” Mr Payne said. “All of their departments know each other’s aims and are working in harmony for the benefit of the international education sector.”

The issue of international students in WA is a big cause for concern as revealed by figures recently released by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Based on the number of student visas being processed at the end of May 2018 compared with May 2017, WA is one of the worst performing states in the country.

In the higher education sector, international student commencements in WA dropped 0.4 per cent from 4782 to 4762.
“That might appear insignificant, however, during the same time New South Wales rose nine per cent to 30,557 commencing students, Victoria rose 12 per cent to 31,512 students and Queensland rose 13 per cent to 11,663 students,” Professor Martin said.

“Probably more alarming, South Australia rose six per cent to 4889 students.”

Chris Thurmott

Chris Thurmott is a Senior Journalist for The West Australian and he writes for a variety of different publications including Leader and National Mining Chronicle.

Fail to see the positives
26 September 2018
Fail to see the positives Chris Thurmott

Failure IS an option

Fail to see the positives

by Chris Thurmott 26 September 2018
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Industrialist icon Henry Ford signalled a valuable lesson on how success and failure should be viewed with these words in 1922. “One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities,” he elaborated.

For some people, failure is simply not an option because it can be seen as weak and counterproductive.

For others, like Mr Ford, failure is something that should be embraced and almost encouraged, because the benefits of doing so can be invaluable.

Naturally, failure can be a bad thing, but its negative elements are only really felt if lessons are not learnt. This is the view of Inventium CEO and Founder Amantha Imber, who said failure could be a powerful tool.

“If you fail and you learn nothing or don’t do anything differently, it is a bad thing,” she said. “But if you’re learning from failure and improving your behaviour, your thinking, your product, your service or improving something based on what you have learnt, then failure is very powerful.”

Dr Imber has first-hand experience of how powerful failure can be, as it led her to start her own business. Inventium is an innovations consultancy company that has helped more than 100,000 people since it began in 2007, and is one of the co-creators of the Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies list.

Prior to starting the company, Dr Imber went through a rigorous and comprehensive recruitment process that resulted in being told she was not good enough to be a facilitator or presenter.

“I was devastated,” she said. “It was very harsh feedback and it definitely knocked me back for a few days.”

Rather than dwell on her ‘failure’, Dr Imber took the criticism and rejection and used it to fuel her ambition and further her career.

“It was such a valuable failure,” she said. “Had I not failed I would not have started the business I have run for 10 years, which has been a real joy and really successful.”

Knowing how to deal with the failure is the best way to overcome it and use it to your advantage. The key message here is being open, honest and transparent in your assessment, according to Presentation Studio CEO and Founder Emma Bannister.

“If you’ve made a mistake then you’ve got to be really clear about what happened and learn from that,” she said.

“When giving feedback or assessing situations you should not hide things because that’s a very dangerous thing to do. Honesty is the only way you can really learn from failures or mistakes.”

Ms Bannister started her career as an introverted designer who could think of nothing worse than standing up in front of people and presenting to them.

Fast-forward to the present day and she leads a public speaking and presentation assistance company. So how did she successfully travel from one extreme to the other?

“I lost my fear of failure,” Ms Bannister said. “I put myself in a position that, at the time, was the scariest possible and I learnt so much from that experience. It made me think, ‘if I can do that, I can do anything’.”

Success too early
In discussing the topic of failure, both Dr Imber and Ms Bannister agreed there was a downside to achieving wide-ranging success early on in a business or in a person’s career. While everybody wants to be as successful as possible as soon as they can, there are benefits to stumbling a couple of times along the way.

“If you have not experienced significant failure and setbacks in life then it sets you up to be less resilient,” Dr Imber said.

“Failure and setbacks are really good things for the human character and, certainly, if we look at them in a constructive way it’s great at building our experience muscle.”

Ms Bannister said it was easy to get lulled into a false sense of security off the back of early successes.

“There is a great risk – and I know, I have done it – of doing well in one area and thinking you are going to be great at everything else. But most of the time, this is not the case,” she said.

“Failure allows us to create contingencies and creates an environment where we can appreciate success when it does come along.

“No-one starts out great; no-one is an Olympic athlete straight away. You have got to start with the basics, learn from your mistakes and develop as a business.

“Failure is a positive experience; you screw it up and you get better.”
Chris Thurmott

Chris Thurmott is a Senior Journalist for The West Australian and he writes for a variety of different publications including Leader and National Mining Chronicle.

Setting the pace
11 September 2018
Setting the pace Sandra Argese

Rob Scott FAIM has proven himself just as adept with a briefcase as he is with an oar.

Setting the pace

by Sandra Argese 11 September 2018
From representing Australia in rowing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games to steering Wesfarmers, Rob Scott FAIM has proven himself just as adept with a briefcase as he is with an oar during an illustrious sporting and corporate career.

Illustrating a hunger to excel, a desire to learn and an ability to apply oneself both on the water and in the boardroom, Mr Scott’s tenure at the helm of Wesfarmers thus far has been typified by one term: collaboration.

One of Australia’s largest listed companies, Wesfarmers is a crucial stitch in the fabric of the Australian economy through its significant portfolio of assets. Spanning retail, chemicals, fertilisers, liquor, hotels, office supplies, department stores, coal mining and industrial and safety products, Wesfarmers’ businesses include Coles, Liquorland, Bunnings Warehouse, Kmart, Target and Officeworks, amongst others. In a role described by AIM WA CEO Gary Martin FAIM as “not for the faint of heart”, Mr Scott is only the eighth leader to head the conglomerate since its establishment in 1914.

The role, which he has been in for less than a year, is about acknowledging that it is impossible to be across everything and make every decision, according to Mr Scott.

“If I set out to have a detailed understanding of each issue, and a detailed understanding of every force both internal and external impacting our business, I would totally burn myself out,” Mr Scott said. “This experience is showing me how much I don’t know, and how quickly things change in the businesses and the industries in which we operate.”

Working two stints at Wesfarmers, interspersed by a stretch in investment banking, Mr Scott held managerial positions across the corporation’s industrial, insurance and financial services divisions before filling the seat left behind by Richard Goyder AO in November last year.

But it hasn’t taken long for Mr Scott to make waves at the organisation, with Wesfarmers announcing in March its intention to demerge from its Coles division and reposition both businesses across the next decade. In May, Wesfarmers also withdrew Bunnings from the United Kingdom, in a move Mr Scott said would help restore shareholders’ faith in the conglomerate.

Speaking at an AIM WA Inspirational Leader breakfast in August, Mr Scott shared his take on leadership and his role in moving forward the objectives, goals and values of Wesfarmers.

Keeping an even keel
Wesfarmers is a brand characterised by a dynamic and transformative culture which has grown and adapted with the times. This philosophy of change is embedded in the company’s overarching framework and business model called ‘The Wesfarmers Way’. This framework is baked into the dayto- day operations of the conglomerate’s numerous businesses – which, with 220,000 employees and a shareholder base of 530,000, is no mean feat.

During a recent trip to Greece with his family, Mr Scott noticed a quote at the Prison of Socrates; “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realise how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us”.

“I think this perspective has a lot of personal implications in terms of how you approach leadership and I think it also has organisational implications,” Mr Scott said of the quote. “At Wesfarmers, we have a model that I think is very relevant to this. It acknowledges we will make better decisions when we empower our people. We call this The Wesfarmers Way.”

Relying on the framework to empower senior managerial figures to make the right decisions when he isn’t in the room, Mr Scott said The Westfarmers Way boiled down to a handful of crucial points.

“It starts at the top with our core objective to deliver a satisfactory return to shareholders,” he said. “We then have value-creating strategies that each of our businesses focuses on, regardless of what industry they are in, and the enablers of the growth that essentially go to our operating model. These are all underpinned by our core values. “The focus of so many listed companies is the short term, which looks at quarterly sales reporting and performance relative to annual budgets.

“A lot of these decisions may not be in the best interests of shareholders in the long term, so reinforcing this within our organisation has been very important.

“We need to deliver in the long term and the short term, but what I am trying to do in the organisation is bring a greater focus on creating value over the long term.”

Both oars in the water
Many of Wesfarmers’ policies consider contemporary ethical and environmental issues such as emissions reduction, indigenous employment, gender balance and other, broader community talking points. A prime example of this is Bunnings Warehouse and its weekly sausage sizzles and cake stalls.

Enjoyed by thousands of patrons every week, these events provide ongoing assistance to a vast range of local community groups.

“For these to happen, not only do we need the leadership of Bunnings, we need every member of Bunnings to be on board,” Mr Scott said. “Every time they bring in a community group, we engage with that community group. That is what goes towards our reputation. “If I look at what Coles has done in terms of our breakthrough effort in improving indigenous employment, a lot of that has happened at a grassroots level in our communities."

As CEO, Mr Scott said it was his role to not just reinforce the importance of community engagement programs, but also deliver team members with the right, the permission and the tools to make effective decisions in the field.

“There has never been a more important time for big businesses in Australia to behave in a way that ultimately builds trust with the community,” he said. “We need to move away from this narrative of policies that are seen as being good for business – a lot of the policies that might be good for business ultimately create jobs and prosperity, generate taxes and value in our society that can help those in need.

“That is why shared value and building trust is so critically important for the future of Wesfarmers.”

Uncharted waters
A fundamental facet of The Wesfarmers Way is to constantly evolve what the company does within its business. A key component of this is an investment and implementation of data and digital assets, which is something Mr Scott said his company wasn’t afraid to address and collaborate on as it improved its advanced analytics capability.

“This will enable us to make better business decisions and improve our productivity,” he said. “It will let us serve our customers better, it will give our team members the tools they need to make the right decisions and ultimately it will help us build new businesses.”

Wesfarmers, as a result, has created a new advanced analytics centre that has brought in some of the best data science software engineers in the world. Mr Scott said tools and sophisticated data analytics afforded the company a deeper insight into every facet of the business than before.

“We have also started to elevate the focus on divisional board meetings, developed an analytics academy that we are currently rolling out across 200 leaders in all aspects of the business, whether it be finance, operations, merchandise, supply chain or human resources, to learn about advanced analytics,” he said. “When you start to incorporate aspects of machine learning and AI it gives us the opportunity to tackle problems and develop solutions that simply weren’t possible before.”

Sandra Argese is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Preparing consumers for change
06 September 2018
Preparing consumers for change Jack McGinn

In what seemed to be a minor transition, the introduction of the single-use plastic bag ban in Western Australia was met with backlash.

Preparing consumers for change

by Jack McGinn 06 September 2018
It’s unlikely many in charge would have predicted the level of backlash which ensued following the rollout of Western Australia’s single-use plastic bag ban at the beginning of July.

Stories of shopping baskets stolen, trolleys of food abandoned and staff physically and verbally assaulted made headlines and saturated newsfeeds around the state, as consumers adapted to what, on the surface, seemed to be a relatively minor transition.

The reality was anything but – both Coles and Woolworths back-flipped on their initial offering to the public, dishing out their 15c multi-use plastic bags for free for a limited time in an apparent move to quell shopper discontent. At the time of print, Coles had extended its offer indefinitely before reversing its reversal, offering free reusable bags until August 29 before charging for them as originally planned.

Both supermarkets also offered rewards via their respective shopper point systems for those who did bring their own bags – an initiative crediting those who had adjusted their behaviour in line with the new system. The need for change, as explained by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, is clear.

The State Government estimates Western Australians used 360 million lightweight plastic bags, or 140 bags per person, last year. Five million of these are thought to have been littered each year in WA, impacting the state’s soils, waterways, marine environments and fauna. But with the large environmental benefits and the practical cost of change relatively small, why did the rollout invoke such a divisive and angry response?

A failure to communicate
According to Curtin University Professor of Health Policy and 2018 West Australian of the Year Mike Daube AO, much of the failure came in the messaging by the supermarkets around the changes and their implications for shoppers and the environment. Professor Daube has campaigned on public health issues for four decades and was heavily involved in the introduction of plain packaging policy for tobacco products.

While anti-smoking quit campaigns are longer-lead, Professor Daube said there were parallels between bans on smoking in public areas and the single-use plastic bag bans recently enacted by supermarkets in WA.

“In my experience with smoking bans, the most important things are that you’re well prepared, the bans are well flagged and well explained – then you rarely have problems,” he told Leader. “My sense on the plastic bag ban is that though there did seem to be a bit of publicity about it, a lot of people were seemingly taken unawares – they showed up at the shops one day and things were different.

“I think the biggest issue is around good preparation, making sure people are aware well ahead of time that things are going to be different, and explaining it over and over again. There had been some publicity from Coles and Woolworths and whoever else, but it hadn’t really been taken to the front of the mind – that’s the biggest thing I learned from my experience with smoking bans.”

When it comes to changing consumer behaviour, the style of campaign typically dictates the level of attention given to its different components and outcomes. The messaging around quitting smoking, for example, tends to focus strongly on health benefits and the harms of continuing. When it came to single-use plastic bag bans, the prechange communication was a little muddled, according to Professor Daube.

“I’m not sure how many people out there really understand how plastic bags harm the environment – I don’t think the supermarkets really explained that very well,” he said. “Why are we introducing it? Because of the benefits of being environmentally sound. If it had been explained better, I think there may have been less resistance.”

Plastic not so fantastic
Compounding this effect was the prominence of post-rollout messaging around buying reusable bags, rather than the environmental benefits of not having plastic bags.

“To be a bit cynical, one thing that seems to be a bit strange is that we have the supermarkets trying to do this thing to protect the environment, but when you go to a supermarket now with the plastic bag ban in place, the first thing you’re asked is ‘do you want to buy a plastic bag?’,” Professor Daube said. “We thought we were trying to get rid of the bags. It’s not that 15c or 20c is going to break the consumer, it’s that they get a bit irritated they have to pay extra.”

But while outrage may kick off initially in instances where consumer behaviour change is enforced, the good news for supermarkets, and those tired of debate, is it tends to die down quickly. Citing fluoride in drinking water, smoking on airplanes and compulsory seatbelts in cars, Professor Daube said the storm would blow over sooner rather than later.

“One day it’s going to mean the end of civilisation as we know it, and a few days later it’s just the way it is,” he said.

“I think it’s probably a little different with plastic bags because we’re continually reminded by being asked to pay, which is a little irritating. “It’s not a governmental issue; I think it’s the big retailers that should be doing more to educate their consumers who should bear the brunt of the criticism.

“All of that being said, it would have been history in a few weeks, but then Coles backflipped, which made it an issue again – and completely destroyed any claims they might have had to environmental concerns.”
Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Grey matter under the microscope
31 August 2018
Grey matter under the microscope Chris Thurmott

Everybody is biased in some way, shape or form, was just one of the many interesting insights from a recent Professional Development Sundowner with Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM.

Grey matter under the microscope

by Chris Thurmott 31 August 2018
How would you react if somebody accused you of being biased?

Chances are you would counter with actions or statements to show you are not.

The problem is, we are all biased whether we like it or not – and it’s all thanks to the hardwiring in our brains.

The revelation that everybody is biased in some way, shape or form was just one of many interesting insights AIM WA Deputy CEO Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM detailed as part of his professional development sundowner titled Our Magnificent and Flawed Brains at Work.

At the start of the evening, Dr Ridley advised attendees to be slightly sceptical of the messages they were to receive, as most of the corporate statements based on neuroscience and brain development were contextual.

“There are two ingredients for gaining attention,” Dr Ridley said. “The first is emotion – people need to be energised and motivated to focus their attention. Secondly they need meaning. Seeing the bigger picture provides an overall sense of what is going on here.”

In addition to detailing the best ways to gain people’s attention, Dr Ridley looked at the concept of multitasking and illustrated that although we can all do it, we are not able to perform all tasks to an optimum level, especially with attention-rich activities. Multitasking can lead to fatigue due to switching between tasks in quick succession.

“This explains why you feel tired if you’ve had a number of interruptions throughout the day,” Dr Ridley said.

From one task to another. It makes you far more tired than if we focus on one task in a block and then another task in a block.” Working for or against us? Change is inevitable in all walks of life. In spite of this, humans are not always best-equipped for coping with change, which once again comes down to how our grey matter is hardwired.

“Our brains are superb at pattern-setting and the whole process of change is quite difficult for us when we try and break those patterns,” Dr Ridley said. Despite the difficulty we experience with change, there are ways we can achieve it in the workplace, though it needs to be done with care and consideration.

One of the reasons for this is change can increase the amount of stress people experience during their working day, which could lead to resistance.

On the subject of stress, Dr Ridley drew on research completed by Stanford University Professor Kelly McGonigal. “Professor McGonigal did a really interesting piece of research that asked two questions; would you rate your stress levels as high, medium or low, and to what extent do you believe stress is bad for your health?,” he said. “Those who said they had high stress and it was bad for their health had negative outcomes.

“However, those people who said they experienced high stress but it would not impact their health negatively saw their health stay the same or improve. “That changes our mindset around stress and the way in which we think about it. In fact, Professor McGonigal has three mindset shifts for us to consider.”

Dr Ridley said it was the third and final mindset shift that was most fascinating, as it suggested the best way to deal with stress was to help someone else. “Research from Stanford University has found we’re hardwired to do this,” he said.

“It might not clear our own in-tray, but it helps us to manage stress and tackle our own stresses more easily.”

Rounding off the evening, Dr Ridley provided four preconditions required for insight to occur. The first was quiet, the second to be inwardly focused, the third to be slightly happy and the last, but perhaps most important – to not think about the issue you want to get insight into.

“The reason we get those brainwaves on a Sunday morning at the beach is because it’s quiet. You’re inwardly focused, you’re slightly happy and you’re not dwelling on the issue,” Dr Ridley said. “You cannot force insight – all you can do is create an environment to allow insight to occur.”
Chris Thurmott

Chris Thurmott is a Senior Journalist for The West Australian and he writes for a variety of different publications including Leader and National Mining Chronicle.

Have you Googled yourself lately?
18 July 2018
Have you Googled yourself lately? Cassie Gunthorpe

When was the last time you thought about your digital footprint?

Have you Googled yourself lately?

by Cassie Gunthorpe 18 July 2018
When was the last time you thought about your digital footprint?

From your personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, to more professional outlets like LinkedIn and Twitter, what trail are you leaving for the world to see and what does it say about you?

According to New Work Consulting Founder and Managing Director Julissa Shrewsbury AFAIM, you may not even be aware of the information people can find about you online.

“Your personal brand is already out there whether you are aware of it or not, and it is online even if you are not online much
yourself,” she said.

As the internet has become ingrained in our daily lives, chances are you have tallied up a fair amount of digital data across the years.

Social media usage alone is increasing year on year in Australia – up to 76 per cent in 2017, according to the Sensis e-Business
Report 2017.

A simple Google search on yourself will map your digital footprint across the online sphere and show you what potential clients
can see.

“Everything about you online is all a part of the picture of who you are, and it is easily found,” Ms Shrewsbury said.

“Social media privacy policies change frequently, so if you haven’t checked your settings in the last three months, your social media profiles might not be as private as you thought.

“And if you’re not on Facebook, have you checked what your friends have put on there? Chances are you are on there somewhere.”

Working with clients across Australia, Ms Shrewsbury is a leading professional brand strategist and LinkedIn influencer who teaches clients how to build a personal brand online.

“Our first impressions are increasingly being made online,” she said.

American Media Consultant Roger Ailes famously said it takes just seven seconds to make a first impression.

“Once you have made a first impression, it takes eight more positive interactions to change an opinion, according to research,” Ms Shrewsbury said.

So how do you make sure you project the right impression from the get-go? The first step to mastering the art of personal branding is to take a step back and work out exactly what you want to communicate, according to Ms Shrewsbury.

“The brand is really a message about who you or your company are and the values within that,” she said.“If you have a well-defined brand people will connect with you because you are offering value, something human and a personality to connect with.”

Ms Shrewsbury advises clients to look for something unique to their competitors when developing their personal brand.

“Author and one of the pioneers of personal branding Daniel Priestley said you are already standing on a mountain of value; your story is valuable, your experiences unique and you are worth your weight in gold just the way you are,” she said.

Offering strategies for how to uncover your uniqueness, Ms Shrewsbury advised focusing on what you can offer others and the elements of your personality that people connect to.

“Think about the times you have received emails or thankyou cards and what kinds of things people have said in them,” she said.

“Do you tell jokes to break the ice? Are you a great storyteller? Or are you empathetic and understanding of others?”

Equally important is to be mindful of your look online.

“In person, this could be the way you look, hold yourself, speak and what you wear,” Ms Shrewsbury said.

“While online, you can communicate it through photos and in particular
professional headshots.”

According to Ms Shrewsbury, working with a professional photographer will help you to communicate the right message.

“A skilled photographer will offer direction, be able to tell you how to stand and what angles work best for your face shape,” she said.

Establishing a successful personal brand online requires both strategy and careful thought, combined with a passion to project to the world, according to Ms Shrewsbury.

“Think about the activities in your role that make you forget about time and give you purpose, because those are the things that will shine in your personal brand,” she said.

“Passion is contagious; if you love what you do and you love to make a difference for people, they will notice that and want to work with you.
Cassie Gunthorpe - West Australian journalist

Cassie Gunthrope is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Driving the Next Generation of Leaders
11 July 2018
Driving the Next Generation of Leaders Sandra Argese

If you are going into work and you want a promotion and to be a leader, you've got to do that little bit extra.

Driving the Next Generation of Leaders

by Sandra Argese 11 July 2018
If you are there – be there.

From Brisbane diesel fitter to WesTrac Chief Executive Officer, Jim Walker FAIM GAICD has learnt to apply this sentiment to many facets of his work .

A man who has consistently reinvented himself in the face of a transforming resources sector, Mr Walker has walked the talk for a career spanning more than fourand-a-half decades.

Working as WA State Training Board Chairman, Programmed Maintenance Services Group and RAC Holdings (WA) Non-Executive Director, Macmahon Holdings Non-Executive Chairman, Seven Group Holdings Director and Australian Institute of Management National President, change has always been on the horizon.

Addressing an AIM WA Inspirational Leader Series event in May, Mr Walker shared anecdotes about inspirational figures and stories of his steady rise through the ranks over his leadership journey.

Commencing as WesTrac CEO and Managing Director in 2000, Mr Walker finished up in 2013, leaving a legacy Seven Group Holdings Executive Chairman Kerry Stokes AC described as “extraordinary”.

Mr Stokes was responsible for Mr Walker’s appointment at the company, and together they took risks and set forward to achieve their visions.

Having worked for many bosses and industries since leaving school at 14, including sheering sheep and working in real estate, Mr Walker described Mr Stokes as “one of the best bosses” he’d ever had.

“Kerry’s vision is second to none," he said. “While we are here talking about what’s going on today, he is completely way out there carrying out his vision.

“He has been so successful because he has taken risks, but he knew those risks and we worked very hard to manage them going through.”

Leading WesTrac’s significant development in industrial services in Australia and China, Mr Walker’s tenure saw the company become the first single-lab dealership in the world to test more than 300,000 machine oil samples in one year.

In 2009, the company had more than 3000 employees and was Australia’s largest nongovernment employer of apprentices.

By upholding a genuine passion for advancing others' careers, consistently sharing his technical experience and positive rapport with others, identifying opportunities to invest in the future and driving the next generation of leaders forward, Mr Walker has always remained true to his younger self.

From a speech impediment growing up, to being unable to play rugby, a young Mr Walker always uncovered a way through, taking speech therapy lessons and playing the drums for his school’s bugle band.

An unlikely choice at just over 5 foot, he was made drum major.

“We would practice, practice, practice,” he said. “It taught me you don’t get ahead in life unless you work very hard.

“It was hard to do that sort of a job when people couldn’t hear me, since it’s hard to have a loud voice when you’re 15 and your voice is cracking. I had to use my diaphragm to get noise across and it taught me how to be very competitive.

"It gave me a fair bit of discipline. Being out there at the front, you’re in charge and you have to know what you’re doing, you’ve got to lead the group.”

With his mother a “great believer in tea leaves and crystal balls” and his father in the earthmoving industry, both of Mr Walker’s parents played a key role in his development.

His mother was the first to predict he’d be heavily involved in the mining industry, a prediction he initially laughed off.

With religion playing a key role in his life, Mr Walker always attended church and today finds it fascinating that his birth date – December 4 – happens to fall on the same feast day as the patron saint of mining, Saint Barbara.

A motor mechanic at heart, Mr Walker began his career as an apprentice with Hastings Deering. It was here he met a man named Ron Miller.

“One of the first things I remember he said when we started work on January 27, 1970 was, ‘if we’re doing business in 12 months the same as we are doing today, then we’ll go broke and out of business’,” Mr Walker said.

“You’ve got to accept change and Ron actually did this in his work with Hastings.”

Mr Walker also met a man named Tony who had “all the time in the world”.

“One of the things he taught me there was how to relate to people,” Mr Walker said. “The customer was the most important person Tony could talk to and no-one else mattered. Tony didn’t just care about the work side of it; he also cared about the person.

“One of the other things Tony and I spoke about was when you’re going from A to B, make sure you stop, celebrate and actually enjoy getting there before you start going from B to C.

“He also spoke about going the extra mile – you don’t get a job just by running 400m; you better run 400m and 1cm.

"It’s the same in business. If you are going into work and you want a promotion and to be a leader, you’ve got to do that little bit extra.

Sandra Argese is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Clearing cultural hurdles to leadership
04 July 2018
Clearing cultural hurdles to leadership Sandra Argese

Developing a culture of leadership is an ongoing and primary concern for many.

Clearing cultural hurdles to leadership

by Sandra Argese 04 July 2018
An intangible quality, but one every business relies on to excel, developing a culture of leadership is an ongoing and primary concern for many.

Speaking at an AIM WA Signature Leadership Seminar in March, Professor Barry Posner made the 19-hour trip from San Francisco to Perth to share his thoughts on leadership culture – the difference it makes, the myths inhibiting leadership development and the fundamentals behind growing the best possible leaders.

According to Professor Posner, instilling belief, elevating aspirations, initiating challenges, engaging support and deliberately practicing are the fundamental traits needed for a culture of leadership.

“The best leaders are learners,” he said. “Leadership isn’t about controlling; it’s about letting go. Leaders don’t live in the past, they live in the future.” Quizzing attendees, Professor Posner asked if leaders were born or made. The resounding response was in favour of the latter. “All leaders are born and made,” he told a stunned room. “Leadership, fundamentally, is a skill and everyone has got it. I’m not saying we’re all equally talented, but I am suggesting to you if you thought leadership was a skill, then you would be appreciating that this is something you are capable of doing.

“Everyone can sing, but some can sing better than others. If you think about all the people in your organisation – it’s not an issue of who’s got it, but rather, everyone has got something, so how do you develop their skills and talents?”

Cultivating Leadership
Professor Posner later posed another question: if the vast majority of people have leadership capabilities, then what is getting in their way in becoming exemplary leaders? He said it all came down to myths which inhibited leadership development.

The first is the talent myth. This equates to someone who believes if they search far and wide they will find people with the talent they’re looking for already built in with no training required. “The truth is leadership is not a talent you have or don’t have,” Professor Posner said. “It’s an observable and learnable set of skills and abilities.”

The second hurdle is the position myth; a belief that when you have a position at the top you’re automatically a leader and if you don’t have a title or official authority, you are not. “The truth is leading is about the actions you take, not your location in the hierarchy,” Professor Posner said. “It’s about the challenges you pursue, the people you engage, the values that guide your decision-making and the visions you have for yourself and others.”

Other common perilous assumptions include the 'strengths' myth – only taking on tasks in which you are strong and assigning areas where you don’t have natural talent to others; the 'self-reliance' myth – leaders have to be independent and autonomous, without expressing doubts about their abilities or requesting support; and the 'it comes naturally' myth - people admire those who make it seem way and attribute that ease to natural ability.

It’s not an issue of who’s got it, but rather, everyone has got something, so how do you develop their skills and talents?

“The best leaders become the best because they work hard at becoming the best,” Professor Posner said. “You can’t do your best without making mistakes and learning from them. The best leaders know they can’t achieve greatness all by themselves; they know they need the support, energy, resources and commitment of other people.”

Drawing from Stanford University Emeritus Professor Albert Bandura’s belief that, “unless you believe your action can produce change, you probably won’t try”, Professor Posner noted the importance of “learning by doing and adapting to diverse situations and change by never ignoring failure, but using it to grow and progress”.

“A person with a fixed mindset believes people’s abilities and capabilities are fixed and there’s never a limit,” he said. “If you don’t believe you can, you probably can’t, because you won’t.”

Sandra Argese is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

The rise of the digital influencer
02 July 2018
The rise of the digital influencer Cassie Gunthorpe

A new era of marketing has arrived and it is placing the content and control out of the advertiser's hands.

The rise of the digital influencer

by Cassie Gunthorpe 02 July 2018
A new era of marketing has arrived and it is placing the content and control out of the advertiser’s hands.

Heralded as a more authentic way of engaging with consumers, savvy individuals known as digital influencers are capitalising on the trend. These influencers are independent of the brands they promote and instead operate as the middle man between organisation and consumer.

They are both the gatekeeper and content creator, setting the agenda, choosing what to promote and attracting mass followers. Using social media as their tool, their feeds are rich with visually attractive content that attracts eager followers.

From lifestyle and travel, to food, homewares and fashion, influencers often have a dedicated theme that allows businesses to harness key audiences. With eight in 10 Australians using social media, according to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report, these digital platforms have the ability to reach mass audiences in a time where traditional avenues are waning.

The audiences are wide and varied, but it is the 18-29-year-old bracket who are the biggest social media users in Australia, followed by the 30-39-year-old bracket, according to the report. With follower networks in the hundreds of thousands, companies are calling on influencers to promote their brands to a large, clearly identifiable audience, propelling marketing into a new era.

The power of Kmart
The power of the digital influencer is evident in the online following of Kmart Australia. The company’s profile skyrocketed after a rebrand led by ex-McDonalds Australia CEO Guy Russo, in which he slashed the company’s product range to introduce a more focused, stylish and affordable look. Kmart’s new-look homewares, fashion and children’s merchandise sparked an online following of thousands keen to share and promote the products with other users.

Among the influencers is the popular Kmart Mums group on Facebook, with 96,152 members, and #kmartbyyou page on Instagram, with 20,700 followers. Impressively, the online growth is entirely organic and independent of the company. While Kmart Australia may have mastered the art of unpaid digital influencing, for other companies and influencers, a financial exchange often comes into the equation.

According to The Influencer Agency (TIA) Owner Nicole Moody, this is creating disparities across the emerging industry. Ms Moody launched TIA in 2017 to create a central point of contact for influencers and businesses.

“My other business is Hunter Communications and, as a PR agency, we could see digital influencers were a trend that was emerging,” she said. “But we noticed there wasn’t any coordination or understanding among influencers of what they could and couldn’t charge, and there was uncertainty among clients.”

For some influencers, a free meal was enough to get a post on their page, while others had huge differences in costs per post, according to Ms Moody.

“Clients didn’t know how much they should be paying and whether the followers were genuine,” she said. “I could just see there was absolutely a need for an agency that was dedicated to influencer marketing.”

From this, Western Australia’s first digital influencer agency was born, with clients such as Kailis Australian Pearls, Brownes Dairy, 140 Perth and Mandurah Forum. Transparency the key Influencers walk a fine line, needing to offer engagement-worthy content, while sustaining their blog financially.

So, what defines a good digital influencer? “It is crucial bloggers be genuine and authentic,” Ms Moody said. “Businesses like them because they have their own aesthetic and tone and that is why people follow them. “But if an organisation started to interfere with that authenticity and they sounded like an ad, the blog would lose followers pretty quickly.” Ms Moody added it was important the influencers remained true to what they stood for. “Clever influencers know how to integrate marketing and brands into their posts,” she said. “They offer value by talking about and introducing products and services that interest their followers.”

For organisations, utilising the services of a digital influencer can help the brand tap into a large digital audience away from traditional, flooded avenues like broadcast, print or radio. According to the Sensis report, 64 per cent of consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts positively on social media. With that in mind, Ms Moody said social media should form a key part of any company’s marketing strategy.

“It is important to find the right influencers, but also to be able to measure the success of the campaign, just like you would with any other form of marketing,” she said. “At TIA we represent influencers and create campaigns for businesses and then connect the two in a way that can be matched, mapped and measured.

“These influencers offer a platform that is Australia’s first professional Instagrammer With an impressive 459,000 followers on Instagram and counting, Australian digital influencer and travel blogger Lauren Bath is no stranger to online marketing. Deemed ‘Australia’s first professional Instagrammer’ by national media, her career has taken her on some incredible trips. Clients include Tourism Australia, Switzerland Tourism, Tourism South Africa, Tourism New Zealand, the Canadian Tourism Commission, Visit Finland and Visit Dubai.

“I always joke that it was easy to grow my followers; I just used Instagram for eight hours a day for seven years,” Ms Bath said. “With many people choosing to spend their spare time online, influencers are a really organic advertising option. “We have great relationships and trust with our audience, amplified by great reach, and we can share the things we care about.”

Ms Bath emphasised the importance of remaining true to followers and individual values to ensure the content is worth engaging with. “I personally only work with brands that have integrity and make amazing products that add to my life, so my audience knows I will never sell out for money and promote something I don’t believe in,” she said.
Cassie Gunthorpe - West Australian journalist

Cassie Gunthrope is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Holding all the aces
20 June 2018
Holding all the aces Sandra Argese

On any leadership situation, no matter what it is, you need to be energetic, and sometimes that can be hard. You need to be an optimist, but not a blind optimist.

Holding all the aces

by Sandra Argese 20 June 2018
Little more than tracks designed for horses and carts dotted Western Australia’s road network in the early 20th century. At the end of the First World War in 1918 there were 2538 vehicles on WA roads, a number that soared to 25,270 less than a decade later in 1927. By 1936 there were more than 56,500 motor vehicles in WA.

The call for a local organisation to facilitate safer roads first came in 1905 when an avid group of motoring enthusiasts formed an automobile club. Its objectives included signposting roads, encouraging local authorities to improve road surfaces, pushing for lower driving speeds and creating maps to aid motorists.

Over a century and 950,000 members later, the Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC WA) has become an integral thread in the fabric of WA, with its business spanning motoring, insurance, finance, travel, tourism, resorts, retirement and home services.

WA is now home to 20 per cent of all roads in Australia and 2.6 million light vehicles, which amounts to approximately one vehicle per person.

Unlike your daily commute, RAC WA’s journey doesn’t have an end destination, as it continues to grow and adapt to the needs of the community.

Over 1000 employees stand behind the trusted name and alongside RAC WA Group Chief Executive Officer Terry Agnew FAIM since his appointment in August 1998.

Born and raised in rural South Australia, Mr Agnew said education was an important part of his upbringing – a passion fostered by his school teacher father. He studied an engineering degree at The University of Adelaide before entering the professional workforce.

Proceeding to explore an eclectic range of executive roles across private and public companies, member organisations and government organisations, including positions at the Insurance Commission of WA, the West Coast Eagles Football Club, CEOs for Gender Equity, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Engineers, as well as a past President of AIM WA, Mr Agnew’s journey is one defined by a desire to learn, grow and be inspired, something he likens to a deck of cards.

Mr Agnew said he believed you couldn’t influence the cards you were dealt in life, but could control how you played them.

As the leader of a 112-year-old organisation, Mr Agnew said his role was about supporting, motivating and enlisting a group of people to be instrumental on the journey towards success.

“We want to ensure we’re making a difference and ensure RAC WA is providing leadership in WA,” he said.

“We want to make WA a better place.”


Speaking at an AIM WA Inspirational Leader Series breakfast, Mr Agnew said while success precipitated significant reward, it wasn’t always straightforward.

“In 1987 I was made redundant – my third child was only six months old,” he said.

“We had to get on with it. In our working lives there will be times when we’ve missed a target, a project has failed, is late or has overrun. How do you use that and what do you learn from it? How do you take yourself up from the next level?

“Whenever I’m fronting something, whether it be a board position or other jobs, I can say OK, I didn’t do well here – how do I change that and do better next time?

“You only learn by making mistakes. You only learn to walk by falling over. You only learn to ride your bike by falling off.

“Commit to this lifetime of continual learning because your initial qualification is just the ticket to the game.”

Mr Agnew cited an unsuccessful job interview as one of his many learning experiences.

“I remember I bombed an interview a bit over 20 years ago,” he said.

“The partner of the search firm gave me some fair and objective feedback. I then took that on-board and have used it ever since.

“There will always be stuff coming through, the good and bad. You have to be able to reconcile that and use it to improve. Keep learning and growing, and if you don’t want to do that, don’t ask the question.”


August 2016 saw an Australian first hit the streets of South Perth in the form of the RAC WA Intellibus, an innovative mode of transportation that explores the possibilities of driverless vehicle technology.

Since then more than 3400 people have ridden the Intellibus, which has covered over 3300km in its travels. A roadmap of changes are on the horizon to enable this technology to become a naturalised part of WA’s transport system in the future.

RAC WA also continues its sponsorship of two rescue helicopters, managed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. Over 5500 missions have been flown and hundreds of lives have been saved.

Mr Agnew said the organisation was driven to make WA a safer place to be.

“If Western Australia’s road safety record was simply average, we would save 50 lives a year, just by being average,” Mr Agnew said.

“That motivates us to get out there and lobby, champion, push and shove to get change to save those 50 lives a year.”

This is the thinking behind RAC WA’s Elephant in the Wheatbelt campaign, which continues to shed light on the ongoing implications of road trauma in regional WA, where more than 60 per cent of WA’s road fatalities tragically
occurred in 2016.

At the last state election RAC WA adopted the slogan ‘Give Me Time,’ which was all about giving time back to the average Western Australian by lowering congestion on the roads.

Mr Agnew said RAC WA was motivated to make WA better through its campaigns and programs.

“At the moment congestion is robbing people of personal time with their families. What can we do to change that?” he said.

“We look at environmental sustainability and how Australia has to eventually get on the bus in terms of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. How can RAC WA have an impact on that, for the better of WA?”

This desire to innovative and improve is what drives RAC WA’s investment in an electric highway, a mode of safe, sustainable and efficient travel intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

This will feature in 12 locations in Perth and the South West, with publicly accessible and fastcharging
electric vehicle stations.

In an ever-changing world, where reducing emissions and lessening our environmental footprint is more important than ever, how does a leader deal with ambiguity on the road ahead?

“In any leadership situation, no matter what it is, you need to be energetic, and sometimes that can be hard,” Mr Agnew said.

“You need to be an optimist, but not a blind optimist. You need to see there is some way of getting through a big challenge.

“People have got to see success and the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s the leader’s role to make sure they see that. It’s got to be realistic, but someone has got to lead people and let them see there’s a future.

“You will not be a successful leader if you don’t have trust and integrity. If you’ve got that, it’s almost a ticket to the game. If not, don’t bother.

“I encourage people to choose the employer they work for, to choose to demonstrate leadership in whatever role they’re in and to play the deck of cards they’ve been dealt.”

Sandra Argese is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

The Marathon Man
12 June 2018
The Marathon Man Jack McGinn

Senator Cormann said his political philosophy was one of survival - you can't run the race if you are not in the field.

The Marathon Man

by Jack McGinn 12 June 2018
In work and life, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann has always played the long game.

In the literal sense, the Western Australia based Federal Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the Senate, has come further than most to get to where he sits today.

From a working class family in the small, German-speaking Belgian town of Eupen to a life spent between Perth and Canberra, the physical long game is clear.

But Senator Cormann’s overarching personal philosophy – viewing life as a marathon and not a sprint – recurred on more levels than one during the humorous retelling of his life to date at AIM WA’s Inspirational Leader Series breakfast late last year.

“In business or in life generally, if you want to sprint and get somewhere faster I find you get there more slowly,” he said. “I find if you pace yourself and adopt a frame of mind where you view it as a marathon, you actually end up progressing faster – that’s my personal experience.”

On the surface, the marathon theory belies the seemingly swift emergence of the Senator, whose measured performance has helped quickly build a public profile since his Australian political arrival in 2007 and subsequent promotion to the Finance Minister role in 2013.

In truth, as is so often the case, the ascent was far from smooth. It was full of the challenges that come with relocating halfway across the world on a whim. Unusual for an Australian politician, the Senator didn’t even speak English for the first two decades of his life.

It wasn’t until his 23rd year, when he spent a year on exchange at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, that the now 47-year-old picked up the language.

It was his fourth language, having spoken German at home, completed high school in French and the majority of his law degree in Flemish before practicing in a Belgian firm.

Addressing the ILS breakfast, Senator Cormann recalled a formative conversation in Flemish with the owner of the law firm, which resonates to this day.

“His son was the boss at the time and all of us who started had to go see him,” he said. “I’ll never forget what he told me, which was ‘being right means nothing. The only thing that matters is whether you can convince enough relevant others that you are right – it’s worse to be right and not be able to persuade enough others that you are right, than to be wrong’."

But when Senator Cormann migrated to Perth following a holiday in 1994 – a move made based on the ‘excitement and opportunity’ he saw here – he discovered his qualifications and language skills counted for little, and his sphere of influence was smaller than ever.

“I was advised by the Legal Practice Board at the time that having essentially already been at university for six years I’d have to go back to study for another year-and-a half full-time,” he said.

The need to make money won out and the Senator got to work persuading employers to give him a chance. “I wrote letters everywhere,” he said. “I wrote 350 to 400 letters asking for an opportunity and essentially suggesting that I could add value to businesses or organisations, wherever they were.

“Invariably the responses came back saying ‘all very interesting, but no thanks’. Clearly the approach I had used was not working.” Soon Senator Cormann found himself working the yards at Presbyterian Ladies College. “I ended up working as a gardener, which was very bad for my ego at the time,” he said with a laugh. “I was a qualified lawyer who had worked for a law firm and here I was pulling weeds at Presbyterian Ladies College.”

The Senator said his time at PLC brought about reflection and the realisation of another set of skills which could be transferred to the Australian context without regulatory barriers – at least after January 26, 2000, when he forfeited his Belgian citizenship to become an Australian citizen – a fact with which he is jovially transparent given the controversy which has engulfed the nation’s 45th parliament.

Second wind
Like so many growing up in Europe during the 1980s, Senator Cormann’s upbringing was influenced by the fear of a third world war breaking out as a result of the Cold War – the impact of which would come to define his political views down the track. He recalled with a chuckle driving a 1974 Volkswagen Polo 600km from Namur in Belgium to Berlin in 1989 following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Then 19 years old, Senator Cormann said the contrasting fortunes of East and West Germany between the end of the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall showed the incremental impact economic policy could have on a society. It’s an experience he passionately draws on to this day, having referenced the wall’s fall in a speech to the Sydney Institute in August 2017 when cautioning against chasing the socialist ‘politics of envy’ he believes are pushed by Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party.

The statement is embedded in his own past as a spectator in Germany in 1989. “For me as a second-year law student having arrived in Germany in the two or three weeks after the wall came down, to think over an extended period of about 40 years you had two sides on two different trajectories, and look at how it turned out,” Senator Cormann told members.

“The thing about economic policy choices is they can be quite incremental – it’s when you look back over an extended period of being on a trajectory that you realise the massive impact it can have.”

Inspired by what he saw, Senator Cormann dabbled in local politics during his early 20s, working for politicians, including the Premier of the German-speaking community in Belgium. Tired of pulling weeds, he decided to leverage this experience in Australia. He joined the Liberal Party in 1996 and between 1997 and 2000 worked as a Chief of Staff to the WA Minister for Family and Children’s Services. He was a senior adviser to Premier Richard Court from 2000, before deciding to make the jump to the federal realm. True to form, it didn’t prove a simple transition to make. Senator Cormann knocked on the door of then Federal Senator Chris Ellison in 2001 and offered to work for free, before jumping to a paid position when a vacancy opened up.

“That was all very good and it meant my first serious paid job in Australia was working for a Liberal Senator for Western Australia,” Senator Cormann said.

“Later I moved on to pursue other careers, including in the private sector working for HBF, but maintained my involvement in the Liberal Party organisation. At some point around 2006 or 2007 a vacancy came up and I looked around and thought ‘I think I could be as good as anyone in this particular opportunity’ – enough people said yes.”

Senator Cormann’s appointment to replace Senator Ian Campbell in 2007 was labelled whirlwind by The Australian, but in keeping with his overarching philosophy it proved more marathon than sprint.

Seasoned pro
Having served in parliament now for a decade, and as Finance Minister since 2013, the distinctive Senator Cormann has developed a reputation as a negotiator and problem solver – something he said he thrived on.

He has been integral to the government’s financial policy over a difficult economic period and has become one of the most recognisable figures in Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet Senator Cormann said his political philosophy was one of survival – you can’t run the race if you are not in the field.

“Sometimes we avoid making decisions or locking things in because we want to hang on and wait for a 100 per cent outcome, rather than say ‘well if we can get 80 or 70 or even 60 per cent now then we survive, we live to fight another day and we get another crack at getting closer to the ultimate destination down the track,” he said.

Senator Cormann acknowledged his ‘robotic’ public perception with a chuckle and said his media persona owed to the same theory of survival.

“When I first went into parliament as a young backbencher, Peter Costello said to me ‘just remember son, when you speak to the media or do an interview you are always two sentences away from political oblivion’,” he said. “These days people say ‘this Cormann fella, he’s such a robot!

He’s so disciplined and never puts a foot wrong’ – it’s because if I say something wrong I’m going to die, politically speaking.” True to the marathon, Senator Cormann is yet to set a foot wrong.

A story of hard work, discipline, persistence and self-belief, there appears to be plenty of distance left to run.
Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Work from the beach day
06 June 2018
Work from the beach day Chloe Vellinga

Employees are getting restless - less and less are they content to be tethered to their office desk '9 to 5', five days a week.

Work from the beach day

by Chloe Vellinga 06 June 2018
Employees are getting restless - less and less are they content to be tethered to their office desk '9 to 5', five days a week.

Nowadays, they generally look for more balance between their work and personal lives, and the prospect of flexible working hours is increasingly attractive to a growing portion of the workforce.

Whether you are a parent juggling school pick-up/drop-off times or you have certain sporting commitments or religious obligations, working around these duties can be a trying task. Do you cut back your hours from a full-time role to part-time or casual? Ask to come in late one day and early the next? Or extend your lunch break one-day a week to run those nonnegotiable errands?

While these options are suitable for maybe a handful of occasions, they are not viable long-term solutions when it comes to productivity and efficiency in the workplace. One company that has pursued a different course to traditional workplace practices is PwC, one of Australia’s leading professional service firms.

PwC adopted its ‘All Roles Flex’ initiative in 2015, allowing staff to go to their manager and discuss what hours and work arrangements work best for them in their particular role.

PwC Australia Human Capital Leader Sue Horlin said the model was a holistic approach to considering what worked for the individual and enabling them to deliver the output the company required.

“We hire really smart people and ask them to do hard things to delight our clients, so we are open to them having a conversation with us about doing that in a way that suits them," Ms Horlin said.

“We don’t have a policy that says what is okay and what is not. The policy is around an open two-way conversation with every single one of our staff so they have the opportunity to work flexibly.”

Since the launch PwC employees around Australia have adopted the policy with open arms, with 64 per cent of staff taking advantage of the All Roles Flex policy in some capacity.

The model has been so successful, other PwC firms around the world have been talking to the Australian head office about how to integrate the program into everyday business practice.

“We have clients that want different things delivered in different ways and we have an agile, diverse workforce who want to work in different ways, so it makes absolute sense to enable that great workforce to work in the way that best suits them to deliver the best service for our clients,” Ms Horlin said.

“It is about looking after our people and letting them come to work in a way that makes sense for them, but it is equally about delivering great work for our clients.”

Another company that has put its own spin on the traditional workplace structure is New South Wales-based public relations firm The Atticism.

Balancing a heavy workload and seemingly never-ending hours at the office led The Atticism Founder Renae Smith to develop bad heart palpitations.

Landing herself in a hospital bed with cords running left, right and centre, Ms Smith realised something needed to change.

From that point on, she set about experimenting with different workplace arrangements that would help her and her staff manage the workload more efficiently. “I noticed my staff turnover was huge and the satisfaction in what we were doing wasn’t great,” Ms Smith said.

Under the new policy, Ms Smith’s staff were banned from working more than 20 hours per week from the company’s headquarters, with office hours only permitted mid-week from Tuesday to Thursday. Her staff were encouraged to work the remaining two days – Monday and Friday – remotely, days otherwise known as ‘Work from the Beach Days’.

“Since putting the new policy in place, I have noticed all my staff are much happier,” Ms Smith said.

“When we come in on a Tuesday There is always so much to talk about and everyone is a lot more creative with their ideas rather than just sitting at their desks for eight hours a day trying really hard to come up with new ideas. I have found my staff are much more creative and their ideas are a lot stronger.”

Crediting the success of her new work policy to technology and programs such as Dropbox and personal messaging service Slack, Ms Smith said it was a workplace model she thought could be rolled out in many different environments.

“My tip would be to research a few different ideas on how to minimise people's workloads, but not reduce that productivity, and then trial them for a month or so to see how they go, " she said.

Chloe Vellinga is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Peak Performance
22 May 2018
Peak Performance Chris Thurmott

Climbing a mountain is seen as one of the most fulfilling tasks a person can complete.

Peak Performance

by Chris Thurmott 22 May 2018
Climbing a mountain is seen as one of the most fulfilling tasks a person can complete. From an increase in personal fitness to pushing physical and mental boundaries, there are a number of benefits afforded to those bold enough to brave the slopes.

Some choose to climb as part of a personal challenge or journey of discovery, while others pledge to do so in aid of charity or to help others. Whatever the reason, almost everybody who has climbed a mountain will have taken something from the experience.

One person for whom this is true is The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre For Leadership and Change Management Senior Fellow Dr Chris Maxwell. Dr Maxwell has spent the past decade climbing mountains and trekking with top guides around the world, acquiring information and details for his new book Lead Like a Guide: How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders.

The book details the leadership strengths of world-class mountain guides and shows how developing and applying the highlighted principles can help everybody to reach for the highest summits in work and in life. Dr Maxwell said the idea for the book came from the many expeditions he organised for students of the undergraduate business degree at the Wharton School.

“We wanted the students to spread the experience of learning about leadership by doing rather than just by reading or listening,” he told Leader.

On these expeditions, Dr Maxwell found a number of the guides displayed a variety of key leadership strengths, which could be perfectly transferred to other situations, including the boardroom. Following a decade of research, he found there were six leadership strengths that kept recurring among the guides.

“In writing the book, I interviewed about 20 internationally renowned mountain guides and found they all started saying the same things,” Dr Maxwell said.

Demonstrating social intelligence, adopting a flexible leadership style, empowering others, facilitating the development of trust, managing risk in an environment of uncertainty and seeing the big picture were the six strengths Dr Maxwell identified. “I would say, of the six, social intelligence is definitely the most important characteristic to have, but naturally, the more of these leadership strengths a guide or leader can possess, the better they will be,” Dr Maxwell said. “In an ideal world they will have all six, but not everybody can be that perfect.”

Social intelligence, for Dr Maxwell, is more involved than emotional intelligence, which he said was primarily about being aware of yourself and others around you. Social intelligence requires intimacy and trust in terms of building a positive relationship that will stay positive even if things go wrong.

“You want people to be able to listen to you because you’ve built a relationship with them based on being socially intelligent, you know their strengths and weaknesses and you are able to use them in the best possible way,” he said. Going beyond the six strengths Beyond the six strengths Dr Maxwell focuses on in his book, he highlights the importance of communication, noting it is a key facet of successful leadership. “Some people have to work hard to learn how to communicate in a way that keeps the conversation open,” he said.

“It can be learned and is invaluable to successful leaders.” Being open to new experiences is another strength Dr Maxwell believes is key, but he admits this can be seen as more of an inborn trait and harder to learn than some of the other strengths. This is another area where the mountain guides are useful, as they have formulated a way to help develop this skill. Usually on thinking about being guided, the expectation is that it will happen from the front, but some of the best mountain guides in the world employ the skill of leading from behind.

The reasoning is teaching people to be open to uncertainty and allowing them to manage complex situations. “The guides are willing to let you take the risk, willing to let you deal with uncertainty and the ambiguity, but they’re there for safety. It’s a great opportunity to deal with coping mechanisms,” Dr Maxwell said. Guiding and teaching For Dr Maxwell, the true marker of a good leader is one who teaches and guides others on how to take over in the role of leader when the time comes.

Teaching others while leading them ensures the successful continuation of the company well into the future. One of the best ways to do this is to give people challenging assignments they may not be fully prepared for because it teaches them to be strategic with problem solving.

“The manager has to be socially intelligent enough to let that person struggle and not solve all their problems,” Dr Maxwell said. “It’s the responsibility of the person in charge of the department to allow people to have this opportunity.”

Of all of the key leadership strengths and lessons Dr Maxwell has learnt from mountain guides, he treasures one lesson above all others. It is something that can be applied to everyday life and he believes will make everybody better leaders and better people as a result.

“It’s the journey that matters, not the summit,” Dr Maxwell said. “If we cannot appreciate the journey, then really we have missed the most important part.”
Chris Thurmott

Chris Thurmott is a Senior Journalist for The West Australian and he writes for a variety of different publications including Leader and National Mining Chronicle.

Is your head in the right space?
08 May 2018
Is your head in the right space? Kaitlin Shawcross

Those with roles addressing people’s wellbeing tend to invest greater time into taking care of their own mental health.

Is your head in the right space?

by Kaitlin Shawcross 08 May 2018

Those who have roles in addressing people’s wellbeing, such as healthcare professionals and teachers, tend to invest greater time and energy into taking care of their own mental health than other professions, according to Masters Psychology & Co. Managing Director and Founder Rochelle Masters.

The clinical psychologist said people in these professions learned about self-care as part of their workplace strategy and were more likely to take advantage of workplace mental health days than others.

When life is busy – and when is it not? – we tend to put our self-care on the backburner, all the while knowing one day it will catch up to us.

Finding a balance can seem impossible when there is lots to get done at work and at home.

Mrs Masters said it was important to set aside specific downtime on your calendar, just like you would for anything else that was a priority.

“It needs to be built into your schedule and become part of the routine,” she said.

While it can be argued there is a growing percentage of our population suffering anxiety and depression, some have suggested the number isn’t growing, but rather more people are speaking up about mental health issues.

Whether or not that is the case, it is helpful to understand mental health for your own sake and to help those around you.

According to Mrs Masters, 67 per cent of anxiety and depression cases were typically caused by something biological, meaning it was as a result of some sort of sleep, appetite or hormonal disturbance.

“For example, in men, sleep disturbance is a common contributor, and for women, hormonal issues play an enormous role,” she said.

“And for someone in a senior leadership position, those sorts of things are often the first to be affected.

“People in management roles tend to put work first and themselves last.”

In addition to biological causes, work stress can enable the problem to persist.

“Sometimes people in senior leadership have to carry roles that they’re not the best fit for,” Mrs Masters said.

“For their areas of weakness, they often don’t know how to resource those areas, and that can cause a lot of stress for them.”

So, if you are having trouble sleeping due to stress at work and your sleep disturbance is creating a vulnerable position for your mental health, making it harder to cope with work pressures, how do you get out of the cycle?

“Address the biology as you simultaneously make changes in the workplace,” Mrs Masters said.

Many people assume they are suffering with anxiety because they notice their symptoms align with a diagnosis they found on the internet, but ‘Dr Google’ isn’t always your friend when it comes to understanding mental health.

“The signs that you might be experiencing a mental health crisis include significant interference with your workplace, your education or your interpersonal functioning,” Mrs Masters said.

“There are some other signs as well that your mind and emotions have become unanchored.

“It’s very difficult to come to a place of rest in those moments or to want to socialise – you tend to withdraw for example, and it’s very hard to show restraint and say no to things.”

Every person’s symptoms are unique, and it is best to meet with an expert.

Mrs Masters said not many people were aware that each year they were entitled to 10 sessions with a clinical psychologist and 10 group sessions that were subsidised by the government.

The group sessions include classes on the skills of mindfulness and managing thoughts and emotions, along with many other options.


Make sure your biology is right: This means eating well, sleeping well and exercising well, as well as having regular check-ups with a trusted GP.

Practise mindfulness: Learning to switch off and finding something that recharges you is important. This can include sitting in solitude in a calming place, spending time painting or making music, or even cooking.

Learn how to manage your thought life: Just like we learn how to budget finances, we need to learn how to be in control of our thoughts. A trained professional or a group class can help you here.


Kaitlin Shawcross is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Mastering the Art of Self-Branding
26 April 2018
Mastering the Art of Self-Branding Sandra Argese

The power of self-branding in an ever-changing online corporate environment.

Mastering the Art of Self-Branding

by Sandra Argese 26 April 2018

As we charge forward in an ever-changing and increasingly interconnected online corporate environment, people are turning to self-branding as a means of elevating their business prospects.

According to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report, almost 79 per cent of people now use social media. For businesses with a social presence, LinkedIn was found to be the second most popular platform (behind Facebook), used by 82 per cent of large businesses.

So how does a professional master the art of developing and leveraging their personal brand? When it comes to achieving a leading edge in the digital world, African-born, Perth-based headshot and portrait specialist and the face behind Lightbent Images & Photography Bruno Kongawoin believes appearance is everything.

“You put your unique value proposition and your online brand to the world first and foremost through your headshot,” he said.

“Developing a visual brand helps people recognise you as a professional who is knowledgeable, confident and approachable. It also shows your commitment to doing business in an organised way.”

Speaking to Leader, Mr Kongawoin said finding a photographer who could deliver you a winning headshot was key.

“Everyone with an online presence will benefit from having a well-crafted brand that is informative, identifiable, recognisable and relatable,” he said.

“It is a vital part of our identity and it is how we represent ourselves online. We need to show we care about our appearance. If people don’t make the effort to project a positive first impression, they may be seen as unprofessional.”

Mr Kongawoin’s deep fascination with the human face grew while living in Jakarta. Walking through the streets and in the kampongs of the city, he gave himself 15-minute challenges to photograph anything and render it meaningful to the viewer.

A former Olympic basketballer for the Central Africa