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.”

DEALING WITH A BAD HAND

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.”

COMING UP TRUMPS

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.”
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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.
ChloeVellinga

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.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

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.

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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 African Republic, Mr Kongawoin knows what it takes to be the best.

“Your online brand is an active force that can either propel you forward or hold you back,” he said.

“You are already putting money into your image content, so invest in being in front of the camera and not someone unrelated to your business.”

According to research by LinkedIn, having a profile picture made a profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others.

With today's interactions and communications largely based online, more professionals are building relationships and doing business without actually meeting each other in person.

Mr Kongawoin said a perceived level of expertise was just as important as actually being an expert.

“When clients research you – and they will do so via online forums – you need to be perceived as the authority,” he said.

“The biggest no-nos I have seen are the extraction of oneself out of family vacation, wedding, party or selfie photos taken by a friend or colleague. Some professionals have attempted to have a professional headshot done against red brick walls or similar, or with cluttered and busy environments in the background.

“Avoid using stock imagery even though it can be very well crafted. These images can be used by anyone who subscribes to the stock site, so don’t be one of the many individuals using the same photos to represent your brand.”

If appearance is so important, can wearing a tailored suit, fine watch or stylish shoes equate to a sense of authority?

“While these are items of clothing, your personal brand is something you put out, such as the way you present yourself, the way you speak and the way you conduct business – none of these traits should be neglected,” Mr Kongawoin said.

“I have encountered many professionals who dread being in front of the camera because they believe they are not photogenic or don’t possess a visual appeal.

“I’d like to reassure anyone who didn't like any of their previous photos that it was not their fault. Being photogenic is a learnt behaviour, not a birth right.”

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

Broadening boards
07 March 2018
Broadening boards Jack McGinn

Online portal launched as part of West Australian State Government’s election commitment to gender equity.

Broadening boards

by Jack McGinn 07 March 2018
OnBoardWA was launched by Minister McGurk, who also holds the Child Protection, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence and Community Services portfolios, and Premier Mark McGowan late last year, offering interested parties the chance to upload their details, interests and CV to a register connecting them with government board and committee positions.

Open to all people interested in pursuing such opportunities, the register received 550 applicants in its first three months. Two thirds of these were women.

Speaking to Leader, Minister McGurk said the portal was designed to facilitate the awareness of candidates and those in charge of making appointments to government boards in line with its election commitment.

“When we have been sitting in cabinet and looking for appointments since we were sworn in, we have often had feedback from departments and people giving us names for boards and committees that they are struggling to find women interested in positions,” she said.

“We wanted to challenge that view by saying, ‘we think there’s a huge number of women out there who are not only interested, but very capable of filling these roles’.

“We set up the portal where anyone interested can put their name and CV forward and outline the industries and areas they are interested in.”

Minister McGurk said broad perspectives were critical in the decision-making process and would only be improved by increasing the diversity of boards through initiatives such as OnBoardWA.

“A number of corporates and leaders understand that by having a diversity of views and people challenging a prevailing way of looking at a situation, you actually get better results,” she said.

OnBoardWA is in line with other state governments in Australia which have implemented various initiatives and targets in recent years.

While the merits of diversity quotas and targets have generated significant debate, Minister McGurk said deliberate efforts needed to be made in the political setting to affect change and remove subconscious bias in the selection process.

“The reality is we relate to people who are like ourselves,” she said.

“If we accept that a diversity of views around decision making enhances deliberations and we understand we all have a bias in favour of people who are like us, then you have got to make a deliberate attempt to crack that open and create a diversity of views, otherwise it doesn’t work.

“This is a problem broader than government committees and boards, it’s a problem the corporate sector is confronting as well.”

The corporate outlook for boardroom gender diversity is somewhat different to that of government, with the ASX 200 hitting a record high of 26 per cent female representation at the end of 2017 and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) targeting 30 per cent by 2018.

Minister McGurk said she was enthused by her interactions with business peak bodies and individual companies in the area, and applauded the work of the AICD. “We want the best outcomes for businesses and our community, and if we don’t want to get left behind we have to draw on all the talent throughout our state,” she said.

Government board targets by state

New South Wales: Goal of 50 per cent women in senior government roles by 2025. Achieved 41.2 per cent female representation on boards at June 2016, according to 2017 Women in NSW Report Series.

Queensland: Aiming for 50 per cent women on boards by 2020. Gender Parity research report released in October 2016 showed 39 per cent female representation at that time.

South Australia: Set a target of an average of 50 per cent women on government boards and committees by 2014, with a view to maintain the ratio thereafter. Had 48.4 per cent representation of women at November 2017.

Tasmania: Set a target in 2015 of 50 per cent representation across government boards by July 2020. Reported 40.1 per cent representation in September 2017.

Victoria: Set a target of 50 per cent female government board representation in March 2015. Achieved this goal in February 2017.

Western Australia: Targeting 50 per cent female representation on government boards by the end of 2019. Had achieved 44 per cent at launch of OnBoardWA in September 2017.

Federal: Committed to a diversity target of 50 per cent over all, with women and men each holding at least 40 per cent of positions at individual board level, in July 2016. Women held 42.7 per cent of Australian government board positions at June 30, 2017.
Jack McGinn

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

Pushing you to think differently
14 December 2017
Pushing you to think differently Chloe Vellinga

In increasingly complex times, innovation and collaboration skills are becoming vital to all types of businesses.

Pushing you to think differently

by Chloe Vellinga 14 December 2017
According to AIM WA+UWA Business School Executive Education Senior Management Consultant Dee Roche FAIM, today’s organisations need to generate, embrace and execute on new ideas through innovative and collaborative thinking, both of which are essential in design thinking.

Design thinking brings together what is desirable from a human-centred point of view and what is technologically feasible and economically viable within any organisation or sector.

Developed in 1963 at Stanford University as a practical and creative problem solving technique, design thinking is best described today as a ‘halfway house between analytical thinking and intuitive thinking’.

For the cynics who believe design thinking is just another ‘corporate fad’ or type of management jargon, think again.

Mrs Roche said when Stanford University Professor David Kelley was faced with a particular problem in the 1960s, instead of adopting the opinions of just one department at the university, he chose to cast his net wider.

This unconventional partnership between the Stanford University engineering department and the arts department harboured a quantum change, or rather what we now know today as design thinking.

“As a result, in 2005, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, otherwise known as the d.school, was founded by David Kelley and [his design company] IDEO to prepare a generation of innovators to tackle complex challenges faced by organisations and societies,” Mrs Roche told Leader.

“d.school integrates non-traditional disciplines such as engineering, law, medicine, social sciences and the humanities to work together as a team to solve complex challenges. “This makes design thinking a team sport, by having all these different eyes and perspectives swarming ideas to accelerate solutions.”

Since its humble beginnings, design thinking has grown into a worldwide movement adopted by people in all walks of life.

For the cynics who believe design thinking is just another ‘corporate fad’ or type of management jargon, think again.

Today the technique is used by a wide variety of successful corporate bodies and not-for-profit organisations such as Apple, Google, GE and Oxfam, and is responsible for bringing new alternatives, new ideas and new choices to the table in an efficient manner in order to create different perspectives.

“It brings both the creative minds and the very logical, left brain minds together to create better solutions,” Mrs Roche said. “It is a process that pushes us to think differently. It asks us to bring together different mindsets and different people in the organisations to actually create diverse perspectives.”

How does design thinking work?
Believe it or not, we can all become design thinkers – it is something most of us do all the time.

Mrs Roche said it began with people and culture calling for a deeper understanding of individual needs and putting the person top of mind.

“It is about putting yourself in the shoes of the people you are working with or the society you are working with,” she said. “The goal of design thinking therefore is to always focus first on the people being served (the user), enabling them to find a better solution.”

In the words of Stanford University Professor David Kelley, “design thinking is not a linear path. It’s a big mass of looping back to different places in the process”.

On a last note, Mrs Roche said design thinking helped create workplaces and communities where people want to be, one that responded quickly to changing business or environmental dynamics and empowered individuals as contributors to the solutions.

The design thinking model comprises of five modes – empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test and retest your ideas.

Empathise – This is where you need to observe and understand the person you are serving. Work out who is the user and what matters to this person or community.

Define – This is the stage where the ‘how might we’ is asked. It is here where you need to identify and define the problem at hand.

Ideate – This is the centre of design thinking. Here design thinkers pose questions and explore constraints in creative ways that proceed in entirely new directions. It is important to recognise that one idea is never wrong or obsolete, all ideas should be explored. Mrs Roche told Leader it was important to swarm the wall with ideas. “Better still, pick up a pencil and draw a picture; use symbols, tell stories and brainstorm ideas of what you think the problem is and represent it on your wall or flipchart,” she said.

Prototype – This is where design thinkers build a representation of one or more idea and show to others how it may work if adopted.

Test – This is where you put the idea into practice, testing and retesting until the desired outcome is achieved. If something doesn’t work, head back to the ideate stage to fine tune the idea.
ChloeVellinga

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

Sleep Tight
13 December 2017
Sleep Tight Cassie Gunthorpe

The feeling of waking up on Monday sluggish and struggling to find motivation is a familiar one for many.

Sleep Tight

by Cassie Gunthorpe 13 December 2017
But have you ever wondered about  the science behind what makes Mondays so difficult?

According to People Diagnostix Managing Director Jason van Schie, it is because our bodies thrive  on routine.

"You will find during the working week you will probably be more outline orientated," Mr van Schie said.

"On Monday it is essentially like Jet lag; you have stayed up an extra couple of hours on the weekend and maybe gotten up later, and all of a sudden you are trying to force your body back into your normal body  clock routine,which can take a couple of days.'

So what exactly is the body's purpose for sleep?

According to researchers, sleep helps the brain store and make sense of the information from the day while promoting restorative benefits for the body.

The feeling of waking up on Monday sluggish and struggling to find motivation is a familiar one for many.

Yet four out of every 10 Australians are suffering from inadequate sleep, according to the Sleep Health Foundation.

It is troubling given inadequate sleep can contribute to depression, increase irritability and affect our ability to concentrate. In fact, researchers have found sleep deprivation can impair people in similar ways to alcohol intoxication.

"The general consensus is if you have been awake between 17 and19 hours, you will be impaired to the same level as if you have a 0.05 blood alcohol content -the legal driving limit,' Mr van Schie said.

"If you are awake between 20 and 25 hours. the level of impairment increases to double the legal limit.'

Lack of sleep also plays a negative role in the workplace by reducing productivity and increasing absenteeism, according to the Sleep Health Foundation.

It is estimated inadequate sleep resulted in productivity losses of $17.9 billion, or $2418 per person with inadequate sleep,in Australia during the 2016-17 financial year.

While sleep onset isn't something we can control,we can encourage sleep by creating the right environment.

We have different physiological changes that occur throughout the day, which can make us sleepy or more alert, and this is driven by our internal body clock - Mr van Schie said.

"The rising and setting of the sun is the most important time-giver, telling your brain what time of day it is and therefore contributing to the physiological changes."

Researchers believe REM sleep services two purposes - memory consolidation and as 'virtual reality training'.

Around 9 or l0pm our bodies produce a sleep hormone known as melatonin, which can help encourage the onset of sleep. While this natural change presents the optimum time to hit the hay,there are some sleep practices that can help wind the body down.

One way is reducing exposure to artificial light in the hours before bed, such as limiting electronic devices, turning your phone's backlight function on, using a light in an adjacent room instead of the room you are
in or dimming the lights.

Yet it is not just  getting to sleep that is important, it is also the quality  of sleep.

"The term 'quality of sleep' refers to ensuring we get adequate amounts of both deep sleep and REM sleep,' Mr van Schie said.

"When you begin to deprive yourself of sleep, you tend to miss out on one type of sleep or the other."

It is crucial to strike a balance be tween both stages, with deep sleep responsible for our physical recovery and REM responsible for psychological benefits.

"During the deep sleep stage, your body will release growth hormones for physical regeneration to help undo the damage of the day,' Mr van Schie said.

Meanwhile, researchers believe REM sleep serves two main purposes- memory consolidation and what Mr van Schie dubbed a 'virtual reality training program'.

"During this stage your brain is taking everything from the day and trying to embed it,' he said.

"In the second part of REM sleep you get to act out all sorts of different scenarios,so that if you come across those things in real life you are better psychologically equipped to deal with them.'
With sleep offering plenty of benefits, how can companies encourage good sleep health practices for their employees?

Mr van Schie said one way was to lead by example.

"We don't want our managers to be at work at all hours of the night and then our employees feel they are obliged to do the same thing,' he said.

"As soon as people start emailing you after work hours and you see the time it was emailed, it starts to imply that maybe you need to adopt the same sort of working hours." Mr van Schie conceded the times people were most productive could vary considerably.

"Some managers might work really well at 10pm at night, but they should be using the delay delivery button so it hits inboxes at a time when their employees are more likely to read it,' he said.

Lastly,Mr van Schie advocated for workplaces to adopt flexible working hours to help promote better  sleep health and improve productivity.

"Some people function better in the afternoons while others prefer an 8am start." he said.

"Not everyone is accustomed to working a nine- to-five day."
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.

CEOs: To comment or not to comment
15 September 2017
CEOs: To comment or not to comment Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

The incident earlier this year involving an assault on Qantas Airways CEO, Alan Joyce, has thrust a very important question into the spotlight: Should CEOs comment or advocate on social issues?

CEOs: To comment or not to comment

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 15 September 2017
The incident earlier this year involving an assault on Qantas Airways CEO, Alan Joyce, has thrust a very important question into the spotlight: Should CEOs comment or advocate on social issues?

Mr Joyce, at the very beginning of a presentation to an audience of 500 in Perth, Western Australia, was assaulted by having a lemon meringue pie forcefully shoved in his face. The incident received international media attention.

The perpetuator, once apprehended, told media outlets that he was protesting against corporate Australia getting involved in societal issues.  He wanted to send a message to Mr Joyce that he, and arguably the community, were tired of "corporate bullying". That bullying appeared to relate to the Qantas Airway's CEO recent advocacy in relation to gay marriage.
 
Mr Joyce, in hearing of the reason for the attack, argued that "Qantas had proudly represented Australia for more than 90 years ... and being Australian means giving everyone in society an opportunity and the chance of a fair go."

If anything, the attack on Mr Joyce backfired as he maintained that his company would "continue to speak about important social issues such as indigenous reconciliation, gender diversity and marriage equality".

So who is right? Mr Joyce or his attacker.  Does speaking out actually hurt or strengthen a company's brand?

There is an increasingly strong view that corporates must speak up on societal issues. Why? Because increasingly, consumers want to understand what a company stands for before they engage with them!  When a corporate's stance on a particular issue is consistent with that of a consumer, there is more likely to be a commitment to that brand.

It follows then, that if a corporate view on a particular issue is NOT known or inconsistent with that of a consumer, there will be less or no commitment to a particular brand.

Would you support a corporate, for example, who supports and values diversity?  If you are an advocate of diversity then your answer is most probably going to be Yes.

Equally, if you are a strong advocate of diversity, would you want to engage with a corporate who is known to pay "lip service" to diversity. Probably not.

In short, it may well be that corporates do not have a choice any more as to whether they voice their opinions on societal issues. That's because consumers increasingly want to know what corporates stand for before they engage with them. Failure of CEOs to have a voice on societal issues could, in actual fact, be very bad for business.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on - one thing is clear: we must not condone treatment, like that metered out to Mr Joyce, as an acceptable way to voice our opposition to a company's stance on a particular societal view.
Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Cutting Through the Bullshift
31 July 2017
Cutting Through the Bullshift Jack McGinn

Sarcasm and humour may be considered an integral part of Australian culture, but incorrect use can ultimately create a barrier to honest conversations in the workplace

Cutting Through the Bullshift

by Jack McGinn 31 July 2017

Sarcasm and humour may be considered an integral part of Australian culture, but incorrect use can ultimately create a barrier to honest conversation in the workplace.

This was one of the key messages presented by The Bullshift Company’s Andrew Horabin and Malcolm Dix at AIM WA’s opening Professional Development Seminar for 2017.

Addressing a full house on finding honesty, accountability and authenticity in the workplace, the pair delivered a humorous and largely interactive presentation where attendees were encouraged to take responsibility, speak up and tell it how it is.

“Most people go to work to do the thing they want to do – the thing they’re most passionate about,” Mr Horabin said.

“But you get caught up in the politics, and the ego, and the people not talking about stuff and the issues that need to be addressed, and that stuff is exhausting. If you’re having more conversations in your head than you’re having with people it wears you down.”

One of the biggest barriers to clear communication the Bullshift team has identified in workplaces across the country is subtext – when body language and tone don’t match the words being said in a conversation.

“What happens with this is that we have to guess a lot, because the person said they were OK with what I asked, but were they really OK with it?” Mr Horabin said.

“There’s a whole lot of guessing, and what we’re trying to do is get people to open up.”

PRINCIPLES FOR IMPROVEMENT

The Bullshift Company delivered four key principles for opening up and clarifying workplace communication:

Don’t make excuses, encourage people to take responsibility

The human ego’s inclination to avoid responsibility is evident in the behaviour of children being told off for misbehaving in a classroom – as a general rule, each blames the other for ‘starting it’ and refuses to accept their role in the incident.

Mr Horabin said the practice was just as evident in the workplace setting.

“As a parent you try to tell your kids to take responsibility, then you go to work with people who are 48 years old and in conflict, and when you try to find out what’s happened they tell you everything the other person is doing,” he said.

The Bullshift principles encourage employees to take responsibility for their actions, rather than palming off blame to others.

Don’t be vague, be clear

Taking responsibility for your actions can be difficult if you’re not sure what your responsibilities actually are – something Mr Dix said happened regularly at companies he had worked with.

“For me, the lifeblood of any organisation is managing conversations and relationships,” he said.

“If either of those two things aren’t going well you’re going to have problems. A big part of managing that is around the issue of managing requests – when you ask someone to do something for you.”

A lack of clarity when issuing requests – what Bullshift refers to as a ‘sloppy’ request, where deadlines and expectations are vague – is often met by ‘slippery’ promises to follow up, and uncertainty and potential conflict down the track.

Don’t pretend, be authentic

Authenticity in the workplace can sometimes be hard to come by, but the Bullshift principles encourage employees to be honest with themselves by putting pretending to one side.

“What are five things you pretended at work today?” Mr Dix asked.

“Did you pretend you were busy when you really weren’t at all? Did you pretend to be sympathetic to a colleague without meaning it? Did you pretend to listen in a conversation or meeting when you weren’t listening at all?

“What might have happened if you didn’t pretend? What would happen at work every day if we all stopped pretending and started to be more honest? Our principle is don’t pretend, be authentic.”

Say it straight or don’t say it

While Australian’s may consider themselves straight-talkers, The Bullshift Company believes sometimes sarcasm can morph into a passive-aggressive way of communicating, clouding the true intention behind what’s being said.

In some instances, sarcasm can be used to get the message across, but in others it can add unnecessary layers to conversation or even cover as a front for personal issues.

“Sometimes you can say something in a classic Australian backhanded fashion as a way to get a person to look at something, like ‘have a look at your desk, have you got a teenager living here?’ and they say ‘oh’ and adjust their desk,” Mr Horabin said.

“But our observation is, if you’ve done it a second or a third time and the behaviour hasn’t changed it isn’t going to.”

Jack McGinn

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

Success... Not Without Sacrifice
03 July 2017
Success... Not Without Sacrifice Kaitlin Shawcross

It was always going to take an ambitious leader to pilot one of Australia's largest retail conglomerates through the global financial crises and out the other side as more than just a survivor.

Success... Not Without Sacrifice

by Kaitlin Shawcross 03 July 2017
It was always going to take an ambitious leader to pilot one of Australia’s largest retail conglomerates through the global financial crisis and out the other side as more than just a survivor.

It’s a good job outgoing CEO of Wesfarmers Richard Goyder AO FAIM was just that.

The newly appointed AFL Chairman has been walking in business circles for many years now, a far cry from his childhood life on a farm in the Western Australian regional town of Tambellup.

A career as a farmer – just like his parents – could also be described as ambitious, especially given changes in climate and the unpredictability of a harvest year-on-year.

“I knew I didn’t want to farm when I saw my parents – who were good farmers – trying to make it through a bad drought in 1969, but I’ve always been ambitious,” Mr Goyder said.

“When I was in high school I wanted to be Prime Minister.”

While he didn’t get to fill the top job – yet – his career certainly has been high profile, and he is one of Australia’s most prominent and respected businessmen.

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Management WA's Inspirational Leader Series breakfast, Mr Goyder shared how he got to where he is now and the sacrifices it took to get there.

A monumental year in the business executive’s life was 1978, which he spent in the United States as an exchange student with a family not too dissimilar from his own.

The family were integrated dairy farmers and may have given Mr Goyder a further appreciation for business operation as they produced milk, pasteurised it and bottled it under their own label, as well as owning three restaurants and outlets.

During his time at The University of Western Australia, Mr Goyder met his wife Janine and enjoyed three “amazing” years at university.

“The reason it was amazing was because the economy was strong; those who graduated back in those days had plenty of job opportunities,” he said.

The first – and only – company Mr Goyder worked for before Wesfarmers was pipemaking company Tubemakers Australia, where he held a number of positions, including general manager.

“I worked for Tubemakers in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne,” he said. “In 11 years at Tubemakers I had 10 jobs and someone once said to me ‘they’ll find something that you can do one day’.”

Mr Goyder’s time at Tubemakers was a memorable experience and gave him his first real opportunity to lead a company through trialling times.

By the age of 28 he was in charge of leading the industrial rubber company out of spiralling losses, turning it around in just six months.

Mr Goyder said not only was the company losing money, but there was the added struggle of the organisation being highly unionised and English being a second language for most of its 180 employees.

“What I learnt from that was if you work with people and tell people what is required of them in order for a business to be successful, it’s amazing what outcomes you can get. We turned the business around and we became profitable,” he said.

In 1993 the Goyder family was offered the opportunity to return to Perth with Wesfarmers – a move that was a welcome relief for Janine, who had been without nearby family support in the eastern states while caring for three young children. Mr Goyder’s first role within the company was with the business development team; it felt a huge step up from his previous work in Sydney.

“At Wesfarmers I worked on the twelfth floor in this huge office – in Sydney I was in a box – and I was about three doors away from the managing director, so I thought ‘this is a great gig’. I had to keep saying, ‘Richard, you’re not on holidays here’,” he said.

When asked at what point he knew he wanted to run the company, Mr Goyder teased in all sincerity that it was from day one – “or maybe two”.

While it’s apparent his ambitions were not unrealistic, he did appear to those around him to lack focus on the present.

A piece of advice from his general manager early on in his career has stuck with him throughout his subsequent role changes.

“I was working as a division accountant and our general manager came to see me and said ‘Richard if I were you I would focus more on your current job than the one you’re going to do in three moves’ time, because the one that’s in three moves’ time is not going to happen unless you get the current one done properly,” Mr Goyder shared.

We can only assume he listened given his track record of professional success.

This includes a turnaround of the Wesfarmers rural division in Sydney and growing the company to 220,000 employees during his time as CEO.

Mr Goyder’s keys to success centre on keeping things simple by looking at the business objectively and not by way of climatic conditions and commodity prices, holding to Wesfarmers’ single objective to provide shareholders with a satisfactory return and maintaining clear direction about making decisions in the interest of the company and shareholders.

“We monitor cash really carefully. Every day we sweep the cash from our businesses into a single account in Wesfarmers. It’s the most simple process of all. We maintain a strong balance sheet that means we can move quickly for the right opportunity,” he said.

While it may not have looked at all like the right opportunity at the time, the acquisition of debt-laden Coles in 2007 defied its bad beginnings to become one of the company’s greatest acquisitions and Mr Goyder’s crowning achievement.

His appointment to the position of CEO in 2005 by the board made him the seventh CEO at Wesfarmers in 103 years, where he also followed in the steps of past CEOs with a long tenure – something Mr Goyder said was often taken for granted.

“I think tenure is an undervalued factor in developing leaders,” he said. “I would hope that 12 years on I’m a better CEO than when I started, and that’s because if you’ve been in the role a while you do get the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and from other people, and also what’s gone well.”

But that commitment hasn’t been without its sacrifices, the biggest of which Mr Goyder said was time spent with his family.

Travelling commitments meant he would spend more than 50 per cent of the year away from home.

“Janine constantly reminds me ‘you say we’ve been married for 32 years but in reality it’s a whole lot less than that’,” Mr Goyder said.

Moving out of his position at Wesfarmers, Mr Goyder said he was looking forward to less of the constant demands his seven day-a-week job held.

His new role as Chairman of the AFL will bring with it a new set of challenges for the ambitious businessman, including increasing the number of women in the industry.

Looking back on his career to date, Mr Goyder said the key to success had been surrounding himself with supportive people, learning from his mistakes and, above all, being himself.

.

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

No Ordinary Surgeon
20 June 2017
No Ordinary Surgeon Sandra Argese

Faced with insurmountable odds and circumstances beyond our control, we turn to the brightest minds and most innovative thinkers to find a solution.

No Ordinary Surgeon

by Sandra Argese 20 June 2017

Faced with insurmountable odds and circumstances beyond our control, we turn to the brightest minds and most innovative thinkers to find a solution. Through sheer resilience and grim determination, their ability to grit their teeth and conquer challenges head on come to define history and craft a lasting legacy of innovation, creativity and strong leadership.

Transcending the medical profession by exceeding expectations at every turn, Professor Fiona Wood encapsulates this concept on a daily basis having built a career on routinely defying societal expectations and navigating obstacles placed in her path. She shared her story when speaking at an AIM WA Inspirational Leader Series event in November last year.

Having completed her internship and residency at several hospitals in London prior to emigrating to Australia in 1987, Prof Wood has been a part of the medical sphere for decades, achieving national and international recognition for her extensive portfolio of work in the field of burns treatment.

Working since the early 90s at both Royal Perth and Princess Margaret hospitals led her to develop a spray-on solution of skin cells in 1995, revolutionising the industry by reducing permanent scarring on burns victims. In the immediate aftermath of the Bali bombings, 28 victims were initially flown to Perth where they received specialist treatment from Prof Wood.

Her fascination for discovering the ‘why’ in situations and an eagerness to dive further into the potential that comes with acquiring knowledge actually began from a young age.

“Around age 13 I was obsessed with education,” Prof Wood said.

“Education will give you the choice in life to get up in the morning and enjoy what you do. That was the mantra that I was bought up with, that your education is your key to the future.

“If you don’t enjoy what you do then it’s an opportunity to use your intellect, your training, your education and change that lens of your life. That’s what I saw and witnessed when I was growing up as my mum and dad were obsessed with education.

"My eldest brother passed away at 33 with very challenging asthma. Even after leaving school at 15, he went on to become a criminal defence lawyer with a Cambridge law degree because when you get knocked down, you get back up again.

Proceeding to then work and study at Saint Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, Prof Wood encountered people who were adamant that, as one of only 12 females in her year, she should ‘know her place’, and her place was not as a surgeon.

“I had to deal with the hurdles that were presented to me and were in front of me. I had to work out how to get over them, around them or knock them over,” Prof Wood said.

“I learnt one of the most valuable lessons in life – negative energy, criticism without engagement in problem solving, is just simply a black hole. To engage in aggressive argument, fighting, counter debate with somebody whose mindset is so closed is an abject waste of time.

“Criticism is not a problem per say, it's healthy; but saying 'you can’t do that because you’re a woman, you’re black or because of your religion is wrong', there’s no point in engaging in that, just walk on by because it’s not even worth your breath.”

Labelling herself as ‘aggressively competitive but not intrinsically aggressive’, Prof Wood highlighted the one thing that gave her the choice to continue on her journey despite the prejudice.

“It was clearly research. It was engaging in people who were at that edge, who wanted to do better, who were interested in driving the body of knowledge forward; that was where I found my niche.”

Prof Wood said her experiences as a medical student heightened a fascination for research, learning and their endless possibilities.

“I saw them take the muscle from the back and put it around the leg, so that we could salvage a young man's leg after a motorcycle accident; it was very commonly amputated prior,” she said.

“All this technology was bought into a room to change the person’s life. When I started thinking how I could be part of this journey, it was with people who were resilient enough in that environment.”

Sharing the story of the first patient in Western Australia to encounter cultured skin in 1990 at the intensive care unit of Royal Perth Hospital, Prof Wood was a young registrar and had been tracking technology that grew skin. Not only did she manage to commandeer the operating room and bone marrow laboratories so her team could use a certain environment to undertake the operation, she convinced them to also grow skin for the patient.

“The patient had a major burn, with multiple infections and was slipping through our fingers like sand,” Prof Wood said.

“We achieved the operation and she was out of intensive care, off the ventilators on the burns unit ward. On the Wednesday afternoon she had a cardiac arrest and we couldn’t resuscitate her.

“We only stop if everybody at the bedside believes we can’t go any further. If somebody has a shadow of doubt that there is life there, we continue. I was the last one to stand up.”

Where some medical professionals are bestowed the option of feeling self-indulgent or depleted following a loss like this, Prof Wood was quite the opposite.

“I have never thought of it as a failure and realised the only way I could honour this life is by changing the lives of others and I could do that by learning, learning, learning,” Prof Wood said.

“We could honour this death by understanding our responsibility to learn and to influence going forward.”

A Professor in the School of Surgery at The University of Western Australia and a cofounder of the Fiona Wood Foundation, Prof Wood was a recipient of the Australian of the Year award in 2005 and the WA Citizen of the Year award in the same year and in 2003.

When performing a surgery or administering treatment, Prof Wood said the wealth of responsibility to a patient went beyond them simply signing a piece of paper.

“They trust you on a level that I don’t believe we see in any other field. That team is responsible for keeping you well, because you are putting your life in their hands,” she said.

“Solving a problem that is in front of you is what I do on a daily basis – people who’s lives have changed in an instant, that’s when we bring all our knowledge and experience we can to the table to work out how we can influence this trajectory of life right here, right now.” 

“To do so takes a lot of energy and engagement by working out how we can do better. Finding people who engage with you, don’t necessarily think the same, but are interested in the same problem, and in working out the problem, rather than spending time on all this collateral damage is key.”

Continuing to research and teach at Royal Perth Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and The University of Western Australia, Prof Wood encourages those around her to unleash their potential throughout all spheres of life.

“I have a fundamental belief in the unique gifts that people bring. I think everybody is special; everybody has a gift to give. Have we given ourselves and each other an opportunity, a framework, where we can be the best we can be?” she said.

“You can make the choice to see challenges as a learning opportunity, or you can sit down and let life wash over you.

“There’s no point getting up in the morning to be average; be the best you can and tomorrow, be better.”

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

Time to Turn the Dial in WA
06 June 2017
Time to Turn the Dial in WA Kaitlin Shawcross

The battle for gender balanced and fair workplaces is far from over, and although there have been significant changes to the makeup of the workforce, there is still much to be done, particularly in Western Australia.

Time to Turn the Dial in WA

by Kaitlin Shawcross 06 June 2017

The battle for gender balanced and fair workplaces is far from over, and although there have been significant changes to the makeup of the workforce, there is still much to be done, particularly in Western Australia.

According to data gathered by member based organisation CEOs for Gender Equity, WA lags behind the national average when it comes to women represented in senior leadership roles and gender pay gaps.

CEOs for Gender Equity Executive Director Tania Cecconi said the key to lasting improvement in the workforce rested with existing business leaders who could advocate and facilitate change.

“We know that despite efforts, something is not working,” she said. “We maintain that unless a CEO is behind the charge and embracing gender equity as a real leadership opportunity, we know we’re not going to turn the dial in WA.”

Despite two out of three organisations holding a gender equity strategy and one in two with a flexible working strategy, only one in five companies in WA conducted pay gap audits compared to the national average of one in four.

CEOs for Gender Equity recently announced a commitment to fixing the pay gap problem within the next five years.

Its CEO members, which include Chris Sutherland from Programmed, Barry Felstead from Crown Australian Resorts, Terry Agnew FAIM from the RAC, Graham Kerr from South32, Andy Crane from CBH and Edgar Basto from BHP Billiton Iron Ore among  any others, undertake and support regular pay gap audits of their respective  organisations.

Members of CEOs for Gender Equity share what they have found works and what hasn’t. Each member hosts a round table event with non-members to share their thoughts and experiences on gender balance in the workplace.

Women influence 70 cents for every dollar spend in the economy.

If we boosted female workforce participation by 11 per cent nationally, we would boost GDP by the same amount.

Ms Cecconi said the most successful companies were those where the CEO had clearly articulated his or her commitment to gender equity in all areas of the business.

Progressive CEOs are holding themselves to account and influencing the internal  culture of their company, which in turn shapes how hiring processes and systems are applied.

“When CEOs talk about some of the big things that don’t work, they say blaming women doesn’t work,” Ms Cecconi said.

One way to remedy the gender imbalance in the workforce is to encourage the use of quotas and targets.

Ms Cecconi said because quotas were mandated externally by a third party, there was often a natural resistance to the well-meaning effort.

“Sometimes targets are criticised for driving the wrong behaviours, as if it’s a tick and flick exercise,” she said. “That can be managed in such a way that targets are used to facilitate meaningful and courageous conversations to challenge the status quo.

“Setting a target says to the business ‘we know this is important, we’ve got the metrics around this and we’re going to report to this in a transparent way at a board  and executive level’.”

After just one year in her role, Ms Cecconi said she had already noticed a significant change – that being a shift in dialogue from what women needed to do to what leaders and CEOs needed to do to drive positive change towards a more fair and balanced workforce at all levels of business.

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

Three and a Half CEOs
18 April 2017
Three and a Half CEOs Eva Skira FAIM

At my local supermarket last week, I ran into an ex-colleague who is a CEO at a major financial firm in Perth. Hugh (pseudonym) has been in his current job for five years and is about to step down.

Three and a Half CEOs

by Eva Skira FAIM 18 April 2017

CEO Number 1

At my local supermarket last week, I ran into an ex-colleague who is a CEO at a major financial firm in Perth. Hugh (pseudonym) has been in his current job for five years and is about to step down. I met him when I was appointed Chair at a prior organisation where he was the CEO. At his previous firm, Hugh was very focused on a long-term vision and there had been great stability in the business model. He had been brought in by his current employer to reform the organisation and had driven transformation. After three years, Hugh had largely made his desired changes. But as we talked, he told me his greatest discovery was that the changes had not stopped. After three years he found more needed to be done, largely because the external context had changed in terms of products, customers, technology and innovation. In fact, his take on it was that change was permanent and employees should be told that. They shouldn't be presented that reform was a finite matter and after all the change in the workplace, one day we will be in a permanent state of ‘stability’. On the contrary, managers now need to be trawling and listening to the external environment and be prepared to continually adapt and innovate.

CEO Number 2

I recently did a ‘meet and greet’ with Sylvia (pseudonym), a CEO of a major organisation. We had arranged to meet at her offices and she took me to the refurbished cafe on the ground floor where there were quite a few other employees, mostly young, having coffee meetings. While this company is a mature business in a mature industry, the buzz made it feel like an innovator hub. Sylvia saw the marketplace and regulatory changes surrounding her industry as manageable, although her main concern was around changes in technology. There had been so much disruption caused by technology changes in the marketplace that consumers were now becoming its main competitors and her take on it was that disruption would continue to the point where great value would be lost from the existing organisation. This impairment may already be fact. It would just take time for the business reality to set in. At one level this organisation has left it too late to take the lead and disrupt itself, but in the next few years, like a phoenix out of the ashes, will arise a new business model for this organisation and it will be just right for the times. To get there much change, adaptation and pain will be required.

CEO Number 3

This CEO, Andrew (pseudonym), runs a large organisation where, while the winds of business model disruption have been quiet to date, change has been profound. The external environment has changed so much, it has been in a constant state of flux for 15 years in order to meet customer need. The imperative has been to adapt the service offering to keep up and at the same time the employee mix needed to change. Reflecting Australia's demographic structure, this organisation has a very large number of employees in the baby boomer years and progressively over the past few years they have been exiting the workforce, either because they want to move on or because the workplace skills mix required has changed so significantly that they can’t contribute as effectively as they once did. This CEO has had to lead an organisation that has needed to disruptively restructure itself in order to serve customers as they need to be served in the late 2010s decade, which will of course soon be the 2020s.

Lastly the half CEO

I mentor a young person who is not yet a CEO but might well get there. I had coffee with her this week and Jess (pseudonym) tells me she wants to leave her current job as she has had enough. She has been working in policy and stakeholder relationships and feels she has matured in her current role and the industry she is in is not to her liking. She doesn't know exactly what she is looking for but while she talks to me about herself, I find out she was in fact trained as an economist with a strong mathematical and statistical bent. That last part is not what she has been using in recent years but as we survey the future landscape, I encourage her to widen her job search and believe she has the smarts and skills to manage algorithmic, big data and machine learning in a digital native world. She asks whether she should do an MBA and while we agree it's potentially a necessary evil, an MBA won’t necessarily bring more remuneration or a better job but it adds to the ‘package’. She has enough nous to be a future CEO because she can bring to the table her STEM background overlaid by a strong record in policy, people relationships and stakeholder management.

And so what?

The changing theme is obvious or, as my husband argues, is everybody running flat out to stay in the same spot? I think it’s more than that. I posit we will witness a profound shift in underlying skills, experience and youth of future leaders in the near future. Firstly, current baby boomer leaders are tiring; the leadership cloak will pass to millennials far quicker than we think. Secondly, those people with only skills in managing a growth economy will not make it in the new era of macroeconomic challenge. Those who do succeed will be leaders who can manage in the downtimes and can find growth in a shrinking industry or market. Thirdly, the school of hard knocks is the real world and that real world is one where corporations are changing, technology is accelerating, workplaces are mutating. Future leadership will be exciting, but get ready for a turbo charged ride.

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As a former executive in banking and finance, Eva Skira held positions as an economist and finance professional in corporate banking, institutional stockbroking, capital markets and derivatives. She is currently Non-Executive Director at ASX listed entities, including Macmahon Contractors Ltd (ASX 200), RCR Tomlinson Ltd, and Chairman of Trustees of St John of God Health Care. She is also the immediate-past Water Corporation Chairman.

Fourth Arm of Defence
16 March 2017
Fourth Arm of Defence Cassie Gunthorpe

The future of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) looks bright with the sector on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation cycle of modernisation.

Fourth Arm of Defence

by Cassie Gunthorpe 16 March 2017

The future of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) looks bright with the sector on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation cycle of modernisation.

Around $195 billion has been allocated to the ADF’s Integrated Investment Program (IIP), a document unveiled in 2016 that ties together all related investment in the industry and aims to strengthen the defence sector in WA and Australia.

The Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) WA President Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe AFAIM said the Australian industry sector had an important role to play in the strength of the ADF.

“The ADF views industry as being indispensable for ongoing operations, acting as its ‘fourth arm’ alongside Army, Navy and Air Force,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

“Civilian industries provide the critical mass of infrastructure and trained manpower necessary for the industry to expand.

“Even after the acquisition of new assets is completed, there will still be decades of maintenance and upgrade work to follow.”

The Australian defence market is tipped to markedly improve following recent economic strength in overseas markets.

“Whilst certain sections of the Australian defence industry have declined significantly in recent years (most notably the legacy shipyards on the east coast such as Forgacs), increased government spending is set to see the industry receive a substantial boost across all areas,” Mr DeSilvaRanasinghe said.

“Around 25 per cent of the IIP’s funds are to be allocated towards maritime and antisubmarine warfare; there are immense advantages for WA.”

Being a part of the defence supply chain offers advantages to a range of businesses, according to Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe, none more so than small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Businesses in areas which match the demands of their local ADF contingents are likely to obtain the most benefit,” he said.

“WA’s most successful defence SMEs, such as Hofmann Engineering and Airflite, are civilian firms which have diversified into defence. This allows them to even out the peaks and troughs of government and private demand.”

However, there are some important things to know before contracting with the defence sector.

“It pays to know how defence works as an organisation,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

“The Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (formerly the Defence Material Organisation) is your friend. Not only does it control the acquisition and sustainment activities for the ADF, it also provides assistance and information to SMEs seeking to enter the defence supply chain.”

The sector has seen a developing trend with an increasing number of SMEs subcontracting to major defence companies known as 'the primes', which include US companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, British firms such as BAE Systems and French companies like Thales and DCNS.

“Becoming part of the global supply chain of large defence primes can allow firms to gain exposure to a worldwide market,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

With a crucial part of the ADF’s strength relying on Industry, the IIP is set to offer great advantages to the sector.

The IIP program aims to enhance the ADF’s ability to defend Australia, conduct independent operations and contribute to global coalition operations, while also creating greater stability in defence budgets.

“WA’s defence industry is likely to be reinforced in its existing areas of strength - shipbuilding, maritime sustainment, C4ISR, engineering and fabrication,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

One area highlighted by Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe unlikely to bloom in WA was aircraft sustainment, which was primarily based in the eastern states and unlikely to shift to the west.

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.

Passion Brings Freaky Success
16 January 2017
Passion Brings Freaky Success Kaitlin Shawcross

From humble beginnings with a single store in Subiaco to more than 26 contracted franchises and an interstate expansion set for mid-next year, Health Freak Cafe has a lot to celebrate as it looks to its third birthday in December.

Passion Brings Freaky Success

by Kaitlin Shawcross 16 January 2017
From humble beginnings with a single store in Subiaco to more than 26 contracted franchises and an interstate expansion set for mid-next year, Health Freak Cafe has a lot to celebrate as it looks to its third birthday in December.

With a goal to make healthy eating more accessible, Health Freak Director Victoria Carbone had a vision to develop five cafes in five years. She quickly exceeded her own expectations as Health Freak Cafe met with success, and continues to flourish.

The business idea was born out of Ms Carbone’s own lifestyle experiences – working plus exercising two hours every morning and afternoon left her with little time for much else after going home to prepare her own healthy meals.

Being able to enjoy a healthy meal out with friends would make all the difference to her schedule and daily routine.

When the business began, Ms Carbone’s time was stretched even more as she worked every aspect of the cafe including cooking seven days a week for two years to drive the vision on the ground.

“If you put yourself in the business and work every part of it from doing dishes to making coffee, you can’t go wrong because then you can educate people on how to make something work,” she said.

Ms Carbone devised the menu from the meals she made at home, while also catering for special dietary requirements such as vegan and gluten intolerance, which has played a large role in the popularity of the brand.

“I made the menu versatile so someone who is vegan or eats paleo can have a personal connection to it,”​she said.

“Customers feel like they are being catered for and get excited when they see items that are gluten-free or vegan-friendly.”

The former accountant admitted while her passion drove her to start, it was thorough planning that saw the success snowball.

“Every passion has to be put on paper – if you don’t have a business plan and ideas for when you do lose track, you get people telling you things and it gets in your head,” she said.

“I always went back to my business plan and I stayed focused.”

Of course, a large part of a business plan is the financials. Ms Carbone said so often entrepreneurs lacked the necessary financial knowledge for success or neglected to give it the full attention it required.

“If I did not have an accounting and finance background I would not have made it through the challenges,” she said.

“We offer to set up all our franchisees’ accounting, we give them fortnightly budgets, we go through analysis and offer them advice at no charge.

“That’s the biggest hurdle most people find; they say, ‘I want to get into business but I have no finance knowledge’.

“So we wanted to offer that to people – not just do it for them, but educate them on how to run businesses and make money and stick to percentages and margins.”

Ms Carbone said only in the last three or four months had it become easier, now that she had her own office and a group of staff to assist. However, expansion brings its own challenges.

“The hardest part is probably the people more than anything,” she said. “Not everyone is going to have the same drive as you.

“A lot of people go into business for money or for other reasons; I did it because I was passionate about healthy eating.

“But I don’t want to be party to being another brand that’s just about making money and slopping something together and saying ‘here you go’.

“My biggest challenge is finding like-minded people who share that passion for health and fitness; everyone seems to steer in certain directions.”

Health Freak Cafe has plans to open five Sydney cafes in May and is continually adding to its Perth foothold, with the latest cafes entering shopping centres.

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

Being the Best You that You Can Be
13 October 2016
Being the Best You that You Can Be Chloe Vellinga

When we look at ourselves and others in our workplace or community, what do we see?

Being the Best You that You Can Be

by Chloe Vellinga 13 October 2016

When we look at ourselves and others in our workplace or community, what do we see?

Normally, the first answer that pops up is ‘looks’ and ‘appearance’, which explains our visual reputation, but what defines us as individuals is far deeper than that.

Delving into what makes us different from others in our work life, personal life and community, we need to look at our values, morals, thoughts and experiences, which help build our personal brand and overall executive reputation.

So what is personal branding and why is it important?

Our personal brand is essentially who we are and how we appear to the world.

We know these things instinctively, but the key to building a successful personal brand is how well you communicate this to others, for example, telling them about your best qualities and values, as quickly and as clearly as possible to avoid losing their attention.

Image Intelligence Director Narelle Goodfield AFAIM has spent much of the last decade researching the importance of building your own personal brand, working closely with many individual clients, groups and organisations.

According to Ms Goodfield, your personal brand needs to be explained as quickly and as effectively as possible, preferably in just nine seconds.

“Most of us have short attention spans and they are getting shorter all the time, for a whole variety of reasons,” she said.

“When you are communicating, you need to be able to get your values across quickly, really easily and straight away, because you haven’t got time to dilly-dally.

“People need to know pretty much immediately what they are going to get.”

But how do you do this?

Firstly, be different rather than better than your competitor.

Addressing an AIMWA Your Best Self Series event in July, Ms Goodfield discussed a situation she found herself in during her career.

“In my business I got wrapped up about five years ago on the commoditisation belt and I had to strive to be better than the next person and better than the next person and so on,” she said.

“Then when I finally thought ‘I have got this nailed, I am the best in this area’, someone would pop up and take me off or they would pop up and be really close to me and absolutely take the cream off the top and drop their prices.”

By altering what she offered, Ms Goodfield was able to compete on a different level, instead of riding the merry-go-round that is commoditisation.

“Today’s working society isn’t terribly buoyant, so to cut through the crowd and stand out is important,” Ms Goodfield said.

Secondly, we need to know how to package up our personal brand and values in a single, quick and easy sentence.

Ms Goodfield recommends breaking down your qualities into two words – an adjective, so a word describing how you are different from others, and a noun, which describes what you do best.

For example, I am efficient and I am good at communication.

When putting this into a sentence – ‘If you need someone to provide efficient communication, then it’s me’ – it becomes your personal brand.

Of course, there are literally thousands of different options you could use and this is what makes your tagline uniquely yours.

Lastly, roll out your tag line as much as possible, so everyone, including your employer, knows what you can bring to the organisation.

“You need to try it on for size, you need to utilise it and you need to roll it out to see if it fits, because if you say it and you cringe then it’s not the right anthem for you,” Ms Goodfield said.

“For you to be really, really valuable, you need to be extraordinary at something and people need to know about it.

“I’ve seen executives leverage their personal brand attributes to project them into new opportunities and positions they would never normally have believed they could reach.”

ChloeVellinga

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

Clear Scope is the Key to Success
12 September 2016
Clear Scope is the Key to Success Cassie Gunthorpe

The Egyptian pyramids are some of the world’s most fascinating man-made structures. Their scale and volume impress, much of the original forms from some 4000 years ago still casting a prominent shadow on the landscape.

Clear Scope is the Key to Success

by Cassie Gunthorpe 12 September 2016

The Egyptian pyramids are some of the world’s most fascinating man-made structures. Their scale and volume impress, much of the original forms from some 4000 years ago still casting a prominent shadow on the landscape.

They also reveal project management has been around for thousands of years – the construction of these structures requiring foresight, planning and management.

At least this was the connection Peopleistic Global Chairman and Australian CEO Todd Hutchison FAIM made in his Leading Successful Projects talk to AIMWA Members.

“We have been doing project management for thousands of years,” he said.

“The Egyptians would have had this design before they started [building a pyramid] and they would have needed significant project resources, a schedule and costing to be able to finish it.”

Yet thousands of years on there still remains so much obscurity when it comes to project management, according to Mr Hutchison.

“All of the issues and headaches start if there is ambiguity in the scope and strategy,” he said.

By 2020, more than 600 million people will be 65 years or older, and more than 15.7 million new project management roles will be added globally.

“What it is showing us is we need to start skilling up,” Mr Hutchison said.

“Who are the ones that have been trained, educated and know the tricks?,” Mr Hutchison said.

To further his point, Mr Hutchison drew on a recent job search on Seek, typing in ‘project manager’ and returning over 5700 positions vacant.

“These roles aren’t getting filled because [employers] aren’t so sure who the real project managers are, and that is why we have to focus on education and developing the skills in-house,” he said.

“It is the one qualification I have found makes you most employable and most able to change to different industries.”

Known as the Corporate Mechanic, Mr Hutchison gained this title through his vast expertise and roles, including international best-selling author, educator and global consultant.

Starting his career in the television industry, he began in camera operations and later worked as a technical director and broadcast engineer.

Mr Hutchison has since gone on to work in various sectors including mining, health, education, architecture, environment, military and the police.

A talented leader with a wealth of experience, and not one to rest on his laurels, he continues to study and add to his achievements, with some 20 tertiary qualifications across engineering, business, coaching and information technology.

Today he helps people and organisations – that have been left confused and at a halt with failed projects – monitor and pin-point where they went wrong.

Mr Hutchison said the most essential building block to successful project management was to have a clear scope.

“It surprises me when I go into projects that this is the core issue I’m dealing with,” he said. “People have different expectations and they’re doing good work, but they may not be doing the work aligned to the project sponsor.”

He strongly advises organisations to set up a culture where people feel comfortable sharing mistakes upfront – what he calls an issue register.

About 90 per cent of companies he went in to ‘save’ did not have an issue register, setting themselves up for a culture where employees were more likely to hide their mistakes.

“How scary is that?,” Mr Hutchison said.

He also advises being careful about project scope creep, where once the project scope is clearly outlined, unapproved or undocumented changes can blur it.

“They start saying, ‘while you’re there, can you add this, or can you extend this or what about this new idea?’,” Mr Hutchison said. “The problem is if we accept that, we don’t often get the dollars or the schedule, and then next minute you have projects you’re not going to deliver on.

“Project management says that should never ever happen.”

Instead the project scope should be clearly defined, planned and documented.

“Our role as leaders is to be very clear on our strategy and then translate that down to the next level,” Mr Hutchison 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.

Mindful Lessons
19 July 2016
Mindful Lessons Jack McGinn

Action learning – an approach to education which has taken significant steps over the past 25 years as the human brain has become better understood – channels the thinking power of the mind to deliver lasting outcomes for those who use it.

Mindful Lessons

by Jack McGinn 19 July 2016

Action learning – an approach to education which has taken significant steps over the past 25 years as the human brain has become better understood – channels the thinking power of the mind to deliver lasting outcomes for those who use it.

The process, first developed by pioneering management consultant and Olympian Reg Revans in the UK in the 1940s, involves working together in small groups on real life problems to engage the mind and find ways to implement lasting change.

By collaborating with like-minded and driven individuals, participating groups are encouraged to challenge existing practices and discover more efficient or effective ways of getting things done. By encouraging active participation and collaboration in reviewing actions and developing efficient solutions, the brain is able to actively process information and formulate well thought-out solutions.

This is a concept explored in David Rock’s Your Brain at Work, which encourages the reader to better know their brain in order to improve thinking performance and efficiency.

Within Your Brain at Work, Mr Rock champions his SCARF model – based around collaborating with and influencing peers.

The SCARF model focuses on the social interaction areas of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness and how these factors influence the behaviours of both the individual reader and the people around them.

By teaching the reader to understand the fundamentals of thought, managing emotions and expectations under pressure, the brain's approach to others and methods for facilitating change, Your Brain at Work encourages a shift from traditional decision-making to a more effective method.

When integrated with traditional approaches to learning, action learning can expand the methodological mix of your organisation and build the skills and knowledge of staff.

David Rock's SCARF Model

  • Status
  • Certainty
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Fairness

Facilitating brain power Jeremy B. Teitelbaum is the creator of communication and collaboration training program ‘Cognitive Communication: The science of connection and influence’ and author of forthcoming book Train for the Brain, which identifies four areas where brain science can be used to improve learning, and explores how these can be used to get the most out of thinking in the workplace.

Lesson 1 - Brains cannot multitask

Mr Teitelbaum warns that human brains are simply not geared to multitask, and trying to force them to do so is counterproductive.

He cites a 2014 study from Stanford University, which put around 100 students through a series of three tests and found multitasking reduced the efficiency and productivity of workers.

The tests split participants into two groups – media multitaskers (those who tend to keep up with more than one stream of electronic information at a time) and those who prefer to complete one task at a time.

The results revealed those who identified as multitaskers tested poorer across all three areas assessed – memory, ability to ignore irrelevant detail and ability to switch between tasks.

Mr Teitelbaum’s deduction is that the best way to receive training or think about information is when learners can give their undivided attention to the task.

Lesson 2 - Brain and body

According to Mr Teitelbaum, the influence of brain health on the body is well-established, but the return relationship is less so, despite its importance to brain training.

In the context of creating a training environment conducive to learning, Mr Teitelbaum said trainers needed to incorporate physical activity into their programs to encourage activity and stimulate brain activity.

He also believes trainers should provide brain foods – nuts, grains, fish, beans, eggs, tea, spinach, berries and quality dark chocolate – to encourage clearer thought.

Lesson 3 - Adaptability is essential

While brain research has come a long way, it continues to be limited by cost, time and its challenging nature.

Mr Teitelbaum said the way around this limitation was through finding patterns in available research, recognising the similarities of the human brain but also catering to the fact that no two brains operate in exactly the same way.

Flexibility is preached in training delivery, and with more knowledge of the brain expected as new research comes to the fore, adaptability is considered a key aspect of training development moving forward.

Lesson 4 - Brain science and lessons learned

Finally, Mr Teitelbaum does not believe enough is being done in the workplace learning context to keep up with the latest developments in brain science.

He said despite science showing that brains don’t distinguish between thought and action, not enough action was taken to use this knowledge for training implementation.

The other area Mr Teitelbaum identifies is the role of emotion in learning. In tying with action learning, he encourages participants be taught the importance of their emotions in the learning process to fully get the most out of themselves in the training setting.

Jack McGinn

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

Live Well
22 June 2016
Live Well Kaitlin Shawcross

There doesn't have to be such a thing as passing your prime.

Live Well

by Kaitlin Shawcross 22 June 2016

David Beard AFAIM was the first exercise physiologist to work in the aged care industry, where he introduced health and fitness activities to people in retirement homes.

He found when people were willing to push themselves to do more than they believed they could, they experienced great results, not only in health and wellbeing but also in their experience of life.

Along the way he learned some valuable lessons about getting older that changed his perspective on ageing, experience and sustained performance.

His discoveries led him to write his first book, If I’d Only Known I’d Live This Long, which shares the lessons he learned from the people that proved getting old can be better than it looks.

David shared with us the secrets to longevity, sustained success and a happy life at any age.

He shared seven key characteristics of those people that thrived throughout their lives and gave examples of how young people can start now to adopt these habits early.

Mr Beard said certain mental skills, if practiced regularly, give people the right mindset to tackle the challenges that come with getting older.

“As people get older a lot tend to focus on the things they can’t do anymore and things they used to have,” he said.

“Focusing on the positives – friends and family, and all they can still do – is much more empowering.

“Those tho age well are those who keep a positive attitude.”

The key to a good attitude is to maintain a forward-looking viewpoint as you get older, rather than one that looks backwards.

Mr Beard talked about the importance of setting long-term goals, especially focusing on what you would like to be able to do in your later years.

He also shared the value of having positive role models in our lives and how these helped to shape our expectations of the future.

“Some of the amazing people I have been lucky enough to work with over the years have given me a much more optimistic view of growing old,” Mr Beard said.

His message emphasised the importance of every individual having meaningful work that gives them a sense of purpose, even after we leave the paid workforce.

Mr Beard suggested taking on volunteer work or looking after family or friends as the most beneficial jobs because they focus on others.

As an exercise physiologist, Mr Beard said working with older people to improve their health and fitness and reinforced his belief in the importance of maintaining a reasonable level of physical fitness throughout life.

“Exercise is an investment that if done correctly for 30-60 minutes a day makes the other 23 hours that much easier,” he said.

As we age it’s important to keep learning. Research shows if we challenge ourselves mentally we can continue to learn and grow new brain cells.

“Combining physical activity and mental challenges is the optimal way to stimulate new brain cells and connections. With the rate of change accelerating, it is essential we all keep learning new skills.”

So when should these principals be applied?

“The reality is, the sooner you apply these the better off you will be. Don’t wait until you’re 90 to start exercising or learning new things; start doing it now so it’s habit as you get older,” Mr Beard said.

“Start changing your attitude wherever you are right now and choose to focus on the good things in your workplace instead of dwelling on the bad.”

“Leaders and managers are the ones workers look up to as aspire to, so if they’re modelling positive behaviours and they’re enjoying their work then others will look up to that,” Mr Beard said.

He believes the best habit anyone can get into is to look after their health and wellbeing.

“Once your health takes a back seat it becomes hard to do your job properly and everything else falls with it.”

.

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

Listen: Listen: Listen
26 May 2016
Listen: Listen: Listen Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

Being a good listener has never been easy. Deep, mindful, active listening without judgement is a higher order skill.

Listen: Listen: Listen

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 26 May 2016

Similar to the advice about asking your receptionist what she or he thinks is going on, is the principle that leaders need to listen more.  The wonderful book by Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking could be adapted for leaders as Powerful Insights for Leaders Who Finally Stop Talking.  Leaders simply need to listen more and talk less.

Leaders are promoted because of their ability, their insight and their positive contribution to the organisation.  Unfortunately, this can breed a level of hubris that suggests their views are more valid that those of others.  “They made me the boss because I’m smarter than the others”.  Clearly the really smart leaders are those who are capable of accessing the full contributions of those around them.  The wisdom of the crowd will, in most cases, far exceed the contribution of the single egotistical boss.

Being a good listener has never been easy.  Deep, mindful, active listening without judgement is a higher order skill.  Just giving someone your undivided attention is difficult in a world obsessed with multi-tasking.  Adding additional skills of acknowledging the other person, summarising, paraphrasing and questioning, all without interrupting or making premature judgements about the content or emotion behind what the person has to say, requires a very adept communicator.

Even having all these skills is not enough.  The other party needs to feel sufficient trust and positive regard from you before they will give you something to listen to.  This trust is built over time and is based on past experience.  A one-off interaction is never going to have the other person sharing everything they know and feel about a situation.  This is the reason we only ever share our most intimate and deep seated emotions with our best friend.  We can trust them with this information and know they will listen, unconditionally.

If, over time, our staff come to believe we have a genuine interest in what they have to say and we are willing to give them the time to listen, then they will naturally be more forthcoming.  They will raise issues without being asked and will contribute actively when requested.

This does not mean you have to agree with everything they say or implement all their suggestions.  Most followers will acknowledge that would be an unreasonable expectation.  However, knowing that you have been heard is enough for most of us.

ONE SMALL STEP – in the next 24 hours

Just like any skill, listening takes practice.  Choose two or three interactions when you make a deliberate effort to focus on the quality of your listening.  It does not need to be only at work - it could be at the coffee shop, with your children or anyone else.  Just give the other person your full attention, signal through your non-verbals, your paraphrasing and questions that you are truly listening and, most of all, don’t interrupt – you might learn something.

This excerpt is taken from Shaun’s book ‘One Small Step…for Leaders”.

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.

Innovation in Business - Buzzword or Reality
12 May 2016
Innovation in Business - Buzzword or Reality Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

It should be no surprise that in a less than certain business environment in Australia - innovation is the buzzword yet again and remains critical to an organisation’s top and bottom line.

Innovation in Business - Buzzword or Reality

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 12 May 2016
Without new sources of value – whether that’s defined in terms of quantity of revenue or quality of life – most organisations eventually wither and die.

The world around them changes and competitors emerge to provide the same offerings more effectively or efficiently.

Yet – the Institute’s own Management Capability Index highlighted that Australian management capacity is lacking in what might be termed “innovation leadership”.

And while there are many examples of business innovation in – it is likely that innovation remains a buzzword rather than reality.

Here are 3 possible reasons it may be a buzzword. Firstly, in general, the concept of “innovation” is generally not well understood in Australia.

Australian businesses often use the words "creativity" and "innovation" to mean the same thing. But there are significant differences. Creativity is about coming up with ideas, while innovation is about exploiting those ideas.

While individuals may display creativity, innovation occurs in the business environment - by bringing creative ideas to life.

And those ideas are not restricted to product and service creation - but extend to business processes, distributions, value chains - and the types of business models used.

So this confusion or divergence of views on what the term “innovation” actually means may well have hindered the Australian business environment from moving forward.

And here is the second reason. Many believe that Australian businesses stifle innovation by taking a highly risk averse approach.

I hear many stories from Australian business leaders and managers on a daily basis - that while they encourage innovative ideas and solutions to filter up to senior management– by the time they filter up – they are totally de-risked and lack creativity.

It may well be that the culture of many Australian organisation’s across the corporate, government and community sectors has caused managers to strip away any innovation found in new ideas – rendering solutions that are weak, limited in scope and impotent.

In short, Australian businesses may well be challenged by not having the knowledge and skills to build organisational cultures which promote and support innovation.

Let me move to a third reason which might explain why “innovation” is more of a buzzword that reality.

It is a well-known fact that Australia’s business performance in years gone by has been strong compared to some of its international counterparts. But has this strong performance, particularly in the former "powerhouse" states of Western Australia and Queensland, bred complacency within Australian business?

It might be argued that - since business had been going well in Australia – some businesses simply opted to do more of the same rather than to “innovate”.

So while this may seem like a harsh assessment of the status-quo and acknowledging that there are pockets of innovation in Australian business, it may be that confusion about the meaning of the term “innovation”, a risk-averse business culture and a good dose of complacency have all contributed to innovation being more of a buzzword than reality in Australian business.

Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Skills to Effective Networking
11 May 2016
Skills to Effective Networking Chloe Vellinga

Networking - it is an extremely helpful skill to have, but talking about yourself to a complete stranger is not something that comes naturally for most people.

Skills to Effective Networking

by Chloe Vellinga 11 May 2016
Walking up to someone at a work function or conference and introducing yourself means stepping out of your comfort zone, but according to Emotional Intelligence Institute Director Rachel Green AFAIM, there are certain techniques and strategies you can use to become a successful networker.

First, you need to go to the right places and know what you want to achieve.

“What happens is that people often just pop out and say ‘alright I am just going out networking’ and they go to the place that is nearest to them or the place where they like the people or that fits in with their diary,” Ms Green said.

“Other people often say they are at a networking event to have a good time and I say ‘you could go down to the pub for that’, while some others just do it to meet nice people.

“Networking is about getting known and it is about managing who knows you.”

According to Ms Green the first step to effective networking is to have a goal –

Why are you there, what are you hoping to achieve and how will these people help you achieve your work goals.

Then use this goal to develop a networking strategy that works for you. But how do you approach someone in a large room at a networking function? Ms Green suggests the fade-in approach.

“I find that people are really awkward about breaking into groups,” she said.

“You can walk into a networking room and it is full of people and they are all in huddles. One of the things I recommend is that you just fade into a group, find a gap between the people and walk into it.

“You don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to suddenly stop the group and introduce yourself, you can just fade in.

“Somebody will almost certainly look at you, [which] means you are accepted and then you can join in the conversation or stop and introduce yourself; whatever you most feel like you need to do.

From there the connection is built and the networking begins.

The next step is to find a common passion or interest with the person or group you are talking to.

“Are you both ballroom dancers or do you both go skydiving or do you both read Harry Potter books? It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is something in common that you share,” Ms Green said.

“Once you find that common ground you can build the relationship, so it doesn’t matter if the other person is younger or older, female or male, a CEO or a junior clerk.

“I believe 100 per cent networking is a skill you can learn and once you have learnt how to break into a group, how to make conversations interesting and how to get people to open up to you, then the key is how to stay connected afterwards.

“A lot of networking conferences and meetings are just a starting point; it is what happens afterwards that shows whether you are practicing correct networking or not.”

Rachel Green's checklist to successful networking

Things to do before you go to a networking event

  • Set yourself a target number of people to meet
  • Review what you want to achieve
  • Think of five open-ended questions to ask

Items to take with you

  • Your own business cards
  • A large, easy to read name badge

Things to do when you get back

  • Sort out all the business cards and details collected
  • Keep notes on important people
  • Write the date of the next event in your diary
  • Remember to keep in relevant, personal and timely contact to build the relationship.
ChloeVellinga

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

Leadership of Sport:Is it Any Different?
28 April 2016
Leadership of Sport:Is it Any Different? Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

Some would argue that the issues and challenges encountered by leaders within sporting organisations are no different to those experienced by other industries.

Leadership of Sport:Is it Any Different?

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 28 April 2016
My experience in talking to leaders of professional sporting organisations, however, is that - that these organisations do in fact present some of the same issues and challenges as well as a raft of unique and different challenges.

It is true to say that professional sporting organisations, like all other organisations, involve leading and communicating with people and all function at some level within particular frameworks - for example - legal, economic, sociocultural and political frameworks.

And like leaders in other industries, leaders operating in a sporting context face a rapidly changing and increasing technological society.

Let me describe a few of the issues and challenges that might be more unique to the sporting world.

The Strong Emotional Attachment of Stakeholders
Many sporting organisations operate within a high-profile and highly visible public environment with multiple stakeholders who are exceptionally interested in - and often emotionally attached to the organisation.

It is often that emotional attachment of stakeholders including members and fans that helps to differentiate a sporting organisation from other organisations.

Media Attention
Competitive sports teams typically attract significant media attention on a very frequent basis and sports leaders must be able to deal effectively with issues that create news - that can travel around the world almost instantly.

Public Relations
Leaders in sporting organisations must be constantly vigilant about every component of their organisation relative to effective public relations. One negative incident or crisis may take years of public relations work to overcome.

And increasingly, sporting leaders are required to steer through very public issues such as substance abuse, ethical misconduct and occasional criminal behaviour of employees or players –through what appears to be an increasingly litigious operating environment.

Rapid Change Required!
There is a general expectation in the broader community that sports organisations must lead change, or produce a significant organisational turnaround within exceptionally short timeframes – for example, there is an expectation from fans or members that a disastrous season one year will be turned around the next year.

Personal Integrity
And finally, in a results-oriented world of competition, with an exceptionally pronounced emphasis on being the winner, there are many situations in which sports leaders, employees and players are faced with situations in which they are challenged to maintain their personal integrity and values in light of pressure to produced what internal and external stakeholders consider the desired results.

Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Understanding the Older Workforce
31 March 2016
Understanding the Older Workforce Keren Smedley FAIM

It’s not unusual for people of 50+ years of age to be facing a number of conflicting dilemmas, both personal and professional, in the workplace. Many of my coaching clients are in this age bracket and they often raise issues related to their age.

Understanding the Older Workforce

by Keren Smedley FAIM 31 March 2016
It’s not unusual for people of 50+ years of age to be facing a number of conflicting dilemmas, both personal and professional, in the workplace. Many of my coaching clients are in this age bracket and they often raise issues related to their age.

So, what are the changes in society and in the workplace that affect this group? It’s important to understand them whether you’re in that age bracket, managing an older worker, or working alongside one.

Born in a different time

Men and women in their 50’s, 60’s and now into their early 70’s can find themselves unsettled at work. It’s an interesting time in their lives. They are no longer ‘youthful’ and in this age-obsessed culture may not feel they are of any interest, but neither are they old enough to be put out to grass. They truly are in between. 

Born into a more traditional world, men were the main breadwinners and, although many women worked, they often took long breaks to rear children as their careers were not considered of equal value to men’s. Male jobs were for life, as were relationships. Divorce was uncommon and so were stepparents.  Many now find themselves single or supporting second or third families. This unexpected financial burden means that their superannuation will not cover their retirement and they are left either facing a life of poverty or having to work later than they expected.

Men and women were expected to assume certain roles and follow a set path throughout their lives. There was a fixed age for retirement and organisations asked people to leave when they reached this age. Most didn’t expect to reach their 80s so retirement was a limited phase. For some this means that their superannuation pot won’t stretch far enough if they retire in their late fifties or early to mid sixties. It is therefore important that they work even if it isn’t full time.

Unexpected responsibilities

People in their late 50’s and 60’s certainly didn’t expect to have their own parents still alive and possibly requiring care. Sadly many elderly parents’ physical and mental health deteriorates as they age. They can no longer manage by themselves and they look to their children to support them. This is not easy for ‘children’. Watching your parents slowly age and become infirm is both emotionally and physically draining.

Alongside this many are supporting their children both financially and with childcare. Grandparents are the most popular form of childcare in Australia. According to the Bureau of Statistics 837,000 children in 2014 were looked after weekly by their grandparents. This responsibility in later life can make flexibility of working arrangements an essential element for older workers. 

Technology

The workplace has changed dramatically. Technological changes have been phenomenal. Computers, the Internet, email and mobile phones have brought with them 24/7 demands and expectations of immediacy.  A global economy is the norm and no one thinks twice about working internationally.

Most 50+ workers have done pretty well at adapting to fast-paced change, technology and globalisation, but for some it has been a strain. They worry that they will not be able to meet the next challenge, learn to use the next bit of technology, or generally keep up.

It is easy at times especially in the workplace to avoid dealing with issues that are really simply solved. It’s important individuals speak up when they feel stuck and ask for help. Alongside this, managers need to talk one to one with anyone who is clearly struggling and offer them small group, or individual tuition. Most older people are fast learners when their learning style is taken into account and they are helped to feel confident.

Education

It was less common for people to go to university in the 1960s and 1970s. Older workers, even senior managers, are less likely to have the same standard of professional or academic qualifications as some of their younger colleagues. The fear of being ‘caught out’ is palpable for some. For others, it traps them in jobs they don’t want, as they don’t have the paper qualifications needed to move. Many have bosses who are younger than them and are working with people the same age as their children. This brings all sorts of tensions.

Fear that they’re unable to learn as effectively as young people and worries about ‘losing their memory’ can mean older workers lack self-confidence in their ability to learn new information and skills, particularly when having to do so within a group of younger people. This lack of confidence can undermine performance and the willingness to ask for help.  From my experience one to one coaching is extremely beneficial in enabling people to overcome their fears and to learn to value their experience and wisdom and to feel secure enough to ask for help when it’s needed.

Communication

In many organisations today hierarchy is less defined, with more colleagues able to have a say in the decisions that are being made.  This brings with it some negatives - office politics!  Older workers may rightly want to influence the environment and as such, may need assistance with learning new interpersonal skills such as assertiveness, so they can stand up for themselves when the change isn’t good for them and they want to offer their opinion to the bosses.

It’s really important that older workers don’t expect to be treated differently just because they are older, possibly wiser and have been around the block. On the other hand their experience and wisdom shouldn’t be discounted.

 As the pension age rises, so does the number of older workers in the workforce. Successful businesses will leverage the value of older workers and understand the issues that affect them in order for productivity and harmony to be maintained.

KerenSmedley

Keren Smedley FAIM runs Experience Matters offering coaching and workshops to empower the 50+. Email keren@experiencematters.org.uk or visit www.experiencematters.org.uk

Privilege and Participation
02 March 2016
Privilege and Participation Jack McGinn

Generation Y will revive Australia’s pioneering spirit in the coming years in the face of significant cultural change, according to Federal Social Services Minister, the Hon Christian Porter MP.

Privilege and Participation

by Jack McGinn 02 March 2016
Mr Porter, former Attorney General and Treasurer of Western Australia, was the special guest at an Australian Institute of Management WA Inspirational Leader Series breakfast in Perth in December, where he spoke to a packed house about the notions of privilege and participation in a leadership context.

Using Evelyn Waugh’s literary classic Brideshead Revisited as a reference point, the minister told business leaders that while Australian society had offered tremendous opportunities to many, it was important for leaders not to lose sight of privilege enjoyed to date.

“One of the things that occurs to me in the context of leadership, politics and public policy is that you’ve got to be very careful about the fact that privilege, like the kind we enjoy, can make you smarter, it can bring you wealth and all the accoutrements that wealth brings, but it can also bring you to a kind of stupor,” he said.

“At times I find in the circles we all travel there’s this casual self-satisfaction which attaches to where we’re at and not a lot of questioning as to why we are where we are. “I think the problem there is to confuse privilege’s present existence with a guarantee of future privilege.

Mr Porter said while Australians had often enjoyed the benefit of living in a rich egalitarian, liberal democratic society, which has experienced 26 years of  uninterrupted economic growth, significant change was approaching and more existential questions needed to be asked.

“We need to constantly ask ourselves how we ride these waves of change and avoid floundering in them and, if change is here, which I believe it is, we need to work out in our own society what are the most and least worthy parts of Australian life to feed the good and starve the bad,” he said.

“Everyone’s individual sense of that will change and your answers to those existential questions will differ, but I get the overwhelming sense we don’t ask those questions enough.”

Despite concern over a potential lack of foresight at present, Mr Porter, a new father, said he believed the nation’s young people were smart and well prepared enough to thrive in what he predicted would be a time of significant change.

“I think our kids can be a second great generation of Australian pioneers,” he said.

“They are at the pioneering forefront where they can do completely fabulous and amazing things.

“Ours is a nation founded on complete courage and independence and a pioneering spirit, and I have a sense that became a bit dulled over the last several decades, but I think and hope it’s about to have a rebirth.

“I guess like the old poster said ‘your country needs you’ – it certainly needs all of you but it definitely needs your kids.”

For present-day leaders Mr Porter said the happiest, most satisfied and enlightened people he knew maintained activities outside the scope of regular work.

“It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s a sporting club or being on a committee, it’s friends who spend time travelling to Asia to build homes for people in need – just people who do something outside their immediate concerns,” he said.

“I must say the thesis that they are the happiest people holds true to the man and the woman.”

A qualified lawyer whose father and grandfather were both Liberal Party stalwarts, Mr Porter said working with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had instilled a new spirit in the ranks of government.

“He comes from an entrepreneurial culture where, unlike in legal cultures, failure is a part of success,” he said.

“It gives you the scar tissue and the learning and experience to go on and do amazing things.”

And while there may be big change ahead for the Australian people, the minister said he hoped such attitudes could be instilled outside the walls of parliament as well.

“We need to be careful we don’t assume privilege will last forever,” he said.

“While we have privilege we need to make it endure and absolutely make sure it doesn’t rob us of our public spirit, our spirit of adventure, our spirit of trying to do things outside ourselves and our desire and willingness to take risks and sometimes fail.”

Jack McGinn

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

The 5 Mistakes 73% of Wellness Programs Make
22 January 2016
The 5 Mistakes 73% of Wellness Programs Make Eoghan McKenna

Health and wellbeing programs are becoming commonplace. In order of importance, the workplace is matched only by the education system as the most significant setting to address chronic disease and promote wellness.

The 5 Mistakes 73% of Wellness Programs Make

by Eoghan McKenna 22 January 2016
The many benefits of health and wellbeing programs are well documented but organisations are often unsure how to implement a successful program and how they can engage high risk employees. The 5 points below are the most common mistakes made by organisations.

No initial research
Many organisations do little or no initial research or needs assessment. How can you have any impact if you don’t know what the actual organisational needs? Programs are soft and cuddly and don’t really have a clear WHY and SMART goals. Build the foundations first.

No metrics
This is the biggest and most common error. Why implement something if you cannot measure its impact. Organisations spend a lot of money on health and wellbeing programs but often have no metrics, or have metrics that are irrelevant to what the organisation actually needs.

Low Engagement
Healthy people will generally participate in health and wellbeing initiatives, so how will you get the unhealthy individuals involved? These are your most at risk so their involvement is essential. Consult them and see what motivates them.

No Management support

The most successful wellbeing programs have the involvement and participation of all levels of management. This does not mean senior executives are marathoners, but it does mean they are seen to participate in the program and endorse employee participation.

Not relevant or realistic
If you have a workforce that is labour intensive, providing exercise as the main part of your program will prove difficult, especially if they work 10-12 hour days. You need to focus on the realistic solutions. The same goes for providing work lunches with pastry, meat pies and sausage roll or having unhealthy vending machines in the workplace. Make it easy for employees to participate and make the right choices.
EoghanMcKenna

Eoghan McKenna is Managing Director of Logic Health, a physical health and injury risk specialist consulting firm. He has worked alongside some of Australia’s largest organisations to assist them to drive down unnecessary costs associated with ill health and sprain and strain injuries. www.logichealth.com.au

"Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader"
04 November 2015
"Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader" Andrea Walters AFAIM

Being a reader across a broad range of subjects is essential for those aspiring to, or currently in, leadership positions.

"Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader"

by Andrea Walters AFAIM 04 November 2015

Why is reading so important?

Reading provides insights from fields outside our own experience and expertise that can be applied in new ways. A great example is the impact the field of Mindfulness is having on individuals and on leadership in organisations now that the benefits and practices are more widely understood.

Not only does reading improve our cognitive skills; it increases our knowledge, extends our vocabulary, broadens our perspective, requires focus and reduces stress.

Whether we’re reading books, articles, blogs or magazines, this additional information provides us with credible evidence for our projects, strategies, and plans. Equally importantly, comparative reading challenges pre-existing ideas, providing us with a more complete understanding of subjects and generating healthy debate.

The title of this article is a quote from Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1860), a nineteenth century transcendentalist. Her views on reading and leadership are supported by many other respected figures.

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), former US president believed “Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.”

During his life, Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs was an avid reader and through his love of books, gained perspective and pleasure. According to Business Insider Australia among the books that most affected him are: William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’; Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick’; ‘The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas’; ‘Diet for a Small Planet’ by Frances Moore Lappe;‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda; ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’ by Shunryu Suzuki and Clayton M. Christensen’s ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’.

So how do I go about reading more?

There are numerous ways to increase your reading and encourage others in your organisation to do the same. One way is to make a few shelves or a bookcase available at work; somewhere with shared access. You can start the library small by adding a few books that you’ve already read and encouraging others to bring in books that they have found stimulating for others to read.

It may help to keep a record of borrowing on the shelves. This isn’t about trust; rather it allows you to see who’s read the same books as you so you can discuss them. You can also find people who’ve finished a book that you’re considering reading and check whether they would recommend it to you. It’s certainly a conversation starter.

Another option is to join a book club near you. Whilst reading is predominantly a solitary occupation, it can also be a great form of social stimulation and team building. Book Clubs are very popular in Australia today, whether purely for pleasure, or for professional development. They range in frequency, level of formality, complexity of book selection and depth of analysis. It’s good to decide what you want from a book club and look for one that suits your style. Sometimes book clubs operate by invitation only – so, put your interest in reading and joining a book club ‘out there’ by mentioning it to friends and colleagues. If you can’t find one that appeals to you; or it’s not happening quickly enough, then you may decide to start your own book club!

The benefits of book clubs

Being part of a book club challenges us to step out of our comfort zone and read genres, subjects and authors that we may never have contemplated, or even known about. This is especially true of the more challenging books that we may otherwise skip over when making our book selections.

We are encouraged to look for and apply the ‘so what?’ factor. Reading builds knowledge, but real learning and wisdom comes from ‘doing’. Reading, when action follows, affects real change.

You can read with your ears!

Another way of increasing your reading is to listen to audio-books, online interviews, or podcasts during your daily commute, and on the way to meetings.

Many people prefer the portability and cost-effectiveness of e-books and audio books and there is a lot of benefit from simply soaking up content from an audio-book without needing to annotate. If you like to make notes in the margin, good e-readers have note-making capabilities.

And never fear, traditional ‘paper, ink and glue’ book-lovers like myself can take comfort in the words of Stephen Fry who proclaims, “Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” So, there’s room for all of us!

It’s usually the books we re-read (or re-hear) that have the most impact on us; so if there’s a book that you have particularly enjoyed, take some time to reflect, and then read or listen to it all over again.

On a final note, we learn so much from reading: we can travel the globe and time experiencing other centuries, cultures and traditions; we lose ourselves in mystical places; we have our hearts broken, and mended, and we discover new interests.

And very importantly for busy leaders “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” Charles William Eliot (1869 – 1909), former Harvard University President.

Andrea Walters

Andrea Walters AFAIM is Director, Personal Membership Services at the Australian Institute of Management in WA with responsibility for delivering a diverse range of professional development and networking services to members. These include professional events (such as the AIM WA Business Book Club), the Member Mentor Program and various online management development resources and partner services.

WA's Silver Bullet. It’s not technology - It’s Our People.
23 October 2015
WA's Silver Bullet. It’s not technology - It’s Our People. Darren Harlock AIMM

Western Australia faces significant challenges to remain competitive, but our secret weapon won’t come in the form of new technology. Instead, we need to focus on the greatest forgotten driver of productivity in the workplace: our people.

WA's Silver Bullet. It’s not technology - It’s Our People.

by Darren Harlock AIMM 23 October 2015

Measuring competitiveness in a global economy

It’s no secret that a variety of external factors are beginning to hurt the WA economy: in recent months, the media have reported a variety of doomsday predictions from sectors from resources to housing and finance.

The external factors confronting us - primarily severely depreciated resource prices and rapidly softening demand from large buyers in particular China - are out of our control. Additionally, our international competitors are increasingly able to provide a similar level of product, at a much cheaper price. We must seemingly do more, with less, to be able to remain competitive.

‘Efficiency’ or doing more with less

Efforts to improve efficiency in skills-dominated industries typically revolve around improvements to systems and processes. But while it’s true, new technologies can boost utilisation of resources, they typically only amount to single-digit improvements in output productivity.

Taking this a step further, any boost to international competitiveness from these improvements is inherently short-term in nature, as any technology of sufficient impact will soon be exported, sold, shared or otherwise copied by our friends and competitors. As such, while new technologies are to be welcomed, over the medium to long-term they act as a tide that raises all boats - not just our own. The net result is no specific comparative benefit for our local economy.

Contrary to the usual hyperbole around machines taking our jobs, as our economy matures from production and manufacturing to a more service-centred economy and processes are systemised and automated, people become more important than ever before.

The single biggest area we can improve: re-evaluating how we hire

 ‘Drucker and others have pegged hiring success at 50 percent. Imagine what productivity would be unleashed and how great our teams would be if we got success 90 percent of the time? There’s very little else that could provide the same level of return.’

Maynard Webb, Chairman at Yahoo! and former COO at eBay

This statement might seem a throwaway line until you consider it in detail: compare the most engaged and productive team member you have, to someone who just turns up each day to tick the box. The difference in their output, and their contribution to the surrounding company culture, far exceeds single digit increases - indeed, it’s not unusual for a truly engaged employee to contribute twice as much or more than one who is merely a passenger, preserving their income level for a bare minimum contribution.

What does ‘success’ look like in hiring?

There has been consensus in the scientific literature for some time that hiring for fit rather than skills produces measurably better results for job satisfaction, engagement, retention, productivity and output over time. It’s cheaper, safer and more productive to hire for will and train for skill, than it is to hire an expert with poor fit and attempt to change their core motivation.

For too long, our hiring mechanisms have focussed on the exact opposite; prioritising resumes, CVs and qualifications above all else. In short, we screen out the vast majority of our potential talent pool before we even give them a fair chance. In WA this effect is arguably magnified as the focus on skilled engineers over time means we end up hiring the same people in the same roles, despite the market changing.

Forward thinking companies have already started to glean major benefits by prioritising diversity and fit in hiring. Ernst & Young have stopped focusing on academic results in the UK due to lack of correlation with the success of candidates, and Google recently switched tack after concluding their brainteasers and behavioural interview questions predominately measured applicant preparation and speaking skills rather than likely on the job performance.

Technology has also enabled new approaches that weren’t possible in the past and are designed to measure what matters for future success in the workplace accurately, quickly and cost effectively online. These mechanisms can help reduce unconscious bias in hiring and develop more diverse, productive, and efficient teams in your workplace.

Using our comparative advantage

Western Australia has unique access to a community of skilled, experienced, and diverse people from around the world - but we must update our approach to hiring if we are to make full use of this advantage. If we can focus as a team on getting the right people in the right roles to match their intrinsic motivators, it will be a massive step toward sustaining an efficient, globally competitive state.

If we can do that, everybody wins.

Darren Harlock Square

Darren Harlock AIMM is co-founder at Covocate.com, a Perth-based tech startup that provides flat rate online algorithm based job candidate screening for $99 per hire. He is a tech enthusiast and advocate for honesty, integrity and engagement in the workplace.

Retrenching With Compassion
11 September 2015
Retrenching With Compassion Brian Briscoe FAIM

Employers risk ruining their brands by not handling this powerfully.

Retrenching With Compassion

by Brian Briscoe FAIM 11 September 2015

“Winter is Coming”.

Jon Snow is both pragmatic and pessimistic as he warns the world of what is in store in the very popular TV show Game of Thrones. Whilst warmer weather and bright spring mornings are re-entering our worlds, if you are one of the tens of thousands of West Australian workers who have lost their job in the last 12-18 months, winter probably feels like it is hanging around a while longer this year.

The last year has seen more redundancies than we have ever experienced in a single year in Western Australia over the last 25 years. Downsizing, rationalisations and redundancies have happened across so many industries; it seems the resource downturn touches every other sector as well as its own. Government, utilities, contractors, manufacturing, retail, service industries have all been impacted.

Large Perth employers are shedding staff to stay competitive in these testing times and medium and small businesses are also copying to keep up. Whilst this is a time of stress, anxiety, discomfort (and perhaps opportunity for fresh starts), we do get to see the best and worst of how organisations handle this delicate situation.

Culling is a natural part of the cycle

Culling is a natural part of nature, in all walks of life. In the labour market, the cull is a very definite part of the cycle. It brings reality to the market (often a stark one for many people), increases affordability as prices drop, it allows for the economy to re-emerge as fortunes turn. But culling in a labour market needs to be done without “turfing” a loyal employee on the streets without any support going forward, or leaving a person hopeless and hapless. And it needs to be done without ruining your own employer brand; or giving what has had a long upbringing, a quick death. Redundancies don’t need to look like a Game of Thrones scene. They won’t be sunny affairs, but should have honour, support and just as importantly, involve mindfulness for those who are left in the organisation.

Why?

The painstaking work done to elevate an organisation’s employer brand can be ruined in a few weeks if this highly emotional process is mishandled. Remaining employees will judge the way their former colleagues are treated when they are retrenched and in the age of technology and online business / social networking, bad news has never travelled faster.

Whilst organisations may not think it matters in a time like this, think again! Your ability to survive and prosper during a difficult time like this will depend on the engagement and passion of your best performers.

News spreads like wildfire

Retrenched employees will readily communicate to their network how well or how badly their exit process was handled.  The news of a badly managed program spreads like wildfire, and can reduce employee morale if they know their ex-colleagues have been mistreated. The biggest fear for any victim of redundancy is how to go about seeking their next role, particularly in a market like we have at the moment. Many have never had to hunt for a job in earnest.

So, perhaps there are two reasons to retrench with some sensitivity – to be humane to the departing, and clever to the surviving. If the survivors watch with trepidation the cull of their colleagues, they may mentally run for the hills even though, physically, they remain on the payroll. Your ‘live’ wood becomes dead wood – wasn’t that one thing you wanted to solve with a reduction in numbers in the first place?

Outplacement

Think about timing. Think about redeployment opportunities. Think about notice periods. Most of all, think about an Outplacement service. We are astonished as to how many employers either don’t know about such a service, or choose to ignore it if they do. Most of the reputable outplacement providers offer various levels of support, at various price points, so there should be at least the budget for a basic service if nothing more. It gives the employee a lifeline after receiving the ill-timed news.

There’s no doubt that cost management is paramount to survive in any economic cycle, but not at the expense of losing your best people’s hearts and minds. Again, we are not referring to those who leave, but those who stay to protect you against the storm you are currently in. The key to keeping your stars is harnessing the creativity, intelligence and energy of your best human capital; creating a healthy workplace culture where employees feel respected, valued and motivated to succeed. This includes showing the honour, respect and support to victims of redundancies.

In an economic sense, you cannot avoid the fact that “Winter is Coming”, you cannot lament from the feeling that the wall you built to protect yourself from the enemy doesn’t look as big and sturdy as you once thought it was. But you can control how motivated your army is to take the battle on – that’s what you need to focus on. Spring will be here soon, have your best people smiling as it does, and by your side.

Brian Briscoe Small_Square

Brian Briscoe FAIM, Briscoe Search & Consulting. Briscoe Search specialises in outplacement services, executive search and talent consulting for a myriad of blue chip organisations.

Have you got your Mental Health First Aid?
25 August 2015
Have you got your Mental Health First Aid? Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

45% increase in stress related workers compensation

Have you got your Mental Health First Aid?

by Melitta Hardenberg AIMM 25 August 2015
Employers today face a very real and very daunting reality; they will (if not already) have to prepare themselves for stress related absenteeism. In Western Australia alone there has been a 45% increase in stress related workers compensation in the last 12 months. The problem is very real, according to the Mental Health Commission, one in five Australians are suffering from a mental illness at any given time and one in two Australians will be diagnosed with a mental health concern in their lifetime. It is highly likely that most managers will supervise someone with a mental health problem during their management career.

It is the fastest growing health epidemic in the developed world. In Australia, stress related absenteeism results in 27 days of lost productivity for every person cited to be absent for stress related illnesses. Nine of those are for sick leave and 18 days for ‘presenteeism’ (when workers show up to work but are unable to perform at full capacity due to illness). Stress related illness is estimated to cost Australian business $28b in lost wages and productivity each year.

Employee Wellbeing. Why it’s so important

The companies leading the way and reducing stress related illness are investing in employee wellbeing. So much so it features as a key metric in employee engagement surveys. Global Professional Services Company, Towers Watson, revealed companies with not only high engagement but also high employee wellbeing outperform companies with high engagement alone. This outperformance is on every business measure, profit per share, productivity, absenteeism, you name it, the list goes on.

On measures of wellbeing Australians lead the way in financial wellbeing, however 75% of Australians say they are struggling with physical wellbeing and purpose. Purpose wellbeing can be described as ‘you like what you do every day, you learn or do something interesting every day’. A recent global wellbeing report from Gallup, show when these two elements of wellbeing work together, high physical wellbeing enables purpose wellbeing. It does this by providing the energy and focus to support individual performance on tasks that are important to people. Concurrently, high purpose wellbeing helps people set priorities and focus on values like health and wellness. They are so interconnected it is hard to separate; yet Australians perform the worst on these measures of wellbeing.

Furthermore the new generation entering the workforce state purpose as one of the most important criteria for job selection and satisfaction. In order to employee this generation employers better know how to tap into purpose.

How can you future proof your business?

Invest in wellbeing measures.

If you are measuring engagement, measure wellbeing. Measure the key areas of wellbeing being physical, mental, purpose, financial, & community. You can either measure this through formal channels such as surveys, or via more organic means, like in conversations.

Promote Movement

Sitting is the new smoking! We now sit more than we move (sitting 9.5 hours per day and sleeping 7.3 hours per day). Find ways to help your employees move more, whether that’s through adopting corporate challenges, walking meetings, or lunch time yoga classes. Whatever you do, just move more.

Know your strengths – and theirs

Employees with high ‘purpose’ wellbeing have an opportunity to learn something every day and have an opportunity to do what they do best every day. These employees are also 50% more engaged in their work and have higher discretionary effort. So, how do you help your employees to ramp up their purpose? Know their strengths. When you are having performance & career conversations get to know where your employees shine, when they are at their best, and ask them how the team can leverage. Spend more time developing their strengths and helping them manage around their gaps. The more your employees play to their strengths, the higher their purpose wellbeing and their engagement.

Promote work life integration

Work life balance is a topic that almost every company is tackling, yet no one doing well. The challenge here is that what balance means to one person means something different to another. The definition of balance is that of equality, that the parts are evenly distributed. Work and life will never be evenly distributed, so it becomes less about balance and more about integration. The key here is to know your employees, know what integration means for them. They might be happy to work 70 hours per week, but miss football training two afternoons per week and the scales tip. The key for integration is working with individual employees on how they can integrate life with work and work with life.

With such a sharp rise in stress related workers compensation, you can’t afford not to care. Companies who tackle wellbeing are reaping the financial and productivity benefits.

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM, founder of Fit & Focused, is extensively experienced in building an organization of 'exceptional thinkers' who make better decisions faster, are more engaged, and bring a healthy mind, body and attitude to work.

How to Get the Job Done
30 July 2015
How to Get the Job Done Emma Williams

Doing some homework before a job interview can help avoid fluffing your lines and blowing your chances.

How to Get the Job Done

by Emma Williams 30 July 2015

The problem with first impressions is you only get to make one of them, which is why interviews can seem so daunting.

When you get called up for an interview, you want to make sure you have the answers to really ‘wow’ your interviewer. The last thing you want is to stumble or ramble through your answer.

However, it can be difficult to keep those nerves at bay and answer the tough questions. Paul O’Loughlin, from O’Loughlin Recruitment, recommends candidates treat it not as an interview, but as a meeting.

“Most people are experienced in meetings. Treat it as a meeting where you are going in to gain more knowledge of the role and organisation to discern whether it is right for you,” O’Loughlin says.

Know your subject matter

O’Loughlin suggests when you go into a meeting, go in prepared and know your subject matter extensively. You should also apply this commitment to your interview, having thoroughly researched not only the company, but also the person who will be asking the questions.

O’Loughlin says you also need to be acutely aware of your own experiences and have some answers ready. He says interviewers are not just looking at the content of your answer, but the way in which you respond.

Prepare your responses

Body language, stuttering and rambling can all negatively detract from your professional image.

“Prepare yourself for the difficult questions. Get someone to sit down with you before the interview, get them to ask relevant questions.

“The classic question is what are your strengths, and if a candidate stumbles with that, if they’re not prepared or don’t have that self-awareness, all is lost.”

On the flip side to that is the dreaded “tell us your greatest weakness” question.

O’Loughlin says it is important to put a positive spin on your weakness, show that you’re aware of the problem and how you overcome it. “If you say, ‘I’m a workaholic’ you give the impression that you’ll burn out. However, if you say something like, ‘I have a really strong work ethic but I have a problem delegating. To counteract this I make sure I delegate to the right people who I can trust to get the right results’,” he says.

According to O’Loughlin, you need to paint a clear picture of your qualifications by having real-life examples at the ready. Real-life examples show the interviewer how you react to different situations and illustrate how you can adapt your skills to suit their organisation.

O’Loughlin warns the worst response you can give is, “I’ve never thought about that”. He says people often feel they need to jump straight into an answer; instead, he suggests candidates take a couple of moments to gather their thoughts before answering a question they’re not 100 per cent confident with.

Don’t rush your answers

“If you want to think about a question, sit back for three seconds. Three seconds may seem like a lifetime in an interview, but it may give you the opportunity to articulate your thoughts in a really concise way rather than getting tongue-tied,” he says.

Emma Williams is a journalist at Mt. She won the Gordon Burgoyne memorial Prize for Journalism in her final year of studies at the University of Canberra and has an interest in the impact of social media on business.

Poor Form
16 July 2015
Poor Form Jane Caro

The Trials and Tribulations of Paperwork.

Poor Form

by Jane Caro 16 July 2015

By nature I am really quite a sunny person. My moods are fairly even and I generally approach life with equanimity. There is, however, one thing that is guaranteed to make me grumpy, frustrated and cross.

Forms. I hate, loathe, detest and abhor filling in forms. In my entire working life I am proud to say I have never generated a form and never asked anyone to fill one in. How I wish I could say the same about the rest of the world. These days, it seems that whenever you enter into any kind of business relationship with an organisation, however fleeting, the first thing they do is send you a barrage of forms to be completed – often so you can be paid!

What is particularly infuriating is that the forms often merely require you to provide the information that is already on your invoice. What is usually happening, therefore, is that the large organisation [presumably with a fully staffed accounts department] is asking the sole trader [who by definition must do everything themselves] to do the work required to comply with the large organisation’s processes for them – unpaid! This behaviour is now so common it has even acquired a name – cost shifting.

What’s even worse than forms, however, is forms that don’t work. I recently filled in a form for one organisation eight times. I repeat, eight times! They then belatedly discovered that there was a glitch in the link they sent me. No-one will pay me for the time I spent doing this or the wear and tear, not just on my psyche but on that of my family as I swore, fulminated and threw things across the room in frustration. My long-suffering computer took a bit of a battering too.

And then there are signatures. Signatures don’t really work anymore with our technology. If a signature is required, forms must be printed, signed, scanned and emailed and more (unpaid and unproductive) time is wasted.

I am not the only person who has noticed the deadening effect of all this process, either. Deloitte recently released a report Get out of your own way: Unleashing Productivity that details how red tape [usually in the form of forms] costs Australia $250 billion every year in lost profit and productivity. The report also exploded some stereotypes. Far from the public sector being the worst culprits when it comes to bureaucracy and red tape, it was the private sector that was generating the vast majority of this self-imposed burden – double the amount of the public sector. According to this ground-breaking report (the first of its kind in the world, apparently) middle managers and senior executives waste 8.9 hours a week on complying and other employees 6.4 hours. No wonder workplace morale is plummeting.

Deloitte is taking its own advice, asking its employees to nominate the dumbest rules in their own organisation – an excellent first step, if you ask me. [Mind you, I couldn’t help wondering if they asked them to fill in a form about it.] As a sole trader myself, however, there is little I can do to fight back when some great big player decides I must spend some unpaid hours complying with their ponderous processes. I will give you due notice, however. My response has become classically passive aggressive – it’s what the powerless always do in the face of the powerful. I receive your email requesting I fill out the attached forms and then I ignore it. What this forces your staff to do is chase me for compliance – over and over and over again. It’s the only defence I have. If you are determined to waste my time with your stupendously boring and unnecessary forms, the least I can do is waste your time in return.

I think it's called quid pro quo.

Jane Caro Square

Jane Caro writes for AIM Magazine and runs her own communications consultancy. She worked in the ad industry for 30 years, and is now a novelist, author, journalist, speaker, lecturer and media commentator.

A New Vision - What are we selling to China now?
30 June 2015
A New Vision - What are we selling to China now? Tim Harcourt

China has played an important role in Australia's economic development over the past three decades

A New Vision - What are we selling to China now?

by Tim Harcourt 30 June 2015
It’s our largest trading partner, accounting for $141.9 billion (28.2 per cent) of total Australian merchandise trade. In 2013, we imported $47.2 billion from China (19.6 per cent) and we exported $94.7 billion worth of merchandise (a whopping 36.1 per cent). Exports create jobs for Australian workers and China, as our number one export destination, plays an important role in improving conditions in the Australian labour market. Austrade-ACTU-UNSW research shows that on average exporters pay 60 per cent higher wages than non-exporters, provide better occupational health and safety, education and training, employment security and equal employment opportunity for women. China also invests $31.9 billion in Australia.

While iron ore and coal are a big part of the future of the Sino-Australia trade relationship, Australia will move from the mining boom to the dining boom, as our food exports grow and we see more agricultural delegations visit China to build up domestic farm capacity. We can't feed China on our own but we can help China feed itself. Even so, expect "rocks" (resources) to dominate the primary export ledger of "rocks and crops" (resources and agriculture) for some time to come.

The trade relationship won't and it probably doesn't have to move beyond this. Primary industry brings with it associated services in mining equipment, agricultural technology, human capital and education. The proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and China should help in this regard in reducing agricultural tariffs and subsidies and smoothing away tight services regulations. According to the latest DHL survey, most exporters would welcome the FTA with China. In 2014, 61 per cent thought an agreement would benefit their business, 31 per cent thought it would be neutral and only 8 per cent thought it would be negative.

In some ways China's development is as much about urbanisation as it is about globalisation and Australia will play a big role in the servicing of the second and third-tier cities. My Chinese friends tell me that places like Chengdu, Wuhan, Chongqing and Qingdao are "country towns". But when I arrived I realised they are "country towns" of more than 10 million inhabitants. This means opportunity for Australian architects and planners. Consider Place Design Group, which opened an office in Chengdu to meet the insatiable demand for landscape gardening in Sichuan province.

The story of China's structural reform is not only about rural-urban migration but also about the transformation of being a nation of shippers to a nation of shoppers. It wants to rely less on exports and more on domestic consumption and investment. Middle-class incomes are on the rise along with demand for consumer goods once considered a luxury in China. That's why Rheem (hot water) is now based outside Chengdu to service the domestic market and BlueScope Steel is located outside Shanghai to transfer steel locally free of tariffs. Add to this the opportunities in the professional services sector like architecture, landscape design, education and financial services.

Australia's export relationship is more broadly based than people think at first glance. Maybe we should listen more to the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) sector and less to our billionaires when seeing how to succeed in China in the long run. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics' data, more than 5600 SMEs now export to China and more than 3000 are based there and are succeeding. More Australian businesses lose money in the US than in China, and more SMEs export to China than to the whole of Europe.

Tim Harcourt

Tim Harcourt writes for AIM Magazine and is the JW Neville Fellow in Economics at UNSW Business School and author of Trading Places – The Airport Economist's Guide to International Business. He was previously Austrade’s chief economist.

Why Should Anyone Buy From Us?
18 June 2015
Why Should Anyone Buy From Us? Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

"Why should anyone buy from us?" is probably the most fundamental question in business.

Why Should Anyone Buy From Us?

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 18 June 2015
It cuts through the fancy Mission Statement, bypasses the Key Performance Indicators and gets to the real value proposition from the viewpoint of the customer.

Answering this question requires precision. It is easy to take the soft option of offering generalisations such as "our products are better than anyone else's" or "our people provide better service".  These responses are vague, unverifiable and come from the organisation's perspective instead of the customer's.

Examples of better responses would be precise measures of performance that matter to the customer, such as

  • "we are 12% cheaper than the next closest provider of similar quality" or,
  • "our customer feedback results indicate 95% would do business with us again even if we weren't the cheapest provider due to our superior service levels".

In a perfect world, the perfect people to have answer this question are your customers.  If your relationship is strong, their insights will be invaluable. You could even give them some information about the inner workings of your business so they have a greater appreciation of your challenges as well.

If your world is imperfect, then look for others to provide input such as employees, suppliers, Board Members, even academics interested in the forces of competition.

As a simple exercise, write the question on a board or whiteboard in your office and ask everyone who comes in over a one week period to write one answer. By week's end you'll have a rich list of ideas to synthesize into a few short statements that capture your uniqueness in the market.  The responses will help decision making - what to start and stop doing, what unique competencies exist in the business and where the major weaknesses lie.

“Why should anyone buy from us?” is such a simple question that it can connect with everyone in the organisation.  Sometimes the jargon of corporate strategy causes employees to disengage.  This question will be understood by everyone.  Just brace yourself for the answers you receive.  They may not be pretty, but they will be valuable.

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.

7 Habits of Healthy CEO's
02 June 2015
7 Habits of Healthy CEO's Dr John Cummins

What does it take to be at the top of your game?

7 Habits of Healthy CEO's

by Dr John Cummins 02 June 2015

Like all of us, CEOs face the same challenges in life: limited time to achieve all that we need to, constant and predictable demands (family and occupational commitments, body maintenance requirements such as sleep and nutrition) as well as unpredictable demands such as a sudden change in the economy or an illness or change in life circumstance.

Most senior executives recognise that their health is critically important. As Warren Buffett states: “You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck 40 years later. It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate 10, 20 and 30 years from now.”

As a medical practitioner looking after the same CEOs and managers for many years, one gains an insight into their lives and thought processes. After all this time it still never ceases to surprise me how their success can often be, to a large degree, explained, among other things, by some common habits.

The 7 habits of successful business people

Obviously technical competence at their craft so that they are rewarded for their work is critical, but how many people have you seen that have been technically brilliant yet never reached their full potential due to an inability to manage themselves? These are seven habits, not necessarily in any order of priority, that I see consistently utilised by successful business people.

Relationships

CEOs and senior executives have a clear understanding of what is important to them in life and they consistently set aside time and energy in the maintenance and nourishment of those areas. One specific example is that they nurture their primary relationships with their significant other. The divorce rate of those I see is definitely lower than the national average and people are surprised when I say that my clients often have long-lasting, very happy and nourishing relationships. They also nurture their relationships with their offspring, as well as close friends. We know from international studies that one of the predictors of personal wellbeing is a strong sense of social connection, where relationships are prioritized and actively nurtured. Putting energy into them is one habit worth embracing.

Exercise

It is one of the best anti-ageing mechanisms and a critical tool for stress management, avoiding (and if necessary treating) depression and anxiety and often creating a 'mind environment' where creative business ideas can sprout. They do the minimum of 150 minutes a week where they can 'talk but not sing' – if you can sing you are not working hard enough. But mostly they do activities they enjoy or at least don’t mind doing.

Diet

They tend to follow a Mediterranean diet – heavily plant based, red meat once a week, legumes and so on. Why? Because there is very strong medical evidence it helps avoid heart attacks, strokes and may have an impact on reducing some cancers.

Drink

They stay well under the safe alcohol consumption guidelines – seven standard drinks a week for women and 14 for men. Alcohol plays a role in sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, brain disease of various types, some cancers (10 per cent of breast cancers in women internationally), specific forms of heart disease and contributes to mood difficulties. 

Sleep

They get enough sleep – just recently new sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation in the US recommended between seven and nine hours sleep for adults and seven to eight hours for those aged over 65. They manage jet lag and don’t overload their bodies with too many work-related flights.

Attitude

They are great managers of their own minds and are adept at compartmentalising their thinking so they don’t bring their work home. When they are home they are present and not focused on the office. They often refuse to let their minds indulge in negative and destructive thinking patterns, know when they are getting overloaded and take steps to reduce this. They are generally great time managers. For example, they understand the difference between what is important and needs attention versus what appears to be urgent but is not really important and therefore managed in a completely different way.

Advice                 

Many of the very successful people I have come to know have business mentors to bounce ideas off, but in addition they are very careful as to whom they listen to with regards to advice about their health, their finances and any other areas of their lives that are important to them. They are willing to pay well for such advice and are willing to travel to get the best input possible.

Dr John Cummins is medical director at Executive Medicine –www.executivemedicine.com.au and wrote this piece for AIM Magazine

 

sports bag

The Lowdown on Little Data
28 May 2015
The Lowdown on Little Data