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In Episode 13, “A Leader is a Dealer in Hope”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Vik Bansal, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd.

In an inspiring episode, Vik lays the groundwork for what makes success. He reinforces this notion by sharing his own story and how the risks he took which others declined, ultimately spring boarded him on a global career. His enthusiastic and relentless drive has established him as a leader of the highest degree.

Vik brings a spirited approach to leadership, his deep thinking and front facing style to the “moments of truth” is evident throughout Greg and Vik’s discussion. Sustainability is at the forefront of Vik’s agenda, he states “there is nothing Cleanaway does every single minute, every day, which does not help the planet”.

He explains that he and Cleanaway are at the “pointy edge” of something critical for the human species and shares his belief that a clear national waste and climate policy is needed to help cement sustainability in the minds of all Australian households, an opportunity worthy of pursuit.

Vik is concerned that leadership is highly underestimated in today’s society and needs to be encouraged. Vik puts forward the quintessential trait of a leader is humility and that honesty is the best medicine. In a thought provoking discussion, Vik forces us to really think and provides key insights to a philosophy which has allowed him to bring about unprecedented results in what most others felt was a lost cause.

In Episode 12, “Aspirational Ambition”, Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk with Mike Smith OBE. Mike Smith has had a distinguished career in the banking sector and shares the lessons he has learned whilst climbing his way up the executive ladder.

Mike discusses his early career working at HSBC where an invitation to play a game of rugby led to him getting a job at the Hong Kong branch of HSBC. Initially uninformed about banking Mike rallied and went on to lead a team of 200, at the age of 22.

Mike also recalls his time working in Argentina where he took it upon himself to investigate corruption which led to an attempt on his life whilst driving home. Understandably an event like this would send most people packing but as a testament to his character, Mike decided to stay in Argentina, saying that “It’s a question of if I was ready to give in, and I was not ready to give in”.

Mike also discusses how a shared vision of the opportunity to expand into Asia led him to become the Chief Executive Officer of ANZ. He highlights the intricacies of what it was like to be the Head of a multinational bank and highlights the difficulties in opening up ANZ to the Asian market. Ever the contrarian, Mike pushed ahead with his belief in expansion into Asia.

Greg and Mike also deliberate on the current economic conditions that the world today faces. Issues such as Brexit, China and President Trump come to light as well as how society as a whole is changing today, especially the dramatic increase in the influence of social media, with Mike stating that “we pander to issues which create noise on social media”.

In Episode 11, “Instinct – The Difference Between a Leader and a Follower”, Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Major General Fergus McLachlan, AO of the Australian Army.

Gus shares his thoughts on modern leadership in complex disrupted organisations through his lens as Commander of Forces Command, with responsibility for 36,000 personnel which equates to 85% of the Australian Army. Especially interesting are his insights into similarities and differences in leadership between business and the military, and the learnings that each can gain from the other.

In his role as Commander of Forces Command, Gus has a diverse set of responsibilities, comparable to many Chief Executives, but operating in a different context. Gus presents his insights as previous Head of Modernisation and Strategic Planning, where he had responsibility for developing the future operating concepts that are keeping Australia ahead of potential threat organisations. These initiatives can lead to $20-30bn investments over the life of major capabilities and may include the creation of a digital “internet of things” linking all elements of the organisation, a redesign of the Army structure to accommodate the growth of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities and the creation of an Army innovation system.

As Senior Campaign Planner Coalition Forces Afghanistan 2013, he had a key role for the multi-national coalition involved in the stabilisation of Afghanistan following the removal of the Taliban regime. The role spanned strategy development to provide force drawdown and force structure options to the President of the United States of America to the apportionment of development resources and mentoring of Afghan partner forces. The coalition comprised over 30 nations, each with different national objectives and planning was done in a dynamic and often lethal environment.

In Episode 10, “Redefining Leadership… A Higher Purpose”, Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with Georgette Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd.

Greg and Georgette converse on a number of topics including the redefinition of leadership, the importance of values, a broader approach to diversity and inclusion, the higher purpose to work, and how difficult it is for a female to get ahead. Georgette shares her personal experience in the face of adversity, highlighting that diversity and inclusion is much broader than just gender and that leadership is far more than the “last out the door” approach to work.

Georgette discusses the fundamental difference in business between Australia and the United States, emphasising how the United States culture is more willing to take risks. She highlights the challenges around short-termism, the need for the Board and the Executive team to be firmly aligned to the strategy, the conversation around remuneration and impact and asks are you living the values of the corporation and yourself. Ultimately Georgette believes in passion, resilience, humility and leaving the world better than when she arrived.

In Episode 9, “The Death of Trust And Its Resurrection”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with Ian Elliot, one of Australia’s leading marketing minds.

Ian learned the marketing ropes from the ground up. He began as a mail boy in Australia’s biggest advertising agency, George Patterson, and progressed to be its Chairman and CEO. Along the way he helped create some memorable and valuable brands like the Optus ‘YES’ campaign. Ian retired at just 48 years old, before transitioning to senior ASX listed NED and Chair roles.

The informative and highly entertaining interview with Ian covers not just his personal and career journey but touches on some very important and prescient topics. He hits the high points of his best-selling book ‘Stop Bitching, Start Pitching’.

Trust is at the heart of brand building and business success. Ian outlines examples of how he believes we are living in a period where trust has never before been breached on so many fronts. The potential commercial, economic and social implications are far reaching and disturbing. His references to the recent Royal Commission pulls no punches. Ian cements his views on trust by sharing his own stories of his experiences around the world in which trust can be earned in the most subtle of ways, whilst also presenting his proprietary formula for measuring trust expressed as a mathematical equation.

‘Creating Wow Moments’ for clients is another topic Ian maintains is the key to successful profits. ‘I’m more interested in traction than transaction’ he says, ‘because repeat purchases by sticky loyal customers is the key to margin growth’. How he develops these outstanding moments of truth is fascinating.

EVERYONE who hears this podcast will make a note of The Elliot Trust Formula and use it to measure the trustworthiness of those they need to rely upon. From staff to employers, to suppliers to shareholders, friends and extended family members. Most importantly he asks us to judge our own score for trustworthiness and use that to embark on a journey of continuous improvement.

In Episode 8, “The Time For Change – Some Questioning Needed”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with David Gonski AC, one of Australia’s most respected business leaders, company directors and Chairman of ANZ Banking Group Ltd.

David and Gregory discuss the current state of ASX Boards, their role, structure and composition. David suggests an alternative model to meet market and stakeholder expectations. He presents a framework similar to what exists in Germany, namely the two-tier model, where you have a Supervisory and a Management Board to provide all the requirements that we aspire to today.

They cover ANZ’s international history and expansion as well as the current strategy and focus on “agile”. David highlights the relationship between business and Government and how interaction could be improved. David puts forward his views on Gonski 1.0, 2.0 and “3.0” and is asked as a nation, do we place enough value on education?

To this day, David still sees himself as an immigrant and believes very strongly in the value of immigration, offering some personal insight in keeping ones dreams alive, his relentless pursuit to prove himself each day and “give back” to the country. David shares the key learnings gained from the various mentors in his life and the legacy he would like to leave.

In a highly engaging discussion, David encourages the need for questioning and the time for change.

In episode 7, “It's About Attitude, Service And Brand”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson talks to John Borghetti AO, current Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd, one of Australia's leading airlines and the largest airline by fleet size to use the Virgin brand. In this podcast, John and Greg discuss the early years of John’s career and how a simple image of Rio de Janeiro in his youth led him on a path that would place him at the forefront of the Australian airline industry.

John discusses his career in the airline industry, starting at the mailroom and working his way up to the senior ranks of the Qantas hierarchy, and finally in 2010 becoming Head of Virgin Australia.

They cover the key challenges that John had to face as CEO of Virgin and the evolution of Aircraft in the last 50 years, and how through increasingly more effective technology we are able to travel the world in shorter times.

John delves into his younger years, working at his father’s coffee shop who was “always out front” to greet and welcome customers, which helped shape John’s philosophy for years to come.

John discusses how he felt it was necessary to give his personal phone number to all Virgin Australia pilots on his first day, stating that he feels “they have the best seat of the house” in how the business is run.

“Everyone fly’s through an aluminium tube, the one thing that makes the difference is the people who are inside those tubes and how they interact with you, simply looking someone in the eye, a smile and calling someone by their name is all you need”.

In Episode 6, “The Street Smart CEO”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with Brendon Cook, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of oOh! Media, a leading out-of-home advertising business in Australia and New Zealand. Brendon shares his story, from a dismal HSC result to founding and leading a world recognised business.

Brendon and Gregory discuss the various stages of oOh! Media including iterations of the business name over the last 39 years. He highlights the pivotal moments in the Company’s history from their first big client to the investors that believed in the Company’s vision for the future. They cover research, innovation and technology on the global stage and how Brendon has shaped a business to achieve targets eight years out. He and Gregory discuss the evolution of the industry and how out-of-home advertising has remained effective throughout the year’s thanks to cutting-edge technology. Brendon looks to the future of the out-of-home advertising industry and how to lead a company which blends property, real estate, logistics, advertising, media and technology.

Brendon has continuously elevated oOh! Media to a new level that’s far beyond what out-of-home was back when he bluffed his way through his first interview. He emphasises his personal commitment to learning and growth as well as developing a company culture with the same focus. He and Gregory discuss the changing needs of the business from hiring young talent that wanted to “have a go” to data architects and data scientists. Brendon hones in on the importance of a vision and developing a culture where your staff are happy to go to work.

From taking on Google and Facebook to advertising for driverless cars, Brendon leaves you with the feeling that anything is possible with the right attitude and a little perseverance.

In Episode 5, “Inspiring Others To Follow You”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk with Danny Gilbert, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Gilbert + Tobin, a leading independent corporate law firm and a key player in the Australian legal market.

Danny shares his journey, from when he left a leading law firm in 1988 to establish the firm with fellow Lawyer Tony Tobin. Over the next 30 years, Gilbert + Tobin built an outstanding reputation taking market share from the major well established law firms, many of which had been in practice for over 100 years and would not have thought it possible for a new brand to emerge and challenge them. Today, Gilbert + Tobin employs 700 people, including 80 Partners with one of the highest proportions of female partners of any major Australian law firm and are acknowledged as a pioneer in providing pro bono services.

Starting life in country NSW, he followed the advice of his school teacher and moved to Sydney to study law, the vehicle which would later allow him to transcend from lawyer to entrepreneur and successful businessman. Danny placed an early bet that Gilbert & Tobin should build a profile as the experts in technology, telecommunications and media. Soon the firm became renowned for their progressive approach to legal issues and client service.

Danny also had a burning desire from day one to give back with an unswerving commitment to social justice. Danny realised if he was to make a difference and walk the walk he had to generate revenue. It was obvious he needed to grow the firm if he was to significantly give and did so with vigour and dedication. Not everyone makes it, and Danny has faced setbacks but sees his role increasingly as the disrupter balancing the desire to grow and the need to be a good corporate citizen.

Danny also discusses his views on the need to amend the constitution and recognise the indigenous people. He highlights the standing of business in the Australian community and shares responsibility for the damage being done by banks as a former Director of one of the four major banks. Danny highlights the role of the political parties, the relationship with business and a personal disappointment in regards to the ABC.

Danny has created a spirit in the organisation of relentless energy and an open environment with people who want to achieve, creating a top tier firm. Gregory asks Danny what he feels are the essential qualities for success and where he actually spends his time. Is Leadership really as simple as inspiring others to follow you?

In a topical and engaging discussion Danny sums his success in two words, “Back Yourself”.

In Episode 4, “Leadership – It’s all about the Team”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk with Roger Corbett AO, a highly respected business leader about his 50 year career in retail starting on the Grace Brothers loading dock floor and progressing to become the Chief Executive Officer of Woolworths, leaving it as the leading supermarket retailer in Australia and in the top echelon of retailers in the world.

Roger shares his thoughts on the journey, punctuated with real-world experiences. He discusses his thoughts about taking risks, missing out on opportunities, having confidence in one’s ability, the importance of family and those that help you along the way.

Gregory gains Roger’s views on the erosion of trust in Australian business and the Banking Royal Commission. Roger challenges the effectiveness of today’s Boards, in particular that of Chairmen and highlights concerns about the role of business as well as the ACCC and BCA in the national debate. He feels the silence of business is a genuine cause for worry.

Gregory asks Roger about the transition from Chief Executive Officer to Director and in particular the lessons learned as Chairman at Fairfax during a time of tremendous technological change and the impact of digital on the newspaper. Were the Board and Executive Team able to appreciate the business opportunity and threat, and the thinking at the time?

Gregory and Roger also consider the collective impact of digital technology and of cynicism in society and examine the broader picture of political leadership including Donald Trump and the United States. Roger discusses the Australian political landscape and the unrealised potential Australian Governments have presided over. He shares his disappointment in the most recent Prime Minister and current Government in what he feels was a lost opportunity at a critical point of Australia’s economic history, the lack of willingness to introduce tax reform.

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we feltimpelled to present a podcast that keeps you informed of the real discussions happening behind closed doors and along the corridors of power.

In this Episode, Artificial Intelligence & The Future of Work, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson talks to Michael Priddis, an internationally recognised thought leader on A.I. and the Future of Work. They discuss the impact emerging technologies will have on global economies, business sectors, current workforce structure and the broader society.

Michael has addressed both corporate and government leaders all over the world on this critical topic. In the last two years this has included engagements in New Delhi, Cape Town, Paris, Toronto, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney. He is often invited to contribute on A.I. robotics and advancing technologies in international think tanks as well as industry and news media.

As Chief Executive Officer of Faethm, Michael has overseen the development of the ground breaking product, Faethm.ai, its successful launch in October 2017 and rapid adoption by major multinational companies and governments across the globe to understand the economic impact of technological and digital disruption.

Michael is one of five external members of the global mining and resources giant BHP’s Science and Innovation Council. He has also been asked to participate at the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos” event.

Michael shares his insights during a robust discussion where he debunks the falsehoods surrounding the fear of A.I. and provides the good and bad news for all of us at work, the winners and the losers, the pace of change and the need for serious action. (41.31)

Australian of the Year (2017), Professor Alan Mackay-Sim talks to Blenheim Partner’s Gregory Robinson about a shocking personal injury that led him to his ground-breaking work in stem cell research.

As the Director of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research for a decade, Alan’s research has championed the use of stem cells and led to major advances in understanding the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases such as Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s.

In 2014 a Polish medical team put into practice Alan’s research on a man who had become paralysed from the chest down after repeated stab wounds to the back. They achieved the world’s first successful restoration of mobility with the man now walking. This was a giant step in science and has given hope to millions with spinal cord injuries.

Throughout his career Alan has been prepared to take risks and to challenge historical wisdom. It’s an inspirational story from a modern-day pioneer that covers innovation, risk versus reward, leadership and how to keep people motivated – a powerful lesson in courage, determination and resilience for all business leaders.

Join Gregory Robinson and Deborah Thomas from Blenheim Partners Executive Search and Board Advisory as they discuss the current diversity statistics in Australian business and ask why it’s not gaining momentum. Together they examine the current Boardroom dynamics and question why some young executives are choosing to leave promising careers for Non-Executive Director roles.

As executive search professionals they are concerned the traditional succession and diversity planning processes are failing to unearth and promote the tremendous potential in the market and build the future executive pipeline.