Professor Drew Nesdale is pro-vice-chancellor (Business) at Griffith University, Gold Coast. His career has included teaching and research positions in psychology across campuses in Britain, Canada, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland. He is a Fellow of AIM.
AIM: How would you describe the path your career has taken from teaching to academia to administration?
Nesdale: I thoroughly enjoyed teaching at university, and research. Administration is a different challenge, and it makes a nice break for a while. But I anticipate that I will go back to being a teacher and a researcher.
AIM: What are the key challenges ahead for education?
Nesdale: Tertiary education faces three principal challenges: being funded, being staffed and being relevant. Funding levels have been systematically cut in the past few years and, if there is no increase, universities face a pretty dismal future. The second challenge is related to the first. We are having increasing difficulty in attracting top-level academics into academ
Admiral Chris Barrie was appointed chief of the Australian Defence Force in 1998. A navigation sub-specialist, he also has a bachelor of arts degree (with a special focus on international relations and politics) and a master of business administration. Admiral Barrie is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management
AIM: What is your managerial approach to the military?
Barrie: My approach is to get the right people into the right jobs and then leave them to get on with the tasks at hand. I have a clear focus on succession planning. I have communicated to all my senior people how they stand in the order of things, what the expectations of them are and how the system works. My vision is to secure the defence force’s reputation, to eliminate those things that harmed our reputation and to get some good stories about the defence force out into the community.
AIM: What parallels are there between business and the military?
Barrie: Strategic leadership issues are the same in any organisation. The militaryR
Denis Napthine is leader of the Victorian Liberal Party, currently in Opposition. He was first elected in 1988 and was Minister for Youth and Community Services and State Treasurer in the Kennett Government. He has been a veterinary officer with the Victorian Department of Agriculture and a manager with the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. He is a Fellow of AIM.
AIM: When did you start in management?
Napthine: I graduated as a vet at the end of 1974 and worked as a vet for a number of years in the Department of Health, where I also managed a team of staff and animal-health officers. That was my first experience of management. It was difficult, because I was trained as a vet in those technical skills. To be suddenly involved in financial management and people stuff was new.
AIM: How did you approach it?
Napthine: I did an off-campus MBA at Deakin University, which was a great opportunity to learn about management. I learnt that you have got to work as part of a team. You have to give staff re
What really happens in the room with a mentor? These vignettes drawn from a mentor’s session notes (names changed) may help in visualising what a mentor does. By Sean Spence
Helen arrives. Her first words are: “I’ve got three idiots on my team and I am barely on speaking terms with my MD.”
As we talk about the difficulty the company is facing, it emerges that she is new in her role. For some reason I ask: “What’s the uncertainty like?”
Helen hisses: “Why? Do you think I can’t handle it?”
“Well, I wonder whether your team feels the same way you do?”
Helen draws breath, then says: “You know, I’m terrified I might be made redundant. I’m not sure I can handle this job and the company is struggling. We need to merge to survive. But what will happen to me?”
As we analyse it, the sense of catastrophe recedes. Then she says: “Oh, I see. These three are acting as if I am going to fire them. They don’t trust me but they are the
John Mackay is the chief executive of Actew/AGL, Canberra’s electricity, gas, water and sewerage services. He was formerly deputy secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration, general manager of the Overseas Property Group and director of Australian Protective Service. He is a Fellow of AIM.
AIM: Can you run through your recent history in management?
Mackay: I was senior private secretary for the Minister for Administrative Services. That was a classic Bernard (of Yes, Minister) role. We felt that Yes, Minister was more a documentary than a comedy.
AIM: Who was your Jim Hacker (the minister)?
Mackay: Stewart West; he was the minister in the early 1990s.
AIM: What was next?
Mackay: I then moved to be general manager of Overseas Property Group, a government agency that builds and buys embassies and diplomatic houses. Given that the biggest thing I had ever built was a brick veneer house and I had never been out of Australia, I had to make a few changes. But it showed that you don
Kevin Luscombe is a partner in the strategy consultancy Growth Solutions Group. He was formerly chairman of the advertising agency Luscombe & Partners and continued on the board of the company for three years when it was sold to the Clemengers agency in 1986. He is a director of APN News Media, and Shopfast, an online retailer. He has been a senior marketer for Heinz US and Procter & Gamble. He is a fellow of AIM.
AIM: When did your career in management start?
Luscombe: I began my corporate career in 1966-67 with Heinz in Australia and in the United States with Heinz and Procter & Gamble. Marketing was just coming into the language in those days. In my later years I worked with Tony O’Reilly at Heinz. He was one of the best marketers I have seen.
AIM: What did you learn from this experience?
Luscombe: I learnt that marketing is a lot more about the rigorous analysis of facts before you let your intuition take over. Marketing is not a sterile, facts-driven game, nor is it just an imaginative game
Alan Cransberg is manager of Alcoa’s Pinjarra Refinery in Western Australia, a position he took up in 1998. He has occupied a variety of managerial positions with Alcoa over 20 years. He began his career as an engineer but found that his passion was working with people. He is an Associate Fellow of AIM
AIM: How did you get started in management?
CRANSBERG: I started by getting an engineering degree through the university of WA. I then worked as an engineer for a year. But I wasn’t getting a lot of job satisfaction from designing and building things. I didn’t get the stimulation that I later got from working with people. I have always wanted to be on the front line and to have a direct effect on the business at hand.
I found that a lot more personal energy goes into managing or leading people. This applies whether you are a project manager or running a refinery, as I am. It’s more demanding than working in a non-people environment.
AIM: What is your fundamental management philosophy?
Geoffrey Pitt is chief executive of the South Australian TAB, a position he took up in 1996. He was formerly a managing director with retailers John Martin and David Jones. He began his career with Coles Myer. He is a board member of the Art Gallery of South Australia and a councillor and fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
AIM: You have a background in retailing, how have you found the shift to the gambling industry?
Pitt: Both retailing and gambling work on a distribution network. At the TAB we have few products and a big distribution network, but the underlying principles are the same. To be a good business manager you have to be capable of moving across different disciplines. One can pick up the skills you require very quickly. As a chief executive the most important thing is to have vision and a leadership style.
AIM: What does that mean?
Pitt: You need to encourage the skills of the people you are working with. And what I am developing here is a customer focus. If you apply good principles of
Laurie McCowan is chief executive and founder, with his wife Olive, of Compassion Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in aid for children’s development. From 1975 to 1985 he was regional director for Asia of Compassion International. He began his career in philanthropy as business manager for Leprosy International in Indonesia. He is a fellow of AIM.
AIM: What is the role of Compassion Australia?
McCowan: We work with disadvantaged and at-risk children and families, primarily in education, health and disaster relief. All our work is in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. We work through Christian churches in these countries (without considering their religion or background). More than 50% of the people we assist are of a non-Christian background.
AIM: How did you start?
McCowan: My wife and myself started it in 1977. We are a partner of Compassion International; we have partners in Britain, Holland, France, New Zealand and Canada. We are all autonomous entities, but we partner
Des Pearson is Auditor-General of Western Australia. He was chief auditor for the Northern Territory at 26, an associate director of corporate services at the Canberra Institute of Technology, and senior assistant director for policy development and services at the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. He is a member of the Deafness Council of Western Australia and of two employment services for school leavers with disabilities. He is married with three children, and is a Fellow of AIM.
AIM: What was your first management role?
Pearson: My first real management job was as chief auditor for the Northern Territory when I was 26.
AIM: What was the secret to getting such a role so young?
Pearson: It comes back to adaptability and being prepared to take on a challenge. I was selected for one position and then I was offered another at a higher level. It was a wonderful opportunity. There were real challenges of isolation and staffing, but on the other hand I got an overview of the public sector and saw how to f