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The worlds

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Steve Baxter on how he

DURING CHANGE picks winners and why 47

he feels like an imposter

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on your latest
New Zealands leading property publication Property Press
congratulates Barfoot & Thompson on their well-deserved
International Property Awards, winning Best Real Estate Agency
and Best Lettings Agency for the Asia Pacific region in 2016-17.

Property Press has been successfully listing Barfoot & Thompson

homes since 1985 and we look forward to many more fruitful years
working together.

To see Barfoot & Thompsons current Auckland region properties

and perhaps experience their award-winning service, go to


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Wednesday 15 November 2017

Crown Melbourne

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Michael Derin
CEO & Managing Director
CEO & Founding Partner
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Company Directors

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Australia needs way more

entrepreneurs and start-ups than
weve got. Right now were a nation
that digs stuff out of the ground,
and sells houses to each other.


Find out how Shark Tanks Steve Baxter
became one of Australias most successful
tech entrepreneurs; plus his investments
where are they now?


Would Steve Baxter sink his teeth into
your business? Perhaps so: if you follow
his tips for the perfect investor pitch

6 |


Barfoot & Thompson is commanding
attention on the world stage for its
innovative real estate business, run
from its New Zealand HQ 62
A quick look at a conference worth When theres a skills shortage, how do 74 SIMON HICKEY
attending, the top five places to work, you fill essential roles? Pete Kempshall For a little Aussie company, Campus Living
plus five minutes with the CEO of Cancer suggests its time to adjust your thinking Villages is punching well above its weight
Council Australia, and more
24 KEN SEGALL Norman Disney & Youngs CEO explains Insights from neuroscience can help us
In the lead-up to his talk at this years how its portfolio of projects is designed to understand how our brains deal with
World Business Forum in Sydney, the to improve lives change in the workplace
former creative director of Apples ad
agency reveals why simplicity is best 60 HARNESSING DIGITAL 80 IAN MORRICE
Digital disruption can be unnerving, Representing brands such as IGA, Mitre 10
28 WILL CRIME BE THE END but businesses can learn a thing or and Cellarbrations, Metcash is the face of
OF BITCOIN? two from these test cases successful independent retail in Australia
Jack Marx investigates what might bring
down the modern-day virtual monetary 62 KARIN SHEPPARD 86 MARK DI NOIA
system in the future Karin is the COO of hospitality The managing director of Next shares
giant InterContinental Hotel Group whats in the pipeline for the company
34 LUKE DEAN & in Australasia and Japan, and its
Image of Steve Baxter courtesy of Channel Ten

WALLY MUHIEDDINE a job shes incredibly passionate about 92 THE ISSUE OF TRUST
The creative duo behind Advertising Is it trust or politeness? Ben Bryant
Advantage discuss how they are acting 66 JOHN AHERN reveals how to create a genuinely trusting
on their mutual desire for disruption Meet the InfoTrack CEO who could also corporate culture among your team
be known as the Chief Enjoyment Officer
What do Facebook, Airbnb and Google 70 HOT PROPERTY Sponge diving in Greece, lying about his
Ventures have in common when it comes to Seven hotspots around the world age, dodgy accountants and long-term
embedding innovation in their businesses? presenting exciting opportunities friends this is the inspiring story of
Lets see for private property investors Quality Blow Moulders founder and CEO



Seasonal selection is the name of the
game for Paul McGrath, executive chef
at The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney
Racing Queensland is back in the winners 150 MAN VS WINE
circle under the leadership of its new CEO Patrick Haddock delves into the gin
revolution taking over our bars
A look at how TV streaming is providing The managing director of Seeley Its a relatively unknown brand, but
the perfect platform for smaller producers International is walking in the footsteps Karl Peskett discovers that Alpina has
in global emerging markets of the air-conditioning companys many qualities worth talking about
visionary founder
ManpowerGroups director of Defence 132 LIFESTYLE NEWS How OzHarvests Ronni Kahn is helping
Force Recruiting talks military training A foodie gem, whats trending in interior Australias underprivileged, and getting
and talent scouting design, plus all you need to know about top-level CEOs on her side
the app that will help you charter your
110 DR JIM BENTLEY next private jet 160 LEADERSHIP LESSONS
Hunter Waters new managing director From impoverished young boy in
is positioning the company as a thought 134 OUT & ABOUT communist China to a professional dancer
leader in creating liveable communities A round-up of events and happenings with global acclaim, Li Cunxins story is
of the future across Australia and New Zealand as inspiring as they come. Here he has
during May the last word on business
Learn why understanding the personality 136 SWEET PEAKS: ANDES IN SPIRING T HE BU SIN E S S W O RL D

traits of your team can be advantageous Kristy Barratt explores a magical place
in more ways than one in South America full of mesmerising
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The outgoing CEO of Countplus looks Beyond


CAN HELP PEOPLE Steve Baxter on how he
ISSN 2201-876X

back on his time with a business that loves A Victorian ski field worth putting on your DURING CHANGE picks winners and why 47

he feels like an imposter WAYS LEADERS
Steve Baxter on how he

9 772201 876005

$19.95 incl. GST. Issue 69, May, 2017 DURING CHANGE picks winners and why 47

he feels like an imposter

9 772201 876005

changing peoples lives for the better radar for an adventure-filled getaway
$19.95 incl. GST. Issue 69, May, 2017

Image courtesy of Channel Ten

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Editors letter

inston Churchill
said to improve
is to change; to
be perfect is to
change often.
I must be erring
on the side of
perfection (despite an abundance of modesty, as a leader, prepare your people for upcoming/
clearly), with the amount of change Ive inevitable change? We reveal the four simple
experienced in the past six months. Not content steps in our feature All in the Mind on page 78.
with the wonderful life I had created on the I, on the other hand, feel very fortunate that
other side of the world, one I had enjoyed for I didnt need such steps when I joined the
nearly 20 years, I decided to return to Sydney to incredibly talented team at The CEO Magazine
start all over again. Why? Well, why not, I asked and proposed we make a few changes to the very
myself. A change, as they say, is as good as a rest. issue you hold in your hands. My suggestions
And while Im not nearly as rested as werent just accepted; they were embraced
Id hoped to be, I feel more energised and wholeheartedly, and Id like to sincerely thank
exhilarated than ever. Because I find change, each and every staff member (I wont list them
for the most part, does that. It requires you to individually, but you can see all their names over
hit that reset button and suddenly youre seeing the page) for welcoming me so warmly and
life through clearer, brighter, shinier eyes. being so open to my ideas. I look forward to
Thats not to say all change is welcomed so making many more exciting changes with them
readily, particularly when youre not in control (wait til you see what we have planned for next
of it. New insights from neuroscience reveal month). Until then, enjoy the issue.
our brains are actually prediction machines that
dislike most kinds of change, particularly when
the person asked to accept it has no choice in
the matter. This can become a real issue when
employees are asked to embrace organisational
change when theyre unaware or uncertain of Susan Armstrong
the companys objectives or goals. How do you, Editor-in-Chief

TALK TO ME... @TheCEOMagazineAustralia @CEOMagazineAU company/the-ceo-magazine @theceomagazineAU TheceomagazineAustralia



Editor-in-Chief Susan Armstrong
Features Editor Sanchia Pegley Art Direction & Design Caitlin Bertinshaw, Anna Davi
Assistant Editor Skye Hoklas,
Journalists Bonnie Gardiner, Christine McClatchie, Wendy Kay Graphic Designer Keelan Witton,, Production Manager Ciara Evans
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Charles Hill Ethan McLaughlin
Lynelle Nevin James Walmsley


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Anna Warmus-Pavone

General Manager, EMEA Teddy Alexander
Regional Manager, EMEA Laura Redmond
Features Editor Emma Wheaton
Finance Manager Viktorija Jocyte
Advertising Traffic Manager Sam Alderwood
IT & Distribution Mark Hornby
Neal Gregory Arman Arya
Leah Agar Chris Wrathall
Amine Bounou Alexa Nemeti
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PETE KEMPSHALL is a freelance

writer and editor with more than
20 years of industry experience.
He is based in Perth and has
KRISTY BARRATT is a lifestyle contributed to a wide range
journalist and editor who writes about of publications both in Australia
everything from luxury travel to interior and the UK.
design. When shes not writing, shes
deciding which country, caf or bar
shell visit next. JACK DELOSA is dedicated to
changing education for entrepreneurs.
An entrepreneur himself, Jack is also
an investor and BRW Young Rich
List member. He is the founder
of The Entourage, Australias
largest community and educator
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journalist. He has written for every
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and his work has been published in
FI BENDALL is the CEOs secret newspapers and magazines in the
weapon, and is considered one of UK, the US and Europe.
Australias most respected thought
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writer, wine show judge, co-owner
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He believes the best wine is the one
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motoring journalist covering anything
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The fourth annual Global Female Leaders summit will take place 79 May in Berlin. More
than 50 inspiring and powerful international speakers will present at the three-day FIVE MINUTES WITH
Economic Forum for Female Executives, which sees high-achieving leaders come together Professor Sanchia Aranda,
to open dialogue and share new perspectives on our societies, organisations and the CEO of Cancer Council Australia
world. A broad range of topics is expected to be covered, including discussions on Big
Data, life science and the society of tomorrow, as well as presentations on digital 1. What makes a good leader? Good leaders set
leadership, smart cities and mobility, and global uncertainty. a clear direction and goals for the organisation
and then develop and support their team to
enable them to meet those goals. Leaders spend
more time developing others than focusing on
their own career, and recognise and reward the
work of others in helping achieve goals.
2. W ho inspires you and why? Professor David
Currow, my previous employer. He is a man of
intelligence and humanity committed to making a
difference in the world. That doesnt always make
him popular, but he does not live to be popular;
he lives to change cancer outcomes for all.
3. What has been the biggest challenge of your
career? In my previous role, I worked on
a project to reduce the number of hospitals
performing a complex operation because data
shows that patients have better outcomes when
FAST FACT Millennials are more treated in centres that undertake a greater
number of these surgeries. This meant dealing
New Zealand and Denmark are
the two least corrupt nations. They
mindful, more conscious, with a lot of angry doctors who felt the change
reflected badly on them when, in reality, these
ranked highly for press freedom, and more purpose-driven, are system issues that need system solutions.
public expenditure transparency,
integrity among public officials and they want to make 4. What is your favourite quote? Every system
is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.
and independent judicial systems. a difference in the world. Don Berwick, former CEO of the Institute for
Source: Corruptions Perceptions Health Improvement. What brings value for
Index 2016 Deepak Chopra, co-founder of Jiyo
patients should be our central question.
and co-author of Super Genes
5. When should you learn to compromise?
Always. Every situation will have multiple
perspectives, and yours is just one of them.
APP TO TRY: EXPENSIFY Learning to listen to and understand the views
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The official date for Cancer Council Australias
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plus it tracks your business travel expenses. It allows
Fundraising morning teas can be hosted anytime
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in May or June.
streamlining what can be a fiddly data entry process.

16 |
Business news

P 5 .. . The CEO Magazine

Financial Times Global MBA
Share Tips
Ranking 2017
INSEAD, The Business School for
PLACES TO the World, has retained the top
WORK IN position as the number one MBA
A snapshot of four shares we think are well worth
AUSTRALIA program in the world, beating other
pocketing at current prices.
stalwart legends: The Wharton 1. IPH Limited (IPH) A legal firm specialising in
1. Salesforce School of the University of Intellectual Property (IP). The company has exposure to
(IT/software) Pennsylvania; Harvard Business fast-growing Asian economies, it operates on a capital
School; and University of light model, and has big acquisition potential.
2. Stryker South Pacific
Cambridge Judge Business School. 2. RCG Corporation (RCG) This footwear retailer
(Healthcare/Medical sales)
has been way oversold this year, but with exclusive
3. Atlassian distribution rights for 11 international brands, it is
(IT/software) the largest business of its kind in Australia.
3. PAS Group (PGR) A clothing retailer and wholesaler
4. MECCA Brands
trading at an attractive entry point. Looks oversold.
4. Zenitas Healthcare (ZNT) As the Federal
5. Adobe Systems Government rolls out the National Disability Insurance
(IT/software) Scheme, we expect ZNT will benefit through increasing
demand for its allied healthcare offering and through
Source: its homecare service.
Great Place to Work Disclaimer:You should seek professional advice before making any investment decisions. Neither
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100+ employees 2016 The CEO Magazine nor the business or any of its employees holds any responsibility
for any losses incurred (if any) by acting on information provided in this magazine. | 17
Cover story

with sharks
From teaching himself
to program in his army
quarters, to becoming one
of Australias most revered
tech entrepreneurs,
Shark Tanks Steve Baxter
says hes no Richard Branson.

18 | | 19
didnt show any early The best decision which is where I first saw an
signs of being an opportunity to get into business.
entrepreneur growing up. Ive ever made, I did this weird subject called
As a kid, I had no desires Unix, and while working on one
other than my first job, other than marrying assignment, I was having fun
which was to be a soldier,
with ideas of serving my
Emily, was taking experimenting with connecting
dumb terminals to serial ports.
country. I was in the that first big step. I realised that if you went from
army for nine years from dumb terminals to modems, you
1986 to 1995, and during that time Often the hardest could be an internet service provider.
I learned a trade, met my wife, Emily, At the time, I was frustrated
and started my very first business. step is to go from as a soldier, and when I saw an
I also learned the value of mateship
and teamwork. To this day, when
zero to one. opportunity it occurred to me that
this was an exceptionally obvious
it comes to investing in a business, path to go down. The world was
I have to like who you are. You could going to change and I knew it. So at
be making nails for all I care, but if 23 years old, with an $11,000 home
youre the right person, then Ill loan deposit, and having only ever
probably invest in you. Though I radio or radar, so I guess you could once seen an internet browser over
assume there are some great nail say I was technical from the start. somebodys shoulder, I asked Emily if
businesspeople out there. Regrets arent something I dwell I should take our savings and go into
I was born in Cloncurry in on in life but, looking back, if I had business. I fully expected her to say
Queensland, and later moved to to change anything it would have no, but she said yes, and I thought,
Rockhampton, which was a nice been to finish high school. One well, now I have to do it! By 1994,
place to grow up. I left school in of my army mates left school at I founded SE Net, named after us.
Year 11 and I joined the Australian a similar age and we both always Emily played an intrinsic role in the
Defence Force at the age of 15, said if we had to do it again, wed business, helping with the accounts,
which took me from Queensland stay in school. While Ive done well and more. I installed six phone lines
to Victoria, and then down to despite it, there could have been an into a house we didnt own (we lived
South Australia. In the army, I was easier path for me. That said, it was in army quarters), and I had to learn
responsible for repairing electronic the drive to get a better education how to build software myself, fast.
equipment, compasses and binoculars that saw me enrol in a part-time It was a big challenge but it was
pretty much anything that wasnt university computing course in 1993, also easy, in a way, because we never
had to struggle for customers. While
many of our competitors would
disappear within a few months, we
kept growing, so it wasnt just about
being there at the time; we were
definitely doing something right.
We eventually became the seventh-
largest ISP in Australia with 35,000
users despite only operating out of
Adelaide. The best decision Ive ever
made, other than marrying Emily,
was taking that first big step. Often
the hardest step is to go from zero
to one. I was just getting started and
it was a hell of a gamble, but Emily
said Go for it, and it set me down
a path there was no going back from.
In 1999, we sold that business to the

20 |
Cover story

entrepreneurs. Government just needs

to give them the tools, and get out Four start-ups that benefited
from Steves investment.
of the way. On Shark Tank, we have
had more than 100 people walk in
the door and pitch to us, and thats SOFI SPRITZ
an amazing flow of ideas we have Idea Tom Maclean wanted to deliver
access to. I enjoy hearing peoples an all-natural, all-Australian take
on the most popular cocktail in Italy
stories; I could listen to them all day the Veneto Spritz.
and night, because you always get Investment $130,000
something out of it. Being a shark
Outcome SOFI Spritz has tripled
has really made me a better listener, revenue growth and is looking at annual
which has helped me to understand revenues of over $1 million.
people better, their goals and ideas.
That allows me to introduce them to
like-minded people and help them to HOLLAND HEALTHCARE
demolish roadblocks in their business. Idea Founder Jennifer Holland
The chief entrepreneur of introduced Throat Scope, a child-
friendly oral examination device
Queensland, Mark Sowerby, has that removes the need for intrusive
ISP OzeMail, owned by Malcolm called me Tinder for start-ups. wooden tongue depressors.
Turnbull at the time. Celebrity has some terrific perks Investment $76,000
A year or so later, I partnered for business too. Before the TV show, Outcome Throat Scope has gone
with tech entrepreneur Bevan it might have taken me three months on to win several awards including
Slattery to co-found PIPE Networks to get meetings with some people; the 2017 Edison Award and 2015
Sydney Design Award. The brand
a peering exchange fibre network now it takes about three days. After has seen revenue grow by
player, which we sold to TPG for all of it, though, I still cant believe 300 per cent year on year.
$373 million in 2001. For a while, people listen to me. I still have a real
I also moved to California to work fear that Im going to get busted
at Google, but came back to Australia as an imposter; thats my biggest CAR NEXT DOOR
a year later when the sale was challenge as I get older. On a recent Idea Founders Dave Trumbull and
official. Now an early-stage tech trip to Perth, my old mate asked me Will Davies pitched for peer-to-peer
investor and judge on Channel Tens for advice, and he is a very successful car sharing to reduce personal
and environmental costs
Shark Tank, I have helped launch businessman; it just blows me away.
Investment $200,000
a host of companies worth more I also only just discovered I have a
than $100 million, and founded Wikipedia page how cool is that! Outcome From 350 cars shared
between 9,000 borrowers, Car Next Door
a not-for-profit start-up co-working The best part of being a shark now has 800 vehicles and 32,000
space and networking platform in and having that influence is when borrowers, plus it has launched
Brisbane called River City Labs. parents approach me to say how in Brisbane and Newcastle.
I believe Australia needs way much their kids love the show. There
more entrepreneurs and start-ups are, perhaps surprisingly, a lot of
than weve got. I want to see the young children and teens who watch RESCUE SWAG
next billionaire come and change Shark Tank; they even force their Idea Founder Tracey Beikoff unveiled
Rescue Swag, the first-aid kit designed
the face of our economy. Ive got parents to watch it. Its great to think for tough Australian conditions.
three daughters and we need that were inspiring the next generation.
Investment $220,000
billionaire to brighten their future, I hope they learn a lot from the
because right now were just a nation advice we dish out; its always honest Outcome Rescue Swag has also been
recognised as a powerful tool in foreign
that digs stuff out of the ground and gritty. Im not going to quote aid circles, with projects planned in
and sells houses to each other; Richard Branson or the Dalai Lama Papua New Guinea and throughout the
Pacific. New product development is
weve got to do something different. to them, though; Im just not that underway for hikers, Scouts and more,
I also believe that if you want sort of person. plus the brand has experienced year-
to solve a problem, dont give it to on-year revenue growth of 200 per cent.
government: you need to give it to Shark Tank returns to Channel Ten soon. | 21
1 2
Cover story

Make me like you

While pitching, you must make me like you
in a very short time. You need to convince
Dont listen me that youve got the skills and support in
place, and that the problem
to oldies

youre solving is big enough that people
will gladly pay to have it solved.
Old people shouldnt tell young
people what they should do when
it comes to business. Young people Dont lie
are the ones who know whats good.
If youre pitching to investors, dont lie; youll get found out and itll
Im 46 now, and even 10 years ago
be embarrassing. If you go on Shark Tank, its a $700,000 TV ad, and
I was too old to be making decisions
its up to you whether its a good ad or a bad one. Weve had people
on behalf of young people.
come up and flat-out lie to us and, of course, they get exposed.


4 Avoid scams
Six lessons from a man who knows.
Do it yourself
You see a lot of scams in the start-up space where
I get tired of being pitched
people sell courses on becoming an entrepreneur steer
businesses by people who have
clear of these. The best programs will pay you. An accelerator
no ability to deliver. Bankers and

or incubator will invest in you and provide the networks and
bus drivers will say, If you invest
mentors you need to pursue your business.
in me, Ill pay someone to build
this technology. With SE Net,
Know your numbers I bought computers and books,
and learned how to program.
Ultimately, business is all about bottom-line profit. I dont have time for people
You need to share the key values that demonstrate your who have an idea but have
traction, like sales, revenue and business worth. Knowing no desire to learn the skills.
those numbers is pretty bloody important, so get them right.

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Executive interview

Former creative director of Apples ad agency (and the
man who put the i in iMac) Ken Segall believes that
the preference for simplicity is built into our DNA.


24 |
ince the launch of which are among the numerous case
the first iMac in 1998, studies in his book: Hyundai Card in
Apples iconic i products South Korea, and Ben & Jerrys, which
have saturated the was founded in the US.
marketplace and
become entrenched in The CEO Magazine: What parallels did
our culture. iPads, iPods you witness between Hyundai Cards
and iPhones are visible CEO, Ted Chung, and Steve Jobs?
everywhere, and their Ken: Both Ted Chung and Steve Jobs
uptake all pares back to one word: simplicity. entered into big companies that were
Apple has consciously fashioned a brand in deep trouble. Steve returned to Apple
around this concept and you can see it in in 1997 when it was 90 days away from
every facet of the company; from its bankruptcy, while Ted Chung walked
products to its company structure and into Hyundai Card in South Korea being
advertising campaigns. told that the company was about to lose
Former creative director of Apples US$2 billion in a single year. Perhaps as
ad agency Ken Segall worked closely a consequence of that, another parallel is
with the late Steve Jobs for 12 years and, that both went about the process of
among various creative feats, is the man simplification methodically one step
behind Apples i naming convention. at a time starting with strengthening
It wasnt exactly an act of genius, because the corporate culture. Ted and Steve both
the concept of the first iMac was that thought it was really important to galvanise
it provided an easy way to get on the the respective companies with one project
internet, reflects Ken. So it didnt seem that everyone would be devoted to. At
like a huge jump to say i for internet, Hyundai Card, they focused on a credit
and Mac for Macintosh. According to card product that was going to reinvigorate
Ken, Steve hated the phrase iMac the the company from the inside, and at Apple
first time he saw it, and he didnt the iMac became the focal point. For
particularly like it the second time either. Ted, this involved distilling a huge number
There was quite a bit of debate before of credit card choices down to just a few
he finally went for it, laughs Ken. One that would relaunch the company. Similarly,
of the things our ad agency said when Apple was making more than 20 distinct
we were having that debate is that this products at the time, which Steve had
little letter i could be a foundational to kill in order to focus on the iMac.
element that there could be other
i things and that it could simplify How did Teds simple approach
the whole consumer line for Apple. influence the company culture and
The rest, as they say, is history. the products that Hyundai Card
While Ken has moved on from working subsequently created?
with Apple, the companys ethos has Ted really had a huge belief in the power
stuck with him. Intrigued as to whether of culture and first, he reoriented the
simplicity could in fact be the key to company to focus on one big thing
corporate success, Ken interviewed more at a time, and second, he wanted to instil
than 40 leaders from a variety of industries his love of design into Hyundai Card.
around the world. His book Think Simple The importance of design was evident
contains pearls of wisdom from these everywhere: in the office design, the
leaders, and ultimately attests to the artwork on the walls; even the credit cards
need for companies to maintain focus, are like pieces of art. The company also
particularly as they grow. got involved in pro bono design projects
Speaking with The CEO Magazine, Ken for the city, where they designed new bus
highlights two of his heroes of simplicity, shelters that were visually very striking. He

26 |
Executive interview

helped everyone in the business appreciate Apple was making more than
design because he knew the power of
image to drive a product and help 20 distinct products at the time,
customers feel a connection with the
company. This shift in culture helped which Steve had to kill in order
reposition Hyundai Card as representing
a certain lifestyle, and part of that lifestyle
to focus on the iMac.
is great design. Its a very interesting
approach for a credit card company and
it worked tremendously. Within 10 years
of Ted taking over, instead of losing
US$2 billion a year, they had a profit around that one thing, it helps you cut
of US$1 billion, which is quite an through and differentiate yourself from
impressive turnaround. the people you compete with.

Ben & Jerrys is a global company. Ben & Jerrys was bought by Unilever
What makes its approach to in 2000. As a subsidiary of a global
business simple? food giant, how has it managed to
To draw another Apple parallel, Steve stay true to its mission?
Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple The company had grown to the point
in Jobs bedroom (not the garage as often where it could become international, but
reported), with no money, just an idea, and didnt have the resources to facilitate that
Ben & Jerrys started in much the same internally, so it reached an agreement with
way. Talk about simplicity! Two guys rented Unilever. However, it didnt want to lose
a closed-down gas station and converted its brand essence its three-part mission
it into an ice-cream store, and they didnt because without that it would just be
even know how to make ice-cream. another ice-cream company. So Ben &
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield took Jerrys forged an agreement with Unilever
a US$5 correspondence course with Penn that effectively institutionalised its original
State University, and thats how they mission. It did that by creating an
learned to make ice-cream. But what independent board to oversee the
makes their approach so simple is that their companys social mission and brand
mission is at the core of everything they integrity, and handed over the management
do, and they have never deviated from that. of operations and finances to Unilever so
They have a three-part mission: product, that what it was buying was only the
to make excellent ice-cream; economic, opportunity to manage that side of the
to be successful and to help their business. Its a little complex, but the CEO
employees be successful; and social, to reports to the two different sides the
benefit the community. independent board and Unilever for
Many people just think Ben & Jerrys each of the various responsibilities. Today,
is delicious ice-cream and they dont the mission statement is alive and well, and
go further than that; its actually the thats what carries Ben & Jerrys in every
counterculture ice-cream. The company country it goes into. In my book, this is
puts a portion of its profits towards the only example of a company that started
supporting social movements; it uses its small and local and became international,
products and brand as a platform to try to and found a way to maintain its simplicity.
change the world, and it does this globally. Plus, its really good ice-cream.
The Ben & Jerrys brand stands for
something bigger than fantastic desserts. Ken Segall will be speaking at the World
When you stand for one thing, and all of Business Forum Sydney, which runs from
your decisions and behaviours are wrapped 31 May 1 June 2017. | 27
Investigative feature

n Monday 16 January 2017, some
400 law-enforcement agents
from all over the world converged
on a conference hall in Doha,
Qatar, for the first Global Conference on Money
Laundering and Digital Currencies. The hot topic
for the three-day seminar was Bitcoin, the virtual
money system rapidly becoming the currency
of choice for hackers, international drug dealers, The story of Bitcoin is so strange and
and the money movers of organised crime. dystopian it could have come from the mind
Simon Riondet, the head of Financial of Phillip K Dick, the sci-fi writer who dreamed
Intelligence at Europol, opened proceedings with up Bladerunner and Minority Report stories
a warning to the audience that had assembled of systems designed to be perfect that turn out
from more than 60 countries. Digital currencies to be anything but.
are now undoubtedly part of the payment Bitcoin was created by a programmer,
system, said Riondet. Their use is expected to or several, who went by the name of Satoshi
increase exponentially in the coming years. And Nakamoto, although their true identity has never
understandably so, since they improve payment been confirmed. The basic tenets of the idea were
efficiency, reduce transaction and fund transfer explained in a white paper released to an online
costs, while facilitating international remittances. mailing list in 2008, in which Nakamoto wrote:
But the other side of this narrative is that they are A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic
also a powerful new tool for criminals and terrorist cash would allow online payments to be sent
financiers to convert, remit and conceal illicit directly from one party to another without going
funds from law enforcement authorities. through a financial institution an electronic
At the very same moment the conference payment system based on cryptographic proof
was being opened, managers at the Seehotel instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties
Jegerwirt, a four-star hotel on the Alpine to transact directly with each other without the
Turracher Hhe Pass in Austria, had a problem: need for a trusted third party.
the switchboard was melting down as hundreds of The idea is both complicated and elegant,
guests were complaining they could not get in or and, while a multitude of websites offer 101
out of their suites, their electronic room-key cards explanations or Bitcoin for Dummies tutorials,
having been somehow rendered useless. One almost all of them are authored by geeks
call to come through was not a frantic complaint, or technocrats whose dependence on the
but a calm demand for 1,500 worth of bitcoin to language of the cyberverse renders them almost
be deposited in an anonymous account, at which indecipherable to the layperson attempting
time hackers would release their lock on the to come to grips with the formula.
hotels IT system. Christoph Brandstaetter, hotel The best way to understand Bitcoin is to
managing director, said they had no choice but imagine an actual coin attached to a long piece
to pay the ransom. He also said the hotel was in of string. Follow that string and youll find every
the process of replacing its electronic-card locking person who has held that coin, in sequence,
system with old-fashioned locks and keys. before passing it on to the next. The people are

30 |
Investigative feature


disguised to protect their privacy, but their
identities dont matter the important thing MINORITY REPORT STORIES OF
is that the history of the coin is secure and
knowable; any attempt to pass off a duplicate or SYSTEMS DESIGNED TO BE PERFECT
phony coin is betrayed by a second string
branching out from the counterfeiter, or no string THAT TURN OUT TO BE ANYTHING BUT.
at all. When you take possession of the coin, you
are the latest piece of history in the chain, known
as the blockchain, and youll remain on that
string forever.
With so many coins, so many lengths of string, In 2010, Bitcoin leached into the real world
and so much history of which to keep track, it when Laszlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas from
might seem inevitable that a third party will need Papa Johns in Jacksonville, Florida, paying
to be brought in to oversee and umpire the game; 10,000 bitcoin (BTC) for the two. Its been
a role traditionally played by banks or similar a white-knuckle ride since then, with the value of
financial institutions. But this is where Bitcoin the currency fluctuating wildly until, today, it is
becomes quite brilliant; instead of a bank, the comparatively stable at around US$1,100 a coin.
system relies on enthusiasts of Bitcoin to check Since the very beginning, economists and
each transaction on an online ledger, to record finance journalists have suggested Bitcoin to
the passing of the coin from one hand to another, be little more than a bubble, similar in vacuity
to check that the string is not broken or perverted, to the bubble of 1999. Many have
and then to confirm the latest transaction. The predicted its imminent death (at the time of
accuracy and integrity of each confirmation is going to print, the website has
established by mass agreement; the speed of accrued no less that 121 Bitcoin obituaries
the transaction assured by the fact that the first in the popular press, from such respected
miners to confirm a transaction are paid in bitcoin titles as Forbes, Reuters, The Weekly Standard,
for their efforts. Salon, The Financial Times and USA Today).
The Bitcoin software was released in January But the faithful disagree.
2009, with the ledger, known as the blockchain, Nathan Clark, a computer scientist and
available online to be checked and confirmed by business administrator from Victoria, Australia,
enthusiasts, known as miners. Nakamoto had was a miner in the very beginning when Bitcoin
built an anti-inflationary measure into the system went live in 2009. There no way its a bubble,
by limiting the number of bitcoins ever to be says Clark, because it now has applications in
created to 21 million. Through this measure, the real world. You just cant say its a bubble
Bitcoin could remain a self-supporting, self- anymore, and those who do are just people who
regulating machine, rewarding its technicians are deeply offended by the possibility that Bitcoin
in the very currency they were helping to create. is circumventing their industry. Theyre also the | 31
THE RIGHT SOLUTION. Richard Henderson, global security strategist

people who didnt see it coming. They failed primarily as a hidden platform on which to buy
to predict Bitcoin, so theyre trying to save and sell illegal narcotics, with Bitcoin as the
themselves by predicting the death of it. accepted currency, Silk Road continued for two
Clark no longer mines for Bitcoin, but he years until being raided by the FBI in October
still keeps abreast of its currency, and he keeps 2013, with agents seizing 144,000 bitcoins worth
a few bitcoins tucked away, just in case. Ive close to US$28.5 million at the time. Ulbrich is
done the mathematical calculation on what each now serving life in prison.
bitcoin would be worth if it overtook the world Silk Road represented a turning point for
economy. Being that theres only 22 million law enforcement agents who, until the case of
bitcoins allowed to exist, it works out to be Ulbrich, had struggled to find their way around an
something like AU$50 million per bitcoin. economy that doesnt leave a paper trail. In 2014,
So its worth hanging onto a few. before the Silk Road case had reached closure,
Peter Strachan, commodities and resources intelligence chief of Europol, Rob Wainwright,
analyst formerly with the Asian desk at Smith New lamented the situation faced by police.
Court, isnt so enthusiastic. The fact that Bitcoin Digital currencies such as Bitcoin are an
has caught the eye of investors more so than the excellent example of the disconnect between online
transaction world is revealing, he says. There practice and legislation, he said. The currency is
was a big push early for people to transact with totally unregulated there is no public body like
Bitcoin, but, in the few years since its inception, the Bank of England accountable for its protection.
weve had the introduction of Paywave for small Some regulation is needed to put virtual
transactions, which makes EFTPOS so much currencies on a level playing field with electronic
easier and cheaper, so the benefits of Bitcoin banking with regulated currencies. If not, the lack
have become almost superfluous. Theres really of traceability will leave the door wide open for
no need to use Bitcoin unless its for some money laundering and terrorist financing.
nefarious reason. Since then, the prosecution of Bitcoin-related
And here is where Bitcoin has entered into crimes has advanced at an exponential rate: In
its own; the anonymity of its transactions March 2015, Czech national Tom Jirkovsk was
attractive to anyone moving money in the criminal arrested on suspicion of laundering $40 million
sector, which is always looking for new ways to in stolen bitcoins; in October of the same year,
launder ill-gotten gains. 33-year-old American Trendon Shavers was busted
Bitcoin was not even two years old when running a $150-million Ponzi scheme; and the
former Eagle Scout Ross Ulbrich created Silk collapse of Bitcoin currency exchange Mt Gox saw
Road, a black-market trading site buried deep 30-year-old Frenchman Mark Karpels charged
in the dungeons of the dark web, an area of with fraud and embezzlement of US$390 million.
the internet not indexed by search engines or But these are the big fish the more frequent
accessible to those without authorisation. Existing criminal acts involving Bitcoin are enacted by

32 |
Investigative feature

small-time hackers chasing a quick payday, like Basel Institute of Governance, co-organisers of
the gang that locked the guest rooms at the the conference, in a press release. The existence
Seehotel Jegerwirt for a modest few thousand. of such companies should not continue to
According to the SonicWall GRID Threat be tolerated.
Network, ransomware attacks increased from The conference also recommended that law
3.8 million in 2015 to a staggering 638 million enforcement agencies should cooperate globally
in 2016, another report finding that 49 per cent to identify suspicious Bitcoin addresses that
of businesses in the US were attacked by threaten economic stability even unexplained
ransomware last year. wealth should be considered a prosecutable
Its a situation that has given rise to calls crime. The days of Bitcoin may be numbered,
for a global ban on Bitcoin altogether. Richard but not because of its volatility.
Henderson, global security strategist at data Bitcoins a game, says Peter Strachan, and
security firm Absolute, says its not so easy. its indicative of the times in which we live, where
Getting rid of Bitcoin to stop ransomware would people are so desperate to find new answers for
be like the US Government getting rid of $100 poverty, or the inequity of wealth distribution.
bills to try to stop drug dealers from laundering In the end, its just a big, crazy experiment, more
their dirty money, he says. Its not the right interesting to nerds and criminals who dont really
solution. Would it momentarily create a bump live in the real world. And its in the real world that
in the road for cyber attackers who are making we need real solutions to those old problems.
millions off ransomware? Absolutely, but only
for a fleeting moment.
With Bitcoin here to stay (for the time being,
at least), the way ahead seems to exist in its
own system of security. Anonymous as Bitcoins
transactions may be, the system itself is vulnerable
for the fact that its readily accessible online and
respects no borders, meaning law enforcement
doesnt have to concern itself with warrants,
court orders or foreign governments to access
the data. Once inside, with every Bitcoin
transaction rigorously recorded in the blockchain,
investigators have all the incriminating evidence
at their fingertips. With more law enforcement
agencies employing the assistance of former
Bitcoin miners and traders, their ability to
unscramble Bitcoins wilderness can only
improve over time.
In Qatar, the Global Conference on Money
Laundering and Digital Currencies concluded
with at least one concrete resolution: bitcoin
mixing services, which exchange bitcoins off
the blockchain to disguise each transactions
pathway, are to be aggressively pursued.
Such services are designed exclusively
to anonymise transactions and to make it
impossible for law enforcement agencies to detect
and trace suspicious transactions, explained the | 33
Executive interview

Advertising Advantages
co-founders, Luke Dean
(far left) and Wally Muhieddine.

Were the
This advertising agency has turned the traditional
model on its head and is seeing great success.
o-founders of Were so confident that well
Advantage (ADAD), walk up to any client with a live
Australias only
full-service campaign and guarantee to improve
Performance TV
agency, Wally Muhieddine and Luke
that result by 10 to 30 per cent
Dean began their careers on opposite and underwrite that guarantee.
sides of the agency fence, but their
experiences brought them to the same
space a desire for disruption.
Like a lot of teenagers who
finished school in the early 90s, client in a genuine attempt to better conversion rates in order to deliver
I wanted to be a movie-making their business rather than to better optimal results for their clients.
rock star like Tarantino, Luke their own business. And thats been We run so many campaigns and
confesses. So I went to uni, studied our ethos moving forward: building so many TV spot placements that
communications, and started working an agency that actually does what we generally know where the fish
in short films, music videos and the client wants it to do and provides are biting for different products and
corporate television. I got my first a service that clients will value in a different services, Luke says. Were
gig in advertising on the creative side real practical way. very quickly able to develop a path
as a TV producer/director. But then The boys knew that clients to success based on a lot of live and
I became fascinated by the media really only want one thing: results historical data. But there is a process
and commercial side of the business real, tangible, measurable results. to that.
and also by the nexus between art, Direct Response TV became really At the moment, we would
science and consumer behaviour. important to seeing those results be running somewhere between
I worked at a couple of agencies, and being able to drive measurable 50 and 70 campaigns probably
and then I met Wally and we both return on investment, Luke says. 7080,000 spots a month, Wally
saw the world in the same way. We could demonstrate the efficacy continues. Thats a lot of data to
We were surprised at the lack of of our approach, and our clients harness and drive effectiveness,
accountability in this industry that could therefore afford to spend but surely all advertising agencies
was really heavy on rhetoric. We more money next month, and thats would have access to this type
decided that a direct-response, how we scaled our business by of information? Youd think so,
performance-driven advertising showing these smaller clients how wouldnt you? Wally says. And
approach was the direction that the quickly we could move the needle we are incredibly surprised ongoing
industry needed to go in, so we and drive sales. This is what small at how it just doesnt work that way.
started our agency together with and mid-size businesses want in It comes back to my first point that
a view that we would drive terms of advertising expenditure I made about when I entered the
demonstrable ROI for clients. driving measurable sales outcomes. industry: I was just shocked.
Wally started out on the client We also both have a real affinity and Ill tell you what happens
side in the retail sector, but really strong belief in TV as a compelling today: agencies are so focused on
enjoyed working with agencies and medium. We had both worked on coming up with a unique idea,
could see a future there for himself. campaigns deploying other channels, they leave out key nuances that we
I went to the agency side in early but nothing that we had seen had know from hundreds of campaigns
2000 and I was actually quite the power that TV can deliver in can increase engagement and ROI
shocked by the difference between terms of driving really strong, mass by two, three, four times. When it
what I thought an agency does, engagement, which drives a real comes to spot placement, the
believes and acts versus what agencies volume of response. agency presents plans that look
really do and actually provide, he Another key difference at ADAD good on paper, but are not based
laughs. I really wanted to build is the enormous database gathered on real-world results. So the agency
an agency the way a client thinks over 15 years in business. They have doesnt apply any of this sophistication
an agency should be: working for the collected insights on response and around data, analytics and historical

36 |
Executive interview

insight. All the agency wants is to

get sign-off.
Not ADAD, however: We have a
system that we call the pinpoint
process, Luke explains. This drives
scalable ROI for brands through
data-driven TV advertising. Its built
around four stages and its about
assessing the opportunity, developing
a strategy, implementation, and then
optimisation and scaling. Theres
quite a disciplined process that
leverages off a lot of category
insight and data insight, because
you need to have a very disciplined
process when you tie your agency
remuneration to the outcome.
Yes, thats right, ADAD can offer
to only charge for the results
obtained its so sure of its system
that if a campaign fails, it can carry
the risk. Everyone claims they use
analytics, Wally says. Its very
topical and everyone talks to
it. But I can tell you that theres
no other agency thats prepared to tie
their remuneration to it. And thats
the difference. We go beyond talk: its
a real science. And were so confident
that well walk up to any client with
a live campaign and guarantee to
improve that result by 10 to 30 per
cent and underwrite that guarantee.
Many years ago, I had a friend
who gave me business advice. He
said to me, Wally, youve got to
think outside the box. And at one
stage I said, Listen mate. You keep
saying it, but Ive never seen you
think outside the box. I think its
the same thing with disruption. Its
a word that everyone is throwing
around. You know: Disruptions
so cool. You dont want to be
disrupted; you want to disrupt
things like that. People say it,
but its just words. Real disruption
is when we walk in to a client and
we take the commercial risk. That
is the ultimate disruption. | 37
The big guns
Find out the one technique Facebook, Airbnb and Google
Ventures use to embed innovation in their businesses.

ne of the common pitfalls of big business THINKING SMART
is investing time, money and resources into At the foundation of design sprints is design thinking,
a product and perfecting it only to find which is a human-centred approach to innovation. This
out when it launches that its not what approach takes into account the functional and emotional
the customer wants. Regardless of whether needs of the customer from the very beginning. Design
youre running a start-up or a large organisation, the build thinking is a mindset that encourages you to empathise
it and they will come mentality is a risky way to operate. with the user to identify pain points and unmet needs,
Instead, testing your ideas and putting your product in allowing you to quickly create and test solutions that
the hands of your customer first lets you see if your new immediately deliver value to customers.
concept will fly or fail, as well as what can be improved, No project is too big or too small to run a design
without over-investing in it. sprint. They have been used to tackle simple projects
Tech giants like Airbnb and Facebook are now adopting such as taking a boutique caf online, to more complex
and embedding into their product development cycles a projects, like testing a robot in a hotel with customers.
method called design sprints, which allows them to move All you need is a challenge, a team and a week clear
through the design-and-test period as quickly as possible. of any meetings and disruptions. Pulling your team away
Although design sprints are not yet widely used, the from their desks and meetings for a week might seem
partners at Google Ventures Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, like too long, but in the grand scheme of things its
and Braden Kowitz have raised their popularity through not. The alternative could be to invest months or even
their book Sprint. Design sprints allow you to fast-forward years into a project only to find out its not what your
into the future, accelerate your development journey, and customers want something that would take a lot
test your product in just five days. longer than a week to rectify.

38 |
Start-ups & entrepreneurs

The team at The Beanstalk Factory conducts design sprints for some of
Australias biggest companies, such as Suncorp, News Corp, Westpac and Dexus.
These design sprints have enabled them to create customer-validated solutions,
develop new products, and explore new opportunities for driving revenue.


Day one is about creating a goal that you want to accomplish during the week.
The first step is to map out the challenge customers are currently facing. In the
afternoon, you will conduct one-on-one interviews with people inside and outside
of your team. By the end of the day, you will home in on one target on which
to focus, answering: Who is the most important customer and what is the critical
moment of that customers experience? This will guide the rest of the week.

Day twos focus is solely on solutions. A key premise of design is all design
is redesign, and you will review current ideas to see how you can mix them
up to build on each other. Then each person will have an opportunity to sketch
out a variety of solutions to create a single concept. This is also the day to recruit
customers for Fridays test.

The hump day is dedicated to critiquing each of the solutions your team came
up with and deciding on which one will give you the best chance to achieve
your long-term goal. In the afternoon, you will choose the best bits of each
of your solutions and put them together in a storyboard. This storyboard will
then serve as your step-by-step plan for your prototype.

THURSDAY Prototype
Day four is when you bring your storyboard to life as
a prototype. Embracing fake it before you make it will
help you create a prototype to put in your customers
hands, where you can learn from their feedback.
This is also the day you write up an interview
script for Friday.

One person interviews the customers
recruited on Tuesday, while the rest
of your team watches it on live video
in another room. Friday reveals what
the next steps are, based on customer
interactions with your product.

Design sprints can be incredibly effective

when you embrace the philosophy and
dedicate time to the process. Solve a big
challenge and test it with your target customer
through a design sprint, in just five days. Now its
time to find a challenge, so you can start sprinting! | 39
Executive interview

The numbers
are correct ...
we are that good.
From a remote corner of the world,
Wendy Alexanders company is attracting
global attention for all the right reasons.

endy Alexander And yes, the rumours were true: the
doesnt blink an little agency from Auckland did in fact
eye at the confusion come second to a huge company in the
she encounters over Persian Gulf. It did, however, take out
her company. The the award for Best Real Estate and Best
CEO is practised at patiently explaining the Letting Agency for Asia Pacific. And yes,
name is Barfoot & Thompson, not barefoot that meant trouncing its much larger
and yes, it is a real estate company, and Australian neighbours across the ditch.
yes, it did enjoy $10 billion in sales last year. We definitely punch above our
And yes, it was down to the last five estate weight, Wendy laughs. Even though were
agents competing to be the worlds best at all the way over in New Zealand, a funny
the 2016 International Property Awards. little company called Barfoot & Thompson,

40 |
people always ask about us. When our dont perform, they pay back the same
numbers are put up on the world stage, percentage of the loss. Sales are operated
people go, That cant be right. But it is. differently as well, with listings open to all
It is correct. We are that good. agents in every branch. Once a listing is
I think the fact that weve slipped entered into the system, it belongs to
under the radar for so long, being a Barfoot & Thompson, enabling any agent
family company, privately owned and from any office to grab it, sell it, and earn
not franchised, makes us different. Our the commission. Another distinguishing
business model is also unique. I travel feature of the company is its cultural
the world for the industry, have looked diversity. We have about 1,800 salespeople
at business models worldwide, and Ive born in about 55 different countries and
never seen what we have here at speaking one or more of about 80
Barfoot & Thompson. languages and dialects, Wendy says. While
What Wendy has in her remote corner that cultural diversity is one of our greatest
of the world is New Zealands largest strengths, at the same time, its one of our
privately owned real estate greatest challenges because
company, a 94-year-old we need to understand that
family business generating diversity and accommodate
intense loyalty from 2,500 the needs of that cross-
employees who capture cultural dynamic.
around 40 per cent of Its an Wendys passion for real
the Greater Auckland real estate was triggered by her
estate market and manage exceptional early recognition that the
about 16,500 properties. industry offered the perfect
Then, of course, there
story. I consider avenue for her skills in
is that small matter
of collecting a cool
myself so public speaking, management
and organising. With 18
$14 billion along the way. privileged to years in the industry already
That was a record under her belt, she started
for us last year, Wendy work here. with Barfoot & Thompson
says. Weve been close as a training manager before
to it a number of times, being elevated to general
always tracking in the manager and business
same vicinity of those development manager. Two
numbers. We have cultivated a niche decades later as CEO, shes still exploring
market with 68 branches only selling growth opportunities for the company,
in Auckland and Northland; we dont but also travels the world training staff,
touch the rest of New Zealand. We coaching business development, and telling
know our market and know our clients. the Barfoot & Thompson story.
Apart from developing that niche Although Wendy has no problem
market, Barfoot & Thompsons rare business captivating an audience and sharing tips on
model, which evolved almost organically, how to operate a real estate business, she
has not only provided enormous realised early on that selling property was
incentives for established employees but not her forte. She prefers the operational
attracts dozens of applicants wanting to side, admitting she likes to move more
join the company. The companys managers quickly than the weeks, or months, needed
and salespeople are all independent to groom and process a sale.
contractors, with the managers remunerated They say if you have the gift of the
on the basis of profit share. If they excel, gab, you can sell anything to anyone.
they are rewarded with a significant Well, no, you cant, she says. I have listed
percentage of the profit, whereas if they and sold properties. It was important that

42 |
Executive interview

I get that experience, but I dont like it. The story that Wendy tells goes back
Its not what I do best. It takes a special to 1923 when Val Barfoot bought a tiny,
talent, and I have enormous respect for rundown land agency for just 75 in the
the sales people who have that talent. southern Auckland suburb of Newmarket.
Sure, they are well-renumerated, but He called it V Barfoot Land Agent, until
they earn nothing if they dont get a result. joined by his brother Kelland a year
I watch the good ones sell and I could not later when it was renamed Barfoot Bros.
be more impressed. The discipline needed A decade later, the brothers were joined
around that whole process of sale and by Maurice Thompson and the company
negotiation is special. Its just not me. became Barfoot & Thompson in 1940.
Wendy prefers to use her strengths From there, the company grew to become
to help run the business by focusing on Aucklands market leader, expanding to
how to constantly fine-tune, expand and include property management and more
improve it. Her complete overview of the recently strata management. Only family
company and its ongoing success is what members can earn a directorship with the
drives her to continue to share Barfoot company, a privilege that has to be earned
Our relationship with
& Thompsons unique story and business and can take up to 20 years. Barfoot & Thompson has
model with others. This will always remain a family spanned 55 years, and at the
heart of this has been the
Its an exceptional story; I consider company; its not going to change. I can consistent themes of a true
partnership honesty, integrity
myself so privileged to work here, she name up to five potential family members and transparency, with the
says. Im happy going anywhere and coming into the company and I couldnt common goal of making a real
difference in our communities.
sharing the story of who we are and be happier about that, Wendy says. Every Its a brand were proud
what we achieve. I just love talking about single family member who aspires to a to be associated with.
Geoff Stewart, Corporate
the company and giving tips to others. directorship has to start at the front desk. >> Partner, Bank of New Zealand

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Barfoot & Thompson CEO Wendy Alexander with Managing Director Peter Thompson.

Theyve got to do property management,

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I am 100 per cent
business. There is no nepotism.
There are six family members currently
committed to the
working with the company three brand, and intensely
holding directorships. Peter Thompson,
a grandson of Maurice, is managing loyal. It just works.
director having started out in the industry
more than 33 years ago, and moving
through various positions in sales,
administration and management before
being made a director in 1997. Kiri sport. Hes amazing; absolutely incredible,
Barfoot, a third-generation family member, Wendy says. He competes all around
is a director who joined the company in the world. Last year he travelled to
1991, starting in the accounts department four countries to enter as many world
and working up to become a branch championships as he could. Hes an
manager. And then theres Garth. inspiration to us all. But both families
The youngest son of founder Val offer something different. They are hugely
Barfoot, 80-year-old Garth is the competent. Its really quite humbling to
longest-serving member of the team. be a part of an amazing experience.
He joined as a junior in the accounts Although not a family member, theres
office, becoming a director in 1968. He no doubt Wendy feels enormously valued
is a former president and life member of by both the Barfoot and the Thompson
the Auckland branch of the Real Estate families. She was deeply honoured to be
Institute of New Zealand. However, its recognised in the Barfoot & Thompson
his life away from the office that attracts Hall of Fame, which was established in 2008
the attention these days, where the to recognise employees who go above and
patriarch of Barfoot & Thompson is more beyond in their contribution to the
often seen in Lycra than in a three-piece company. Wendy was acknowledged for her
suit. For more than 30 years hes research and development, company strategy,
competed in triathlons, and in 2015 he customer relations, training and resources.
was inducted as a Life Member of Tri NZ I started off as their training manager
in recognition of his contribution to the and then went from there to general

44 |
Executive interview

manager, and then business development and all of the frustrations of any big
manager. I never wanted to be a director, city in the world. They choose Auckland,
Wendy explains. Im one of those people which means, of course, they have to
who just gets on with it. I have no live somewhere. Naturally, its changing.
aspirations to be anything more than that. Were seeing differences in how people
I am 100 per cent committed to the brand, choose to live, and our apartment market
and intensely loyal. It just works. is becoming more appealing and more
Although Barfoot & Thompson is buoyant, she adds. Weve grown up with
becoming increasingly recognised on the the quarter-acre mentality with a bit of
world stage, theres no push to expand its grass for the children to run, and yes, its
business patch beyond Greater Auckland sad to see apartment blocks going up in
and Northland. Auckland, like most major what have been traditionally residential
cities around the world, is the go-to leafy streets. The world we are passing on
destination for migrants and New to the next generation is going to look
Zealanders alike. However, as the city very different from the one weve enjoyed.
continues to go up and out, and the But a lot of people are moving into or
expectations of new residents, particularly retiring to apartments and finding its
Its 30 years since Barfoot
& Thompson placed its first
those from overseas, need to be met, not that bad.
property-for-sale advertisement new strategies are needed to deliver Immigration is another driving force
in Property Press. Since that
time, it has grown to become
the transformation. altering the face of Auckland, with a
New Zealands foremost real The provinces have limited appeal, significant percentage of immigrants
estate agency, and Property
Press is proud to have been explains Wendy. Auckland is where the expected to settle there over the next
a key partner in this journey. jobs are, where people are prepared to three decades. Not only are apartments
Pat Houlihan, General
Manager, Property Press cope with traffic, limited infrastructure, usually the preferred accommodation; >>

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the priorities for whats offered inside Surprisingly, with Wendy constantly
are also different. This has encouraged looking at solutions to improve and expand
Barfoot & Thompson to not only work the business, shes not a huge fan of
with developers but also to create its own technology and its role in the evolution
body corporate structure to enhance its of selling real estate. Shes often asked how
property management business. technology has impacted the world of
If you want the benefit of people real estate, and her answers often surprise.
coming to Auckland and supporting the Its one of my favourite questions, she
economy, you have to build the sorts of laughs. Im an absolute advocate and
developments that appeal to them, Wendy supporter of progress and growth in
says. They prefer apartments. And where technology, but as far as this industry is
weve advocated for years that a good- concerned, technology is a tool; it doesnt
quality kitchen and bathroom are the replace people. The relationship between us
most important rooms in the house, this and the client is the critical component of
is no longer the case. They are happy our business and that will never change.
eating down the road, three times a day. Our clients may find us via an
Its not going to be easy. internet search, but ultimately they
Our jobs will be challenging in real need somebody to help them make the
estate to make all these new residents deal. For the average New Zealander,
comfortable, Wendy admits. But they all up to 95 per cent of equity is tied up
have to live somewhere, and we want to in real estate. That is a hugely emotional
be involved. It will probably mean we are and personal issue, and they want
going to open up another six branches in a real person, whether theyre selling
the foreseeable future. or buying, to help them get across the

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46 |
Executive interview

client relationships that have continued

for four generations. Its so interesting to
hear the stories about grandfathers and
the homes they bought or sold through
us. They are wonderful stories, and its
exciting to be a part of that.
Just in case there is anyone left in
Auckland or Northland who has never
bought or sold a home through Barfoot
& Thompson, surely everyone has at least
heard of the company. For decades it has
sponsored or assisted clubs, schools and
charity events, including the Starship
Foundation, World Masters Games and
Auckland Rugby.
The community is our family and we
are very much a part of it, Wendy says.
The marriage of the business we run
with the community in which we operate
cross-pollinates beautifully. We walk the
talk with our employees as well. Every
few years, we take all of our staff,
The marriage of the including their extended family, to
somewhere like the zoo. We take it over
business we run with after 5pm until it closes late at night.
the community in Sometimes thats more than 5,000 people
turning up: grandparents, grandchildren,
which we operate aunties, uncles they are all welcome
and they are all valued.
cross-pollinates As much as Wendy herself is valued
by the company, she is cognisant she is at
beautifully. the pointy end of her near-40-year career
in real estate. She is the regional director
for the Real Estate Institute of New
Zealand representing Auckland, Northland
and Coromandel, a fellow of the Institute,
and an active member of NZ Realtors. Real
line. No amount of technology can help estate is her passion, Barfoot & Thompson
with that. her love. What would make a determined
Barfoot & Thompson has not only and exceptionally talented woman retire?
helped hundreds of thousands of New The answer is very simple, she
Zealanders get across that line; it has says. I want to leave while Im still on
also homed generations of the same family. a high and still adding value. I have no
There would be nothing odd about a intention of working past my use-by date. I would describe Barfoot
grandchild of the Barfoot & Thompson Im extremely excited about spending & Thompson as the absolute
professional business partner
family selling real estate to the grandchild more time with my family and my four for every commercial aspect.
It creates unprecedented
of a favoured client. grandchildren. But until then, I will never partner loyalty in a fast and
There are people who have never stop giving back to this industry. My high-volume market. Wendy
asserts excellence, making
left Auckland who all know us, Wendy loyalty to it and to Barfoot & Thompson the company unchallenged,
says. We have fourth-generation family will continue until the day I walk out established market leaders.
Don Matheson, Associate
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50 |
The business of recruitment



M ake no mistake: when it comes to recruitment, its been a tough couple

of years. Headcount reductions, freezes on permanent hires, and a need
to cut costs across the board in order to drive productivity have all had an
adverse effect on staffing levels and retention. And now that the squeeze
appears to be easing somewhat, a new problem has presented itself to
companies looking to redress the balance and revitalise their IP.
According to the 2016 Hays Global Skills Index, certain industries among them IT,
life sciences, financial services and engineering are suffering a skills shortage thats making
it difficult to recruit, even now that restrictions on hiring are easing somewhat. Highly skilled
professionals have become the unicorns of human resources: rumour has it theyre out there,
but your chances of spotting one are very slim indeed.
The data, accumulated by Hays with the assistance of Oxford Economics, examines
the labour markets across Europe, America and Asia. It takes into account factors such as
wage pressure in high-skills industries and occupations, to give an overall index score. Among
the fields rated is Talent Mismatch, examining a countrys ability to provide the recruitment
needed to fill the roles available in these industries.
As it takes time to undertake the training necessary to work in these industries, it makes
them more vulnerable to skill shortages since the number of people qualified to start work
cannot be changed quickly, explains Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia
and New Zealand. This is creating a talent mismatch.
Countries in the report are graded out of 10, and in the Talent Mismatch field the
Australian market has shown a jump to 4.5, up from 4.2 last year, and 4.1 in 2014. China
is running at a similar level with 4.6, while Malaysia clocks a more worrying 6.1. Japan,
however, registers an eye-watering 9.8.

So whats the best way to address this for a company thats craving these workers but finding
them thin on the ground? Assuming youre offering a package attractive enough to lure such
talented individuals, and you still cant find the ideal candidate, where do you go from there?
To begin with, its worth thinking about whether youve become too fixated on the perfect
candidate. When the talent pool is more of a puddle, can you afford to wait for someone
who ticks all the boxes, especially when you consider the costs involved?
Depending on the skill level that youre looking for, hiring time frames can be anything
from a week up to three months, says Tania Sinibaldi, Chief Operating Officer of Staffing | 51
Services at Chandler Macleod. The cost impact
to that organisation would vary depending on
whatever brief you have in front of you at any
given time. But it is large.
With such considerations, you want someone
to hit the ground running; someone who wont
take existing staff from their core duties to train
up the new hire. And that could well be your first
stumbling block if the skills arent out there,
you probably need to invest in and nurture
a lesser-skilled candidate, even if that does come
at a short-term cost. Some would say you may need
only to look inside your organisation.
Ongoing upskilling and training is a necessity
today in response to rapid technological change,
says Peter Noblet, Senior Regional Director at
Hays. Given this, organisations could consider one employers may not even acknowledge
talking to individual employees and advancing can lead to their being left on the fringe.
interested employees skills in the direction of Most people wouldnt make the decision
existing skills and knowledge gaps. Its a winwin: to hire an overqualified applicant, for instance,
employers fill a skill gap in their organisation while for fear of having a more experienced person
candidates are upskilled into a role in demand. reporting to them, suggests Tania. It may be
Winwin it may be, but that doesnt take away a concern about their ability to keep up, but
from the fact that its all too easy to be swept up I think theres a threat there as well. You may have
in the search for the perfect fit so much so that just secured your own leadership position, and
you could find yourself passing over an applicant this person may already have had a wonderful
whos worthy of your attention without even lifetime of achievements. What most people are
realising. Because, like it or not, we all operate scared of is Theyre going to go for my job.
from a framework of preconceived ideas, and
whether it takes the shape of subconscious bias MIND THE GAP
or excessive focus, its making your search for Its an issue that resonates with mature job seekers
skilled staff even harder than it already is. who have the abilities and the desire to fill the
According to Tania, its common to approach skills gap but in many cases find themselves
a hire with a set candidate in mind, and so overlooked. A recent survey of Australian
unconsciously limit your options. Sometimes mature-age applicants undertaken by The Jobs
it just takes a stop/pause moment; it could be Agenda found 25 per cent were of the opinion
as simple as that, she says. Acknowledge your theyd been discriminated against for their age,
biases, because its okay; youre not a bad person. and 320,000 respondents were inactive but
Its the way we all operate. desperate to work.
For example, can an employer really complain While it may be personal fear that hampers
about being on the wrong end of a skills shortage, the uptake of the overqualified applicant, its
and still pass over an applicant because theyre induced fear thats giving younger applicants a
overqualified? Illogical and irrational as it may rough ride, spawned by attitudes we pick up from
sound to ignore an applicant who has the very the media. Certainly, millennials may not have the
skills youre looking for, chances are you know exact skill set youre looking for, but in the absence
someone who has done or still does this on of a hire who matches your criteria exactly, its
a regular basis. And it can be a similar story at the no defeat to adapt your search and perhaps take
other end of the age spectrum, with applicants on someone with youthful energy, someone you
passed over on the basis of their youth. Sure, could train yourself. But how often have you heard
neither candidate may fit the bill perfectly, but the opinion expressed that a millennial candidate
in many cases a deep-seated aversion to them will be flighty or a bad investment? Why on earth

52 |
The business of recruitment

would you go to all the trouble and expense of

grooming one for a role when, like it or not,
theyll be off trekking around Tibet in three FRAMEWORK OF PRECONCEIVED
months time?
Peter Noblet refutes that position. Millennials IDEAS, AND WHETHER IT TAKES THE
are just as loyal as those from other generations.
In a 2014 survey of ours of 1,000 Australians SHAPE OF SUBCONSCIOUS BIAS OR
aged 18 to 30, almost three in four (73 per cent)
expected to have six or fewer employers in their EXCESSIVE FOCUS, ITS MAKING YOUR
career. Forty-five per cent said job security was
the key factor they want from their careers. SEARCH FOR SKILLED STAFF EVEN
Indeed, by buying in to these commonly held
misconceptions, employers could be creating the
very conditions theyre seeking to avoid, driving
these young workers to quit in short order. By
adopting an attitude that millennials have no past the first hurdle especially when training
sticking power, employers may be holding off on on their own initiative is an increasingly
giving them the challenges and responsibilities expensive proposition?
that could convince them to stay. Millennials They could be paralysed by fear, suggests
loyalty is there for the taking, provided employers Tania. Thinking, Why would I do that, because
give regular feedback to their staff and offer them Im probably going to be overlooked because
the opportunity to work on projects of interest, there might be, say, an age bias? If employers
says Peter. show bias, the candidate is then probably
Tania agrees: The reason millennials will leave stopping themselves from moving forward too.
is that they cant see any career progression in the The best way to address any lack of skilled
organisation. We stifle their ambition by showing candidates, she suggests, must be to re-examine
them that all the positions are at the top, that your hiring criteria. Change the rules by softening
weve got tenure of 10 years-plus. Well, that your focus, analyse any unintentional blockages,
doesnt excite them in any way, because how and alter the result youre aiming for. Ultimately,
are they meant to get involved or be awarded the question you need to ask when hiring is not
one of those opportunities? When you look at exit Does this applicant have the specific skills Im
surveys, most of them have left because theyve looking for? Its What skills can this applicant
said theyre not learning. bring that I may not have acknowledged I need?
These are but two examples, but its worth Whenever weve gone through skill shortages
taking a step back and examining whether or not in particular areas, you have to recruit on attitude
your hiring choices are influenced adversely as opposed to them ticking every box in the
by any other factors too. It could be that until selection criteria. So have a look at their
you think about them objectively, you wont transferable skills and personality that they can
even spot them. And even if you find youre free bring in terms of fitting into the environment
of these blocks, you should be aware that the that you are leading. Then the workplaces that
hiring policies of companies other than your we build have got the greatest strength.
own could be contributing to the drain in talent. You may come across someone with exactly
Is there some way in which your own policy the right skills who could be the worst choice,
could lead by example? When the idea adds Peter. If a candidate doesnt align with
propagates that companies are focused only an organisations values and way it works, theyll
on the ideal candidate, a skills shortage can never be the right person for the job.
become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the final analysis, the way to beat a skills
After all, why would applicants go to the trouble shortage might be for employers to become more
of training to learn the skills youre seeking, and aware of the limitations they place on themselves.
so make themselves more desirable, if they Because the talent pool is out there you just
believe they have no chance of even making it need to change the way you fish it. | 53
Executive interview

Without good
people, we
dont have
a business.
CEO of Norman Disney & Young, Stuart Fowler believes
the people-first approach to management look
after your own and look after them well is the key
to future success.

To enhance the lives of
others by engineering
onsulting outstanding projects, But while its lattice network
engineering mindful that every of experts, sectors and geographies
firm Norman has been achieving amazing feats
Disney & Young project matters. of engineering, Stuarts enthusiasm
(NDY) takes To sustain deep and seems most deeply planted in the
its leadership care and development of NDYs
seriously. So
trusting relationships with people the one key constant of
much so that throughout its nearly our clients, through solving an otherwise future-looking machine.
60 years of existence, it has had their problems and serving At the end of the day, even
only three CEOs, all of whom them with utmost reliability. though we are heavily tech-
have demonstrated a longstanding influenced, we are still a people
commitment to the organisation. To engage our people with business. Putting our own people
The first was its original founder, meaningful, rewarding and first is absolutely fundamental to
David Norman, who started the the way that we conduct ourselves,
business in 1959. The consulting
inspiring opportunities. because without good people, we
mechanical engineer expanded dont have a business, says Stuart.
the Sydney-based business into Its a simple but vital concept,
Melbourne and Perth before the making sure you look after your own
dissolution of the original company, operating officer and member of the and look after them well. We have
after which it swiftly reopened as NDY Board. always believed in doing the right
NDY when David partnered with His similar dedication and loyalty thing by our own people first and
Allan Disney and Peter Young in to the business are what saw Stuart foremost. Perhaps its this steadfast
1971. NDY subsequently grew from selected to become the third and appreciation of what it takes to
a boutique Australian and New current CEO of NDY in 2015 after nurture talent that is behind the
Zealand operation into a global Ian stood down, following a long companys ability to retain its people
leader, embracing new market sectors, period of service and a rigorous from graduation to senior leadership.
geographies, and a global talent succession process from the Board. Without knowing it, Stuart could be
pool of 500-plus employees. Its been a fantastic journey, starting setting the career path for his own
Almost 60 years later, the firm at the ground level and working successor 20 years down the track.
is still one of Australias leading my way up, says Stuart. I like to The professional development
engineering consultancies. think of it as having a 27-year job of our people is an important focus.
When David retired in 1994, interview. After an official handover Were putting the right programs in
Ian Hopkins was appointed as the from Ian, Stuart was ready to lead place to ensure that learning and
new CEO. Joining the business in NDY through a period of continuing development is ongoing throughout
1977, Ian went on to serve 38 years growth and transformation. their career, and not necessarily just
with the company. In 1988, some I love the organisation and the subject matter they work in
years before Ian would take the derive immense enjoyment out of directly, but more broadly, says
helm as CEO, an ambitious student what we do. Im really proud and Stuart. These programs contain a
named Stuart Fowler would sign up privileged to now be leading the heavy focus on technology and the
for the NDY graduate engineer firm after all this time, he says. implementation of key systems to
intake program. Stuarts progression In a competitive global property streamline operations. For instance,
through the NDY ranks has since sector, NDY has emerged as one of human capital management software
seen him manage several Australian the few leading private engineering PeopleStreme ensures its people
and New Zealand offices, including consultancies that represents the key have access to up-to-date personal
a stint as Australian regional director pillars of sustainable design, advanced performance analytics and career
and his recent global role as chief technologies and diversity. development information. With easy

56 |
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We want to develop inspired and customised technology services
connected leaders throughout the based on the vendors expertise
business, and continue to deliver across the engineering, architectural
on our employee promises, says and construction sectors. One of
Stuart. As early technology adopters, the really interesting things about
NDYs digital capabilities have grown being involved in a broad matrix
exponentially since installing its first organisation like ours is you get
computer system in 1981, followed such fantastic insight into so many
by the first computer-aided design areas of business, industry and
(CAD) software six years later. society, says Stuart. With offices
NDY is now a leader in advanced spread across six different regions
automation and building information and projects across commercial,
modelling (BIM) systems. We are residential, public, health, industrial,
investing considerable time and transport and sport sectors theres
The Norman Disney & Young HR Department resources into understanding digital a very broad spectrum of project
is unique in that it is meticulously thorough with
its project scopes, unafraid to ask hard questions, trends and the way in which these opportunities that NDY engineers
and have long-term visions of what it aims to
achieve. Gina Leahy, Customer Experience
technologies produce improved client and designers are involved in at any
Manager, PeopleStreme outcomes, says Stuart. one time.

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Executive interview


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2. Igniting growth expansion, partnerships and acquisitions
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We have a fantastically diverse other engineering

and interesting workplace, says leaders in signing
Stuart. And for all those sectors the charter of the
and geographies, we employ Consult Australia Male
subject-matter experts that lead Champions of Change
our involvement in them. Their group, demonstrating
knowledge is shared throughout NDYs commitment
the group, allowing us to better in actively advancing
collaborate, share information and equality across its
experiences. Putting people first businesses. This
also means championing diversity commitment exists
initiatives, and NDY is proactive in all regions the
when it comes to inclusivity. The company operates in,
company is involved in initiatives which now extends
to encourage a wide range of people across Australia, New
with various backgrounds to get Zealand, the UK, the
involved in the business as well as UAE, South East Asia,
the engineering profession generally. and just last year,
Inclusiveness is something I feel Canada. Looking
very strongly about. The engineering ahead, expansion and other global hotspots through
profession needs to improve its prospects could include some financial aid and staff volunteering,
gender diversity, so addressing this acquisitions across the AsiaPacific. adds Stuart. This is an incredibly
issue and doing the right thing is Its pleasing to see the business meaningful part of it for us.
something NDY actively champions, grow its geographical footprint and With almost three decades at
says Stuart. The change needs to embrace projects beyond our borders, NDY, Stuart says the excitement
start pre-employment, pre-graduation, working with global clients. We get and meaning has never eased for him,
even pre-university. Thats why were to be involved in projects that have and he feels a huge affection for his
actively engaged with programs a positive impact on peoples lives, our profession and the organisation that
that work with secondary schools cities and our communities. helped it to bloom.
to improve the diversity of our talent Its this passion for positively Its an exciting time to be a
pipelines and properly address those contributing to the built environment consulting engineer: I love the work
opportunities at an early stage. that led the firm to establish the that we do, and I have enjoyed my
The company has also made great NDY Charitable Trust. In the five time as an engineer in the property
strides at an industry level with its years since our Charitable Trust and infrastructure sector. Its great to
recent list of hires and promotions was established, we have made a be part of a business that is constantly
featuring numerous prominent meaningful difference to communities growing and evolving and delivering
women. In 2013, former CEO Ian in Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Vietnam, great projects that, ultimately, make
Hopkins also joined a cohort of Solomon Islands, Ecuador, Tanzania a meaningful difference. | 59

igital transformation has become
something of a catch-all term.
Its difficult to define succinctly
because it does encompass
a broad sweep of technologies and it manifests
in different ways depending on company and
industry. The Altimeter Groups 2016 State of
Digital Transformation report defines it as: The
realignment of or investment in new technology,
business models, and processes to drive value for
customers and employees and more effectively
compete in an ever-changing digital economy.
Its a phenomenon usually associated with
big tech giants Google, Apple and Amazon, or
discussed in relation to the unicorn start-ups
that have defined disruption in the past five years
like Uber, Airbnb and Spotify. These digital native
companies have built their business models on
the back of the digital revolution, riding the waves
of innovation that have washed over the global
economy. But plenty of businesses beyond the
world of tech and its closely related industries
like media, fintech and logistics have also grasped
the brass ring of digital transformation.
Its easy to look at Amazon and say, This
is how you do digital, but what lessons can

60 |
Innovation & technology

creative young minds, but also as a brand name that has extended its reach into areas
such as film and video games.
Lego was founded in 1932 by Danish carpenter and inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen.
After it started to lose its lustre and market share in the 1990s, the company realised
it had to reinvent itself. Its digital strategy has been two-pronged: first, it placed its
strong brand legacy in new media contexts; second, and perhaps more importantly,
it created a platform that opened the Lego experience up to its fan base.
we learn from the likes of Lego? Here are four It achieved this by reaching out to its fans through digital portals, enabling them
companies that have assessed their market to design their own Lego creations. In essence, Lego saw the power of digital as
position, operational requirements, and business a way to reconnect with its customers while also appealing to a new generation.
models in the face of the challenge to transform
and stay ahead of the pack in a digital world. Here LESSON #3: AGFA APPLIED CORE KNOWLEDGE TO NEW AREAS
is how digital lessons can be applied to all sorts of Film company Kodaks demise is one of the textbook examples of the failure to
companies across a wide range of industries. comprehend the importance of digital transformation. However, less publicised is the
story of Kodak rival Agfa, which transformed its business model over the past decade
LESSON #1: DAIMLER USED by becoming a leader in the booming healthcare industry.
DIGITAL FOR LATERAL MOVEMENT While Kodak gambled on staying relevant as a consumer-facing company, Agfa
INTO NEW BUSINESS MODELS was quick to see the shift in the photographic industry and spun away from competing
Automotive manufacturer Daimler was there with the likes of Apple. Instead, it took its core intellectual property and experience
at the very start of car manufacturing in the into the lucrative area of healthcare imaging services.
1880s. It is one of the biggest makers of premium Agfa, which has been in the photographic business for 140 years, divested its
cars, including Mercedes-Benz and Maybach, consumer photographic businesses in 2004 in order to concentrate on new ventures,
and commercial vehicles in the world today. principally in healthcare imaging and high-quality digital printing. This required the
Its a company with a long and rich company to rethink how its knowledge and skills could
history, but one that has embraced be applied to new markets and business models.
the spirit of digital transformation. Its easy to look
In 2012, Daimler launched Moovel,
an advanced urban mobility platform at Amazon and LESSON #4: ASIAN PAINTS CREATED
that aims to get transport users from say, This is how AND PRODUCTION
point A to point B in the most efficient Asian Paints is not a familiar name to many, but it is one
manner, regardless of transport you do digital, of the biggest paint manufacturers in India. The company
mode. The service goes beyond Ubers
simple ride-share app to provide an
but what has provided an example of digital transformation applied
to operational processes that has caught the attention of
integrated experience for transport lessons can we leading digital thinkers.
users in big cities, allowing people
to search, book and pay for travel learn from the It scrutinised each aspect of its operations, from
sales through to manufacture, to identify opportunities where
by bike, bus, car, taxi, tram, train likes of Lego? it should implement new technologies and digital strategies.
and whatever else may be available. Processes like data centralisation and utilisation have enabled
Daimler has aggregated its extensive the company to free its salesforce to work more closely with
history in manufacturing, as well as fleet customers rather than as staff who simply take the orders.
and logistics management, and made smart This commitment to digital transformation, in tandem with the boom of the
investments in start-ups such as Car2Go in order Indian middle-class consumer, has catapulted the company to a market cap of
to pitch Moovel as the urban transport platform $US14.7 billion (March 2016) and a place at the table alongside some of the
of the near future. worlds most innovative companies.
Successful digital transformation requires strong leadership from the C-level
LESSON #2: LEGO EXPLORED NEW and a clear sense of what needs to be achieved in terms of end goals such as
OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT customer experience and operational processes. As demonstrated by the examples
Lego has enjoyed a massive resurgence in recent above, it is best achieved by a tailored approach rather than being viewed as an
years, not only as the toy blocks that help shape off-the-rack solution. | 61
Executive interview

leaders know
how to inspire.
Karin Sheppard loves the people and the culture at
InterContinental Hotel Group so much so, she happily
spent a day as a kitchenhand in one of her favourite hotels.
fter eight years A personal milestone for me was
working in my last promotion, which saw me move
various from heading up a function as Chief
international Commercial Officer, into leading our
marketing business in Australasia and Japan as COO.
roles in the It has been a true privilege to return to
IT industry, the country where I first joined IHG and
Karin Sheppard lead a business unit for the first time.
knew it was
time for a career change. Keen to find What changes have you seen in
an industry where she could be truly the industry?
passionate, she came across a position The impact of digital on the way our
with InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). guests plan, book and experience their
In 2001 she joined as the area director of stays with us is astounding. Mobile
sales and marketing, based at the beautiful accounts for the majority of the growth
Crowne Plaza at Sydneys Coogee Beach. in travel bookings, and our global scale and
She immediately fell in love with the hotel the strength of our digital capabilities
business, quickly progressing to a role in the enable us to offer strong levels of delivery
groups corporate office in Sydney. through our booking systems. We recognise
Then, in 2007, Karin was presented the importance of constantly upgrading
with the opportunity to move to the our booking platforms and our direct
UK to join IHGs Europe, Middle East digital channels, including our
and Africa division as Vice-President websites and mobile app, which have now
Brand Management. Three years later, collectively become IHGs largest channel.
an opportunity came up in Dubai as We are also committed to driving
Vice-President Commercial for the Middle a superior experience across the guest
East, and Karin saw a chance to learn about journey by offering quality technological
a different part of the world and immerse solutions before, during and after a guests
herself in its culture. Only six months into stay. We continue to evolve our content
the role a corporate restructure occurred, strategy to stay connected with guests
which resulted in the creation of IHGs and develop more meaningful relationships
Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) with them as they dream, plan, book,
division. Karin was offered the role of stay and share about their stays with us.
chief commercial officer. She relocated
to Singapore, which was her last stop As COO, whats your key area of focus
before returning to Australia in January right now?
2015 as COO for Australasia and Japan. Right now I am focusing on preparing for
our growth phase in this market. We now
The CEO Magazine: What have been have the strongest Australian hotel pipeline
some of the significant milestones weve had in a decade. [In 2016] we opened
since youve been with IHG? our first Holiday Inn Express in Australia
Karin: During my time as VP Brand with another four announced to open
Management for Europe, Middle East and in the next couple of years. We are also
Africa, I was part of a global team tasked planning for the launch of other IHG
with undertaking a complete refresh of the global brands here. With that expansion
Holiday Inn brand. It was the largest brand comes the need for a strong team of
refresh ever undertaken by any hotel talented leaders. I am passionate about
company and it was very exciting to be encouraging young, bright individuals
part of such a complex overhaul and then to pursue a career within IHG, which
seeing the positive impact it had on our is made possible through initiatives such
guest-satisfaction and brand ratings. as our IHG Future Leaders program.

64 |
Executive interview

What benefits come from being part We continue to evolve our content
of a global group?
There are many! With more than 5,200 strategy to stay connected with
hotels around the world and a presence in
over 100 countries, IHG is a truly global
guests and develop more meaningful
business. It has world-class distribution
systems, the industrys largest loyalty
relationships with them as they
program (IHG Rewards Club), and an dream, plan, book, stay and share
internal talent pool of over 100,000
colleagues. I can take advantage of all that about their stays with us.
in the day-to-day running of our business
Down Under.

What is your personal philosophy?

What do you think makes a driven We place a strong emphasis on
and successful leader? celebrating diversity and enabling everyone
I believe successful leaders know how to achieve their career goals.
to inspire others to be at their very best.
They give them the space to grow, Looking to the future, what
permission to fail and opportunity to are your plans for the growth
shine. They constantly think of the next of IHG in AsiaPacific?
mountain to climb and create high We have some extremely exciting plans
enthusiasm for the journey ahead. They and prospects for the region and are
communicate simply and clearly, and particularly focused on our pipeline in
manage to make every person understand AMEA. AMEA is a fast-growing region
the value they add to the companys for IHG with an expected increase of
mission. This is particularly important in more than 50 per cent in the number of
the hotel business, where the moment of hotels in the next three to five years. We
truth is the connection a hotel employee are expanding rapidly with a particular
makes with a guest. focus on high-growth markets such as
Indonesia and India. We are also exploring
How important is culture to the arrival and growth of new brands for
IHG? How do you instil it in this region and looking forward to a host
your employees? of new offerings.
Culture is extremely important. It starts In my personal remit, which includes
with our values, our Winning Ways that Japan, the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and
we live by as a company and as individuals, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
and is manifested in our Winning Culture will be an extremely exciting time. Our
that runs across all hotels and corporate hotels there are gearing up to welcome
offices. We run a program called A Day in the thousands of guests who will visit
the Life where we provide everyone with for these events.
the opportunity to immerse themselves in
the business. I personally enjoyed spending Finally, can we ask what you love
a day as a kitchenhand at Crowne Plaza most about your job?
Coogee Beach, my first hotel. The people. I love spending time in our
If you ask our people, many will say that hotels talking to those who really matter
IHG is like a family. Our company tends the chefs, housekeepers, engineers,
to retain its people for a long time, really waiters, concierges who all work tirelessly
affording the opportunity to progress from together to deliver great experiences that
an entry-level position and grow as far as our guests love. They are the true heroes
you aspire to. in this business. | 65
Executive interview

A cohesive
culture is
the key to
John Ahern, CEO of InfoTrack,
knows good culture when he sees it.

ve worked in some culturally Employer of Choice by the Australian
dysfunctional companies, admits Business Awards. While John is keen to
John Ahern. They may say they deflect the credit to InfoTrack chairman
work really hard at fostering and former CEO Stephen Wood, who he
a culture, but the reality is they says has a passion for building a culture of
are only words. InfoTrack is people that then enables a company to
one company that walks the talk, grow, its obvious that the current
according to its CEO. It always executive team are continuing his good
sounds really contrived to say that we have work. Were always looking for
a great culture and that we spend more opportunities to do things for our staff
time working on the people aspect of the because we know a cohesive culture is the
company than we do on just about anything key to innovation. Great ideas come from
else, but its true, he says. people who enjoy their jobs, John says.
InfoTracks heaving trophy cabinet is Case in point: a national ping-pong
proof. For the past three years, the championship held at InfoTracks Sydney
information technology company has headquarters last year. The top players from
ranked among the top 20 workplaces in each of its Australian offices were pitted
Australia on the annual Great Places to against each other, battling it out under
Work list, and in 2016 was named an strict competition conditions. One of | 67
months, since each employee has a
defined role to play in overall
company performance. Our
success is built on strategic
alignment; were all working
towards the common goal of
putting technology in the hands
of our clients. Were disrupters,
but we understand that this
industry isnt about bells and
whistles; its about whats simple
and intuitive and what provides
our clients with time savings.
Its no surprise to learn
InfoTracks general manager of
human resources is an Olympic
medallist (Fiona Crawford, who
was a member of the Australian
softball team that won silver and bronze in
Its about effort Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004).
Most general managers of HR Ive dealt
over obligation; with look after salary reviews and staff that
run naked through the office, John laughs.
its about working Fiona is the driving force of our high-
performance culture, and she works with
smarter and every manager to make sure that people
understand its not just a buzzword. Its
harder than about effort over obligation; working
smarter and harder than our competitors.
our competitors. John acknowledges that InfoTrack is
in a market not many people know exist
and uses the term information broker
to introduce it to the uninitiated. Since
day one, InfoTrack has been about taking
information about companies, individuals
our developers even emailed the CEO of and property and using technology to
Table Tennis Australia asking if he would add value, he adds, citing its electronic
send an umpire. So this former Olympian conveyancing platform as an example.
turns up to umpire the tournament, John has been on the road regularly over
surrounded by 100 cheering and chanting the past several months demonstrating this
InfoTrack employees. He told us he had technology to the industry in a series of
never seen a corporate event quite like it, roadshows across Australia.
John recalls. A year ago, the conveyancing process
A high-performance philosophy was paper-based; today electronic contracts
permeates all aspects of the business. Its are commonplace. The reason for that is
reflected in two of our core values that are weve introduced the technology in an
written on our walls here: we continually unobtrusive, easy-to-use way that integrates
improve to be the best; and we are into their current workflow. Were not
determined to reach our goals. Everyone forcing it on anyone; were simply
displays on their desk their personalised showing how it can help them provide a
top five objectives for the next four differentiated service, and theyre seeing

68 |
Executive interview

value in that, he says. The company was For John, InfoTracks success is
originally established in 2000 as LEAP a product of its employees. Its not only
Searching, a division of LEAP Legal about our sales team who continually
Software, the cloud-based legal software exceed their targets; its about our
for small law firms and conveyancers. operations teams who provide our award-
In 2012, it branched out on its own under winning service and our development team
the name InfoTrack to dominate the legal who release new features every day of the
and conveyancing industries, as well as week, he says. High-performance culture
numerous other verticals with regular is not just something we talk about; it is
search requirements including corporate, an environment we create and work hard
accounting, surveying and mercantile. to build every single day. Our people love
In the midst of this rapid expansion, what they do and care about the people
John still finds the time to go out on sales they work with, so theyre excited to be
calls and gets a kick out of it. I love here. Being surrounded by that type of
selling this product. Clients really get into energy is infectious and fosters innovation
the demonstration, its a lot of fun. Its not and collaboration.
uncommon to find John and his general I love coming to work, because Im
manager of sales, Brendan Smart, meeting surrounded by professionals who love what
potential clients together. We are big on they do and are determined to succeed.
celebrating every success at InfoTrack and
Brendan is a shining example of that. He Working with InfoTrack is as energising as it is satisfying!
InfoTrack clearly demonstrates the potential of a passionate,
takes a hands-on approach that has helped motivated and inspired team who embrace our business
lead his team to generate more than 120 relationship and work proactively with us to attract the best
talent in our market. Graham McKean, General Manager,
new clients per month. Sound Consulting

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hile investment Here we highlight seven cities that are environment for this type of business are
decisions will always leading the way in developing a compelling seeing significant investor interest.
depend on the mix of education, lifestyle, infrastructure, A large part of the attraction for these
individual their technology and real estate and, in the in-moving tech firms is the prospect of
appetite for risk, process, becoming the kind of vibrant, becoming part of an ecosystem that has
their level of experience and expertise attractive locations where people want been designed to attract the best talent.
and the level of return theyre looking to work, shop, play and live. While each Education is a critical component, ensuring
for away from the main global gateway of the cities featured here is unique, a regular flow of the type of highly skilled
cities such as London, New York, they do have certain characteristics in employees so sought after by fast-growing
Tokyo and Paris, a growing number of common. In particular, the rapid growth companies in the global war for talent.
exciting locations is emerging, with all of technology companies is driving a wave And hand-in-hand with this comes
the ingredients needed to make them of regeneration and development that demand not only for office space, but for
attractive long-term commercial real estate echoes through all real estate sectors. housing, retail, logistics, hotels and other
investment choices for the private investor. Cities that can provide a favourable types of income-producing real estate.

70 |

With a population forecast to surpass Sydneys by 2036,
Melbourne is a thriving city that has undergone significant
transformation over the last decade. In particular, there is
strong growth in city centre living; unsurprising, given that
the Economist Intelligence Unit rates it as the worlds most
liveable city. In addition, the city is now the second-largest
office market in Australia (behind Sydney), with the number
of employees based in the central business district (CBD)
increasing by more than 24 per cent over the past 10 years.
This has led to a wave of development activity with several
large mixed-use schemes already delivered and a number
in the pipeline, including the 30-year renewal project at the
Fishermans Bend precinct, which will cover 450 hectares
in Port Melbourne, south-west of the CBD. The scheme will
include new high- and medium-density commercial and
residential development for up to 80,000 residents and
a working population of 60,000 by 2046. The continued
emergence of these major projects provides investment
opportunities of a scale and diversity to appeal to large
investors, helping to maintain Melbournes position as
a primary destination for global and domestic capital.


Amsterdam is working its way up the ranking of
European tech locations and was rated one of the
five most innovative cities in the world in the
2015 CITIE survey. There is a thriving start-up
scene; a host of co-working spaces including
B.Amsterdam, WeWork and Spaces, and
Uber, Netflix and Tesla are among the major
players opting to make Amsterdam their
mainland Europe headquarters. Theres
no shortage of home-grown talent, either:
Ayden, for example, handles online payments
for clients including Facebook, Netflix, Spotify,
Uber and Airbnb, and is valued at over US$1bn
the Netherlands first unicorn. Add to this
its consistently high score as one of the worlds
most liveable cities, plus the quality of its transport
links, both via Schiphol airport and overland to the
rest of continental Europe, and you have a compelling
case for the continued success of Amsterdam as a home
for both business and leisure. | 71
As a model for successful regeneration, Berlin is
currently riding high. The two central districts of
Mitte and Kreuzberg have led the regeneration
wave, with Friedrichshain the most recent to take
on the creative mantle. Even Berlins coolest districts
are not immune: Pankow, with its buzzing cultural
scene, boutiques and vibrant nightlife, is also now
becoming increasingly gentrified. Recent years
have seen an explosion of start-ups with more than
40,000 new companies incorporated each year.
Crucially, the cost of living in Berlin is one of the
lowest in Germany and compares favourably with
the rest of Europe it is around a third less than
London encouraging a young and vibrant culture.
More than 174,000 people moved to the city in
2014, over half of them from overseas. The citys
economy is now one of the best performing in the
country, driven by both tourism and services.

Touted as the IT and start-up capital of India, Bengaluru
has emerged as an attractive destination for multinational
enterprises looking to set up innovation centres and tap
AUSTIN: USA into a fresh pool of technology talent. In-movers including
Austin is fast becoming a global model for forward-thinking cities and Uber, Airbus and Visa now sit alongside a healthy start-up
has gained the title of Silicon Hills, the Silicon Valley of the south. Its scene, with home-grown tech success stories such as
not hard to see why: its innovative mindset, enterprise-friendly environment, Flipkart, InMobi and Mu Sigma all now part of the billion-
entrepreneurial focus and unique culture have transformed it from a dollar unicorn club. Importantly, the city has a number
government-dominated economy into a technology leader. Companies with of top-class global research institutes such as the Indian
bases in Austin range from tech titans such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Institute of Science, as well as many state-owned research
Oracle, Cisco Systems, Dell and Hewlett-Packard through to seed-stage and organisations that are turning out the innovative culture
start-up ventures. This environment, along with the steady flow of graduates and workforce so vital to todays growing cities. As global
from the University of Texas and other nearby schools, plus in-migration that is enterprises look beyond the established hubs to find
increasing the population by 150 people a day, is attracting further corporates new talent pools and centres of innovation, Bengaluru
looking for a young and educated workforce. A wave of construction is has built a strong eco-system and the momentum to
attempting to keep pace with demand, with a focus on both workspaces emerge as a leading option for both domestic and
and co-working environments, and high-density multi-family housing. international businesses.

72 |

Often thought of as a tourist destination
and home for wealthy residents, drawn by
healthy tax incentives and an abundance
of sunshine, rather than as a commercial
property hotspot, Floridas most famous
city is reinventing itself as a creative and
technology hub. In-movers such as
Microsofts Innovation Centre, the
companys first in the US, in 2014 and the
emergence of a lively art scene around Art
Basel have led to new districts, restaurants
and galleries and attracted a new
generation of residents. The retail sector in
particular is thriving with the recently opened
Brickell City Centre supermall, part of a wider
US$1.05bn mixed-use development, adding
new names to the roster of global and boutique
retailers already located in the expanding Miami Design
District and Wynwood Arts District, plus the new Miami
Worldcenter development, scheduled to open in 2017. In
addition, the citys education offer continues to improve with the
University of Miamis business and law schools rising up the rankings.


Supported by a broad base of corporate industries
such as automotive, telecommunications, logistics
and retail, Mexico City continues to attract
significant foreign direct investment as the gateway
to emerging markets in the rest of Latin America.
The citys growing middle class is spurring
significant redevelopment and regeneration.
Large mixed-use projects are transforming
neighbourhoods including Paseo de la Reforma,
Polanco and Insurgentes and include modern
housing and offices as well as shopping centres.
Indeed, the office market has grown by 200 per
cent since 2000, with 170 new buildings. And with
a new international airport under construction,
Mexico City is investing in the future. The first
phase of development, scheduled to be completed
in the early 2020s, is expected to provide capacity
for up to 50 million passengers and 550,000
flights a year. This has the potential to rise to 120
million passengers and one million flights by 2015. | 73
Executive interview

We are a little Aussie

company punching
above our weight
around the world.
Meet Simon Hickey, CEO of Campus Living Villages, the
Australian business with a current value of $2 billion.

ike much of todays managing director and global CEO of
adult Australian Campus Living Villages, or CLV as it is also
population, Simon commonly referred to, sees proof that local
Hickey grew up in an attitudes are changing everywhere he looks,
era when, if you chose even within his own family. My daughter
the path of tertiary is approaching the end of high school and
education, you most is thinking about what she wants to do
probably remained when she finishes, and one thing that really
living at home and commuted to and from excites her is the possibility of living on the
campus, usually cramming in last-minute university campus itself, Simon explains.
tutorial readings while jostling for space I guess her idea about what happens next
on overcrowded buses or trains. Its a is very different from when I was her age.
characteristic that has long distinguished Looking over glossy images of
us from our American and British CLVs flagship UNSW Residence at the
counterparts, who traditionally view the University of New South Wales, which
move to university as a rite of passage into just happens to be Simons alma mater,
adulthood, a transition that involves leaving its easy to understand why on-campus
home, in all senses of the word. Yet the living presents an attractive option for >>

74 |
Executive interview
Along with Australia,
the US, the UK and
New Zealand have the
largest flow of
international students,
which is why we have
chosen to be there.

so many of tomorrows university

graduates. Even he admits he often
finds himself wishing for just one more
year at university. I look at some of
the residences we are developing and
could absolutely see myself living there,
he laughs.
Opened in 2010, the development at
the heart of the eastern Sydney university
campus cost $127 million to complete we are a little Aussie company punching
and boasts 1,021 beds, a caf, theatre and above our weight around the world, and
three-level student lounge. thats a really great thing for us to be
But Simon isnt one of these perennial doing, he says. But, I also think that this
student types who spend their adulthood business is on a big growth path in each
jumping from degree to degree. Quite the of the regions we operate in, and thats
opposite, in fact. Since graduating with a exactly the sort of thing I love to do. So it
degree in commerce in 1987, hes worked was too good an opportunity to pass up.
his way to the top of some of the biggest This little Aussie company, as Simon
companies in Australia and around the refers to it, is currently valued at around
world, including Arthur Andersen and $2 billion. Since the first students moved
Lend Lease. Prior to joining CLV in 2015, into the Sydney University Village (its
he was the CEO of Qantas International inaugural residence at the University
and Freight. of Sydney that opened in 2003), CLV
So what attracted him to the role at has helped shape on-campus experience
CLV? When I actually sat down and asked at universities around the world.
myself what I love doing, I realised the As of the start of 2017, it has around
answer involved taking something that 45,000 beds across Australia, New Zealand,
fundamentally provides value, which the the US and the UK, with plans to double
provision of accommodation for tertiary that figure in the next five years. Clearly,
students does, and growing it. At CLV, student accommodation is big business.

76 |
Executive interview

CLV operates by what it calls a P3 isolated, so we are trying to ensure that

model, or publicprivate partnerships. we communicate well, that all our residents
What that actually means, he explains, know where help is and how to access it,
is that we will build a relationship with he says.
the university, where we build on campus A proactive attitude has also been
on their land, and then we take out a lease adopted. Research has shown that animals,
on it for, typically, between 30 and 40 for instance, enhance your mental health
years. We then develop accommodation, outlook. In the UK, we have worked with
which we own and operate. the Royal Society for the Blind to bring
What happens after the lease has some of its puppies to the residents. Its
expired? We havent been around for proved enormously popular and brought
30 years yet, he laughs. But even a real energy to the students, he explains.
now we are seeing that after 10 years, He acknowledges that the countries
conversations are being had with the where CLV currently has a presence share
university about their future intentions. more than a common language. Along
So we dont believe that the end of a lease with Australia, the US, the UK and
will mean transferring the building back New Zealand have the largest flow of
and walking away. Our discussions are international students, which is why
about what more we can do and how we we have chosen to be there, he says.
can keep the relationship going, he says. Unsurprisingly, the company does very,
By no means does CLV have the very well with international students in
profitable campus accommodation market Australia and New Zealand, according
to itself, but what Simon believes to Simon. Purpose-built student
distinguishes it is its live, learn and grow accommodation is certainly one of the
program. Its part of our DNA, he says. factors these students will look at when
Much more than bricks and mortar, they initially arrive in Australia. But, in
the completion of a residence is only the the UK and the US in particular, Simon
beginning at CLV. We really provide the has found that partners such as the
full service: not just building management University of Illinois see superior campus
or building maintenance, but working with accommodation offerings as a crucial
the universities to provide ongoing pastoral component in promoting overall student
care as well, he explains. From getting on-site experience, especially when
to know you functions at the start of faced with an increasingly compelling
every academic year, to activities such as online alternative.
cooking lessons, we put a lot of energy Its been no secret in the financial
into getting the culture of a residence press that CLV, through its investment
going, he says. bank UBS, has been seeking potential new
What weve learned is the quicker investors as it pursues a growth strategy
people get settled into their new home that will see it approach 100,000 beds in
life at our residences, the quicker they 2022. At the time of going to print, the
get settled into university, find friendship deadline for expressions of interests was
groups and succeed in their studies. fast approaching.
But it doesnt stop there. Noticing Whatever the outcome, the company
a spike in self-harm incidents across is adamant that the business model wont
its properties, Simon and the CLV change. Simon identifies Ireland as the next
management team have implemented country the company is looking to enter
a global initiative on mental health in as it expands its footprint in established
conjunction with universities. markets. It will be an easy first step
Were not counsellors, nor do we want towards mainland Europe for us, a move
to be Mum or Dad. But what we do want which I think will ultimately be on the
to do is ensure that people dont feel cards, he says. | 77

78 |
Management & leadership


euroscience is coming out Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan decision-making and emotional control, and
of the lab and into the mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde goes to those parts that get us ready to run
workplace, and its a subject Uinervtisy, it dsenot mttaer in waht oderr the away or to fight. This defensive threat state
every leader will benefit from lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is means that we are not highly productive
understanding, because it is also the taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. we are distracted and see the world of work
science of human performance and You can read it as if all the letters were through a filter
motivation. We all have good and bad days in the right order. of threat. Being aware of how we respond
at work days when we feel a real sense of to change is half the battle; and once
achievement and others when we wonder OUR LAZY BRAINS we understand the neurological reasons
where the hours went. What makes the Our minds also want to be lazy. They are we are better placed to get the most out
difference? Understanding our brains just two per cent of our body weight but of ourselves and our team as we support
a little better, how they function, and what use up 20 per cent of our energy, so they them through periods of transition.
they need to be focused on means we can want to conserve mental energy. As a
have more beneficial, productive hours result, they like habits because they require
at work. For leaders, in particular, this is less mental effort. This is one of the 4 THINGS LEADERS CAN
essential knowledge. reasons we carry on running meetings in
the same old way, even though we know

OUR BRAINS ARE they are not that productive anymore. Create awareness among teams.
NOT DESIGNED FOR Simply being aware that the brain is
THE TWENTY-FIRST WHY DO WE FIND not designed to like change that is
CENTURY WORKPLACE ORGANISATIONAL unpredictable and uncontrollable
One of the challenges we face is that work CHANGE DIFFICULT? means that we should be more
has changed hugely, but our brains have What does organisational change mean? empathic towards ourselves and
not. In fact, we havent evolved all that For employees, it means that their brains towards others. If we are struggling
much since our ancestors were out on the cannot instantly and easily predict with change, it is comforting to
Savannah. However, one part of the brain outcomes. It also requires learning to do know it is not because we are weak:
has developed: the prefrontal cortex. This things differently, which needs mental our brains simply arent hardwired
area plays an important role in decision- effort. Our brains simply dont like it. to cope with it very well.

making and analytical thinking, and so it In fact, change that is unpredictable and
Consider how you can create
is essential for modern work. But the rest feels uncontrollable is very stressful to the
more certainty for people. Having
of our brains are still set up to deal with human brain. Choice the feeling that we
some certainty settles the brain.

the challenges of basic survival escape have some influence over what is going on
predators, belong to a tribe, find shelter is very important to the brain. The mental Learn to involve people in some
and food. This means that we are trying to state of leaders who are better informed way. The brain likes choice, and
lead people with brains that are designed about imminent changes, and who have even small amounts of autonomy
for a different environment not the influence, will be in a very different place make a big difference to our brain
twenty-first-century workplace. to the brains of employees who feel they and help it to regain focus.

have less control or no choice in the matter. Set short-term goals for people.
OUR BRAINS ARE What does all this mean? When our Achieving a goal puts our head
PREDICTION MACHINES brains are in this state of uncertainty, they into a better place and changes
Our brains want to be able to predict. cannot think at their best. Designed to cope the chemical balance in the brain.
If they can anticipate events, they are better with life in the wild, they go into flight, fight, Achieving a goal feels rewarding
able to protect us. To show how good your flock or freeze mode. This means that blood to the brain and enables it to take
brain is at predicting and making sense, flows away from the prefrontal cortex, the on the next challenge.
take a look at the following paragraph: part of our brain that is so important for | 79
Executive interview

While you might not have heard of the
ASX-listed business Metcash, theres
a good chance youve already shopped
at one of its independent retail brands
such as IGA, Mitre 10 or Cellarbrations.

80 | | 81
ts the lesser known corporate marketing support. Ian Morrice oversees
entity for household names across the companys operations as Group CEO.
the food and grocery, hardware Hailing from Scotlands Aberdeen, he has
and liquor sectors. But although lived in the UK and New Zealand, and now
it might fly under the radar, the calls Sydney, Australia, home. He moved his
role it plays in the Australian retail family to New Zealand in 2005 to take up
marketplace is critical. Metcash the post of Group CEO and managing
is the countrys largest wholesaler director with The Warehouse Ltd, before
and distributor, supplying and jumping across the Tasman and joining the
supporting more than 10,000 independent Metcash Board in 2012. He was appointed
retailers across its three businesses. Group CEO in July 2013.
Its brands include IGA, Foodland, Ian explains that Metcash is the name
Friendly Grocer and Campbells in the behind the strong retail brands representing
food, grocery and convenience space; independent retailers, giving them a chance
Mitre 10, Home Timber and Hardware, to compete.
True Value and Thrifty Link in hardware; We are the face of independent retail
and IGA Liquor, Cellarbrations, Thirsty in Australia, he states. It is absolutely
Camel and The Bottle-O in liquor. vital to Australia that there is a sustainable,
Metcashs focus is to support the success independent, family-owned business sector,
of these independent businesses, providing and that is at the core of everything we
them with all the tools they need to become do. The biggest difference we can make is
the best store in town. This includes to continue to ensure that family businesses
efficient and timely distribution of products can thrive across all of the markets that we
as well as merchandising, operational and serve in the country.

Its our commitment

to quality and innovation
that puts us on top.
On top of chicken, on top of roasts, on top of
sausages, on top of stir fries, on top of meals right
across Australia.
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Executive interview

He uses the three-legged stool metaphor Our vision is that every

to describe the Metcash business model.
There is a very strong interdependency independent ... should aspire
between Metcash as the wholesaler and
our retailers and our suppliers. We provide to be the best store in town ...
independent retailers with a competitive and
efficient scale of operation for getting supply and be genuinely loved by
of all the major products that we sell, and
on the other hand we make it more efficient
the local community.
for suppliers whether national or local
to reach what would otherwise be a very
diverse and disparate network of retail and
independent channels, he says.
Ultimately, our focus is on providing
merchandising, operational and marketing size. The newly created Independent
support through our network of strong Hardware Group provides a more
retail brands, as well as efficient distribution competitive wholesale buying group for
via diverse solutions, to enable the success the benefit of independent hardware and
and growth of independent retailers across home improvement retailers, particularly
the country. against the dominant player.
The company has come a long way from Ian admits the past five years have been
its origins as a standalone corner store in a steep yet successful learning curve
the inner Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo and a time of immense change and turmoil
in 1924. In figures released by Roy Morgan in the hardware sector. He draws attention
Research towards the end of 2016, one of to the impact that the dominant players
Metcashs brands the supermarket IGA have had on small, independent hardware
has a 9.8-per-cent share of Australias stores. A lot of independents have gone
$89.8-billion supermarket industry, placing to the wall as big stores have been dropped
it fourth overall. into their small towns overnight. So its
The liquor arm is displaying even really important to bring more independents
stronger results. Here we are number into the same banner group so they can
two, where half our distribution is to retail share in the efficiencies and we can build
stores that fall within our banner groups the buying power to make them more
Cellarbrations, IGA Liquor and The competitive, he says.
Bottle-O, and half to contract and wholesale Under Ians leadership, Metcash has
customers including many licensed premises a clear strategy, one it has shared widely
around Australia, he says. The business with both its retailers and suppliers. The
continued to extend its footprint in customer is the central player in all our
201617 when it added a number of plans. Everything that we put in place
new brands to the group including Thirsty in terms of our strategies to grow the
Camel and Porters in New South Wales. business is based on where the shopper is
The 2012 acquisition of Mitre 10 and going and this has shifted, he explains.
True Value Hardware signalled Metcashs So the first part of our vision is that
foray into the hardware pillar. Last year, every independent, whether they are a
Metcash added to its portfolio when it supermarket, a liquor retailer or a hardware
purchased Home Timber and Hardware store, should aspire to be the best store in
from the Woolworths Group for a reported every town. They need not be the biggest
$165 million. We have now taken the two floor space in town, and they may not
biggest independent networks in Australia necessarily have the widest range, but they
and we are in the process of putting them must be tailored to that local community,
together in a business that is now twice the be celebrated for the individuality that | 83
Executive interview

they have, and genuinely loved by the locals.

The key is to help retailers discover or
build on the differentiation that they have
in order to achieve this, he continues. Its
retailers have donated more than $2 million
to Australian communities over the past
year. These donations directly impact the
local areas in which retailers operate, from
supporting local schools or charities to local
fire services.
The key is to adapt this purpose to each
of the three markets. Each has been going
through its very own set of different industry
dynamics, he said. Obviously, in the food
and grocery sector we are still in a highly
competitive period.
Two initiatives have been introduced
with the consumer in mind. Our Price
Match Program ensures that our pricing Australians are fundamentally
remains competitive with the chains for
both branded and private label products, loyal to supporting local and
while Project Diamond is a big refurbishment
program across the IGA banner to improve small businesses. But they are also
the shopping experience, with an increased
emphasis placed on the amount of prime
some of the most promotionally
floor space given to fresh produce and oriented consumers in the world.
ready-made meals, he says.
More than 150 refurbishments have been So we have to be competitive and
completed to date, and most participating
stores have witnessed a significant increase we have to have the right offer.
in sales as a result.
A similar initiative, called Project
Sapphire, is being introduced across its
Mitre 10 and Home Timber and Hardware
stores. What I find particularly encouraging,
if you look at the long-term prospects for Weve had to put quite a focus on proving
sustainable, successful independents, is that to consumers that they can come into their
every multi-site owner by that I mean local independent and have the right price
owners of six stores or more in our food as well as access to products that other stores
and grocery network is today investing in dont stock, he says.
their stores, whether through refurbishment Metcash employs more than 6,500
or even through new openings, he enthuses. people, united by a common passion:
That wasnt happening a few years ago. to drive a successful independent
Ian has discerned that the Australian business sector. As a leadership team,
shopper displays certain bankable we are absolutely focused on our
characteristics. Australians are fundamentally ultimate purpose, which is supporting
loyal to supporting local and small businesses, successful independents.
he shares. But they are also some of the For us, to be successful, independent
most promotionally oriented consumers in retailers need to be successful. For that
the world. So we have to be competitive to happen, they need a successful wholesaler
and we have to have the right offer. behind them.

84 |
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Murray Goulburn
Executive interview

Were the
Next generation.
At the 10-year anniversary of construction firm
Next, Managing Director Mark Di Noia reflects on
his time with the company, how fate propelled
him back to the construction industry, and
whats in store for the next decade.

ark Di Noia feeds divulge snippets of a warm and
is a driven executive supportive family man who works hard
who at times is run but doesnt take himself too seriously, and
off his feet planning who remembers whats important in life.
new strategies, From the proud post on his sons first day
keeping the of school; a fun photo at a costume party,
company growing, working alongside his cold beer in hand; to the soggy selfie
CEO Joseph Di Girolamo, and doing in his running kit after a gallant attempt
interviews for certain executive magazines. at marathon training that involved an
But beneath his business prowess is hour and a half of torrential rain, its clear
something very personal. that Mark has layers that were built on
A quick online search for Mark reveals a foundation of family, hard work, and
much more than a businessman. His social the importance of self-care. | 87
Its this foundation that also drove him Instead, Mark completed a Bachelor of
to the construction industry which, to him, Commerce at Sydney University, and the
is not so much business as it is personal. then-eager 21-year-old quickly ventured
At first I didnt know what attracted into hospitality and retail. This led to his
me to the industry, but then I realised first business opportunity, working as a
it isnt just business; its very personal freehold co-owner and manager of a chain
for me. I grew up around all of it. As of service stations in the Blue Mountains
third generation in the industry, my father region of New South Wales.
was also a builder in the 80s and 90s, After six years of redeveloping those
says Mark. business operations, Mark leased the sites
Always planning to follow in to Caltex Australia in 2008, and then went
his fathers footsteps, there came a sharp on to sell to Woolworths Ltd in 2009.
fork in Marks road when his fathers life They were two important deals that I did
was tragically cut short at the age of 36. at an early stage of my career. This set me
Mark was just 12 at the time. Before up for the next step when I returned to
that, I had grown up wanting to be like my Sydney and crossed paths with Joseph Di
dad, but that experience really turned me Girolamo in 2008, who had founded Next
off the industry. He was such a hard worker Constructions just the year before,
and had so much responsibility, says Mark. explains Mark. I planned to stick around
After that, I didnt want to be known as for a few weeks to see what he was doing,
my fathers son anymore; I wanted to strike but I enjoyed it so much I never left.
my own ground and be known for Now Mark has no regrets about ending up
something different, so I purposely avoided in construction like his father, claiming it
the construction industry in the early days. was meant to be. Joseph and I really hit

Challenge you to imagine

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Executive interview

it off. We had a strong respect for each Nexts Managing Director Mark Di Noia with
Founder & CEO Joseph Di Girolamo.
other, and I found that the industry, in
some strange way, had come back to me.
I realised that this is where I was always
meant to be. Its in my blood.
At the tender age of 26, Mark
became Josephs right-hand man
a commercial director who, drawing
from his commerce studies, was
responsible for establishing Nexts
finance, human resources, quality
assurance and business development
functions. The company quickly grew
from its foundation business, Next
Constructions, to include services across
construction, fit-out and refurbishment
in a wide range of industries for major
corporate, institutional, public sector
and private clients, now known just
as Next.
Going from retail and hospitality
back to construction so quickly, and now numbers average from around 35 to now
entering my tenth year working at Next, 60 full-time staff, which is great, adds
it is amazing how my life took me down Mark. The companys strong performance
this path, he says. has seen the team recognised by Business
Despite the Review Weekly
personal element (BRW) in the
of the construction This industry publications Top 100
industry for Mark, Fast Starters List in
he also has no trouble is where I was 2011 and 2012, as well
getting down to brass as more recently being
tacks when discussing meant to be ... featured two years in
Next as a business. a row on the BRW
We seem to be going its in my blood. Fast 100 list, ranked
from strength to 77 in 2015, then
strength, he says. Our shooting up to 27 in
projected revenue for 2016. To achieve that
this next financial year is forecast to be for the last two years, and with drastic
from $80100 million, and over the past improvement year on year, was a really
four years we have achieved an average nice accomplishment, says Mark.
growth rate of more than 100 per cent for It wasnt all accolades and smooth
both revenue and EBIT each year. I think sailing, however, with Mark and Joseph
that kind of achievement is really putting in a great deal of elbow grease
something for a construction business. In at the beginning to sustain their fledgling
the past year, we have also seen staff business through the throes of the GFC.
In our lifetime, that was probably
one of the most significant financial
events to ever occur. So for Joseph to start
Next has a friendly team, and over the past 24 months
the can-do attitude of its staff has helped us complete his first business then and for me to be
each project to perfection. Overall its been a great journey
working with them. Frank Forouzandeh, Managing Director,
in a totally new industry, it was quite
Modern Painting confronting, says Mark. For us to get | 89
through those first two or three years,
just grinding away, not doing the jobs
that we envisaged we would do at the
start we had to really earn our stripes.
After knuckling down through the
worst of it, Next was finally recognised
as a competent contractor for construction,
As our business is fit-out and refurbishment work, with
very successful public projects like fashion
always evolving, brand Zaras first retail store in Sydneys
Pitt Street Mall in 2011. The job saw
its important that we Next praised by Zaras head architect
for a job well done, and completed on
stay agile and open to time, despite the complexity of the site.
That was an amazing success, and it was
change to meet the advertised nationally, which really set us
on the path to being a key player in our
growth and keep industry, says Mark. It was also those
initial big projects that made us appreciate
it controlled. the need to streamline business processes
throughout the whole company. That
meant putting systems in place that we
still have today, which enabled us to
not be a flash in the pan but to grow
year on year.
The companys commitment to
maintaining strong relationships with its
subcontractors and ensuring it honours
its commitments to its suppliers is a big
contributor to the overall success of
projects, says Mark. If we take painting,
for example, our subcontractor Modern
Painting Group has always delivered with
the quality and consistency needed to
deliver a great project. Modern Painting
Group has worked with Next across
various residential and retail projects,
including H&M stores in New South
Wales. And on our side, we always
honour our commitments, which means
its always been a good relationship both
ways, Mark adds.
Both Mark and Joseph have sung the
praises of their strategic partnership with
EOS Australia (formerly Gallop Solutions),
which helped them to clarify their vision

Joseph and Mark have been trailblazers in their ever-

challenging industry because they are crystal clear on their
vision; they are masters of ensuring that the whole company
is on the same page and executing the vision every day.
Daniel Davis, Founder & CEO, EOS Australia

90 |
Executive interview

and determine the right structure and name Next, was because we are the next
processes needed for the business to generation, the next best thing coming
scale with ease. up, and we are going to innovate, says
Since first working with the business Mark. We have implemented systems
training firm, Next has seen its annual used by Tier 1 construction companies
turnover double, and profit has increased because if we take that advanced approach
year on year. As our business is constantly before we really need it, then we have
evolving, its important that we stay time for it to become ingrained early on.
agile and open to change so that we can That way we are always able to handle the
meet that growth, and keep it controlled, future growth in an agile way, as opposed
says Mark. We have always planned in to being reactive when it is too late and
advance so that we are not reactive but all it does is create confusion.
proactive, and EOS has really helped us Its certainly onwards and upwards for
to facilitate that planning for a much the group, with plans for the next 10 years
larger-scale business than we are working including advancing into a Tier 2 player,
with. So were always refining the good and further diversifying across its services
things we have in place and preparing and sectors. As we approach our 10-year
for the next level. anniversary for the business, we can look
The next level is always on the back and appreciate how far weve come
periphery, and it was the desire to operate and to thank all those who have helped
in a proactive, agile working environment us to get here. But the next day well
that had given the company its name. be back at it, looking ahead and asking,
When Joseph founded the company, our Whats next? because whats next
raison dtre, and the reason we chose the is who we are.

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Is your team trusting or just polite? Four steps to ensure a trusting corporate culture.


92 |
Management & leadership

etween Volkswagen recalls, FIFAs The second step is to initiate
racketeering and Wells Fargos uncomfortable dialogue. In teams where
fake accounts, some of the most excessive politeness is the norm, this will be WHO WILL HELP
recent corporate scandals have
been mainstream events with far-reaching
difficult. People may try to initiate
uncomfortable dialogue at the end of a
impact. Theyve not only clouded public meeting, but dialogue is unlikely to get BECOME VIBRANT
perceptions of business, but also challenging at that time. No-one wants to
highlighted the pervasive mistrust leave a meeting on bad terms. Difficult SOURCES OF TRUST.
underpinning interactions among conversations need to be initiated in the
corporate executives. Individual middle or even at the beginning of a
whistleblowers wont bring about sweeping meeting. They also need a defined space feedback, we stay with one another through
cultural change. We need leaders who will and time, as moving to another room and our feelings of rejection. If acceptance
help whole organisations become vibrant agreeing on a time limit will facilitate and follows, we feel greater trust in the
sources of trust. contain a difficult conversation. Also, relationship, which is the key to maintaining
Sure, leaders aspire to create challenging different spaces can break the scripted, the balance between the intimacy and
discussions that can move their organisations polite conversations that often emerge tension needed for optimal productivity. It
forward. But does the corporate culture among executives. needs to be a gradual and reciprocal
allow them to do so without descending into The third step is to encourage process. Sharing too much can overwhelm,
personal attacks? The willingness to transparency. More than allowing others to and too little can breed mistrust.
challenge is often undermined by an already see information that is otherwise held The fourth step is to keep difficult
existing absence of trust marked by privately, a deeper level of transparency is conversations ongoing and continuous.
politeness and defensive behaviour. about actively sharing and revealing thoughts, While executives will need to move on and
There are four steps to developing and emotions and beliefs that flow through our get back to the task, if a relationship is left
maintaining trust: mind. Senior executives are usually good at bruised or raw, it is better to
First, managers must recognise the keeping these private, and some believe it is acknowledge it and move on than pretend
symptoms of low trust levels. These are often the right thing to do. But its not humanly nothing has happened. It is also wise to
seen in how communication takes place. possible; everyone carries emotions with come back to the conversation a day or a
When meaningful conversations occur them that influence their perceptions and week later. As time passes, if expressed,
mostly on the side, or outside of the judgement. Suppressing emotions can trick most difficult feelings pass; and by coming
committee room, theres a big indication us into thinking that there is no discomfort back to the issue, you are signalling that
something isnt quite right. When teams being experienced. To be sure, building trust you are still with the person and not
consistently run out of time for discussion requires an active disclosure of selected avoiding or dismissing them. You are
and debate because presentations are thoughts and feelings. We cannot disclose showing them that they can trust you with
taking too long, perhaps its because time everything we think or feel. the difficult issues, not just the polite ones.
isnt being left for such valuable Another form of transparency involves With corporate failures often
conversations. Are executives simply giving feedback. For example, I felt irritated dominating the headlines, one has to ask
pretending to listen, not pausing long with you when you said On the surface, how many could have been avoided if there
enough for others to speak? Are feedback can be seen as a personal attack, had been more trust across management.
conversations repetitive with executives and as such it is often avoided. There can Corporate leaders too often fall back on
restating their points of view? also be a tacit collusion between executives being polite or civilised with colleagues. In
A seemingly polite atmosphere created not to criticise each other publicly. many cases, being polite creates the
by these behaviours could easily be The deeper explanation for the lack of delusion of respect, but there is an absence
perceived as respectful. It is common feedback is the fear of rejection. When of trust. By making themselves vulnerable
to find an absence of trust at senior levels giving honest and direct feedback, both the with one another, and by exposing some of
because colleagues tend to avoid the real receiver and the giver may feel rejected, the thoughts and feelings that they do not
issues by defensively shutting down even when the feedback is requested. Yet usually share, managers will be able to build
emotionally, not listening to others, and by the relationships that are most likely to trust, and with it, genuine respect and a
creating a wall that prevents the sharing of strengthen and build trust are those where better corporate world.
information. Distinguishing politeness from disclosure and feedback are reciprocated.
respect is the first step in identifying an If we actively make our feelings Professor Ben Bryant is Director of the CEO
absence of trust. transparent through disclosure and Learning Center at IMD business school. | 93
Executive interview

Its not just

its personal.
With roots that stretch to the depths of
the Mediterranean, and a mantra based
on warmth and friendship, George Psarass
plastics business is not one to blow over.

94 |
ort Melbourne was of opportunities to grow further in
bustling in 1969, with the business prompted him to leave
around 80,000 immigrants and join a start-up: Brian Bolwell
arriving by ship to start Plastics. His new boss, Brian, would
a new life in Australia. be a treasured industry mentor.
Most of the people flooding Station After seven years working together,
Pier were Britons fleeing a post-war and George becoming a minority
Europe; however, one vessel contained shareholder, Brian decided to sell
the Psaras family a former sponge the company. Unhappy with the new
diver, his wife, and their stocky and owners, George left 12 months later
ambitious 16-year-old son George. to start his own business with the
Before crossing the Mediterranean knowledge he had inherited. Brian
Sea, Georges father spent many years taught me quite a lot. He was a tough
plunging to its depths as a sea sponge man but he was also very fair, and
diver. Forced to dive between 150 and I could not ask for more. After all
200 metres below sea level to collect these years, we are still good friends.
the natural sponges, he would have to
go hungry all day.
For six months of the year, my MY BIGGEST MISTAKE WAS
father would be away all day diving,
having only one meal at night. It is Buying old machines! In 2004 I went into the PET market and
a dangerous and unhealthy job, says
I bought a second-hand machine. I ended up losing much more
George. Sponge diving was a family
trade, but with an uncle paralysed money trying to maintain it than I would have spent upfront on
from the bends, and a cousin who a new one. If you have old equipment, you cant compete; it runs
died, the Psaras family decided to a lot slower, and costs are a lot higher. Every little bit counts in
give up the work and seek a better
our industry, and lost time is like a river once the water moves
life overseas. When we left Greece,
Europe was still coming out of the forward, you cant get it back.
war, so things were still tough there.
My parents made the decision to
bring us here instead. After arriving I still call him Boss. With just three
in April of 1969, George set out to old blow-mould machines, George
find a job, and by September he was started John Nicholas Plastics in 1988,
a full-time overnight line setter at named for his two sons. But his time
a local plastics factory. with Brian didnt prepare him for the
Having now worked for disaster to come.
almost 50 years in plastics, as the I had an accountant and a
founder and CEO of Quality Blow solicitor that I trusted, but they did
Moulders, George says he owes a lot of unethical things and sent me
his career to his teenage weight. belly-up, says George. As is often
I saw they had a job going, and at true in times of deprivation, George
16 years old I was fairly well-built would learn how good people can
I was a bit chubby so I lied be, as it was his first customer who
and I told them I was 21 so I could kept the business afloat in his hour
get the full salary, laughs George. of need. I had a very good customer
They fell for it, so I started by the name of Andrew Rinder,
working the night shift at the who was the managing director
factory to support the family. He of Redwin Industries at the time.
rose through the ranks to become I went to Mr Rinders office crying
foreman, but after 10 years a lack and I said, Andrew, I have no more

96 |
Executive interview

money. Im closing the business, forming strong relationships. To him, foundation of affection and trust
explains George. business is not business unless its between all stakeholders, Georges
When I told him what happened, also personal. He not only knows company has grown to have 65 staff
he slammed his fist on his table and many of his clients names by heart, members, specialising in a whole
said to me, Have you still got your but also the names of their family range of new products, going from
hands? and I said Yes, but I have members. Whatever I have achieved three old machines to 34 new ones,
no money. I cant keep going. And today, I owe to those first two and counting. Now spread across
he said, Ill help you. Andrew rang families, he says. Everything that 50,000 square feet in Melbournes
the liquidator, bought Georges we do, we take personal care, not Dandenong, and a new warehouse
equipment for him, and promptly commercial care. Every customer due for completion soon, QBMs
ordered him to go back to work. is like our own, part of us, and we continued growth is inevitable.
For nearly two years, George and are part of them. The sentiment No matter how successful he
Andrew would meet every Friday extends to his suppliers. I dont is, though, George never forgets
to review expenses and provide believe in the word client; I believe where he came from. I keep on my
continuing support. After acquiring in the word friend. desk real sponges my father pulled
a new client, Natures Organics, His team, too, is like his family, from the sea, he says proudly. If
George could stand on his own two both figuratively and literally, with youre ever in Melbourne, Ill show
feet again. He relaunched the business his two sons now grown and taking you them.
as Quality Blow Moulders (QBM) on key roles in the business. I love
in 1995, specialising in HDPE, to see my two boys working side by
PVC and PET plastic bottles for side, and they are doing a fantastic Working with Quality Blow Moulders is an absolute
pleasure for Nissei ASB Australia. The people are
the packaging industry. job. But not only them everyone as friendly and courteous as they are professional in
From these experiences, George who works here is my child. I love their approach to projects. This makes for a winwin
scenario every time we come together. Des Bullas,
is a strong believer in the power of every one of them. With a General Manager, Nissei ASB Australia

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Executive interview

Controversy has courted the Queensland
racing industry, but new CEO Dr Eliot
Forbes has the pedigree to lead Racing
Queensland back to the winners circle.

r Eliot Forbes is the first
to admit that Racing
Queensland has faced
quite a lot of challenges
and controversy in
recent years. Rather
than act as a deterrent, however, this is
exactly what attracted him to the vacant
CEO role in mid-2016. I was drawn to
the fact that it was an organisation and an
industry that needed consolidation and
strong leadership to bed down the structural
changes that had been put in place and,
most of all, to bring stability, he explains.
It also represented an opportunity for him
a born and bred Queenslander to
return home after an absence extending
to more than two decades.
The qualified veterinarian certainly
has the pedigree. Prior to his move north,
Eliot spent six years at Tasracing, first | 99
in a COO capacity, before being appointed We are content providers
CEO in 2012, when he delivered an
almost $10 million financial turnaround in to a consumer market that
the 2013 financial year. Yet, had you asked
the recently graduated Eliot if he saw has a voracious appetite
himself pursuing a career in racing
administration, the answer would have
for the stories and the
been a firm no. Ive always loved horses, insights behind the heroes
but I saw myself working in a veterinary
practice, as a clinician who worked with all and the battlers in the
animals, he says.
Post-graduation, his first job in the racing industry.
Adelaide Hills gave him a taste of race-day
excitement, and the rest is history: clinical
roles with vet practices and jockey clubs
in the UK, Macau, Qatar and the UAE
followed, before being appointed the chief
veterinary officer for the richest horse race moved quickly to put in place an inquiry
in the world, the $10 million Dubai World which worked to address the issues, and
Cup. Ive been very fortunate throughout the industry in Queensland
my career to have what I consider the has now moved on, as opposed to the
best office in the world: the racetrack, he more drawn-out process we witnessed
says. People always ask me if I miss the in New South Wales.
front-line clinical aspect, he continues, In the wake of the controversy, the
anticipating my following question. Of Queensland Government introduced
course I do; I mean it was a big decision legislation that separated the integrity
for someone whose career revolved around functions from the commercial and
working in stables to move to a full-time administrative functions of Racing
desk job. But if you think about it, with Queensland. As a result, the Queensland
the motivations that drove me to want to Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC)
become involved in animal welfare, I was came into being in July 2016, the
previously able to fulfil on a one-on-one same month that Eliot joined Racing
basis as a clinician, whereas now, on an Queensland. I am responsible for
administration and policy level, I am able solidifying the structural changes that
to effect widespread change, he explains. were made, he explains. The QRIC is
Approaching his first anniversary at its own separate and independent division
Racing Queensland, Eliot reflects on what with a focus on integrity services, while
has been a busy year. A tri-code Racing Queensland has the mandate
organisation, Racing Queensland is to build the business of racing and is
responsible for thoroughbreds, harness responsible for racings overall strategic
racing and greyhounds. Its certainly and commercial performance.
attracted its fair share of unwanted At Tasracing, Eliot thoroughly
publicity over the past two years: sharing demonstrated his talent for delivering
the backlash for the greyhound live-baiting change management and financial
scandal with Racing New South Wales. Yet, turnaround, but considering that last
while the ex-New South Wales premier financial year Racing Queensland reported
Mike Bairds backflip on his greyhound a loss of $20 million, this new role
racing ban kept the story hot in the states requires these same skills to be deployed
press, Eliot applauds the speed of the in a larger and more high-profile context.
Queensland Governments response. In There is no questioning his ability to
Queensland, the government of the day achieve a similarly successful outcome in

100 |
Executive interview

Queensland. My focus is on ensuring that The Stradbroke Day at Brisbanes Eagle

the organisation has the capabilities to Farm racecourse and Magic Millions on
deliver on its responsibilities, he explains. the Gold Coast may be the states marquee
This involves creating the right structure racing carnivals that attract media darlings
and attracting the right talent, along with in dazzling fascinators, but in country
undertaking a thorough examination of Queensland local race days are an intrinsic
expenditure and revenue. part of a communitys social fabric. We
He also recognises the important role have to be ever aware of our importance
digital strategy has to play. There is to rural communities as well, Eliot says,
significant opportunity for the before adding that the industry as a whole
development of cutting-edge digital assets is facing a challenge to align itself with a
from both a racing data and showcase new generation of fans. One of the
perspective, he says. Although mindful of important areas of focus for emerging fans
respecting the traditions of a sport steeped is ensuring that animal welfare is being
in history, Eliot is more than aware that looked after in a responsible and
the industry finds itself in a fortunate appropriate manner. This is an area where
position. So many aspects of the racing I think, with my veterinary background,
business are suited to digital delivery, I can ensure that the practices and conduct
whether its live product, information or of the industry are not only responsible
colour stories, he says. We are content but aligned with what this next breed of
providers to a consumer market that has a racing supporters are demanding, he says.
voracious appetite for the stories and the After a challenging spell, it looks
insights behind the heroes and the battlers like Racing Queensland is finally back
in the racing industry. on track.

Half page advert

Netflix for the next

102 |
Innovation & technology




n the wall of iflixs Singapore office, a Silicon
Valley-esque open-plan room above a shophouse
in Amoy Street, a mural states the companys
self-declared mission: To reinvent internet
TV for a billion consumers.
We fundamentally believe that the current way for someone
to watch TV in emerging markets is just flawed, says Patrick Grove,
iflixs chairman. In developed markets in North America and Europe,
a proliferation of free-to-air and paid TV channels makes for a huge
diversity of entertainment options; in South East Asia, those options
are far more limited.
The Philippines, for example, has only a handful of free-to-air
channels. Cable penetration is limited to a relatively small number
of households, and its content is mainly in English. But the average
Filipino doesnt want to watch BBC,
CNN, NatGeo, HBO, Showtime,
et cetera, Patrick says. So cable isnt South East Asia has nearly
a very customised local product; its 260 million internet users, according
to research from We Are Social,
just Western feeds being pumped in, which shows that mobile is the
and people pay whatever they pay. main channel for consumers in the
Internet TV has arrived in the region. The average Indonesian
region, but the cost of services like spends 4.7 hours a day on
Netflix can be prohibitive in markets a mobile internet connection.
which, while fast-growing, are still | 103
a fair way from wealthy. On the one hand, THE INTERNET HAS
viewers consume huge quantities of free
content on YouTube, Facebook video and PROFOUNDLY SHAKEN
Snapchat; on the other, they cant get access
to professional content at a price they can UP THE ECONOMICS OF
afford. Piracy is rampant, and the economics FILM AND TV ALL OVER
of the industry dont work for producers.
The internet TV world is getting highly THE WORLD; NETFLIX IS
fragmented and increasingly confusing.
What weve realised is that this world of AT THE LEADING EDGE
professional content, where people are
creating great TV shows and great movies,
is getting lost in the internet TV world. EXPANDED AROUND THE
They cant survive on a free tier, and the
paid tiers are not working either. WORLD, DISRUPTING
Solving this problem could be
extraordinarily lucrative. The one billion
BROADCAST MARKETS Korea and China and one-third local
language. It is the local-content producers
people that iflixs creed refers to are WHEREVER IT LANDS. who stand to gain the most, Patrick says.
customers in the bulging emerging consumer In more mature markets, there are a number
markets in countries such as the Philippines of windows through which producers sell
and Indonesia, or in even more challenging their content. Movies start in the cinema, then
frontier locations such as West Africa. Success means sourcing are distributed through in-flight entertainment, then cable TV, then,
content that is specifically tailored to the local context both in finally, some years later, on free-to-air TV, with each successive
language and tastes and understanding that most consumers window costing less, but being opened later. For TV shows, there
will not be watching on a large screen in the corner of their living is a similar process; a big-budget US production will typically cover
room, but on a mobile device. its costs with its domestic distribution deals and make profits selling
Weak fixed-line infrastructure meant that several emerging it on overseas through various channels.
markets leapfrogged over landlines to go straight to mobiles; the In emerging markets, where those systems dont work and piracy
advent of cheap smartphones means that many then graduated is so common, an Indonesian movie may do well in the cinema for
into mobile internet. According to the GSMA, a mobile industry a month, but from then on it either disappears or is pirated.
trade body, smartphone penetration was around 47 per cent of the So there wasnt this established window in emerging markets
population of 260 million in 2015. Malaysia, with a population of where, if you made a movie in Indonesia and the movie did well,
nearly 30 million, is close to 50 per cent penetration. Around 30 you could bank on one month of money from the cinema, then
per cent of Nigerias 140 million people have access to a smartphone. two months of money from airplanes, one year of money from
cable its gone, its pirated, its worthless. So from the minute
MOBILE FIRST it comes out of the cinema, distributors and owners are willing
Patrick, who made his name in the late 90s and early 2000s with to talk to people like us.
a string of successful internet businesses across Asia, launched iflix
in 2015. The business model is deceptively simple: buy up the rights LOCAL CONTENT
to international TV shows that havent yet got distribution deals in The internet has profoundly shaken up the economics of film and
the region, and to local shows and movies, and put them onto its TV all over the world; Netflix, which has become so ubiquitous
mobile-first platform for subscribers to download and watch. The that it has, like Google before it, become a verb, is at the leading
company has cut deals with mobile operators to bundle together edge of that and has expanded around the world, disrupting
iflix with their data-subscription packages, so that customers pay broadcast markets wherever it lands.
a couple of extra dollars a month through their phone bill. As much as the internet TV revolution opened up new channels
Since its launch, it has signed up around 180 studios to supply to distribute content, it also exposed smaller domestic producers
content. As well as securing the rights to blockbuster US shows, and broadcasters to competition with the big beasts of the industry.
such as hacker drama Mr Robot, it has built a catalogue of content This is not new the dominance of US film and TV content globally
from major Asian producers, and smaller studios in each of the has been a source of anxiety for creative industries worldwide for
markets it operates in. Typically, it aims for a mix of one-third English decades. The major studios have built incredibly effective economies
language content, one-third regional content mainly from Japan, of scale in production and distribution, and are able to keep

104 |
Innovation & technology

monetising their content in different geographies. from their homeland. Nollywood is one of the
A show that has run its course in developed markets In the UK, Netflix largest film industries in the world, when measured
may be offered to a broadcaster in an emerging and Amazon have by the sheer volume of its output, and is watched
market for a fraction of the cost of producing invested heavily in across Africa, in the Caribbean, and in diaspora
something local, skewing the economics towards content that will communities in Europe and North America.
screening an import. attract local viewers: Most of these films are distributed on CD and
In the days of broadcast TV, some countries for example, Netflixs DVD, copyright theft is rampant, and new releases
fought back by insisting that a fixed minimum big-budget royal had next to no afterlife. Njoku bought the rights
biopic The Crown,
percentage of what aired on local channels to a huge catalogue of films, distributing them
which cost it
was locally produced. Paid-for online services 100 million. first through a YouTube channel, then through
generally have no such stipulation, although in an app. The company has attracted millions in
the European Union Netflix and Amazon have venture capital funding and become one of the
come up against demands, led by France and biggest players in the African film industry. It has
Spain, that they should play by the same rules even begun producing original shows to bulk out
and give prominence to local programs. its catalogue, following in Netflixs footsteps.
As well as being a threat, internet-TV platforms could present Back in South East Asia, iflix has recently commissioned its
a huge opportunity for some producers who can think more globally own first batch of locally-made shows, including a talk show in
in order to tap into a far bigger demand than just their home the Philippines, and a stand-up comedy series in Malaysia. For
markets. As Marc C-Scott, a lecturer in screen media at Melbournes all the fears that big-budget shows could swamp local markets,
Victoria University, puts it: Within a region, you would see it as Grove says that the economics of local production do stack up.
niche content, but you send that content to a global audience: all If you have something like The Flash, which they spend
of a sudden, you have this niche audience, and its a mass audience. $2 million an episode to make, versus some local show that they
One of the best illustrations of this potential is Iroko, a company make for $20,000, more often than not the $20,000 local show
founded by the London-born entrepreneur Jason Njoku, who saw will be more popular, he says. People still prefer local stuff, even
that his Nigerian mother and her friends voraciously consumed films though the American shows are high budget. | 105
In the army,
you are taught
to challenge in
a respectful space.
Fifteen years in the military stood ManpowerGroups
Glenn McPhee in perfect stead to lead his companys
recruiting for the Australian Defence Force.
Executive interview
ecruiting trajectory; the military taught him The Australian Defence Force
between 5,000 a lot about people, confidence, (ADF) is constantly on the crest of
and 13,000 leadership and work relationships. the technology wave, and the
candidates a I think confidence in yourself, ongoing recruitment drive is to
year across the and in those around you, is really ensure there is an appropriate
Australian Navy, important, says Glenn. The military workforce for the future. For
Army and Air Force is no mean feat also taught me mental discipline example, the engineers who will
particularly when this number and initiative, plus a reliance on be required for new navy ships
scales back from around 70,000 teamwork and an ability to trust and submarines that are yet to be
applications but its one that others. In the army, you are taught built will need different skills and
Glenn McPhee has undertaken to challenge in a respectful space experience from those required
for ManpowerGroup Australia in thats not just officers and leaders, to maintain current ships. Diversity
a contract awarded in 2012, valued but all soldiers. is also a challenge that DFR has
at up to $100 million per year. risen to face in recent years, with
Fresh out of the army where THE NEXT GENERATION Glenn and his team asked to focus
he held the rank of major in the Fast-forward nine years and Glenn is on recruiting more women,
artillery, Glenn was inspired to join now his companys director for Indigenous Australians, and people
ManpowerGroup not only by the Defence Force Recruiting (DFR), from culturally and linguistically
role but by the managing director a publicprivate collaboration between diverse backgrounds, and fine-tuning
at the time. It wasnt recruitment the Australian Department of Defence internal training so recruiters mentor
itself that attracted me; rather, it was and ManpowerGroup, challenged with candidates more personally. The
a combination of the role and who attracting and recruiting Australias current job environment in Australia
my boss would be Varina Nissen next generation of sailors, soldiers represents an ongoing war for talent
is a really amazing and impressive and air men and women. Glenn
business woman. Knowing I would heads up ManpowerGroups operation
learn about business from the best and supports Navy Commodore Tony
was what attracted me in the first Partridge, who is director-general DFR BY NUMBERS
instance, says Glenn. of DFR. DFR has been described
Glenns next foray was into as the largest recruiting contract of Up to 300 different
defence and aerospace with French its type in the world, because the job roles to fill
company Thales, before returning to recruitment process itself is vast in
the ManpowerGroup fold in 2008 terms of the scope and volume of 100% The number of job
as regional manager for the Middle work outsourced, as well as the
categories open to women
East, a division that had been set up revenue. This type of outsourcing,
just a few months prior. The Middle or RPO (recruitment process
East wing of the global company, outsourcing), for the military is
30% The representation
which was born in the American something that Glenn came to of women among
state of Wisconsin in 1948 and understand well after 15 years in full-time recruits
launched in Australia in 1965, had the army.
acquired a recruiting business in Initiative is another crucial 2003
the region, and Glenns job was to skill instilled early in Glenns career. The year ManpowerGroups
create and grow the strategic clients Perhaps contrary to popular belief,
division in order to deliver large- the army does not micromanage relationship with the
scale recruiting projects. Going to you. Glenn expresses this philosophy: ADF began
Dubai presented the challenge of Youre generally not told how
putting my recently gained business to do it, and therefore you are 5,00013,000
theory into practice, learning how absolutely expected to work it out The number of vacancies
to create a strategic division and start for yourself and find the best way
delivering to clients, at scale, he says. of doing it. It doesnt matter if its
DFR needs to fill each year
And it wasnt only the on-the-job a simple job or a complex one; as for the ADF
training that advanced Glenns career a leader, you need to work it out.

108 |
Executive interview

for professions requiring high skill Once they have an idea of the vast array
levels, innovation, leadership and
fitness. Success in this environment of amazing jobs available, thats where
requires contemporary, agile and
innovative organisations that truly their interest is sparked.
understand their customers.
Over the past 12 months, we
have been really busy rolling out
advanced training across the entire that each year we receive the list of Requirements are different for
DFR organisation, focused not only vacancies for the following year. So each age group, category and skill
on accessing greater diversity for the we may get 8,000 vacancies at once, set, so while candidates for a
ADF workforce but also diversity and then we will work on those over generalist officer role might be
of thought and changing how our the next 12 months. This information required to undertake a 12- to
people interact with candidates. is critical to Glenn and his division 18-month officer training course,
I really believe these initiatives put so they can make sure the marketing some specialist officers may complete
us in a position to be recognised as and attraction initiatives target the their officer training in as little as
one of the best-practice organisations right roles, services or categories. nine days, depending on what their
globally in terms of how we deliver While we may conduct a role would be after graduation.
diversity and how we treat candidates specialist search for roles such as There are a number of different
as individuals, says Glenn. I hope engineers and medical professionals, pathways into the ADF, depending
well be measured by the quality of the major focus for many roles is on on the job a person is taking.
the passionate, diverse and talented national-level advertising backed by The commodore has been given
recruits we achieve for the ADF. regional advertising and recruitment a mandate from each of the navy,
The DFR contract, worth up activity to have people come through army and air force at the highest
to $100 million per year, sees the front door, which is either to call levels to contemporise the
thousands of recruits brought into our 13 19 01 number or go to our organisation, expand the talent pool,
the ADF every year. Recruiting website If the and deliver greater, more consistent
is a collaborative business, with roles are for chaplains or doctors, results, and ManpowerGroup has
ManpowerGroup bringing marketing DFR attends events and conferences responded. Together we are changing
and recruiting expertise to the where these professionals might be the delivery model within DFR so
contract, and ADF military members and enable conversations about ADF that we are a more agile organisation,
engaging, mentoring, interviewing roles and possibilities. Its the same recruiting the best possible candidates
and selecting candidates in with university students coming up for the ADF from across the entire
conjunction with ManpowerGroups to graduation, says Glenn. Somebody talent spectrum, and at the same
psychologists and medical staff might not normally consider joining time giving those Australians the
provided by subcontractor Corporate the ADF or realise theres a job for best possible candidate experience.
Health Group Defence. them, but once they talk to someone One of the challenges the
from DFR and have an idea of the commodore, and therefore Glenn,
THE MULTIMILLION- vast array of amazing technical and have embarked upon is to get that
DOLLAR QUESTION specialist jobs available, thats where process down to an average of three
How is that $100 million spent? their interest is sparked. months. If we can do that, it will
Glenn explains he works very closely be quite amazing. It might not mean
with the director-general, side by side FUTURE PROOF that you start your initial training
on virtually all areas of the contract Recruitment is open to everyone within three months if you havent
and recruitment activities. from Year 11 school leavers (who can yet finished Year 12, but you may
In essence, the commodore sets go on to complete their HSC while have received an employment
the strategic vision and priorities earning a salary) to more mature offer and you could accept that,
in addition to current and future candidates considering a change in pending your HSC results. Ideally,
recruiting requirements, and career, through to specialists such the recruitment process will occur
ManpowerGroup works collaboratively as doctors and chaplains with unique within three months, and thats
to meet them. What that means is skills and qualifications. what we are driving for. | 109
Executive interview

Dr Jim Bentley is a man with a passion for H2O and
the role water utilities can play in creating liveable
communities of the future.

r Jim Bentley admits his feet. You know, for the first time
he didnt know in my life, I havent had any traffic
that much about problems going to work, he laughs.
Newcastle when Considering congestion-prone
he was appointed London, Istanbul and Auckland are
managing director of Hunter Water in among the cities the expert in water
July 2016. To be honest, I wasnt sure infrastructure has called home, its
how much I was going to enjoy it, he easy to imagine how fresh he must
says. Australia is the fourth country arrive at the office every morning
I have lived in, without counting the after a free-flowing seven-minute
number of actual cities. Fortunately, commute to work.
as with many of his compatriots, the But delve beyond the aesthetics
Englishman has quickly fallen for the and its evident that Jim is also
Novocastrian way of life. Whats not relishing the opportunity to
to enjoy about the beaches and the be a part of a city and a region
weather? he asks, before revealing that really has aspirations to grow
the real reason he has been swept off and develop, as he puts it. And | 111
Executive interview

I passionately
Hunter Water has a role to play in believe that if he emphasises the importance of
enabling this vision, he continues.
As the primary water and wastewater
we work more achieving this through an awareness
of and involvement in research,
service provider to the lower Hunter closely with as well as a lot of community
region, to the north of Sydney, engagement. We have to be able
the state-owned corporation is our communities, to combine all of that thinking
responsible for supplying a staggering and sort of plot ourselves a course
184 million litres of water to
we will achieve through what today may look like
600,000 residents on a daily basis. better outcomes an uncertain future, but, as you get
But rather than playing it safe and closer, it obviously becomes much
simply ensuring that networks remain for them. clearer, he says.
sound, secure and fully operational, In the short time he has been
Jim has been pushing the envelope in the role, Jim has been busy
since his first day on the job. establishing strong partnerships with
The NSW Governments Hunter the University of Newcastle and
Regional Plan requires both public both a positive and a negative. It is local councils. Water and liveability
and private sectors to contribute liberating and constraining at the are intrinsically linked, so we need
to the push towards the Hunter same time. But this more regulated to connect with thought leaders from
becoming the leading regional environment does mean that, if you the universities and partner councils
economy in Australia. Therefore, are not careful, you can become very to ensure that we are enabling
we need to be more proactive in compliance focused because your job good development that will benefit
terms of partnering with councils is to adhere to what regulators are both the community and the
and other organisations to counsel demanding of you, he says. environment, he states.
on what kind of developments Im not saying compliance isnt For example, if you have got
would work from an integrated good, but alone its not enough, he increasingly densifying urban areas in
water management point of view, says. Hunter Water must be looking relatively hot climates, rather than
he explains. ahead to the way our communities the traditional view of removing
This shift towards thought want to live in the future. With the waste water in the least harmful way,
leadership is one that Jim has kinds of services we provide, we have we need to understand that retaining
deliberately sought to introduce as an impact on how communities water in communities actually has
he steers Hunter Water beyond what develop, on health, the environment, multiple benefits and can be seen as
he sees as a compliance mindset born sustainability, and so on. Jim says he a production stream, he explains.
of the strict governance of the sector is thriving on the intellectual and Some of the these include reusing
in Australia. Ive worked in the cultural challenge that comes from waste water to green the area and
water business around the world, balancing out a compliance mentality make it more liveable in that sense.
including the past 10 years in New in the short term and thought Waste water can also contribute
Zealand. The obvious differences leadership in the long term. I think to urban cooling. Of course, if
between the two countries is that it requires a different management we can reuse water in a way that
water, as a business or operation, is approach and a different culture in takes pressure off the potable water
much more economically regulated the organisation. He is encouraging system, we can help optimise future
in Australia. Water utilities in New his team to move away from the investment. One part of liveability
South Wales, he explains, must submit black-and-white comfort zone that is economic affordability and another
proposals to the Independent Pricing compliance breeds and embrace the is natural enjoyment of the
and Regulatory Tribunal New South grey of uncertainty, as he phrases it. environment, he says.
Wales (IPART), which then rules on We dont know what the future is He concedes that there are
each individually. It does mean that going to hold, so we have to try and obvious challenges from a technology
the decision on water pricing is one anticipate it. Rather than gazing and health point of view (and in
step removed from the water utility, into a crystal ball Jim definitely certain societies a cultural point of
he says, something which he views as doesnt come across as the type view as well), but Hunter Water

112 |
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is approaching such obstacles in or so we will need to outlay several evolution. If others are better
partnership with other thought hundred million dollars on additional placed, particularly in terms of
leaders around the globe who are water sources. But to achieve this new developments, to deliver great
also pushing the boundaries in this we will need to start making outcomes, then we should be
way of thinking, he says. recommendations soon. If we plan thinking about how we enable that
Of course, there is another very in conjunction with our community rather than how we resist it. Im not
crucial party in all this: the Hunter and draw upon innovations, we can saying Hunter Water was fighting it
community. I passionately believe push back the decision-making in the past, but perhaps we were
that if we work more closely with timeline by a number of years. Just rather neutral about it instead,
our communities, we will achieve imagine what we could do with he says.
better outcomes for them. Penning the time we have gained, he says. Partnerships and alliances are
opinion pieces in The Newcastle Jim realises that he and his team recurring themes throughout
Herald is just one way he is able need to be wise enough and humble The CEO Magazines conversation
to have a conversation with the enough to, where appropriate, admit with Jim. There is a much higher
community, rather than tell them that we dont actually contain all the level of collaboration between the
what we have done or plan to do, knowledge ourselves. He emphasises water utilities here in Australia than
he says. Not only does such discourse the enduring importance of local anywhere else I have experienced,
achieve improved outcomes for partners such as Hunter H2O, who he says. He suspects the fact that
the general population, but it also he says it has a close working
buys valuable money and time. Jim relationship with, to navigate The recent arrival of Jim Bentley has revitalised
elaborates further: As it stands, this new future, as he refers to Hunter Water with a refocus on value for money
and driving innovation. As a long-term partner, our
we need to plan for the future by it. Interestingly, he also views the priorities are well aligned on safety, sustainability
making decisions in the present. For introduction of competitors to the and the community: as demonstrated in the recent
$50-million EPCM project. Jim Keary, CEO,
example, we know that in 15 years retail space as a natural, and positive, Hunter H2O

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Executive interview

water is state controlled in Australia knowledge. I found that really in running leadership development
may play a factor in this, although healthy and encouraging given, at the programs to draw upon.
he doesnt want that to imply that end of the day, we are not trying to In CEO positions, there is
privatisation precludes the possibility grow empires, we are trying to always this tension between your
of collaboration. achieve better outcomes for our internal and external focus. I hope
Ive worked in both the public communities, he says. I have learned from all the time
and private sector and find where I Our conversation may revolve I have advised others who hold
am now to be the most collaborative around Jims big-picture outcomes, positions like I do now that you
that I have ever experienced so I but it is clear that he hasnt lost cannot underinvest in the culture,
think that is really positive, he sight of the path that will lead him the capabilities and the motivation
explains. He talks enthusiastically there. The thing that excites me of your team if you want to achieve
about a recent research day held at most from the managing directors great results, he says.
Hunter Water with invited perspective is the change in I want to be shaping the
participants from the University of philosophy of the organisation world, but I can only do that if
Newcastle, University of Technology that enables people to maintain the I help my people achieve their
Sydney, UCL (University College great quality control we have in full potential, which is quite an
London) and the University of place while also allowing the light exciting opportunity.
Auckland, along with Sydney Water bulbs to go off in terms of future
and MidCoast Water. possibilities. To get there, he knows
From observing the room, I he has to invest heavily in Newcastle is a city shaped by our working harbour,
doubt you would have necessarily developing the right kind of culture beautiful beaches, internationally significant wetlands
and suburban waterways. Newcastle City Council
known which organisations people internally, he says. Fortunately, is pleased to be working with Hunter Water,
came from because there was just a he has years of experience not only managing essential resources and providing
improved infrastructure services for our community.
very free exchange of ideas and in executive management but also Peter Chrystal, interim CEO, City of Newcastle

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For more information visit:
RULE Understanding the personality traits of your team can
lead to increased productivity and fulfilment.


116 |
Management & leadership



eing a leader in the workplace and RESULTS, HELPING YOUR ORGANISATION
managing a group of people from
different backgrounds, education,
skills and social status is pretty much
like raising children with different personalities,
likes and attitudes. You want to help them grow RELATERS Relaters love people and are easy-going.
and thrive individually, but also work together They can resist change and are used to routines.
as a productive team. This can be a challenge for Take things slowly; they are relationship-oriented,
the modern leader. However, if well executed, but slow-paced.
handling such a challenge can showcase superior How to treat Relaters? Focus on the performance, not
management and leadership skills. A team personality. Go out of your way to explain that there is
that works well together is more effective in nothing wrong with being who they are. They want warm
achieving results, helping your organisation and fuzzy relationships. They need to know that they can
gain a competitive edge in the market, while trust you before they let you in. Support their feelings
also making you a more fulfilled leader. and show interest in every area of their lives.
The more that leaders and managers can help
team members develop solid relationships with THINKERS Thinkers love to solve problems and are
each other, the more independent they will become, also results-oriented. You can easily spot Thinkers
and ultimately function without you having to by their slow pace and attention to details. They speak
micromanage them. Whats in it for you is that relatively slowly and deliberately, pausing, if necessary,
you will have more time as a consequence of their just so they can find the right words. Thinkers find joy
autonomy; they will be able to solve problems on from speaking accurately.
their own and as a team you will be more productive. How to relate to Thinkers? They are time-disciplined,
So whats the magic formula? You must know so be sensitive to their requirements. They need details,
your team. Know their personality traits, skills so provide them with plenty of information. They are
and how they can contribute to the team in task-oriented, so dont expect to become their friend
a way that is congruent with who they are and through doing business or working with them. With
in alignment with the values of your organisation. Thinkers, in general, be thorough, well-prepared,
There are four core behavioural personality detail-oriented, businesslike, and patient.
types described in The Platinum Rule (Warner
Books) that you need to be aware of as a leader in SOCIALISERS Socialisers are fast-paced people
order to be able to build strong rapport and meet who thrive on admiration, acknowledgment, and
your teams needs. applause. They love to talk, and while strong on
fresh concepts, they execute poorly.
DIRECTORS They like to take charge and be How to relate to Socialisers? Socialisers thrive
in control. They are very results-oriented and have on personal recognition, so support their ideas,
an inner drive towards the end goal. goals, opinions, and dreams. Try not to argue with
How to relate to Directors? Directors are very their larger-than-life visions; get excited about them.
time-sensitive, so never waste their time. Be With Socialisers, in general, be interested in them.
organised and be ready to work quickly. Get to
the point and give them bottom-line information The Platinum Rule is a powerful tool that will serve you
and options, with probabilities of success, well in business. It opens the door to a multitude
if possible. Give them written details to read at of possibilities. When your team members know that
their leisure. Directors are goal-oriented, so you care for them and know them individually, they
appeal to their sense of accomplishment. When will go out of their way to get results. Imagine a team with
in groups, allow them to have their say, because fewer conflicts, more autonomy and better rapport.
they like to be heard and their ideas recognised. What else could you possibly ask for? | 117
Executive interview

of thought
Jon Black wants TAFE NSW students to be job-ready,
and with military precision hes making that happen.

t was while sitting in the back the theory, employers were also looking
seat of an Uber flitting across for practical experience. This young man
Sydney that Jon Black realised his had never been on a construction site.
vision for tertiary education in How does that happen? It just doesnt
New South Wales was right on make sense.
track. Hed struck up a While it may not make sense, it does
conversation with the young explain why 35 per cent of TAFE
driver, a civil engineering graduate unable enrolments last year were graduates armed
to find work in his industry. The managing with university degrees. TAFE, with its
director of TAFE NSW was shocked. focus on Vocational Education and Training,
Particularly when Sydney is in the (VET) has long been a popular launching
middle of a construction boom, he says. pad for students to gain entry into
But he explained that while he had his university, but lately the trend has been
degree in civil engineering and knew all working in reverse. University students, | 119
self, he says. You learn to be responsible
and accountable for your actions. I am very
proud of my military service; a wonderful
experience influenced by people I looked
up to, respected and admired. At the same
time, I also observed people who were not
good leaders, and that enabled me to shape
my own type of behaviour.
trained to the hilt in theory, are simply His impressive career and commanding
not job-ready on the practical front mindset led him to various CEO positions
and are turning to TAFE to get the in utilities, particularly in water
necessary skills to give them the edge management, and more recently to the
in a competitive market. director-generals job at Queenslands
TAFE should be seen as a first Environment and Heritage Department.
choice for tertiary education, Jon says. In January 2016, he took on the role at
It has always excelled in providing more TAFE NSW. It was a tumultuous time
practical-based courses, yet the schools are for Australias largest tertiary organisation,
pushing higher education at universities as which had endured drastic staff cuts,
the solution to a successful working life. inadequate resources, scandals over
That is just wrong. incompetent and expensive administrative
The young Uber driver with his civil systems, and a top-heavy, hierarchical
engineering degree could complete one of bureaucracy. A history of autonomous
our engineering modules designed to put operation also meant competing
all his theory into practice. A certificate or institutions were duplicating functions
diploma from TAFE equips you with a and systems leading to increased costs
firm foundation and understanding of the and waste.
practicalities of that field. When you go There was no doubt TAFEs image
onto a construction site, for example, youll was seriously flawed, with high-school
be there working with teams of people students turning instead to universities and
who are implementing plans. Our industry- prestigious private colleges to continue
based learning helps you understand the their education. Reforms were desperately
process, and that is going to make you needed to restore respect for the 130-year-
become a much better engineer. old institution, and Jon drew on all of his
Jon compares it to his own extensive military skills to hit the ground running,
military training where the basics always look forward, not back, and take criticism
had to be understood before the on the chin. We had lost teachers and we
implementation of a large strategy. He had lost students in institutions competing
spent 25 years serving in the Australian against each other, Jon explains. We had
Army, predominately in management and a multimillion-dollar enrolment system that
leadership roles where quick thinking, didnt work and a work culture that hadnt
teamwork and accountability were essential been altered for decades. Changes had to
requirements. Among other roles, he be made.
coordinated training regimes for up to The concept of One TAFE NSW was
40,000 trainee soldiers and officers; was a launched, offering a more streamlined,
military assistant to the chief of the modern and productive organisation. Ten
Australian Army; commanded a contingent individual institutions were merged into
in the Middle East; and was the one multi-campus billion-dollar entity with
commanding officer and chief instructor at a future-focused and very student-centric
the Royal Military College, Duntroon. plan seeing money, previously poured into
The most important life skill I learned top-heavy bureaucracy, redirected to
from the military was to put others before industry-ready facilities, technology,

120 |
Executive interview

TAFE should be seen as a first choice for

tertiary education ... yet schools are pushing
universities as the solution to a successful
working life. That is just wrong.

teachers and training facilities. Its a and part-time teachers who have highly
revolution Jon has embraced. contemporary industry experience. They
One major challenge hes tackling is have to understand the current needs and
finding practical placements for students. challenges of industry so we can pass on
Nursing is one of TAFEs most popular that practicality to our students for them
courses, yet finding work experience in to understand what the workplace is
hospitals is notoriously difficult for actually like. That is really important.
students. Jon has approached the market We need to be able to teach repetitive
and suggested aged, disability and seniors practical skills, and that can be done by
care living facilities be built on TAFE sites training someone with industry experience
to provide a training hospital environment. to be an instructor. This blend is what
So far, the feedback has been positive, and makes up a really modern workforce.
Jon is networking in other areas to expand Jon Black is determined TAFE will
the market for work placements. We want once again be the go-to destination for
all our graduating students to be job-ready, learning. He is excited about the future,
and Im seeking help from industry to find but even more so for the students and
them work experience and jobs not teachers who will benefit from One TAFE.
only the jobs for today, because that is a We have to be seen as an exciting
constantly evolving market, but jobs that place, not only to study but an exciting
are around the corner, Jon says. Things place to work, he says. It has got to
are changing really quickly and we need be collaborative and provide a useful
to be agile enough to define new jobs and education that will train students for jobs
design the training necessary for them. that actually exist. We also realise our
Another, and perhaps even more tricky, student population is not homogenous. We
dilemma is Jons vision to develop a need to make all our students successful,
workforce of the future. Many existing including those with learning difficulties,
TAFE teachers, particularly those older those who are older, and those who felt
than 60, are gifted with permanent status they failed at school. Our teachers will
under current employment conditions, inspire all of them and take them on a
blocking opportunities to continually new journey of learning.
renew the workforce and ensure all Everywhere you look, just walking
teachers maintain industry experience around the city, you see someone doing
throughout their careers. Jon is keen to something theyve been trained to do.
add more industry-experienced teachers to Whether it is a techo pulling up cables
his staff rather than relying solely on those or fixing overhead wiring, someone
with tertiary qualifications. building on a construction site, someone
Of course, we still need teachers with laying a tile, making coffee. Everywhere
advanced teaching qualifications, but we there are people with skills making the
also need to have a good blend of full- world go around. | 121
Executive interview

The team at Countplus loves changing
peoples lives for the better.

s the outgoing 18 businesses offering specialist advice in
CEO of accounting, business, financial planning and
Countplus, property services. Scattered across Australia
Phil Aris makes in 23 locations, with an employee base of
no bones about 650, the businesses are run independently
snooping into but collaboratively, sharing ideas and data
peoples private to reap positive results for their clients.
lives. In fact, Its these life-changing outcomes that drive
the more he Phil and his team.
pries into their lifestyles, their families, Our existence is to hold the hand of
their health and their finances, the more our clients and take them on their journey
gratified he feels. Empowered, even. After in life in terms of their financial
all, knowledge is power, power transforms, requirements, Phil says. Providing great
and Phil is all about transformation. outcomes is what drives us.
The professional services company, Countplus was established in 2006 as
based in Sydney, is an aggregation of a subsidiary business of Count Financial | 123
and was listed on the ASX in December
2010. Collectively, the Countplus principals THE NEXT LEVEL
hold the largest shareholding in the
company, while Count Financial, now After serving as a Countplus director
owned by CBA, remains the largest single
shareholder. When partnering with
since October last year, Matthew
Countplus, business owners are encouraged Rowe has taken over as CEO from
to swap control for shares in the listed Phil Aris.
company, with an agreement to buy back
at least 40 per cent of their companys The former Financial Planning Association (FPA)
equity at a later date. chairman, and previous managing director of Countplus
We are not an aggressive acquirer.
Its all about quality, not quantity, with member Hood Sweeney, says hes inspired by the talent
us, explains Phil. We choose high- he has discovered among his associates.
performance firms with good leadership
and strong succession planning, who have The more I listen, the more excited I become
collaborative cultures, and are confident about how far we can take Countplus, he says.
enough to share their ideas and their war
stories. They must learn from each other
My colleagues have been fantastic with my transition
so all that knowledge can be used to get from NED to CEO, and theres a lot of collective wisdom
the best outcomes for our clients. in the team making up the Countplus Board.
In a way, we provide our clients with
an office that is effectively their family. Its that example which Matthew wants to encourage
Small businesses can come to us for a through his leadership as he aspires to a culture of team
broad range of services required to get
them ahead in business and in their before the individual. Despite having two decades of
personal lives. We are not owned and general management experience, Matthew left Hood
controlled by big institutions, so they feel Sweeney in 2015 to study the General Management
like they are being cared for in a much
Program at Harvard Business School in Boston.
more personal way.
Phil, who has previously worked in
managerial capacities in multinationals,
That was life-changing on so many levels,
both overseas and in Australia, admits he says. From how I see the role of business in the
hes good with numbers. But it was the community to the way I make decisions, my views on what
fascination for kick-starting people on it means to be an effective and authentic leader, and the
a personal journey to reach financial and
life goals that led him to Countplus in
really key aspects of effective strategy. To be able to go
January 2015. back to school later in life, with experience in the real
Our clients range from mum-and-dad world of business, live on campus, and immerse myself in
operations to reasonably large SMEs the Harvard environment, was something very special.
employing up to 100 people, Phil explains.
Sure, they want tax and accounting work
done, but they also want to understand
how they can better perform in their
business. Sometimes they have no idea
where to start. So we help them work out
their objectives and provide the services In collaboration with Countplus, we facilitate the
needed to meet them. Courageous Leadership Program to develop the real
leadership that enables high performance within the
To develop its own leadership strength business. It wants leaders taking responsibility and
and those of its collective business, accountability for their behaviour, knowing culture
eats strategy for breakfast. Mandy Holloway,
Countplus has enjoyed a four-year CEO, Courageous Leaders

124 |
Executive interview

relationship with Courageous Leaders, We are not an aggressive

which offers a training program for
existing and emerging managers. Up to acquirer. Its all about quality,
25 senior staff are put through intensive
training every year to maintain strong not quantity, with us.
leadership and develop work cultures
to strengthen their relationships.
While these firms already have solid
infrastructures, we have to bring them all fastidious about providing required
together to work with each other, Phil information to its clients, linking together
explains. Courageous Leaders is sensational data feeds that reveal an immediate
at what it does, but it also reflects well on overview 24/7.
us because were providing the initiative. We are a digital industry, he explains.
We also outsource our HR to People You can do all the work in the world
Culture and Strategy, who draw up our face-to-face with clients, but that means
employment contracts and deal with any nothing if you have systems that are too
issue, and Addisons handle all our legal slow or clunky. There is a lot of software
needs. All these excellent partners provide out there, and we need software so that
fantastic services, which means we dont our services can talk to each other. Its
have to build a large, centralised office. providing a holistic service that gives us
While Phil is the first to concede he data feeds of all our clients activities, their
works in an industry where people are bank accounts, super funds, investments,
critically important, he is adamant that property, assets and liabilities. A decade
technology is just as vital. Countplus is ago that was unheard of.

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Executive interview

A change
in the air
Built on innovation, Seeley International
was always going to scale new heights, and
the current managing director, Paul Proctor,
is on a billion-dollar mission.

efore Paul He said, I would like you to meet
Proctor with Frank Seeley and see whether you
joined Seeley would get along with him, because he is
International, quite a different guy, Paul says. And
he had heard its true; he is different. Hes an extreme
the stories about entrepreneur and an extreme innovator.
the companys A legend in his own lifetime, I suppose.
charismatic The founder and executive chairman
founder. So when of Seeley International is clearly quite the
he was headhunted for the role of managing character. Ambitious, determined, and with
director to help fix some problems within a love for innovation, he has transformed
the organisation Paul had built up a his air-conditioning manufacturing business
reputation for being able to get businesses from a small garage operation into a global
out of a rut he knew he had to consider market leader. Whats more, Paul says,
the offer. However, it was what the recruiter Frank hasnt slackened the pace and is still
said next that really piqued his interest. pushing boundaries on a daily basis. | 127
of hope, then he will set out
to prove that it can be done,
Paul says.
So we met and I really
listened to Frank, which is
unusual for me, Paul laughs.
Ive got better at it under
Franks tutelage. We had a
long-ranging discussion and he
told me that his vision was to
create a billion-dollar company,
and at that point we were at
much less than $100 million.
The problem was that his
management team couldnt quite
grasp, and therefore execute,
his vision. Frank had big plans,
and he had developed some
wonderful products, but he
didnt have people who could
keep up with him. He could
run at a billion-dollar pace, but the people
Franks plastic who were following him just couldnt
move as fast.
air-conditioner was So Paul agreed to join the business,
stating up front, however, that he would
almost equivalent to probably only stay two or three years
landing a man on the before he would move on to his next
role. I have been with the company for
moon. It was against 13 years now. Frank did warn me at the
beginning that hed do everything in his
all odds. power to ensure Id stay, and he has been
true to his word. Every day is a challenge:
every day Frank will think of something
new and different. The whole culture
One of Franks first innovations was of the business is one of innovation.
the plastic air-conditioner. It was almost For instance, this year we are spending
equivalent to landing a man on the moon, more than $20 million introducing new
Paul enthuses. It was against all odds, and plant and equipment into the factory. We
he had to beg, scrape and borrow to get designed and developed the equipment,
the money for the tooling. Everybody and had it made offshore. And some of
told him that the product wouldnt work, it will be world-first. Its very exciting.
but he persevered anyway and he was In order for Paul to fulfil the great
successful. That is what caused the whole mans vision, he first consolidated the
industry to move from metal coolers to companys team. What I wanted to do
plastic ones, so he really changed the was introduce into the business what I
entire market. And thats vintage Frank: refer to as operational excellence. What
if you know him, the one thing you can that basically means is looking at all of the
guarantee is if you tell him something cant business processes and seeing where they
be done, he will do it. Not to be obstinate, add value and where they dont. The idea
but if he believes that there is a glimmer is to improve quality, but also make sure

128 |
Executive interview

that at every point in the business process, do business. If you do it right, you finish
from ordering and converting material to with far fewer people but they are a lot
shipping a finished product, is done as happier: they are all engaged and then
efficiently as possible. the business can start growing.
It starts with a belief system and The five years following consolidation
in my case, and in Franks case too, it is built on this strong foundation, with the
that everybody is capable of adding value. five years after that seeing good organic
I dont look at a person and say they are growth when Seeley doubled its market
not adding value; I go straight to the share in Australia. It then looked at
manager and I say, Why do you have acquisitions to extend its global reach and
these people in positions where they are prepare for the rapid growth needed to
not capable of adding value? Why have fulfil Franks vision. For Paul, this would
you designed a business process where hinge largely on the commercialisation
your people dont add value? So I dont of a Seeley product called Climate Wizard.
remove the people; I remove the leadership Its currently used in just one per cent of
or change the leadership. air-conditioners worldwide, and with
What you need to do is cut fat, not 10 per cent of the global air-conditioning
muscle. The fat is not usually the people market, we are a multibillion-dollar
who are doing the work; rather it is the business not multimillion, but
people who are supposed to be leading multibillion, Paul says enthusiastically.
the people who are doing the work. The
Working closely with Seeley International has allowed Impact
way that most executives downsize is not Steel to provide tailored solutions as a key supplierpartner.
sustainable because you cant just fire We work hard to provide them with quality, fit-for-purpose
steel products and services. Some would say our relationship
people: youve got to change the way you is made of steel. Chris Cox, Sales Manager, Impact Steel



By working closely with Braemar, a key brand of Seeley International, we are able to ensure both businesses
achieve mutually beneficial outcomes and seek out ways to improve through a culture of excellence and
innovation. We are able to respondHalf
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Available on Apple, Android, and Kindle smart devices.




NEWS, REVIEWS & points of view
Tired of travelling with the masses? Youll be pleased to know
its never been easier or cheaper to fly private. The cost of
chartering a jet is now 10 to 20 per cent less than it was five
years ago, so on-demand charters have been steadily gaining
market share. Whats more, the introduction of new apps,
that make ordering one easier than ever before, are likely to
attract those who shuttle frequently between cities travelling
first or business class. One such app, referred to as the Uber
of private jets has certainly caught our eye. JetSmarter
promises to streamline the process of booking your next
private jet, as users can sort their next luxury charter with
the tap of their smartphone. The app operates with a
membership system, and the idea is that otherwise-empty
seats on flights can be offered to last-minute travellers for
less. Car-pooling doesnt get any chicer, really.

Terracotta, cork, dark green,
upholstered bedheads, ATTITUDE
escapism, jewel tones
All eyes will be on the south of France this
month as the whos who of cinema descend
to celebrate the seventieth anniversary
2017 INTERIOR of the Cannes Film Festival, held from
DESIGN TRENDS May 1728. This years President of the
Whats hot and whats not, Jury is exuberant Spanish director
according to Australian real Pedro Almodvar, responsible for modern
estate portal Domain cinematic classics such as Women on the
Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All About My
Mother and Bad Education. I am aware of
the responsibility that entails being the
OUT president of the jury and I hope to be up to
Copper, marble, quote the job. I can only tell that Ill devote myself,
artworks, fiddle-leaf figs, body and soul, to this task, that it is both
open-plan living, subway tiles a privilege and a pleasure, he said in a
statement announcing his appointment.

132 |
Lifestyle news


The average brain generates close to

60,000 thoughts per day, more than
40 thoughts a minute.

Source: Smiling Mind: Mindfulness Made Easy,

A new study undertaken by by Jane Martino and James Tutton
reveals the extent to which first-time travel
impacts all aspects of our lives inspiring
21% of respondents to move somewhere
new, 13% to change job or career and
13% to end their current relationship. An
impressive 53% of respondents believed
Create your own visual style let it be unique
their inaugural travel experience was
more exciting than a first date while, for
for yourself and yet identifiable for others.
36%, it was more thrilling than a first kiss. Orson Welles


Named both The Age Good Food Guide and Gourmet Travellers Chef of
the Year for 2016, Dan Hunter has transformed a little slice of rural
Victoria into one of Australias hottest gourmet destinations with Brae,
his hillside restaurant set on a 30-acre organic farm. As of this month,
foodies who struggle to make the 90-minute pilgrimage from Melbourne
to Victorias picturesque Otway hinterland can bring the flavours of Brae
into their own home. Published by Phaidon the name behind some of
the most coffee-table friendly tomes in any collection Brae: Recipes and
Stories from the Restaurant ($75 rrp) is a journey through the locavore
philosophy so fundamental to Dans kitchen, accompanied by some
of his signature recipes that have propelled Brae to second position
on Good Food Guides 2016 list of Australias Top 100 Restaurants. | 133
Perth, WA, 1127 May

Tragi-comedy takes centre stage at Her Majestys Theatre

this month with the classic stories from Cervantes quill
brought to life in ballet form by Dame Lucette Aldous
who first choreographed this production for the West
Australian Ballet in 2010. Along with his faithful sidekick,
Sancho Panza, the delusional protagonist makes his
hapless way through adventures to find his imaginary lost
love, Dulcinea. Breathtaking sets and costumes grace
the stage and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra
wrap up this stunning production.



Clare Valley, SA, 1922 May


For 30 years the stunning Clare Valley north of Adelaide

has played host to its annual Gourmet Weekend that

showcases dozens of local vineyards and food producers

throughout the valley. Take this chance to join local
viticulturists and farmers and immerse yourself
in one of the oldest winemaking areas in
Australia to find out why the region is
so special. As well as a vast array of
wine to choose from, live music
will warm your heart and local
cuisine will fill your belly.
Bountiful farm gates and cellar
doors will ensure you have
plenty to take home, too.

134 |
Events & happenings

Sydney, NSW, 26 May 17 June

Since the inaugural event in 2009, Sydneys show of lights, music and ideas has spread out from Circular Quay across the
city to include the Royal Botanic Garden, Taronga Zoo, Chippendale and Chatswood, bathing the city surrounds in seas of
sensory creativity. Last year saw 2.3 million visitors captivated by the sculptures, colourfully-lit fountains and kaleidoscopic
stories projected onto the citys iconic buildings and landmarks each evening. This years Lighting the Sails on the Opera House
celebrates Indigenous Australian artwork, and the songlines, spirituality and rich culture of the countrys first people will be
showcased throughout the festival. Its easy to see why Vivid Sydney has earned its reputation as one of the most spectacular
light shows in the world.

Upper Hutt, Wellington, NZ, 1 May 5 June

Hot on the heels of the Rembrandt Research Project Foundation

event in Amsterdam, Rembrandt Remastered delves into the
seventeenth century with an extraordinary reimagining of this world
masters paintings. The exhibition houses digitally remastered and
life-sized paintings, including some of his most famous Dana,
The Night Watch and Storm on the Sea of Galilee providing
a rare opportunity to engage with Rembrandts work. The month-
long showcase is curated by Australasias preeminent specialist on
Rembrandt, Dr Erin Griffey, who will host a free talk on The Secret
Life of Rembrandt on 21 May. You can also dress the part and
Feast with Rembrandt on 27 May.| |135
High in the Andes is a land of magical discoveries waiting to be explored.


Life-changing travel

anking on a pair of gumboots, partly shrouded in mist is the mammoth
I scramble to catch up with 5,987-metre Cotopaxi, the highest active
everyone. Theres no need volcano in Ecuador. While she looks all
to hurry, though theyre mystical with her snow-capped top, theres
on South American time. a very real sense that shes not as sweet
Our travel-loving Scottish guide, Johnny, as she seems; in fact, as recently as August
has the whole group captivated by two 2015, volcanic activity reached a peak and
fluffy llamas mooching about. They graze Cotopaxi spewed ash and smoke for hours.
alongside well-fed cattle, with verdant The national park itself was closed for a
pastures and pincushion hills rolling in the few months as a result, but the surrounding
distance. I quietly salute the Ecuadorian areas were declared safe by authorities
Andes in all its glory. thankfully so for the sheep herders,
Sure, the llamas are cute, but in this cowboys and adventure-seeking tourists
picture-perfect view theres another stand- like me who travel to Cotopaxi in search
out. Looming large albeit shy given shes of something out of the ordinary.
After ogling at our new furry friends, turned into one of Ecuadors best-kept
we begin a two-hour round trip and secrets by adventure seekers in the know.
very muddy walk (hence the gumboots) Now, with plans to build more Hobbit
to a nearby waterfall. I trudge through homes, the secrets getting out.
knee-deep creeks, do the limbo under Besides the activities on offer, from
several low-hung tree branches, and biking and hiking to trout fishing, The
hold on for dear life as I climb around Secret Gardens chilled-out, unrefined
moss-laden rock faces. I stop every so atmosphere is what lures visitors the world
often to drink in the view of Cotopaxi, over. Accommodating up to 34 guests at
and when we finally arrive at the waterfall any one time, dinner time is a cultural
cascading into crystal waters below, with and communal affair. Young families sit by
sunshine peeking through, its like a scene the roaring open fire, couples share travel
from Blue Lagoon. All this on my first stories while sipping red wine, and new
afternoon at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi friends vie for a cuddle with the lodges
eco-lodge. super-cute dachshunds,
Back down at the Daisy and Mash.
lodge, my partner and Besides the I take a seat on the
I discover our room
is ready. Or rather, activities on offer, large, shared table next
to Jennie from New York,
our Hobbit home. The Secret a 30-something solo
As the name suggests, holidaymaker whos visiting
these miniature mud- Gardens chilled- Ecuador for two weeks, and
brick houses are like
something fresh out
out, unrefined is fluent in Spanish. Its
pizza night tonight and the
of Lord of the Rings. atmosphere food and conversation
Built into the side of a
hill on the two-hectare is what lures doesnt stop flowing.
We head off to bed at
property, an otherwordly visitors the a reasonable hour and
archway made of sticks discover our heater has
leads up to a brightly world over. been kindly turned on
painted yellow door. to warm up our room.
Inside, the hobbit-hole Its the middle of winter
vibe continues: the wood of the bed frame in the Andes, after all, so its pretty chilly
and bedside tables has been carved into outside. We drift off into a deep sleep
remarkable shapes; theres an age-old chest dreaming of the intoxicating country
of drawers; and the cosy bed is topped and tomorrows adventure.
with lovely, warm covers. Its small, snug Theres not a lot of time to linger in
and perfect for getting back to basics. the morning before our four-hour horse
The Hobbit homes were built almost ride through the Andes highlands begins.
two years ago by owners Tarquin Hill A tired-looking four-wheel-drive takes us
a fellow Australian who hails from the on a bumpy ride through the country and
Sunshine Coast and wife Katherine. delivers us to Omar, a local Ecuadorian
What started as a leap of faith for the cowboy who owns 15 horses in the
couple and their two young boys fast region. We saddle up and set off on

138 |
Life-changing travel

Mesmerising views and colourful characters

adorn the Ecuadorian landscape. | 139
Life-changing travel

horseback through the stunning surrounds.

Choco, my beautiful chocolate-brown
horse, is lovingly described by Omar
as muy tranquillo, so I believe him. Yet
when we reach a rampant river crossing,
and Im required to cross it on my steed,
I naturally freak out.
Before I know it, were doing it
jeans dripping and me screeching. Its so
exhilarating, and I sense Choco has found
more confidence in me. The temperature
fast drops as we start to wind up and
around the steep mountain sides. Atop
the mountain, despite it sleeting from
Cotopaxi, we stop for some warm tea
and freshly made banana bread, courtesy
of the lodge. Its such a humbling
experience: being up here with these Its such a humbling experience: being
elegant creatures, deep in the Andes,
enjoying a cup of tea with a majestic up here with these elegant creatures, deep
snow-capped volcano as our backdrop. in the Andes, enjoying a cup of tea with
Back at the lodge, we hit the steamy-
hot Jacuzzi just in time for sunset. With
a snow-capped volcano as our backdrop.
its glass windows offering star-gazing
opportunities and even more ways to take
in Cotopaxis beauty, this is the place to
hang out. My partner and I dont last long, winding our way through a mist-shrouded
however, as dinners on our mind. We dry forest. The final push to the top is
off and head to the communal area where unrelenting, and when we finally reach
we discover pad Thai is on the menu. We the summit it starts to rain. I embrace
eat, laugh and sip warm mulled wine; then, it; snuggled under my waterproof jacket,
with full bellies, happily retire to bed. Im buzzing with this sense of fulfilment
We rise early for our final adventure and literally on top of the world.
and set off on a 13-kilometre hike up to Hiking back down the mountain,
the 4,200-metre extinct Pasochoa volcano. something hilarious happens. One of
The Secret Garden has unlimited access the sweet Dutch girls in our group
to the 1,000-hectare private ecological unknowingly steps into a camouflaged mud
reserve that extends from the propertys hole and loses her entire right leg to the
back fence to the summit of Pasochoa thick, deep, muddy substance. Amid fits of
also known as the lonely widow in the laughter, its our duty to pull her out. The
local indigenous language. group rallies together behind a long, solid
The hike starts off relatively easy and stick and we tug tightly to yank her up.
I think Im nailing it. That is until the Its the icing on the cake during
altitude kicks in and the air starts to get our stay at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi.
thinner. A lot thinner. I can taste it, in For not only is this place a hidden
fact: that feeling when the back of your adventure paradise for outdoor-lovers,
throat is so dry and youre so parched but its a place to create new friendships,
you literally cant breathe. Luckily, we laugh a whole lot, and experience new
pause regularly to catch our breath while challenges alongside complete strangers
crossing over craggy valleys, hiking up with an underlying sense of camaraderie
steep inclines with dense shrubbery, and at the fore. | 141
City bites
Where Machiavelli Ristorante Italiano the 25-year-old Sydney CBD institution
is all business, its new baby brother, Bar Machiavelli in Rushcutters Bay, is pure
party. The exposed brick and rustic beams of the old tyre factory provide a grungy
backdrop to the glitter and glamour brought in by interior designer Jason Mowen.
The dark space is illuminated by custom floor lamps, a very well-stocked golden
bar that stretches almost the full length of the space, and projections of a sexy
slideshow featuring three-metre-high film stars and
musicians gazing down from the walls. The menu
is purist Italian: quality ingredients, simply prepared,
so that the flavour of the produce shines through.
The specialties here are a broad selection of antipasti,
such as wafer-thin carpaccio, salumi, or sweet and
tender grilled Hervey Bay half-shell scallops with
a cream and white wine sauce. The wine list continues
the journey through Italy with a selection of reds,
whites and sparklings to enhance the flavours on
your plate. A sweet life indeed.


The Long Goodbye is a classy neo-noir bar that harks
back to another era one of classic, well-made drinks
that are fuss-free, of quality jazz and blues, and of cosy
candle-lit corners. Its not a theme bar, though, insists
owner and bar manager Flynn McLennan; its simply
a reflection of a passion for another era. Vintage furniture
from the 40s and 50s has been carefully hand-picked
by Flynn himself. Think patterned wallpaper, leather and
velvet stools, chairs and lounges, and plenty of candles and
lamps. Jazz permeates the dimly lit space and is played live on Thursdays.
But the hero is the cocktail list. House-made liqueurs and syrups are
used to craft classics as well as creative cocktails. Flynn says he wanted
to open a nice bar with good-quality drinks that are uncomplicated and
wont take half an hour to make. While there is a drinks menu, the idea
is to simply tell the bartender what you feel like and let them whip up
a bespoke creation. The flavours and possibilities are virtually endless in
this charming bar.

142 |
Sip, eat, sleep


A glowing red beacon along the grey bricks
of Flinders Lane, the neon cherry lights at
the entrance of Supernormals glass front lure
in passersby to enjoy a dining experience that
is anything but normal. Inside, the restaurant
combines the fun of modern Japanese style
(soft, square lanterns, carefully placed plant
life, and katakana signs), with the artsy
minimalism of its open kitchen, plain concrete
floors, and stainless steel tables. The real
luxury is reserved for your tastebuds, with an
array of pan-Asian goodies to choose from,
split among six different menu sections. Food
is mostly served cold or at room temperature, and reflects owner Andrew
McConnells time working as a chef across Asia, blending the distinctive
flavours of Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong. Favourites include
the duck bao, plump dumplings and skewered meats, as well as Korean
BBQ and veggie plates including punchy kimchi or subtler broccolini
bowls. Its McConnells lobster rolls, however, that have people travelling
from all around, made famous from his previous St Kilda-based success,
Golden Fields (now a bistro called Luxembourg). Despite constant crowds
and a more relaxed and inclusive dining vibe, service is patient, personal,
and equal to any traditional five-star restaurant.


A year out from the Commonwealth Games and theres
a real energy and excitement filling the air on the Gold
Coast in fact, you could almost bottle it at Garden
Kitchen & Bar inside The Star Gold Coast (the new name
for Broadbeach institution Jupiters Gold Coast). The sultry
interiors and dark stouts on tap at the Prince Albert Bar,
this corner of the complexs previous incarnation, have long
been forgotten. In its place, guests are transported into a chic
coastal conservatory where the focus is on classic favourites
made from fresh, seasonal produce. Somewhere between
the moreish crab cakes shared as a starter (made from
spanner crab caught fresh further up the Queensland coast
in Mooloolaba) and the seared Tasmanian salmon with a new
potato, kale, fennel and citrus salad main course, drag yourself away
from a sun-drenched position on the terrace to soak up the vibe
inside. Bronzed locals this is the Gold Coast, after all chat
animatedly while sipping on a chilled glass of salmon-hued ros
here, a bottle of craft beer there, their healthy glows highlighted
by the swathes of natural light flooding in. | 143
Mt Buller
Adventure travel

or those who love the snow, it
has to be one of the best things
in the world waking up, warm
and snug under blankets with the
heating on, looking out at a crisp,
bright-blue sky, the ground below covered
in piles of fresh white snow. Its even
better when a dusting of snow spirals
across the sky. And if youve already
sorted out your ski and boarding gear,
then the day ahead is bound to be packed
to the hilt with smiles born of adrenaline;
magical moments as you glide or shoot
down freshly ploughed mountain faces;
If you dont live in Victoria, and peaceful moments of taking in vistas
then Mt Buller might not be from mountaintops if you go off-piste.
one of your first choices for Mt Buller is a three-hour drive from
a ski holiday. But today, with Melbourne, and even when it has been
snowing heavily, with your trusty snow
so many flights to Melbourne,
chains on youre in the village within four
reaching one of the best ski hours. The resort has over 300 hectares
fields in Australia is easier of ski-able terrain, with wide, welcoming
than ever. And for Victorians? beginners slopes on the Bourke Street and
Well, youre all set. Burnt Hut Spur runs, and plenty of black
run challenges around Chamois. There are
WORDS MICHELLE HESPE two toboggan parks with their own
earned break at the resorts many spas
and beauty therapy rooms, or embarking
on an educative audio tour to gain some
understanding of Bullers history and its
many hidden treasures. You can also catch
a movie at Australias highest cinema,
which usually hosts two films per night.
Theres the National Alpine Museum, a
sculpture park walk, scenic helicopter
flights (during which you can stop and
enjoy a hot drink at the famous Craigs
Hut, as seen in The Man from Snowy River
films), and you can have a crack at
snowgaining. For those unfamiliar with
dedicated snow machines to keep the this activity, its high-altitude orienteering,
kids (and the young at heart) happy, and and is a terrific way to have some
Mt Buller has the largest lift network competitive fun while exploring the alpine
in the state with 22 lifts in operation, region. Nine checkpoints are scattered
including 13 chairlifts, four T-bars, two around the mountain, and participants
rope tows and four magic carpets. Buller, follow the clues to discover each one and
as the locals call her, is also home to four then (hopefully) return with a completed
terrain parks designed for all skill levels, checkpoint control card. If you complete
complete with rollers, jumps and rails, a card, youre rewarded with a Mt Buller-
and a dedicated snow-grooming team to branded multi-tool. But its really all about
maintain the foundations of all that fun. the challenge.
Mt Bullers buzzing village has
plenty of ski-in, ski-out accommodation, FINE DINING AT
and there are loads of bars, cafs and BLACK COCKATOO
restaurants to keep everyone happy. From After stepping into the welcoming warmth
the legendary Tirol Caf, which dishes up of Black Cockatoo Restaurant (theres
the most famous pizza on the mountain, nothing better than aprs-ski cosiness
to Abom Caf near the when your face is still rosy
bottom of the slopes that Thats one of the from the outside chill) and
whips up coffees to keep
up the stamina, and Koflers, best things stashing your ski clothes
in a cloakroom thatll have
with its awesome hot about snow time them toasty in no time,
chocolates and mulled wine, take a moment to breathe
Buller has the food scene you can eat in the scents emanating
covered. And lets face it:
thats one of the best things
and drink a lot from the wood-charcoal
oven. That, mixed with the
about snow time you more heartily aroma of pork belly roasting
can eat and drink a lot
more heartily than you may than you may in its own juices, is enough
to have anyones mouth
normally do, resting assured normally do. watering before theyve
that youll be burning some even checked out the menu.
calories and working the Aesthetically, Black
muscles the following day. Cockatoo is a stylish blend of copper
Hitting the slopes is the main aim faades, captivating views of Mount
for most people visiting Mt Buller during Stirling, and the comfy textures of well-
winter, but theres a plethora of other worn leather and black wooden walls
things to do, including taking a well- graced with a local artists stunning photos

146 |
Adventure travel

of the black cockatoo. Food-wise, its a portrait shots taken among the snow gums, MEET THE HUSKIES
sophisticated showcase for the fabulous or even photos of you soaking up the Australian Sled Dog Tours
caters for two adults and
Victorian high plains produce in meals atmosphere at the local pub with the band
two children (a family ride)
created as much for their pure balance playing, hes your man. After all, who or two adults, and one, two
of taste as for their artistic integrity. doesnt want a pro to Photoshop out a red or three children. Rides are
Delicate dishes such as the Hiramasa ski face and those annoying goggle marks? $195 per person, and a family
Kingfish sashimi with buttermilk, yuzu, ride is $600.
chilli, fennel, bottarga and smoked oyster WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?
oil (for starters) are as memorable as the We should all be so glad that someone let TASTE THE DIFFERENCE
more hearty fare. Try the Flinders Island the dogs out, as the huskies at Australian AT BLACK COCKATOO
saltgrass lamb shoulder with chermoula, Sled Dog Tours are all rescue dogs that Ensure that you book well
ahead if you plan to dine at
saltbush, pickled onions and lemon. are now charming resident legends of Black Cockatoo, especially
And speaking of memories, you Mt Buller, and they have the most if you would like a signature
shouldnt leave without sampling the incredible home on the mountain, dining degustation menu, as it tends
signature dessert that has everyone talking: on donated fresh local salmon to keep to book out before the season
a Redskin lolly-flavoured gelato thatll their energy levels up. Everyone who even starts.
bring back some pure childish glee as meets the pack of beautiful dogs falls
soon as it touches your tongue. in love with at least a few of them, and SNUGGLE UP AT
for many, the experience with them is HUSKI APARTMENTS
CAPTURE THE MOMENT a highlight of a visit to Buller. Set in among the picture-
perfect snow gums in the
WITH TONY The in-demand tours (book a few days centre of Mt Buller Village,
Theres nothing better than having ahead) include a meet-and-greet with the Huski offers modern, spacious
someone else (especially when theyre huskies, an action-packed photo session, apartments that can sleep up
a pro) capturing your crew caught up and an exhilarating sled-dog tour. to 10 guests. A few minutes
stroll or ski to the Chamois
in the joy that naturally erupts when Zipping across the snow-covered fields
ski run, enjoy the convenience
snow, adrenaline, blue skies and a sense above Mt Buller Village, its easy to of the free shuttle bus right
of freedom all come together. Tony imagine yourself as a musher somewhere outside the apartment if your
Harrington, who works winters at in Alaska, gliding along with your dogs legs have given up on you.
The Photo Shop & Gallery (right next in control and the world at your feet.
to the main lifts) is a pro surf and snow Thats the beauty of Mount Buller For more information about
photographer, and if you want some action its a different world, and yet youre only Mt Buller, visit:
shots of you all coming down the slopes, a few hours from Melbourne. | 147
Seasonal selection
After 20 years in the fine-dining scene, chef Paul McGrath was excited by the
prospect of joining the hip and happening team at The Grounds of Alexandria.


148 |
Meet the chef

ts rather hard to describe exactly what Tagliatelle, which comes plated up with a rich
The Grounds of Alexandria is. Its a coffee tomato ragout, sweetcorn and capers, its hearty,
hotspot, a casual diner, a juice bar and flavoursome food, prettily plated up.
a charcoal barbecue takeaway joint. In fact, when Paul is asked what ingredient
Its a restaurant with luscious greenhouse- hes currently most excited about, he responds
inspired living dcor, a function space for with: Anything seasonal. Were very fortunate here
glam weddings and events, a bakery, a ptisserie, to have such a varied offering of fresh produce.
and even a mini farmyard for resident pig Kevin Creating a new or updated menu for any one
Bacon and his friends to while away the days. of The Grounds eateries, whether it be for the
Set on an impressively-sized chunk of land in restaurant or the caf, starts with a conversation.
Sydney suburb Alexandria, The Grounds, as it Paul says he chats with key suppliers to learn
is commonly referred to, offers something new about the most seasonal ingredients, and this
to look at, and eat, everywhere you turn. then gives him a clear direction about what
Its the brainchild of business entrepreneurs the best produce out there is, and what he and
Ramzey Choker and Jack Hanna, and current his team should incorporate into their recipes.
Executive Chef Paul McGrath says he simply Our goal is to create wholesome dishes that
couldnt pass up the opportunity to get involved are presented beautifully, he shares. We want
in this unique take on to create something that
the hospitality game. our guests love. I want to
I came to develop a I love working with continue to evolve the
really good relationship wholesome offering and
with Ramzey, so the fresh, seasonal produce the beauty of the

to create wholesome
opportunity presented a presentation, which is
new challenge within a incredibly important to us.
venue that had a vision
and goals I believed in,
dishes that are Pauls career prior
to joining The Grounds
Paul tells The CEO
Magazine. Ramzeys
beautifully plated. took him to many parts
of the world, beginning
direction was clear from in Ireland where he
the beginning on being wholesome and honest worked as a kitchen assistant for the renowned
in our offering, creating beauty, and having Star restaurant at Ballymaloe House, while
integrity across all areas. We have such a varied studying marine biology at university. The
customer base, so were able to be creative with owner of the restaurant was one of Irelands
so many offerings for all of our guests. most well-known celebrity chefs, and she
With a plethora of food genres available at encouraged me to pursue a career as a chef.
The Grounds, Pauls approach is to keep it simple. She taught me all about organic and sustainably
I love working with fresh, seasonal produce to sourced produce long before it was ever
create wholesome dishes that are beautifully considered cool or trendy, Paul says. I then
plated, he explains. The Potting Shed restaurant continued to train in Ireland, France and
is a fine example of this. Set in an open-air space London at numerous restaurants, which were
bursting with living greenery everything from generally French cuisine.
pot plants to hanging ferns guests can perch Paul is now putting what he learned in
themselves on a bench, or even a swing, and enjoy those very early days to good use. The Grounds
a menu that features a colourful range of locally exists to make peoples lives better, he states.
harvested produce. From the Heirloom Tomato Ramzey and Jack built this space to create
Tart served with tangy mustard, manchego cheese special moments, and so it really extends
and baby herbs freshly picked from the onsite beyond just the venue its about education,
garden, to the Braised Rabbit and Fresh Egg beauty and meaning. | 149

heres no doubt that gin has become one of
the most celebrated spirits in the world: in
the past three years, there has been exponential
growth in this category, so much so that there
are now dedicated gin bars from London to
New York, Sydney and Singapore. Theres no hiding from
this clear spirit that has famously been known as mothers
ruin gin is in.
There is no exact recipe for gin, so it lends
itself to a craft approach, with various smaller players
experimenting with different botanicals and creating some
new and unique flavours, enticing a new breed
of drinker and rivaling the bigger, more
traditional distilleries.

150 |
Man vs wine

One of the most famous Australian

examples to emerge in recent years
has been Four Pillars from Victorias
Yarra Valley. I spoke to owners Cameron Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, $70
Mackenzie and Stuart Gregor about how The original and still the most popular of the Four
they went about making a contemporary Pillars line-up a classic and contemporary style of
gin that would challenge the more gin with Asian-spice influences such as star anise fused
traditional English styles. with Tasmanian pepperberry. Perfect for a gin and tonic
New World gin is exciting, because with a slice of orange.
producers are realising that there is such
an incredible array of botanicals to use Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, $100
as long as we put juniper in, we can do A spin on the original Four Pillars sees the addition
anything we like. There are no other rules, of finger limes and fresh ginger that enhance the
which means we can experiment. We can other Asian botanicals. The result is a fresh style
try different things. We have distilled more thats as intense as it is sweet and juicy. Perfect for
than 70 native Australian botanicals since making a martini.
we started, and many have gone into
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin, $85
limited-edition gins, one-offs and all sorts
This ultimate Negroni gin was created in collaboration
of fun things. We New Worlders have the
with Neil Perrys famed Rockpool restaurant. It sees
freedom to do as we please.
the addition of Szechuan pepper and macadamia to
enhance the biodynamic orange that is a vital ingredient
in the gin. It also helps create a perfect Bloody Mary.
According to this dynamic duo, once you
have a still, a neutral spirit and a side
portion of juniper, the distilling is the
easy part; its choosing what to add that
becomes more vexing, as Cameron explains: can be shaken, stirred and turned upside down in a million
It took around 18 months of test distillations ways. It has to be constant, it has to be versatile, and it has
to finalise the recipe while we waited for our still. Some to be delicious.
of this was our Breaking Bad phase where we tested Four Pillars has been very lucky with its product: in
botanicals in a small lab still. When Wilma our current its first year, it won two Gold Medals at the San Francisco
still arrived, we distilled for around four months in International Spirits Competition, and since then the brand
order to fine-tune the recipe. From the outset, we knew has spread its wings as far afield as London, Tokyo, and
we wanted to make a more contemporary style. Hong Kong. The timing was right, as it coincided with
We loosely threw around the idea of a Modern an evolution in our global drinks culture.
Australian style, which started to make a lot more As Stuart concludes: Craft cocktail bars and great
sense as we did more test distillations. Modern Australia bartenders are getting more plentiful and skilled, and
is an interesting blend of cultures, so the idea was they will always sway towards gin as the most delicious
a European canvas (juniper) with spices from South East and versatile of the white spirits.
Asia through to the Middle East, a couple of interesting
native botanicals, and a final lift of the Mediterranean.
To us, this was a nice reflection of Modern Australia.
Cameron is an ex-winemaker, so I was fascinated to
find out whether there was a crossover in the way wines I like to have a Martini, two at
and spirits are blended. He wisely pointed out: Both have
unique challenges. Winemakers will tell you that wine is the very most; three, Im under
much harder, as you are more at the mercy and vagaries of
the ever-changing climate; but the exciting challenge with the table, four Im under my host!
gin is achieving consistency and also making a product
that is eminently mixable with other flavours. Wine just Dorothy Parker
gets poured straight from the bottle into the glass ours | 151
lane For a manufacturer that no-ones
ever heard of to break into the car
market is no easy task. But when its
cars look quite familiar and drive as
well as this, the name Alpina will
start to, ahem, gain traction.


Motor torque
he first thing you
get handed is a
pair of goggles.
Clearly, this
means serious
business. Abu
Dhabis desert
heat isnt kind
to the face Late in 2016, after plenty of success
when youre being blasted out as quick overseas, Alpina headed Down Under,
as a Formula One car; best to don those kicking off with the homologation of its
funny-looking specs right now. Once B4 Bi-Turbo. Its based on the BMW 435i,
it starts, theres no turning back. And and while the bones are shared, the work
once it starts, you know all about it. under the skin creates an entirely different
Yes, the Formula Rossa is the fastest character. Priced at $166,400, the obvious
rollercoaster in the world, going from comparison is with the BMW M4, which
rest to 240 km/h in a mere five seconds. also has a twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder
Being thrown about, lifted high up, under the bonnet. But its critical that
dropped and twisted around it doesnt you clear any preconceived notions of
matter which rollercoaster it is, theres similarities between the two. Its a bit
a lot of fun to be had. But you cant like comparing a rollercoaster to a Ferris
do it all day. Sometimes you just want wheel: the M4 is a bit more manic, while
the peace and quiet of the Ferris wheel. the Alpina B4 Bi-Turbo has a far more
Similarly, while sports cars are a barrel relaxed and touring feel. But dont let its
of laughs, occasionally its nice to amble understated looks trick you into thinking
along, being cosseted in luxury, knowing its the tortoise to the M4s hare.
theres a massive reserve of torque awaiting Thanks to its two turbochargers, it
your right foots command at a moments makes a healthy 301 kW and a massive
notice. And thats exactly how Alpina sees 600 Nm which, when put through this
it. Sorry, who? specific Alpina-tuned eight-speed auto,
Alpina, a German company based gives you a 0100 km/h sprint of just
in Buchloe, has been associated with 4.2 seconds. It builds to a crescendo, piling
BMW since 1965. It enhances select on the speed like an Airbus hurtling down
BMW products, but is far more focused a runway. But the most disconcerting
than any tuning company. As a family- feeling is how the power never runs out
owned business, it strives to create a it keeps on pulling until you chicken
unique take on each model in addition out and back off. Boy, this Ferris wheel
to making bespoke products that cater has some grunt.
to those discerning customers who It also sounds brilliant. When BMW
want things to be just so. Its longevity created its M cars, it lost the classic
and production capacity is so vast that straight-six sparkle it was renowned for.
its now classed as an automotive Alpina saw this as a golden opportunity,
manufacturer in its own right. and thanks to some clever induction and
Because these arent mass-produced exhaust work (its an Akrapovic system,
machines, the options for personalisation by the way), the B4 relishes in presenting
are virtually endless. Want a certain leather a true six-cylinder soundtrack in all its
colour? No problem. An embroidered metallic glory.
logo in the headrests? Whatever you like. Inside, youll find Alpina-specific trim
Paintwork to match a certain household detailing (and some unique materials, too)
object? Can do. as well as hand-stitched seats and steering

154 |
Motor torque

or sport mode. Because the torque is so

plentiful and it comes in nice and low,
it pulls hard out of corners without a lot
of effort, so you never feel like youre on
the ragged edge. Its not as quick point to
point as the M4, but thats not the point.
Alpina has given it a far more
wheel in Alpina colours. Unlike the sophisticated character, one that leaves the
M4s slightly squishy steering wheel boy-racer image behind and has graduated
padding, the Alpinas wheel is firmer to a suit and tie. And because it doesnt
and far more appealing to the touch. It flag its racing cred with flared guards
also doesnt shout its sporting credentials and silly wings, it flies under the radar,
with massive paddles behind the wheel; with the local constabulary overlooking
rather, it takes the quiet achiever its throaty growl.
approach, with gear shift buttons that Its also unique, not just because of its
are hidden from sight but still within sleeper disposition, but because Australias
reach of exploring fingertips. allocation is far less
In front of the driver is a pair of than the demand Its also unique, not just because of its
VDO instruments, and the excellent dictates. The B4 sleeper disposition, but because Australias
iDrive infotainment system has been left Bi-Turbo is a rare allocation is far less than the demand
untouched, while the centre console comes beast, which only dictates. The B4 Bi-Turbo is a rare beast,
with its own build number plaque. Okay, adds to its appeal.
which only adds to its appeal.
so some details do look a little tuner, but Its a daily driver
for the most part it would amble along that will slingshot you
in traffic blending in as another BMW. when required. It looks familiar, but theres
Its drive experience, though, gives the also something different about it. And it
B4 Bi-Turbo its own flavour. With crisp captures the aural magic of the classic
steering, it turns in nice and sharp, while BMW engine layout better than BMW
the 20-inch, 20-spoke alloys combine with currently does. It might not be as exciting
the adaptive suspension to give a beautiful as a rollercoaster ride, but Alpina certainly
ride, no matter whether youre in comfort knows how to live life in the fast lane. | 155

A look back at the days leading up to OzHarvests 2017 CEO CookOff,

and how food-rescue pioneer Ronni Kahn sparked the change that
delivered 60 million meals to Australias underprivileged.


156 |

ts a warm night in the heart of Alexandria in
Sydney, and the OzHarvest CEO CookOff
is only one month away. In the busy kitchen
at OzHarvest HQ, a practice run for the
event is in full swing, and members of the
media have been invited to join the fun. Pots clank
and plates are shuffled between benches; the
smell of freshly cut herbs and sizzling butter wafts
through the air, and the soft prattle of the pasta
maker sees long strips of fresh fettuccine ready
for the boil. The essence of the space, however,
is the people within it a veritable melting pot
of gourmet chefs, high-level business executives
and media personalities, swapping stories and
laughing at their varying culinary abilities as they
stand side by side grating parmesan or stirring
the bubbling sauce.
Decked out in OzHarvest yellows, founder
and CEO Ronni Kahn cooks alongside us in her
bright-yellow apron, a chunky yellow necklace,
her sunny attitude infectious as she wanders Jimmy Barnes and
Ronni Kahn.
around the kitchens, poking fun at the chefs.
The evening produces large bowls of steaming
pasta, seasoned meats, and strawberry meringue, participates in each CookOff
ready to be packaged, loaded into the OzHarvest and often brings in the most
vans, and sent off into the night to be delivered cash. For every $1 donated,
to Sydneys most vulnerable either through OzHarvest can feed two
charitable agencies or direct to their door. people. As Ronni notes too,
As we eagerly await a taste of the finished theres something so much
product, Ronni expresses her gratitude. better about a business leader
You chopped, you fried, you stirred and you who doesnt just donate dollars,
cooked up a storm, but you know what? I can but who sees equal value in rolling
tell you, you can smell it in the air that the most up their sleeves and making a difference
important ingredient in this food is love because with their own two hands. From a
you all put so much care into making it, says leadership point of view, the CEO CookOff
Ronni. Her words are saccharine and humble; is setting an example by action, says Ronni.
not the type of dialogue youd typically encounter Quite honestly, talk is cheap. Action isnt.
at corporate events. Later she tells me she always This is a value ingrained for Ronni, who grew up
emphasises the warmer concept, because it in South Africas apartheid regime, feeling deeply
is an important part of embracing change. the sense of injustice permeating society. Starting
Generosity, humility and love are all quite fluffy with her mother a marvellous cook it was food
words for some business leaders, but they actually that helped her to understand the world she was
work and they need to be part of the lexicon born into. Everybody always raved about my
because until they are, we wont change our mothers food and it would bring everyone together,
society for the better, she explains. but I was a very fussy eater. I didnt really appreciate
Quite honestly, right now we are not looking her cooking until later, she says. There were
after the planet enough; we are not looking after people who didnt have food, and I became very
our people. So how can we live a prosperous life if aware of the inequality that discrimination causes.
we are leaving so much behind? Her confidence Though my parents never fought in the street and
and energy are exactly what a not-for-profit like risked their lives, they cultivated values in us that
OzHarvest needs in a leader. As CEO, she were about honouring the dignity of all people. | 157

These values saw Ronni eventually join the Since its first year of operation, OzHarvest
Socialist-Zionist Habonim youth movement, has delivered more than 60 million meals around
and later move to Israel to live and work as part Australia after collecting surplus food from hotels,
of a kibbutz an economically and socially restaurants, events, farmers and more, and
independent society founded on principles of delivering it to various individuals and agencies
communal ownership of property, social justice, around the country. It felt like that was the next
and equality. She lived with her first husband in part of my journey, but I could not have imagined
the kibbutz for almost 20 years, having two sons, the joy, gratitude and passion with which I am
before moving to Haifa and starting a florist shop. imbued every single day, says Ronni.
Wanting to avoid her boys having to enlist for It comes as no surprise that one month later,
compulsory military duty as they reached the 2017 OzHarvest CEO CookOff went off
adolescence, she sought a new home for her family, without a hitch. More than 120 executives
and Australia was the lucky country. The prepared meals under the guidance of
kibbutz made her long to create a 40 chefs from Australias leading
new community, one that would restaurants, feeding more than
encompass all areas of society. Approximately 1,100 vulnerable Australians in
The vulnerable, the 1.3 billion tonnes of attendance. While that would
rich, the young, the old, food are wasted every be enough to make anyone
all coming together as part sweat, the real work was in
of a sharing community year roughly one third of the fundraising. In the end,
based on principles of the food produced in the around $1.7 million was raised
caring and giving, she says. world for human by participants, which will
Food encompasses these allow OzHarvest to deliver
things; everybody can relate to consumption. 3.4 million meals to those in
it. I didnt have to teach anybody need, as well as further reduce mass
that good food shouldnt go to waste food wastage and train disadvantaged
because at some point everybody has been youth in hospitality and nutrition.
told to eat your food because there is someone But the event is so much more than its
starving somewhere. It wasnt until 2004 outcome: for one night only it allows people to
that Ronni founded OzHarvest, after years bond with their community and learn new things
running her own events company. She saw about themselves. For the execs, feeding the
the amount of waste that came from having hungry doesnt require board meetings or number-
a surplus of food at her events, and knowing crunching. For chefs, the kitchen is not the usual
that so many are starving on the street, she hectic whir of activity and pressure, but a calm
was stirred to make the change that the world space to pass on tips, tell stories, and laugh at
needed. She even rallied and successfully spills. Its about a responsibility to the community,
changed legislation across four Australian states creating a ripple effect of generosity, and bonding
to ensure food donors are safe from liability so people over food and cooking. That is the basis
that they can donate more freely. behind the CEO CookOff, says Ronni.

158 |
Philanthropy | 159
Leadership lessons

The Last
Li Cunxins inspiring story was
recorded in the autobiography
Maos Last Dancer, and
now the artistic director of
Queensland Ballet talks
business. Here he shares his
tips for career success.
As told to Skye Hoklas at the Sunsuper
Game Changers event | Images Christian Tiger

SET A VISION A leader has
to be incredibly passionate and
committed to their vision. That
vision has to be clear, it has to

be bold, and it has to be strong.
most important ingredient.
My job is to continue to
challenge our dancers, and
feed them [with passion];
to continue feeding them with the

sweet taste of success.
courage to make decisions
along the way. It would have
been so easy for me to keep
the status quo and return to
China, but I stayed in America. I nearly
Measure success based on the goals you have
lost my life for it, but it was the best set, against the impact and the outcomes.
decision I ever made, even with the

5 6
difficulties that followed with my

familys separation. FIND INSPIRATION One of SEIZE THE NOW Live your
STAY PRODUCTIVE Focus, my all-time heroes is Nelson life like theres no tomorrow,
focus, focus. Particularly when Mandela. I admire him because as though every single day
youre busy, you have to be he was a man of courage and is your last one. That way
very focused on what you do principle. Despite the unfair youre going to truly value
and on the execution of your things that were imposed on his life, he and treasure the time you have on this
plans. Otherwise youre going to get lost was never a bitter man. He was pragmatic earth and the opportunities that come
in all the noise and the thousands of and generous in spirit. He always had the your way. You wont ever take them
things that come your way. best interests of his people in mind. for granted.

160 |

The June Issue

The success of
The Huffington Post
was in spite of,
and not because
of, my willingness
to burn out.
Read the exclusive interview with
Arianna Huffington in our June issue


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