Executive Not for Profit Scholarships: Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth

Cathie Brown and Kate RushNot for Profit and NGO organisations play a vital role in our society and are the social fabric that holds our community together.

The behind closed doors Executive Not for Profit and NGO scholarships offer Executive women in the sector the opportunity to further expand and challenge their current leadership and business practices to further enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of our society.

The scholarships take the form of an annual membership in the behind closed doors Executive membership valued at $7,500 plus GST. Thanks to the support of the Australian Government, in 2017 BCD funded scholarships were matched enabling us to offer two x 12-month memberships in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Congratulations to 2017 recipients

  • Cathie Brown and Kate Rush who were announced as the winners at our Connexions event in Adelaide on June 13. Read more….
  • Jill Roche and Anne Holland who were awarded 2017 Scholarships in Melbourne. Read more….
  • Caroline Watt and Tania Cecconi who were awarded Scholarships in Perth. Read more…..
  • Joanne Mansfeild and Meaghan Heard who were awarded scholarships in Sydney. Read more….

Established in July 2008, the behind closed doors Executive Membership is exclusively for high level businesswomen to expand their knowledge and to share their vast amount of business experience within their peer group. The Executive Membership was formed for executive women and business owners so that members could speak openly and honestly about current and emerging issues businesswomen are faced with every day, with a group of like-minded women.

The membership’s objectives aim to:
•  Provide a confidential businesswomen’s support network
•  Mentor peers to accept greater professional challenges
•  Provide an avenue for appropriate, challenging, executive and board level, cross industry, experiential learning from a group of outstanding business people
•  Create a virtual board scenario where issues/challenges can be tabled with a high calibre, invaluable and diverse sounding board, in a strictly confidential environment
•  Deliver professional development sessions to extend members personally and professionally
•  Keep abreast of legislation, executive and directors issues and challenges, governance and best practice

The winners of the Executive scholarships will be assigned to a behind closed doors Executive group in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide or Perth. The Executive groups are facilitated by high level, experienced Executives and Board Directors. The groups meet 10/11 times a year and each session runs for three hours in a Boardroom located in the CBD.

The winner of the behind closed doors scholarships will also receive:

•  A professional sounding board in a safe environment to speak openly and honestly about their challenges, strategies and issues
•  Access to a select executive women’s network and referral sources
•  Professional and personal development in a stimulating environment
•  Exposure and introductions to senior people in business and government
•  Private sessions with local identities and guest speakers
•  Invitations to Quarterly Businesswomen’s Connexions (network) functions
•  Opportunities for Board Directorships

Visit our Executive Membership page for further details.


Scholarship Process

Eligibility

The behind closed doors Executive membership is designed for high level businesswomen and leaders of Not for Profit/NGO organisations. To be eligible, you must currently be in an executive leadership role (i.e. CEO, Managing Director, and General Manager) and can demonstrate:

•  An ability to develop and maintain the sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness of a Not for Profit/NGO organisation
•  Innovative and progressive leadership
•  A high level of integrity and positive value
•  Why the scholarship will benefit you
•  How the scholarship will benefit your organisation

Finalists must be

  • Open to receiving publicity for participating in/receiving the Scholarship
  • Available for finalist interviews
  • Available to attend the announcement networking event
  • Able to attend monthly meetings based in the city/city fringe

Application

To apply for the behind closed doors Executive scholarship you must complete the online application form or request a copy of the form from scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

Nominations

If you would like to nominate a business woman who would benefit from a behind closed doors scholarship, please provide their name, business and contact details.  Submit your nomination via email to scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

Judging Process

Upon receipt of written applications, a shortlist of 6 finalists will be invited to attend a 30 minute panel interview.

Key Dates

  • 2017 Applications now complete.  Get in touch to be notified of 2018 dates.

Enquiries

For any enquiries, please contact behind closed doors  on 08 8333 4303 or scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com 

Do you suffer from the Impostor Syndrome?

Imposter SyndromeEver stop for a moment, look at all that you have achieved and still feel you and your achievements are insignificant, and you don’t deserve the success? If you have, well, you are not alone.

Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg says, ‘‘There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.’’

Termed the Impostor Syndrome, it is important that this feeling be identified, for it is not merely a passing feeling of insecurity. It is something far deeper, and oftentimes, crippling.

In their paper, The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention, Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes elucidate that women who experience the impostor phenomenon believe that they are not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise, in spite of their outstanding academic and professional accomplishments.

It is, however, important to understand if what you are experiencing is merely a feeling of insecurity or a result of the Impostor Syndrome. The main distinguishing factor is that people with feelings of insecurity are unable to achieve much success and feel disappointed with themselves because of their failure to reach their goals. Those with Impostor Syndrome on the other hand, are often highly successful and have many achievements to their name, and yet feel insignificant.

Pauline Clance says, “The clinical symptoms most frequently reported are generalized anxiety, lack of self-confidence, depression, and frustration related to inability to meet self-imposed standards of achievement.”

It is vital that you recognise and treat this syndrome as it can seriously cripple your professional life and prevent you from reaching your full potential. As with all psychological issues, the diagnosis of the Impostor Syndrome is the first step towards its remedy. Below are 5 signs of the Impostor Syndrome that you should look out for:

Sign #1: You think you don’t deserve your achievement and it must have been a mistake.

The study by Clance and Imes examined university graduates who felt that they were admitted by some possible error by the admissions committee. They were also firmly convinced that their high grades were due to a wrong evaluation. Rather than attributing your achievement to your skill, you think that it must be a mistake.

Sign #2: You constantly feel that people will discover you don’t deserve the accolades and so you go out of your way to prove your worth.

Reaching out to greater heights of achievement is definitely a good thing, but if that is motivated by your fear of being “found out” as a fraud or impostor, then that only leads to a constant sense of dread and anxiety.

The Impostor Syndrome robs you of confidence and cloaks your achievement with a sense of foreboding that will gradually eat away at your self-esteem. Actress Natalie Portman at a Harvard Commencement Speech shared  “I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress”, even though she had graduated from Harvard.

Sign #3: You tend to forget all that is right and zoom in on the one thing that’s wrong.

Despite achieving a goal, you stay focused on a minor mistake made along the way, which in the grand scheme of things is typically insignificant. The inability to forgive yourself of that one mistake and your constant worry in reflecting on errors rather than achievements can prove detrimental to one’s physical and mental health over time.

Sign #4: You feel your achievements aren’t worthwhile; that they aren’t enough.

You are constantly trying to live up to a standard that you have set but never seem to be able to reach. Any form of achievement that you may attain, you still feel it’s lacking, that it’s not the best and that things could have turned out much better. You underplay your achievements to others and to yourself, refusing to accept that you have achieved anything significant worth celebrating for.

Sign #5: You think that credit is only worth it if the path to achievement was extremely difficult.

You refuse to believe that talent comes to you naturally and that it might actually be easy for you to achieve success.  Drawing on professor Kay Deaux’s study, Clance and Ime’s paper show that “unlike men, who tend to own success as attributable to a quality inherent in themselves, women are more likely either to project the cause of success outward to an external cause (luck) or to a temporary internal quality (effort) that they do not equate with inherent ability”.

Minimising achievements in this manner makes you feel that you don’t really deserve the accolades.

If you see these signs in you, then you might want to measure yourself on the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS). Remember though that a self-diagnosis isn’t enough; this is just to help you recognise what you are going through.

Having said that, it is important to know that living with and conquering the Impostor Syndrome is possible. High achievers like Sheryl Sandberg and Natalie Portman have proved it. So believe in yourself; get the help you need and let the superstar that you are come through.

Donny

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Importance of Female Panellists in Recruitment

Importance of females on an interview panel“We aim for at least one woman on all selection panels even for roles where female industry participation is very low.” – Origin Energy

The above objective with the aim for at least one woman to be included on the shortlist for all roles was stated as a key sustainability goal by Origin Energy, an Australian energy company. This initiative has seen obvious success as the company has bagged the Employer of Choice for Women by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for several years.

A study was conducted by Evaluation UK and commissioned by The Scientific Affairs Board of the Royal Society of Chemistry to “identify what it is about the culture in certain departments and/or institutions, which causes women to apply for, and accept, posts and subsequently encourages them to remain in these departments and/or institutions.” One of the proposals in the study was that at least two women should sit on the interview panel.

A paper entitled Women in male-dominated industries: A toolkit of strategies (2013) recommends a gender diverse interview panel, which includes women from non-traditional roles.

The importance of female panellists in the recruitment process cannot be overemphasised. Here’s why.

1)    Increases objective assessment

The Australian Human Rights Commission points that a diverse panel consisting of both men and women increases the likelihood of objective assessment during the selection process. An equal representation where possible, ensures that both genders are given equal consideration.

2)    Gives an insight into any gender based bias

A tenet of recruitment is to judge if the candidate is a team player and an important aspect to that is to weed out stereotypical attitudes. A candidate’s attitude and reaction towards the female panellists gives us an inkling of the gender bias that the candidate may have towards women.” says Theresa Moozhiyil, Director – HR and Finance of Categis Solutions, a German based software company.

3)    Mitigates stereotypical attitude in selection

The “think manager, think male” phenomenon is attributed lesser to females than men. This becomes especially important when recruiting candidates at the managerial level. When the panel includes women who are at the managerial level themselves, this bias is mitigated.

4)    Empathetic response

Female candidates generally respond much better to women panellists when it comes to interview questions of a more personal nature. They sense the empathy and know that their answers will not be judged unfairly or placed out of context.

5)    Communicates fair policy of the company

As important as it is for the company to select a good candidate, the willingness of the employee to work with the company is also of vital importance. The panel is the face of the company to the candidate and the message that it conveys about the culture and values of the company is of paramount importance. The inclusion of women in the panel effectively communicates the equal growth opportunities for men and women in the company.

The importance of women in the interview panel is clear, but it requires much more than ensuring that the selection of the candidate is based solely on merit and is free from gender bias. Recruitment teams should be trained to focus on fair and grounded criteria, which are well documented and standardised. This eliminates the unconscious biases which may creep in if the panel follows an informal and subjective process.

Have you personally found more benefits in having female panellists in your recruitment process?

Donny

Protective Paternalism And Its Effect On Women’s Careers

The word “sexism” immediately raises association with gender discrimination, harassment in the work place and on the streets. However, it may not refer to these instances all the time.

In his book Todai: Gods and Humans in the Japanese Empire, Robert Cutts cites the experience of Naoko Abe, the first woman to join the elite career editorial staff of Mainichi Shimbum, one of Japan’s largest newspapers. Naoko Abe is quite the accomplished woman – she was also the first woman assigned to the Kyoto Bureau and the financial section of the newspaper.

Years later, the author asks Naoko Abe about what she envisions to be the next rung in her career, maybe a high visibility career building position overseas in Bosnia perhaps. Her response: “Never. They just recently told me that they are just not ready to send a woman to a place like that. I don’t think they would send me to [any] third world country, for example.”

Would you classify this as sexism? If you prevent your spouse or daughter from walking home late at night would it be classified as sexism? In fact, both fall under the purview of the study of sexism called protective paternalism.

Protective Paternalism – What is it?

Protective paternalism, according to a theory by Glick and Fiske (1996, 2001), is the notion that women need to be protected; it stems from the paternalistic ideology that men should serve as protectors and providers for women because of their greater authority, power and physical strength.

Protective paternalism is categorised under what is called benevolent sexism. Why this falls under the purview of sexism is because it is a reaction to viewing women stereotypically as the weaker sex needing protection. It is a response to the traditional stereotyping that man is the provider and woman his dependant. Unfortunately this has many negative implications in a business setting.

Its Effect on a Woman’s Career 

Although protective paternalism is certainly not the classic prejudice where men view women as inferior and incompetent, it still has far reaching negative effects on women. This attitude actually results in restricting the career role of women in different ways. Here’s how:

1. Career choice:

Women are often sidelined when it comes to jobs that are considered dangerous because of the view that they need to be protected. Protective paternalism also affects a woman’s attitude towards a certain career path. In a study exploring the effect of protective paternalism on women, a group of women were asked how they would react if their romantic partners did not like their participation in a job that counsels criminals. Most women said that they would react positively to the justification of “I am concerned for your safety.” This showed that protective paternalism causes most women to accept restrictions on their career choice.

2. Growth:

As seen in the case of Naoko Abe, the ingrained instinct in the predominantly male management is to protect women from the perceived danger in third world countries. This definitely restricts growth and opportunities in an organisation. In addition, the mentality that women who aspire to reach higher positions in their career are neglecting their traditional roles as caregivers and homemakers, often leads to a lower evaluation, which in turn affects promotions and growth.

3. Salary:

A premise of protective paternalism is that man is the breadwinner and a woman’s salary is only a supplement to his income. This leads to one of the most common stereotypes: “women don’t need equal pay because they are married.” This is justified under the excuse of women choosing to take time off to raise children etc., but the discrimination exists nonetheless. Though there are voices and protocols raised against this, unequal pay still exists.

4. Career Competition or Sacrifice:

The traditional thought is that income and status is the prerogative of men, which affects a man’s attitude toward his spouse’s career development.  Therein arises the norm that a wife is expected to support her husband’s job even at the cost of her own job; this generally doesn’t apply the other way round.

Although protective paternalism has definite negative effects, various studies indicate a mixed reaction from women. Though it is viewed much more positively when coming from a romantic partner as proof that he cares about her safety, a restriction from a male co-worker was viewed as proof of discrimination and sexism.

What is your take on it?

Donny

Social And Digital Media For Business – The Three Key Risks

According to a survey by Social Media Examiner, 92% of businesses surveyed (up from 86% in 2013) take social media seriously and believe that it is critical for their success. But where there’s opportunity, there’s also risk. This blog will shed some light on very real social and digital media risks and how to combat them.

Risk #1: Copyright infringement

The basic foundation of social media in business are posts. Traffic to your social media and website, higher ranking on Google search engines, and being visible to your customers all effectively depend on regular updates.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Copyright Act of 1968 defines copyright as rights in certain creative works such as text, artistic works, music, computer programs, sound recordings and films. The rights are granted exclusively to the copyright owner to reproduce the material, and for some material, the right to perform or show the work to the public.”

While copyright laws in Australia do not cover ideas and style, they do so when they are converted into written or visual format – script, text, video, images etc.

Research shows that “80% of tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn posts, etc. are relevant to your industry and target customers and only 20% is about self-promotion.” This means that you are going to be using photos, videos, and other digital files from the internet or sources other than your own website, when you retweet or share updates. Herein lies the danger of copyright infringement.

Risk #2: Exposing strategy tactics to competitors

Monitoring the social media pages of your competitor gives you valuable insight into their business strategies and obviously this works both ways. In his blog, Analysing your competitors through social media monitoring, Joel Windels brings this truth into broad daylight. Here are some takeaways:

  • Monitoring negative feedback on your social media sites gives competitors more than a sneak peek into the weaknesses of the business. Your competitors could target that weakness and capitalise on it.
  • You also face the danger that your well thought out and carefully planned social media marketing strategies are open to all eyes. Every move you make could be monitored and/or copied by your competition.
  • Social media monitoring tools allow you to monitor any conversation online that happens around your brand and that of the competition. By keeping a close watch on the topics and trends that you discuss on online forums and comments sections, your competition can monitor your product ideas and trends.

According to the article Marketing Competitive Analysis using Google and Rival IQ, it takes only 15-20 minutes to create a comprehensive report on your competition and use that information to enhance your business pitch accordingly.

Risk #3: Data security threats

Data Security threat is a real issue for businesses. According to the Global Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2013, the spread of false information through social media is an emerging risk, while Cisco’s 2013 Annual Security Report, “the highest concentration of security risks is on mass audience sites, including social media”. The report also mentions that Generation Y employees are less concerned about privacy, and “share data unreservedly”.

Employees too can be a source of data leaks. An inadvertent message of congratulations or an overexcited post about the new product could pose a serious threat to information security.

Mitigate the Risks

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Educate your employees on these very real risks of social media.
  • Formulate a social media policy in consultation with your legal advisor and make sure employees are aware of the ramifications of copyright infringements and other legal issues.
  • Know and implement privacy settings on your social media platforms.
  • Antivirus Software: make no compromise where this is concerned. Go all out – security patches, real-time dynamic web defense, a strong firewall – and get everything to protect your information.
  • Train your employees to scan and decode any links that you get through social media to make sure they’re the real thing.

Social media is as much a minefield as it is a goldmine, so it pays to be smart in your approach.

Donny

How connected markets provide equal opportunity and wider reach

Bill Gates had it right when he said: “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” So the town square is established now and the global village is scrambling to get their stalls up.

Digitally connected markets help businesses reach out quickly and efficiently to new or existing customers. According to the “Global Flows in a digital age” report by McKinsey Global Institute, one in every three goods is crossing national borders. The study focused on economies where goods, services, finance and people interact based on the data and communication infrastructure available. Digital and internet connections therefore determine increase in trade, and hence GDP growth.

A connected economy increases its GDP by up to 40% more than a less connected market. And countries and businesses are increasingly getting ready to take advantage of the benefits of a connected economy. In this blog, we discuss two of the most important benefits:

Equal Opportunity for women-owned businesses

Corey O’Loughlin, the owner of Prep Obsessed, grew her retail business almost solely on Facebook and Instagram and the business is now flourishing. She says: “We targeted preppy women who had similar tastes and values… and we had 1000 Facebook fans before we ever sold a product.” Now they have 100,000 Facebook followers and 90% of their sales is through Facebook.

According to the National Foundation of Women Business Owners, six in ten women business owners rely on the Internet for their marketing efforts. The book Momprenuers Online shows how “women can build an Internet-based, kid-friendly business in the comfort (or chaos) of their very own homes.”

Greater Reach

The McKinsey report also confirms that the spread of digital and internet technologies has increased global online traffic 18-fold between 2005 and 2012. As a result, developing economies account for more than one-third of the global flow – three times more than in 1990. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor counted close to 224 million women operating a businesses, of which 98 million have an established business (operating successfully after 3-4 years).

How can women continue to take advantage of equal opportunity and greater reach that the connected market offers?

  • Focus on differentiating your brand and your product offering, to beat competitors
  • Stand out with an innovative strategy that addresses customer pain points
  • Access crowd funding through portals like Kickstarter or microfinance platforms to finance your business for the next growth spurt
  • Use technology and social media tirelessly to unearth the next lead, customer or vendor
  • Join networking groups to keep informed about the changing trends in marketing, technology and business

Cognitive computing, location based marketing, social media, data assimilation through wearable technology, mobile media – the connected marketplace is surging ahead whether your business is ready for it or not. And the price you pay for not being connected is steadily getting steeper.

Donny

Human Potential vs Human Capital

“To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential” – Bruce Lee

Human Potential is the potential in the human resource of an organisation, and its capacity to be an asset to the organisation. Left untapped, human potential can remain just that, the potential to become something great.

Human Capital is the tapped potential – the human resource that is productive, efficient, and actively bringing in revenue to a business. The premise of Human Capital is that the quality of labour can be improved by investing in them.

So how organisations can invest in human potential to convert it into capital? And what is the long term benefit to a business if it invests so much in a human resource, and that resource leaves the organisation?

Human capital investment

“The most valuable of all capital is that invested in human beings” – Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics.

Knowledge and skill are the two prime components of human capital investment. Knowledge and skill lead to innovation, new technology and competing ideas, which make the backbone of growth for business. These are organisational capabilities that are intangible and are made possible by education and training.

There isn’t one single way to achieve this. Each business needs to determine what kind of training and development their employees will benefit from. The American Society of Training and Development says that supervisory, compliance, and processes and procedures are the top topic areas for learning and development. Here are some other popular kinds of professional development and their benefits:

  1. Sales and product knowledge training leads to increased revenue and market share
  2. Service training for better client experiences and brand loyalty
  3. Innovation training increases the creation of new ideas and technology
  4. Leadership development trains employees to qualify for internal promotions

Return on Investment

ROI has always been difficult to determine when it comes to intangible investments like Human Capital Investment. Investment in the professional development of employees is no small sum as proved in the presentation, “Redefining Measurement for Continuous Learning” at Bersin’s IMPACT 2014 conference. According to the report, the total spending on employee training in the US alone was estimated to be USD $150 billion! Tech firms were spending an average of USD $1,847 each year per employee in 2013. The numbers have definitely grown since.

This brings us to the big question: With this much money being spent on an employee as part of human capital investment, what is the long term ROI, considering the fact that an employee may leave the business anytime?

As in all investments, there is an element of risk involved, especially in the case of intangible assets like human resources. However, the success rate of businesses around the globe gives us a measure of reassurance. The annual survey by Great Place to Work showed the following numbers for 2014:

• Average time spent on training and development for salaried employees: 73 hours
• Average time spent on training and development for hourly employees: 58 hours
• Number of 100 Best Companies who offer tuition reimbursement to employees: 88
• Average tuition reimbursement given to each employee: $7,375

The pros of investing in people:

Cost of rehiring is much greater than cost of training
A new report, published by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and the UK’s Federation of Small Business calculates that on average, small businesses face an average employment cost of £35,500 (AUD $76,416) per worker, and for a business in the 20-49 employee range, the cost is £25,100 (AUD $54,000) per worker. Training existing workers to qualify for higher positions eliminates much of this cost and builds employee loyalty.

Employees feel more valued
When employees see the investment made towards their betterment and development, they develop more loyalty, effectively reducing attrition.

Improved Efficiency
Even if the employee were to leave the business, their productive time at work is better utilised as a result of training and professional development. According to a fiscal study on the returns of Human Capital Investment, the available skills of an organisation’s work-force not only improves the quality of the products and services but also increases flexibility and the speed of production.

Benefits from Innovation
The same study showed that “more-highly-educated and more highly-skilled workers have been found not only to be able to adapt more rapidly and efficiently to new tasks and technologies, but also to be a direct source of innovation. In fact, education and even previous informal training have been found to increase substantially an employee’s ability to be innovative on the job.”

Investment in human resource conclusively converts human potential to productive human capital.

Donny

How Mentoring Cultivates Gender Equality In The Workplace

How to find a good mentorMentoring enables women to reach their potential in the workplace

If 1% of the workforce in Australia transferred to jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), $57.4 billion would be added to the country’s GDP, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Part of this workforce is of course, women. To strengthen the country’s economy, women should be encouraged to pursue STEM careers, industries that have traditionally been dominated by men. Mentoring can assist in turning the situation around and enable women to thrive in STEM careers – or any other career for that matter.

Mentoring involves establishing a relationship with someone who is more experienced in their career or in their business to gain advice and insights on professional and personal development. The relationship can either be formal through organisations providing structure for interaction; or it can be informal, where the mentor and mentee exchange experiences over a coffee or lunch meeting. Finding a good mentor before entering the workplace can be beneficial for young women because it can teach them the fundamentals of the professional world. It can also orient women on how to handle workplace politics and how to create networks to aid them in their career advancement.

Mentoring can equip women with skills to negotiate their salary, promote their own achievements and pursue leadership opportunities in their company. This is especially important, as women tend to downplay their achievements and have lower confidence levels than men. Aside from this, mentoring can also provide women with positive feedback and moral support whenever they are facing challenges in their work. It can help boost their confidence, as well as show them areas for improvement in order to maximise their potential in their chosen career.

Female mentors can offer more to women’s career advancement

Though a mentor can either be male or female, a female mentor can assist in helping young women thrive in their career. A female mentor serves as a role model. A female mentor occupying a position of power can build up the confidence of a young, female employee and prove to her that climbing the corporate ladder is possible.

In general, female mentors can help mentees find the delicate balance between work and outside work, especially if they have children. They understand how emotional intelligence and logic plays into a woman’s decision-making process, and can provide advice and their support accordingly. Furthermore, female mentors are more likely to use their intuition to encourage mentees to open up about their personal and professional challenges and how to address them.

Women mentors can also help their mentees advance in their career through sponsorship. Female mentors that hold leadership positions in organisations can serve as testimonies regarding the potential of women. They can build the case for companies on promoting women whenever they agree to sponsor their mentees and speak up on their behalf regarding their skills and achievements. This is powerful for women to help cultivate gender equality in the corporate world.

Donny

Judge me on my performance not my gender

It will take more than a change of government to change the narrative for women from saying “Don’t judge me on my gender, judge me on my performance.

And female jockey Michelle Payne may just be the person to do just that.

With her glorious victory as the jockey leading Prince of Penzance into history, not only did she give sisterhood a shot in the arm, she has stood up and out as a young, audacious female leader who has no illusions about the quality of female representation both on and off the track.

Her story of hardship and trial, coupled with love and support by her family has clearly demonstrated a strong mindset is more important than gender and gender is not what is important.

There are FIVE lessons businesses can learn from Michelle, demonstrating the strength of a mindset will ultimately reign triumphantly over gender.

  1. Do the work and identify the tangible and intangible blindspots in organisations, so gender or unconscious bias can once and for all be put on the corporate Agenda not just a meeting Agenda.
  2. Where there is ambiguity around what people really want and are prepared to commit in regards to a formal inclusive gender policy, encourage everyone to become an active contributor to the conversation by going company-wide in blogs, meetings, intranet, and in championing groups.
  3. If people only engage in superficial conversations, educate them by immersion into other experiences, broadening their perspectives and understanding. Change their mind by changing their experience.
  4. Showcase global best practice demonstrating commercial value of gender equality and consequences of still operating with a mentality of the dark ages.
  5. Call behaviours out loud if you feel people are loosening their standards or are just bystanders in this conversation.

If Michelle Payne had allowed those who did not believe a female could ride with the same expertise as a male or could represent the integrity of the Melbourne Cup, she would not have followed her dream and passion.

If you are still unsure about whether or not gender balance is important for your business, ask yourself if any of the leaders you admire got to where they are just on their gender or, if in fact passion and dreams played an integral part in winning.

If the answer is yes, then you follow the FIVE steps above and close the gender gap.

If the answer is no, then perhaps consider a monastery, convent, or ashram where silence is golden.

Ricky Nowak is a high energy and dynamic Certified Corporate Trainer, Workplace Assessor and Behind Closed Doors Facilitator whose 25 years of corporate experience makes training sessions come alive with real learning. She is passionate about developing authentic business leaders and inspires the participants to contribute comfortably as she connects and communicates naturally with them.

Listening – it’s the hardest skill to master

Do you ask good questions?  How easy is it for you to listen to the answers?  Guaranteed you will be distracted by your own thoughts, biases, feelings and opinions therefore you will only hear what you want to hear.

You will often be thinking about your next move or what you want to say next, or you may second guess where the other party might be leading you. To listen effectively you need to be disciplined and give your full attention to the speaker.

Active listening

By paying attention to the speaker – both to their verbal and non-verbal cues, you will be able to ask good questions and make informed assumptions about what the speaker is saying or what isn’t being said.

Give your full attention

Keep focussed on the speaker and avoid letting your attention wander.  Important pieces of information can be missed if you do not remain alert and engaged. This prevents you asking a question on what has already been explained and helps form open questions you can ask the speaker.

An easy tool during a business conversation is to jot down/type one to two words on different points to remind you of what question you will ask once the speaker completes what they are saying.  It also helps you if are asked to do a vote of thanks at the end of a presentation.  This will ensure your mind remains focused on the topic and main messages.

Confirm your understanding

Active listening and asking questions will ensure you understand what the speaker has said.  An effective tool is to summarise the information you hear, in your own words.   You can also seek clarification.   An example of a summary question is, ‘In summary, what you want from me is to…is that correct?’

Donny

Why Australia Needs To Take Off The Glass Slipper

While women at work are trying to crack through their idea of a glass ceiling, there’s a little glass slipper vying for our attention too. The Glass Slipper effect, propounded by Karen Ashcraft and expounded in her keynote address at the National Centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Summit, is very real and deserves redress.

The Glass Slipper Analogy

The Glass slipper brings to focus the tip of ‘balance’ when women try to fit into ‘male congenial roles.’ The analogy of trying to put on a slipper that simply doesn’t fit is apt; the roles have already been defined against women even before they attempted to try it on.

Women as firefighters, for example. In most minds, they don’t fit the “role.” To the question, “Do you think women can be firefighters too?” one respondent says: “women can make adequate firefighters, even great ones, and in many cases far out perform their male counterparts in their primary function, which tends to be emergency medical response and patient care… Women firefighters have also been shown to be more successful at diffusing volatile situations encountered by fire/medical people because they have a calming affect… How about confined spaces? Crawl spaces, attics, etc… Would there be an advantage to a smaller in stature female in an ability to access those areas?” And yet, firefighting is considered to be a male congenial occupation. That is the glass slipper effect.

Australia’s glass slipper

45.9% of the full-time labour force in Australia is made up of women, but a mere 3.5% of CEOs of ASX500 companies are women. Glass slipper effect? Definitely so. As the numbers show, leadership roles are still considered to be more suitable for the male workforce. According to the “Australian Census of Women in Leadership”, gender parity in CEO roles is expected to be reached by the year 2343, which is still a long way to go.

The glass slipper effect extends to more than roles in an organisation; it encompasses entire industries. Here is a look at the percentage of women and men in various sectors in Australia. Looks great on the Health Care front but take a look at the Mining industry – 14%.

Glass slipper? Yes.

Does it matter? Yes it does; the mining sector has been the greatest contributor to the Gross State Product (GSP) in Australia, at a whopping 30%. Therefore, it is a definite cause of concern that a majority of the women workforce is being excluded from the biggest industry in Australia.

And is the glass slipper warranted? Research by Women in Mining (UK) research showed the benefits of having a more gender diverse board in the mining industry: “Of the top 500 mining companies surveyed, the 18 mining companies with 25% or more of their board comprised of women had an average net profit margin for the 2011 financial year that was 49% higher than the average net profit margin for all top 500 mining companies … those mining companies with female board members have a higher average profit margin overall (23%) than the average net profit margin for the top 100 mining companies (20%).”

There is a clear need for Australia to take off the glass slipper when it comes to the balance of women in the workforce.

Donny

Good Leaders Foster Talent

appearance and leadershipIt is probably without argument that the most valuable resource within a business is its people and the talent that resides in them.

The Chief Executive of South African retail chain Woolworths, the owners of David Jones, says ‘you can only achieve anything through people. You have to surround yourself with the best people. You can never do anything on your own. I do not think you can ever have enough talent within a business’.

The defining contribution good leaders can make with employees is to boost their engagement and encourage those who have talent to make a contribution above and beyond their day to day tasks.

Engaged talented people can have a direct impact on the bottom line. They can lead to engaged clients, which leads to better sales, innovation and better internal efficiency.

Ideally employees should not just be skilled in performing the steps needed to accomplish specific tasks but also have the talent to achieve agreed outcomes and contribute to the team’s effort.

Even so, not every employee has to be ambitious. There are a lot who are content to work within their capabilities and have little ambition to go beyond what they are currently doing. Nonetheless they should still be recognised for their contribution and be encouraged to take pride in their work.

Good leaders see beyond just being satisfied with employees performing the specific tasks they are paid to perform, instead they look beyond this and search for those with talent. Those who can improve the way the job is currently being done, who challenge the status quo, look for better ways to perform their tasks, embrace innovation and strive to improve internal processes.

Natural talent within a person can often be hidden because the work they do does not demand they use it. The job of a good leader is to uncover who has talent and develop it. Failure to capitalise on the opportunity can often result in talented employees becoming disengaged, losing motivation and eventually moving on.

When recruiting employees it is inherent for most leaders to appoint new hires just because they appear to have the skills needed to carry out a position, whereas good leaders select them for the talent they can bring to the job. The extra you may have to pay them will reward you in the long run.

Here are some steps to take in developing talent;

  • First, identify what extra is needed from your people that will help the organisation to achieve its long term goals and sustainability
  • In an informal way really get to know the identified people who you judge have talent. Ask them about their past roles, what achievements they are most proud of and what they consider are their best skills. What it is they try to avoid doing. Pose the question as to where they plan to be in 5 and 10 years from now. Where they believe they can add value to the business. Ask the question ‘What do they think we can do better?’
  • Give them an insight into your strategic goals and ask for feedback. Measure the responses
  • Consider what you have learned about them during the discussions and what you need to put in motion that will make a valuable contribution to the success of the organisation and will contribute to them achieving their aspirations
  • Let them know your plan and agree to meet regularly to discuss progress and any barriers that maybe preventing you and them from achieving the key initiatives.

Just having these discussions will give the talent a feeling of self-worth. More importantly it should lift morale and kick your organisation’s performance up a few notches through improved productivity.

The author of this article is Ken Meek a BCD mentor and Principal of M2 Strategic Management

The Right Way To Boost Employee Engagement

According to a 2015 Conference Board CEO study, companies across the world are placing high importance on employee engagement in their respective workplaces, in order to assist companies withstand a slow economy and become globally competitive.

Engaged employees achieve higher productivity and profitability for organisations because they are enthusiastic to work every day and perform better than their less engaged peers. They understand their jobs well and how they fit into the larger picture; enabling them to be more satisfied and proactive with their work. They also tend to be more attentive to the needs of their clients, which equates to improved customer satisfaction and retention. Engaged employees assist to boost recruitment and attract more talented employees because they provide social proof that their company is a great place to work.

According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workforce report, Australia boasts relatively high employee engagement levels but still has lots of room for improvement. Only 24% of employees are engaged with their work, while over 60% of workers hold an opposing view on their jobs; compared with top companies like Google where only 1 in every 20 employees is not engaged.

The report also noted that farmers and service workers are more engaged than those who are employed in a corporate setting. These findings show that business owners and People & Culture departments in Australia need to work harder to engage their workforce, and may learn lessons from the unique approaches taken by the companies showcased below to inspire their workers:

1. Invest in your employeesOnline shoe retailer Zappos invests in its people to maintain its record of stellar customer service. New hires undergo onboarding as well as an “incubation” period that can last up to six months. The actual training for the job only starts after this period. The company then follows up with coaching and mentoring to lessen turnover.

Web-based employee feedback platform 15Five also invests in its employees to promote personal and professional growth. The company gives all its employees US$500 on their birthday to spend on any preferred development courses. For instance, the company’s head writer spent the money on a creative writing class, which has been a win-win as the writer was able to pursue personal writing projects, while the company saw improvements in his output.

2. Live out your company’s purpose – When Andrew Limouris started Medix Staffing Solutions, his goal was to create a workplace where employees could become friends. Unfortunately, the age gap widened as his company grew and this led to his employees having differences in preferences such as dress code and location, which eventually led to high turnover. Limouris introduced a loose dress code policy and offered telecommuting, however turnover rates remained high. Eventually consultants helped pinpoint the problem: the employees did not understand or connect with the purpose of the company. After internal discussions, Limouris branded the company’s goal into a battle cry of “Positively Impacting Lives.” Underlying this was a goal to help 20,000 people find employment.

Limouris learned that the effect of rewards in motivating employees only lasted for a short time.. However, Medix’s new mantra helped renew their employees’ drive for their jobs. Their battle cry also inspired related team-building activities, which soon began to translate into high productivity and low turnover.

3. Recognise your employees’ accomplishments – In addition to getting a salary, people want to work in a job that makes a difference. Southwest Airlines motivates its workforce by communicating how they can create an impact in their customers’ lives. The airline features employees that have gone the extra mile in their monthly magazine and internal videos, and acknowledges them in recognition awards and programs. In one video, Southwest showed two of their customer service agents that gave a family some extra time to say goodbye to their father, who was leaving for a six-month deployment in Kuwait. Videos like this help employees see the company’s goal in action, and inspires them to give their ultimate best to their work so that they too can make a difference in the lives of their customers.

4. Encourage employees to provide feedback – AT&T created a digital system that enables its employees to submit feedback or suggestions to the company. The feedback is shared online, and a small team reads it before sending it to a respective team leader or an expert that can work on the issue. Employees can track the status of their feedback and the responses to it, as well as leave their own comments.

Toyota has also implemented an innovative system of encouraging employee feedback. With the Japanese NikoNiko calendar, the company gauges the feelings of its employees daily through smiley faces. If the production team notices a lot of red faces, they immediately investigate and address the issue to show that the company is committed in responding to its employees’ needs.

5. Provide employees work-life balance – Employees can feel burnout when they work excessive hours without having enough time off. Employee rewards company Next Jump subsidises half of the annual leave expenses of its employees up to US$5,000. The company also looks after the health of employees through a competitive workout program and provision of healthy food. But what’s truly extraordinary about Next Jump is its “No Fire Policy.” The company will make a contractual promise never to fire its employees unless they exhibit unethical behaviour. If their employees are feeling stressed out or not performing to their expectations, the company will intervene and explore any initiative to boost their morale and to improve their performance.

 

Donny

Aged to Perfection – AGE and AGING in the workplace today

The veteran army officer remains revered for their ability to strategise well after they retire. The older actor is celebrated for their contribution to the entertainment industry and for creating memorable moments through theatre or film. The retired athlete remains admired for their superb human achievements long after the race has been run. And the scientist, composer, or humanitarian is honoured for a lifetime’s work in their chosen field and celebrated for years after their discoveries or masterpieces have changed the world.

Yet, something funny happens in the psyche of the worker when it comes to older employees – which often has little to do with being revered and even less to do with humour. Sadly it illustrates that as a nation we are more interested in the celebrity factor that is often out of our reach than in our older workers who have contributed so much and are so close.

So if that is the case, why are we failing to adequately document the older workers’ knowledge, showcase their talents and celebrate them as mentors? Have we become so desensitised that we only want “new” while ‘old’ is irrelevant? Is it simply too hard or we just don’t know how?

As a starting point let’s get clear firstly who is the older Australian, after all? New research undertaken by Westpac has revealed senior Australian business people believe, on average, 47 years old is when age related discrimination first becomes a problem for workers in Australian organisations.

Yet it would be fair to say that most business and professional people are at the peak of their career around this time. Many are in the best position they have ever been in to collaborate, connect and communicate their knowledge and experience and move the dial that points them to further success.

Here are five steps to go from Older to Bolder 

1. Take initiative and help create deliberate learning opportunities in early and tertiary education for different generations to cross pollinate and interact. It all begins with education, so volunteer your time and expertise in ways that will be help people understand the value of different perspectives and ages. If in a position to influence team or group work, ensure there is an equal representation from all ages so people consciously and unconsciously adapt to different ways of problem solving.

2. Ensure graduates and new inductees into organisations are buddied with at least three people from different generations. Keep these exchanges regular and as part of their KPI’s.

3. Provide external work experience opportunities for staff to spend time in different businesses so they are exposed to alternate practices and different ways of thinking in business. Make sure they communicate their learnings back into the organisation.

4. Set up Learning Forums in Open Spaces where staff can learn new skills (work or non work related topics) and hear about what staff can do in and outside their work environment. Allow people to spend time in discussion so there is a greater sense of comfort with different people and exposure to different ideas.

5. Disrupt traditional style meetings so everyone can chair or facilitate a meeting, champion an idea and share results in different ways. Encourage hot desk arrangements so people become more adept and comfortable at interacting.

While these five tips are practical strategies and take time to fully reap the rewards, it will also take a courageous and committed conversation that can present a commercial and business case to all levels of your people if you truly want to bring people together to collaborate rather than let people than stagnate.

 

Ricky Nowak is a Certified HR Leadership Consultant, Behind Closed Doors Facilitator, Speaker and Author with over 35 years business and corporate experience in leadership across Australasia, specializing in making good people great leaders.

www.rickynowak.com

How To Ensure That Employee Professional Development Yields Returns For Your Business

The Business Case For Employee Professional Development

Providing professional development for employees can be advantageous for businesses and enable them to achieve long-term growth. Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense to invest in your employees:

Improved job performance
Investing in professional development for employees can be beneficial for businesses and contribute to their long-term business growth. Through professional development, employees in various roles can acquire skills that would help them improve their performance. For example, those who undergo sales professional development may be able to convert more qualified leads and add to revenue, while those who train on customer service may be able to improve customer retention. Managers who undergo leadership development and mentoring become better leaders. As a result, businesses can enjoy robust growth.

Better job satisfaction and engagement
Professional development gives your employees the opportunity to improve their skills, and enable them to advance in their career. When employees feel that the company is investing in them, they are more likely to become devoted to their job. Professional development can also enable your employees to be more engaged with their work when it is tied to the core values of the company. This will help them understand how their contribution fits into the larger picture, and motivate them to do well.

Lower turnover and enhanced recruitment
When your employees are content with their work, they are also more likely to stay longer in your company. As a result, your business can avoid the various costs associated with a high turnover. This includes lower productivity, lower morale of the remaining employees, as well as allocating a huge amount of time for recruitment and on-boarding new employees. In contrast, satisfied and engaged employees can make your company attractive for fresh talent. This will enable you to build a competent workforce and stand out from the competition.

Though professional development is certainly beneficial, companies should determine its ROI to balance the need on investing in people while achieving returns for their business.

A Step-By-Step Process On Evaluating Employee Professional Development ROI

The Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation Model offers a systematic approach in assessing the impact of training and professional development on your employees and to your business. It seeks to evaluate employee training and professional development in a series of four steps or levels.

Level 1: Reaction – This level assesses the reaction or engagement of your employees to the training and professional development program: its presentation, materials and the instructor. You can get verbal feedback by asking them directly if they found the  program relevant, worth their time and if it accommodated their personal learning style. Gauge employee reaction through post-training and professional development surveys, or by observing changes on the job.

Level 2: LearningEvaluating what your employees have learned entails measuring the level of understanding of your employees on the information, skills and techniques that were discussed during training and professional development. To do this, you need to test the knowledge level, skills and attitudes of the participants before and after each session with interviews or verbal assessments.

Level 3: Behaviour – You then need to check how your employees were able to apply the information or skills that they have learned to their job. However, you need to take into account the organisational culture and management practices when assessing behavioural changes. The employees may have learned a lot during training and professional development, however may fail to apply it because of an unsupportive organisational culture or a boss that fails to recognise the behavioural changes; thus leading workers to revert to their old ways. Evaluating behaviour entails conducting interviews or observing employees for a couple months or a year after the training and professional development program ended.

Level 4: ResultsResults pertain to the impact of the training and professional development on your business. Did the program increase productivity, sales or customer satisfaction? Was it able to reduce turnover? You need to assign a monetary value to the benefits your business experienced for measurement. This will then lead you to compute for the actual ROI.

The ROI Equation

Computing for the ROI of Employee Training and Professional Development involves subtracting the cost of training and professional development from the monetary benefits, dividing the result by the monetary benefits, and multiplying this by 100 to get the percentage value for the ROI. For instance, a skills development program at a facility producing small engines generated about AUD 500,000 in benefits through increased productivity and sales. The cost of the program was AUD 100,000. Therefore, ROI can be calculated as shown below:

ROI = [(500,000 – 100,000)/100,000] x 100
ROI = 400%

Using the example above, the ROI of the skills development program is 400%. This means that for every dollar invested in training and professional development, the company earns back four dollars. With this information, senior management can now decide whether the investment on employee training and professional development is worthwhile and how much is appropriate.

Employee development doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly, and the right investment can have substantial payoff in terms of productivity and long-term loyalty. People care if you take a genuine interest in their future, and are likely to return the favour toward your business through their contribution.

Donny

‘Mum Connector’ Belinda Jennings Wins Entrepreneurs Scholarship

Founder and CEO of Mum Central, Australian Baby Bargains and Mum’s Pantry, Belinda Jennings is the winner of the 2015 Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) Adelaide Entrepreneurs Scholarship.

Ms Jennings launched Adelaide Baby Bargains five years ago as a new first-time mum, and using her sales and marketing experience rapidly grew the business, revolutionising the way parents buy and sell children’s products online.

Ms Jennings will look to use the scholarship to open new doors, tap into the minds of some of Adelaide’s most influential leaders and push the boundaries to assist in growing her business.

Announcing the results at BCD’s quarterly Connexions event last night (September 8, 2015), the Founder and Managing Director of the leading business women’s professional development and mentoring company Donny Walford said Ms Jennings was a worthy winner of the 12-month scholarship, valued at over $5,500.

“While the scholarship attracted an impressive array of applicants, the judges felt that Belinda was the standout winner and her passion for her business and entrepreneurial spirit was nothing short of inspirational.

“Belinda has a very clear vision for the future direction of her business and has a passion to inspire and connect with people.

“BCDs Entrepreneurs program will provide Belinda with a professional sounding board and support network where she can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encourage other members to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments,” Ms Walford said.

Ms Jennings believes the BCD Entrepreneurs membership will assist her seek out support and ideas to extend herself personally and professionally.

“I’m actively seeking an opportunity to connect into a safe, secure and empowering network that can assist me on my entrepreneurial journey, and access mentors that will help me continue my growth and development as a business leader,” she said.

Runners-up for the scholarship were Marissa Schulze, Managing Director of Rise High Financial Solutions and Sarah Gun, Owner of GOGO Events.

Think Smart About Your Top Line To Grow Your Bottom Line

In the business world, there has always been the talk of whether enterprises should grow their top line or their bottom line. But what exactly do both these terms mean?

The top line pertains to the gross sales or revenue of the company. An increase in the top line can mean an uptick in sales or clients. On the other hand, the bottom line refers to the income of the company after expenses and income taxes have been subtracted from the revenue. The bottom line is otherwise known as the company’s net earnings or net profits.

Simply put, the top line shows the performance of the company in raising sales of its products or services. Meanwhile, the bottom line pertains to the efficiency of the business in keeping costs down while being able to drive sales. So, which line should businesses focus on?

In the long term, it can be detrimental for a company that only looks at the top line over the bottom line, or vice versa. Growing the top line calls for an increase in production to generate more sales. However, this will entail more materials and equipment, thereby adding costs. Similarly, encouraging more clients to sign up for your services will require additional personnel, which will involve spending on more resources and applications that your growing workforce would use, as well as increasing people in sales. When hiring employees, there are costs incurred; such as training and providing benefits. In return, these expenses will eat up into the revenue, and may not result in additional income/profit.

Meanwhile, increasing the bottom line can involve cutting expenses. This can either compromise the quality of the product, or prevent your business from exploring growth opportunities. For service-related enterprises, scrimping on labour, materials or equipment can make your clients feel unsatisfied with what they have paid for. Using unreliable suppliers, partners or materials can put your quality of products or services at risk. As a result, your clients may switch over to your competitors, while you risk losing a talented workforce.

In both scenarios, it will be hard to sustain business growth.

Therefore, entrepreneurs and executives need to focus on a mixed approach to improve both the top line and the bottom line, as they influence each other greatly. Though this may seem like a difficult undertaking, it can be achieved by rethinking the strategy on marketing, product value and enhancing the efficiency of your workforce.

Three ways to raise both the top line and the bottom line:

1. Be strategic in your marketing to win the right clients – Your marketing strategy needs to attract the right clients, or the people that can contribute to the long-term profitability of your business through their purchasing behaviour. To do this, you need to make use of content that opens up the interest of your audience, and gives them the reason to purchase from you. Once you have them on-board, form relationships with them to ensure repeat business. It is crucial to check the return of investment of (ROI) of your content and your strategy to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in your expenses. With this approach of quality over quantity of clients, you promote sustainable top line growth, while also benefiting your bottom line.

2. Know your service or product’s value to your clients – When you form relationships with your clients, strive to know the benefits or reward that they get from your product or your service. This will guide you in correctly pricing your products and services, as well as directing your investment toward the attributes of your product/service that your clients enjoy. As a result, they will likely promote your product/service to others, without adding to your marketing costs. Focusing on the client benefit of your product or service can also protect you from losing clients if you need to raise prices to grow your bottom line. Furthermore, it can help you determine potential areas for expanding your product/service and your business.

3. Engage your workforce in pursuing growthIdentifying the client benefit of your products and services can help you discover potential opportunities for innovation, or new revenue streams. For this to be successful, you need to engage your workforce through your company’s initiatives. Make sure that they understand the company’s goals in innovating, so that they are willing to work hard to reach it. This requires continuous communication, so encourage them to provide feedback on your initiatives and offer their own ideas in tapping new revenue streams. Remember to show appreciation for their efforts to ensure employee retention while expanding your market.

Donny

Some of the hurdles that keep Australian Executives preoccupied

According to the Global CEO Survey of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the confidence among Australian chief executives has been declining monthly. The study interviewed 44 Australian CEOs, where they were asked about the challenges that they face in leading their respective companies. These executives revealed the hurdles that they encounter in running their business, especially in the age of advancing technology and an unstable economy. Below are some of the pain points that Australian CEOs deal with, including how they are able to overcome these obstacles.

Sustaining Business Growth

More than half of the Australian CEOs at the PwC study said they are able to discern threats to their company now as compared to three years ago. Among the factors that they see as affecting their business include competition from newly formed companies, unrest in different parts of the world and the occurrence of cyber attacks. Similarly, the Ai Group’s annual CEO Survey found that 38% of CEOs in Australia are expecting the business landscape to decline further this year. Major changes in the market are affecting the optimism of executives. The strong investment in mining is increasingly waning, while the housing recovery is insufficient to jumpstart the economy.

According to Ai Group CEO Innes Willox, some CEOs have managed to overcome these challenges. “As they confront this patchy outlook, CEOs are taking steps to lift the performance of their own businesses.  With broadly similar results across industries, the major strategies CEOs anticipate adopting are growing sales of existing products and services; introducing new products or services; and developing new domestic markets,” he said.

Aside from this, Australian CEOs are also considering partnerships to pursue growth. About 40% of the respondents at the PwC survey stated that they are aiming to complete a domestic merger and acquisition this year. Meanwhile, more than half say they are partnering with other companies to strengthen innovation in their business and keep up with the advancements in technology.

Keeping a Talented Workforce

Although majority of the CEOs in the PwC study plan to expand the size of their workforce this year, a major concern for them is how to manage talent. There’s a possibility of skills shortage in some industries. Meanwhile, the number of “help wanted” ads has been increasing on major Australian job sites, according to the Olivier Job Index. Once the economy begins to recover, Australian workplaces will be hard-pressed to maintain a talented workforce. This will be further hampered by an ageing population, which can shrink the labour pool for Australian businesses. Aside from building a talented workforce, these businesses also need to work on employee retention to maintain business growth.

To address the skills shortage, Australian businesses are increasingly building a diverse workforce. This means disregarding the gender, culture or religious background of individuals in hiring them as long as they are skilled to meet the requirements of your company and match the culture and values. In particular, there’s a growing call to include more women in the workforce since they constitute more than half of university graduates. Currently, only 17% of CEOs are female and women occupy only 26% of senior management roles. The numbers could improve soon as 86% of CEOs in the study revealed they are implementing a diversity and inclusiveness strategy in their workplaces.

Another aspect of talent management is employee retention. This means keeping your employees engaged to provide superior customer service and ensure a high quality of performance for the company. In 2012, Celia Hodson was appointed as the CEO and turn around agent of School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia, and worked to motivate her team in taking ownership of their roles. She encouraged them to be free to act on initiatives that could save the organisation from bankruptcy, which empowered them to take leadership, and eventually turned the business around.

Strengthening Customer Relations

When it comes to enhancing customer relations and reaching out to new clients, executives have to change the way they do business now that the internet is increasingly connecting companies and prospects online. They need to ensure that the business is available 24/7 to address the customers’ needs in real time. Recognising the “always-on” market, former Telstra CEO David Thodey set up a contact service centre to respond to client enquiries, and instituted a social media team to address customer concerns via Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, CEOs also need to revamp how they think about marketing. With the Internet, customers are becoming savvier about the products and services they buy because of information online. To draw their attention, companies need to use helpful or interesting content to turn prospects into customers. Christie Summervill, CEO of start-up consulting firm BalancedComp, invited HR leaders, CEOs and CFOs on LinkedIn to share their thoughts first on employee compensation before doing business with them. The company also posted blogs on the same topic. Eventually, these business leaders consulted with the firm, which now has 100 clients.

Government regulations and economy  

In the PwC study, it was seen that overregulation was a major concern of Australian CEOs. 95% of those surveyed said that strict, government regulations could undermine their business growth. Grant O’Brien, CEO of Woolworths, said the rules on trading hours limit the performance of brick-and-mortar retailers. Physical stores have less time to sell products and services as compared to online retail, where customers can buy 24/7.

Another concern among Australian CEOs is the country’s tax system that has lagged behind internationally. More than half of those surveyed said the current tax system is currently weighing down their business. Furthermore, CEOs cite the incompetency of the government on managing fiscal deficit. This is affecting consumer confidence, which, of course, is hurting businesses. Customers are not spending, which contains revenue growth and discourages corporate innovation.

Given these concerns, Australian CEOs need to be more strategic in their thinking to ensure sustainable business growth. In an uncertain economy, they need to nurture their relationships with their existing customers to maintain revenue and attract new clients. Executives need to leverage technology and build a competent and engaged workforce to deliver superior customer service and enhance overall performance. Exploring new markets, and/or launching new products and services can help companies remain competitive. This should be done with care to ensure that these initiatives bring long-term growth.

Donny

Avoid Market Myopia – Practice Seeing Around Corners

A few weeks back a retired former Chief Executive of Woolworths was berating the poor performance of the soon to be departing incumbent CEO, in particular the latters’ poor understanding of the company’s customers. He said ”In my day I spent 3 days every week in stores, even Coles”. No doubt an admirable practice for his time but one that would be difficult to adopt today without neglecting so many the other demanding functions of the position.

However, he does have a point. No business can avoid coming to grips with the rapidly evolving changes in its markets and keeping abreast of innovation that can create a discerning point of difference or lower costs. The spectrum of choices is broader than ever, happening rapidly and often dramatically. Activities that companies have relied on for years can suddenly be offered by competitors better, cheaper, faster, and more creatively.

An example is social and electronic media. Everyone in business and socially has been touched by their revolution. We all use them every day. In business we can ‘talk’ to our customers instantly without getting out of our chairs. But while the potential of them is immense, the risks in relying too heavily on them can blind side users by short-circuiting the established power of traditional lines of communication. As valuable as they are there is no substitute for intelligence gained first hand on the ground.

As the retired Woolworths chief was trying to illustrate, there is still a crucial need to get out in the market place to find out what is going on around the corner. There is no substitute for understanding your customers’ needs, uncovering others’ innovative ideas, and building relationships than meeting people face to face. People interaction is an investment not a cost. Efficiently handled, it is low risk. Nothing beats getting a firsthand sense of what is going on in the market than by visiting your own and competitors’ clients. National Australia Bank’s new CEO has decreed that its senior managers, presumably no matter what their positions are, be allocated major clients to account manage and keep them in touch with the market.

In our fast changing world going into the field affords the opportunity to personally test our strategy for currency, challenging whether our coherent compelling story is moving with the changing character of our markets.

To remain on top we must continually gain an insight into what needs to change to keep us ahead of competitors. Change inevitably necessitates doing things in the future we have not done before, bringing innovation to the fore. We all need to anticipate the changing nature of market dynamics into the future – environmental, social, competitive, products and services.

Foresight, insight and innovation are the key resources underpinning good strategy. Without these we will not be able to see around corners. Keeping our fingers on the pulse of change is best gained out in the field.

 

The author of this article is Ken Meek, a BCD mentor and Principal of M2 Strategic Management.

How to enhance your staying power with business development in an ever-changing market

So, what is business development?

Starting a business always involves hard work. Before you launch your product or your service into the market, you need to work on the capital, the manpower or the equipment to support your idea. Once you’re established, you need to manage costs versus revenue, in order to maintain operations of your business while earning a profit. All of this can be taxing for an entrepreneur, and always having competing priorities can leave no space to consider future growth. However, achieving long-term growth is vital for a business’ overall success. To reach this goal, entrepreneurs need to integrate the principle of business development into their strategy.

For some, business development is often confused with sales. On the contrary, business development is not sales, nor is it a new term to describe salespeople. It may have been seen as such because the end result of business development is improved sales. What business development really is all about is to drive long-term value into your company by seeking new opportunities, and creating partnerships and relationships to reach new markets and customers. It entails paying attention to the wider business landscape, and seeking new opportunities to ensure growth well into the future. This may involve studying your competitors, or the major players in your industry, and forming new relationships with them to explore new markets. For some established companies, they lend their brand names to other products and share in the revenue, such as what Starbucks did in partnership with Unilever, releasing a product line of ice cream inspired by the coffee chain’s drinks.

To form partnerships with other companies, you need to present your business well and illustrate the benefits of the relationship with your prospect. With this, you or the person acting as your business development manager will need to be familiar with your enterprise – including your company’s core values, mission and long-term goals. However, there are no certain patterns or templates for making business development work, since enterprises vary in their core characteristics. It is one of the most varied roles and is very much dependant on your organisation, its stakeholders and the industry at large. However, when business development is executed properly, companies are poised to enjoy long-term growth.

Starting out the right way to avoid typical frustrations with business development

Before anything else, you need to have a deep knowledge of your company to embark on business development. You need to know its core values to select the right partner and to tap the right market. In business development, it is quality over quantity; which means that it is more important to land the right partner/client than several that are not the right fit. The right deal will take your business to the next level.

When closing a business deal, you need to have a well-written proposal. It is optimal to write your proposal with the customer in mind to outline your strategy for generating demand or opening new markets. For companies that are seeking partners, this can work to their advantage. A customer-centric approach demonstrates to your prospective partner the benefits of the relationship to both of your businesses. When creating a proposal, get your team involved as they can offer you valuable insights on how to win new clients or business partners. If your team is the one tasked to deliver the proposal, this will be incredibly helpful. Take note of their questions and provide them with answers. You can also ask them why they would recommend going forward with the proposal and how it aligns with your company’s objectives.

What entrepreneurs can achieve through business development

a. Scalability – Entrepreneurs can expand the reach of their products and/or services without having to add more salespeople or resources through business development. For instance, partnering with a competitor or other companies can provide you the opportunity to tap into new markets and find new customers, without having to expand your sales team. Similarly, licensing or franchising your ideas with other companies can lead their customers to become interested in your enterprise. This can augment your marketing strategy without having to add marketing capacity.

b. Long-term growth – The goal of business development is to bring long-term value into an organisation for it to grow sustainably. “Business development determines how much of the business will grow and where that growth will come from, and defines the approach to capturing that growth,” said Satish Kanwar, co-founder and director of business development at design firm Jet Cooper.  In essence, business development encourages companies to go beyond their current markets or customers to seek new opportunities and streams of revenue, to enable them to support the growth of their enterprise well into the future.

c. Resilience to market changes – Since business development spurs companies to find new ways to grow, it allows them to have multiple sources of business to withstand market changes. For instance, cloud computing company Loudcloud would have gone into insolvency in 2002 if it weren’t for the business development discussions that it previously had with major companies in the IT industry. Back then, the market had floundered following the 9/11 attacks. Through its discussions, Loudcloud was able to get a major IT firm to purchase its managed services business, and it re-entered the market as a software company.

d. Innovation – To find new opportunities and new streams of revenue, companies are pushed to innovate to set themselves apart from their competitors. Entrepreneurs can formulate new ways of using their products or services to generate demand. For instance, Nike partnered with Apple to debut Nike+, a platform that tracks the workout of people using Nike shoes through Apple devices. The collaboration has driven demand for both of the products of Nike and Apple.

With a clear understanding of business development, entrepreneurs can survive fluctuations in the market and even innovate to differentiate your business. By integrating business development into your strategy, you remain focused on the identity of your company to be able to determine the opportunities and partnerships that will bring long-term value and sustain growth.

Donny

How to get venture capitalists to say ‘yes’ to your vision

In Australia, the number of female-owned enterprises is on the rise. Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson says that about 93.3% of women in the country operate small businesses. However, a 2013 study from the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry found that women entrepreneurs struggle to obtain enough capital for their startups. In fact, more than half of female business owners launched their enterprise with less than $5,000 in capital.

One possible factor that prevents women from securing funding is the lack of female partners in venture capital firms. In the process of selecting an enterprise to support, venture capitalists are often influenced by the natural traits human beings possess of self-selection, pattern recognition and homophily. That is, they are more inclined to communicate to and be comfortable with people who are similar to them in terms of gender, race or other characteristics. In VC firms where males make up the majority, the tendency is to reach out to male entrepreneurs who are like them and invest in their businesses, putting female entrepreneurs at a disadvantage.

In addition to this, investors are less confident to back women-owned enterprises because of the way some female entrepreneurs present their pitches. When presenting, women entrepreneurs tend to frame their venture as a “side hustle,” or an enterprise that they manage single-handedly to augment their income. They may not display the intention of expanding it into a multimillion-dollar company. On the other hand, male entrepreneurs highlight how their businesses can grow worldwide, given enough funding. Authors Erin Kepler and Scott Shane noted in a Small Business Administration report that compared to male business owners, female entrepreneurs have a smaller vision of what their businesses can achieve, which makes investors more hesitant on providing funds.

Aside from this, female entrepreneurs tend to not be specific regarding the amount of money that they need. Instead of confidently stating the amount upfront, women request the capital they will need as “backing” or “support.” Venture capitalists will not have confidence in the investment and this will prompt them to move on to other promising business proposals.

How can women improve their pitch? To win an investor’s approval, you need to know what they are looking for in a business proposal. Here are some tips to get venture capitalists to say ‘yes’ to investing in your business:

1. Talk about your business from the investor’s point of view – Venture capitalists think about business, and how their investment will generate returns. When they look at a business proposal, they judge it based on its market potential. This means they will evaluate how your business will generate demand. Will your product or service sell? Emily Weiss, a 29-year-old blogger, considered this perspective when she was pitching her skincare line to venture capitalists. She explained that her blog, which reaches 8.5 million readers monthly, provides a wide market for her product and how her skincare line can address consumer demands in the cosmetics market.

2. Be confident about your business idea – To draw the attention of venture capitalists to your pitch, you need to be confident and assertive throughout your presentation. Demonstrate to them how your business can be a game-changer in the industry, as this will help your proposal stand out and persuade your listeners. As mentioned above, you also need to be upfront about the amount of funding needed, because this will put value on your business and help ensure its growth.

3. Build relationships with investors – The process of investing inherently involves trust, especially on the part of venture capitalists. To gain their trust, you need to establish strong rapport with them before raising funds for your enterprise. Venture capitalists essentially see entrepreneurs as a “dot” in an x-y axis when meeting them for the first time. This means investors do not know yet about the potential of the business owner. As time goes by, however, VCs will see a pattern or a “line” in the performance of the entrepreneur, which is crucial to winning their trust. The pattern and consistency in a business owner’s performance will influence a VC’s decision to invest.

4. Don’t take no for an answer – When an investor says “no” to your proposal, you should never give up in presenting your pitch to other VCs. Rejection is part of the process when it comes to raising funding for your business. Ask for feedback from VCs to determine which areas of your pitch require improvement. You may need to refine your vision and your market, and prove to them that your business is worth the investment. Aside from this, you can also learn from and talk to entrepreneurs that were able to secure funding successfully, and apply the lessons that they have learned in presenting their proposal.

5. Understand the financials – know your numbers!

Raising capital for your enterprise requires hard work, but with the right strategy backing a disruptive business idea, you can get venture capitalists to say ‘yes’ to your vision and yes to invest.

Donny

Innovation – Just a Buzz Word or a Critical Element?

Businesses that are still operating in the same manner they did 3 to 5 years ago against a backdrop of the world trying to recover from the financial crisis, an ageing population, slow consumer spending, Australia on the brink of signing its fourth free trade agreement and 11 other countries proposing joining it in the Trans-Pacific partnership, plus the dominance of social and digital media, could have a problem, a serious problem.   

If your business is not continually exploring ways to capitalise on emerging opportunities or changing business processes in line with the new world order we now operate in, you need to hurry up or risk getting left behind.  However, if you are actively capitalising on identified opportunities, you are to be congratulated as you probably have your competitors on the back foot.

While all this is happening, the word ‘innovate’ has crept into the business lexicon. Innovation is about creating and installing new ideas into your organisation. It could be new products or services, new internal processes or simply better ways of working.

Consider on one hand where former world market leaders Kodak and IBM, who failed to innovate, are today and on the other hand where younger innovative companies Apple and Microsoft now rank. Apple, now the world’s largest company, was close to broke until Steve Jobs returned and reincarnated it through innovation.

A structured innovation program has the potential to place an organisation at the forefront in the market place, with staff, shareholders and the bank.

Innovation is a creative process. Developing its culture in today’s environment is vital to success. A recent Boston Consulting Group survey found that companies applying innovative strategies outperformed those that did not.

Traditionally strategy and innovation have been treated as separate activities. Strategy was about things you could plan and innovation was about what you could not plan. But with the speed of change and dynamics in the business world, strategy and innovation are converging.  Innovation is now a critical element in strategy.

Those who identify and implement innovative ideas, like Apple and Microsoft, will return a far better bottom line. These companies differentiate themselves through innovation.

It is senior management’s responsibility to drive innovation or live with the consequences. They must ensure the dynamic is driven, falls within the organisation’s core financial targets, and does not get bogged down in detail.

The driver is easy – the establishment of a ‘think tank’, a commitment to meet regularly forever and most important, acting on and measuring the agreed initiatives.

When introducing innovation, the temptation is to say ‘we need to think outside the square’. However, by attempting to innovate without guidelines, the risk can be losing efficiency by opening the door to too many wild ideas. Innovation think tanks are more productive if a set of simple guidelines are established that fit within the organisation’s vision, corporate strategy and financial criteria.

Worthwhile innovative ideas are more likely to emerge through the team brainstorming ideas than solely from an individual. While innovative strategy is the responsibility of management, the returns from the ‘think tank’ will be greater if key staff are on the team.

There is no proven formula for successful innovative ideas. Human nature being what it is usually ensures most ideas will relate to the market place, new products or services, but with good stewardship, ideas can be generated that can improve internal performance.

The skill is to challenge what you and others do, then identify possibilities and cost effective ways of doing things better.

Resist the temptation to ignore a possibility because ” it ain’t broke so why fix it?”  With the speed of change, someone may just challenge the status quo and beat you to it.

Is innovation just a buzz word or a critical element?  No contest!

 

The author of this article is Ken Meek, a BCD and Bottom Line mentor and Principal of M2 Strategic Management. 

Paulette Kolarz on “Success Principles”

Success is defined as the achievement of reaching a goal or something desired or planned that is important to you.  Take a look at Paulette’s top tips for success:

  • Define what you really want. Think about what you will look back over your life and say “I’m so that that I did …..”
  • What is happiness? Need to explore further and define what that means
  • Be clear on what it is that you want to accomplish
  • Think of yourself as successful
    • Whatever you focus on expands so choose wisely
    • Success is a state of mind, if you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success
  • Surround yourself with the right people
    • If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room
    • Life is like an elevator, on your way up, sometimes you have to stop and let some people off
  • Identify and take on your fears
    • FEAR – Forget Everything And Run or
    • FEAR – Face Everything And Rise
  • Proactively work on your weaknesses
  • Forever feed your mind and develop yourself
  • Take responsibility
    • Your life is the result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, it is time to start making better choices
    • I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept
  • Manage your time effectively
    • Many things aren’t equal but everyone gets the same 24 hours a day. We make time for what we truly want
  • Get out of your comfort zone
    • Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.
  • Learn from others but ride your own race
    • The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday
  • Take action
    • The difference between who you are and what you want to be is what you do
  • Remember … We all have some bad days
    • Get back up again

Nadene Gole Golf Schools

BCD Member Offer – Golf Coaching

Would you like to join with other BCD members and learn how to play golf?  Nadene Gole Golf Schools has packaged up a 2 night/3 day coaching program at the magnificent Victoria Golf Club for $1,895 per person including accommodation, meals, airport transfers and 2 days of expert golf coaching.

Each golf school is delivered to a restricted class size to ensure personalised attention and includes skills’ sessions, video analysis, playing lessons and a seminar with a Sports Psychologist.

Beginner Group – 30 August to 1 September

Established Group – 6-8 December

To book, contact Nadene Gole on 0425 792 784 or email nadenegole@gmail.com

Click below for detailed brochure on the program:
nadenegolegolfschoolbrochure-behindclosedoorsv2

Melbourne BCD Speaker Sessions

Please find below our Key Note speakers list.  As behind closed doors members you are invited to attend as many speaker sessions as you would like.  If the speaker is presenting during your group session you do not need to register to attend.

Please click on the links below to register your attendance for any of the presentations you would like to attend. If you do not receive an email from Kristy Ashton confirming your attendance, please call Kristy on 8333 4303.

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Travelling Interstate?  Like to attend a BCD Keynote Speaker?

Contact us if you are travelling interstate and are interested in hearing other speaker sessions, we will let you know what is coming up!  Please email kristy@behindcloseddoors.com

 

Appearance Does Play Some Part in Leadership Roles for Executive Women

Despite the famous adage saying, “beauty is only skin-deep,” executive women need to be mindful about how they look. How you present and the way you communicate will determine how successful you are.

Appearance can present a double-edged sword for career women

For businesswomen, their presentation can be a very ambiguous aspect of their professional life. Despite the perspective that looks and the way women dress should not be related to performance, it still plays a huge role in job hiring and promotions of women.

With appearance offering benefits, how can women tip the scale for their own advantage? Though there’s no clear-cut answer, the best strategy is to dress according to the job. Obviously, too much makeup or clothes more fitting for afterhours or weekend wear should not be worn to work and will not leave a favourable impression that you are serious about your career. On the contrary, having a neat hairstyle and professional clothing connotes professionalism. Selena Rezvani, a leadership consultant, recommends that women should dress more according to the industry they are working in, and less on their personal style. One example of this is Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer, whose conservative suits show femininity, without compromising her message. Furthermore, her formal attire demonstrates leadership in the IT industry where casual wear is the norm.

Apart from their appearance, women can go further in strengthening their leadership in the corporate world. This can be done by channelling an executive presence.

Look like a leader with executive presence

Aside from physical appearance and clothing, projecting an executive presence involves the way you behave and speak in front of your colleagues and clients, according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder of Center for Talent Innovation, a think-tank group in New York in the U.S.

To convey an executive presence, women need to demonstrate gravitas in their behaviour. This entails displaying confidence in stressful environments, as well as exhibiting decisiveness, integrity and empathy. In terms of communication, this includes the non-verbal cues and body language that women use in talking to others. When giving a presentation, it is essential to maintain eye contact with your audience and to establish a connection with them. For those using PowerPoint presentations, Hewlett recommends knowing your material and rely less on the slides. Engage and communicate more with your audience and you will help them become more interested with the topic that you are discussing.

Demonstrating your leadership skills, professional behaviour and effective communication skills, along with a polished appearance, will help women attain promotions including executive positions. If you want to be a leader, including a Partner in a professional services firm, dress and act like one; don’t wait to be appointed to the role before you change the way you present.  You could be waiting longer than is necessary.

 

Donny

 

BCD Speaker Sessions

Please find below our Key Note speakers list.  As behind closed doors members you are invited to attend as many speaker sessions as you would like.  Affiliate members are invited to attend four speaker sessions per calendar year. If the speaker is presenting during your group session you do not need to register to attend.

Please click on the links below to register your attendance for any of the presentations you would like to attend. If you do not receive an email from Tina Tutic confirming your attendance, please call Tina on 8333 4303.

If the session is full please place your name on the waitlist, as we will release more tickets if there are any member apologies for the session.

**Adelaide Speaker Sessions**

Guest Speaker & Topic:  Cristie Shuttleworth- Health and Wellbeing
Date:  Thursday 7 December (this takes place during Luminaries 23)
Time:  12.00pm – 1.00pm
Location: AIM, Level 2, 83 Currie Street, Adelaide
Click Here To Register

Travelling Interstate?  Like to attend a BCD Keynote Speaker?

Contact us if you are travelling interstate and are interested in hearing other speaker sessions, we will let you know what is coming up!  Please email kristy@behindcloseddoors.com

Winner of Inaugural Behind Closed Doors “Not For Loss” Adelaide Scholarship Announced

The CEO of the Mental Illness Fellowship South Australia (MIFSA), Natasha Miliotis is the winner of the inaugural Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) “Not for Loss” Scholarship in Adelaide for 2015.

Ms Miliotis started in her first management position as MIFSA’s CEO, having never been a senior worker, Team Leader or a Manager.  She will look to use the experience to open new doors, tap into the minds of some of Adelaide’s most influential leaders and broaden her horizons.

Founder and Managing Director of the respected professional development and mentoring company Donny Walford, said the 12-month scholarship was awarded to a successful female executive in the NFP sector to further expand and challenge their current leadership and business practices to further enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of our society.

“Not for Loss organisations play a vital role in our society and are the social fabric that holds our community together.

“Ms Miliotis accepted the challenges and the joys of leadership without the usual preparation of studies in management or scaling of a career ladder.  She hit the ground running as CEO and started with the simple premise that if her staff were bursting through the door everyday excited to be at work, then everything else would follow.

“The BCD Executive program will provide Ms Miliotis with a professional sounding board and support network where she can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encourage other members to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments,” Ms Walford said.

Ms Miliotis believes the BCD Executive program will assist her by offering access to a support network outside of the charitable, non-government sector and enhance her leadership and service to MIFSA.

“The challenges which executive women and leaders face on a daily basis are many and varied and the opportunity to be able to share and reach out is tantalizing. I expect and hope to also contribute to conversations where my experiences are relevant,” she said.

The runners up for the BCD Not for Loss Scholarship are Tiffany Young, Co-Founder and Business Director at The Jodie Lee Foundation and Kyp Boucher, Area Operations Manager at Life Without Barriers

Swimming with the tide: Understanding the global factors that shape Australian businesses

Globalisation and technology are changing the way we do business

Today’s methods of doing business have changed largely due to the impact of globalisation and increasing interconnectivity. Australian companies that have made a mark within their marketplace are being acquired by multinational corporations. With the country’s free-trade agreements, local enterprises can now expect competition from imported products and digital services, which can affect their long-term business. Apart from this, there is also the growth of technology, which has permanently altered the traditional process of doing business. Commercial and banking transactions have shifted online. Customers now have better access to information, making them savvier when bombarded with advertising. If companies want to earn their trust, they need to change the way they pitch their products and services to them and the public.

To ensure sustainable growth, some companies are shifting from having a product-centric approach to one that is customer-centric. Product-centric firms tend to prioritise the quality of their products to generate sales. Meanwhile, customer-centric enterprises focus on what the customer needs before developing products. They also strive to be responsive to their customers’ individual queries and feedback. This can build customer loyalty, and support long-term sales.

As such, customer-centric enterprises work hard to study their customers by using technology to monitor their behaviours and interactions, storing them in customer relationship management (CRM) software. They are also turning to social media to gauge customer sentiment and feedback, and are relying more and more on digital technology to serve customers all around the world.

All these changes can make a local entrepreneur feel seemingly out of touch. However, entrepreneurs must act on these shifts for their business growth to avoid insolvency. Let’s take a brief look at how these global factors affect the long-term aspects and the day-to-day operations of Australian businesses.

Technology

Technology has been permeating various industries across the world, altering the structure of their business models. With the internet, some companies such as Airbnb and Netflix are changing the way services are provided in the travel and entertainment industries. The advent of 3D printing has transformed the manufacturing industry, while introducing problems related to intellectual property. Emerging technologies such as wearables and Bluetooth low energy transmitters offer companies a potential to personalise customer transactions.

However, about 70% of small and medium enterprises in Australia fail to take advantage of technological developments to advance their business, according to the Culturing Success report from Microsoft. With the fear of failure, these businesses overlook the opportunity to use innovative technologies that could streamline their operations and enhance their relationships with customers. To stay ahead of their competitors, Australian enterprises should begin to explore emerging technologies and increasingly integrate these into their business operations.

Differentiation

Due to globalisation and free trade agreements, Australian businesses are seeing tight competition with goods from other countries. Overseas manufacturers can sell their products at a lower price, which can put Australian producers at a disadvantage. Furthermore, multinational corporations are constantly expanding their territory in the country by acquiring smaller businesses, and making the market tighter for local competitors.

To stay competitive, Australian enterprises can work to differentiate themselves and offer a unique selling point to the consumer. For instance, a local textile manufacturer partnered with Australia’s national science agency to produce a three-dimensional, moisture-absorbing fabric. The company also ensured that the material is comfortable and it can be produced en masse. This caught the eye of a multinational corporation, which is now using the fabric in the production of nappies.

Australian enterprises are also recognising how technology is changing customer interactions, and have begun using it for their advantage. The four major banks in Australia are tapping into mobile payment apps to meet customer needs. Meanwhile, Telstra partnered with Ericsson to introduce a new optical network that can support the high-bandwidth activities of its customers and withstand disruptions from natural disasters.

Marketing

The traditional way of push advertising is no longer effective for marketing since audiences have learned to tune them out with better access to information. Through the internet, customers nowadays are savvier in their purchasing decisions. Nevertheless, Australians are more likely to purchase a product or a service when it is recommended by their family or friends. Customers still find word-of-mouth information trustworthy, and companies need to capitalise on this to enhance marketing.

Aside from this, businesses also need to engage their audience, and appeal to their human side. To win their attention, Australian companies need to have a customer-centric approach in their marketing. This will entail the use of compelling and useful content to suggest solutions to existing problems, instead of emphasizing what a certain product or service can simply do. They should also explore social media advocacy, where influential people on social networks are encouraged to try their products and offer recommendations, often marketing their products to their followers. In this way, they are establishing a relationship, and not a one-way transaction with their customers.

Recruitment/Workforce

Due to a shortage of tech talent, more and more enterprises in Australia are hiring online staff and outsourcing work. About 160,000 businesses in the country have hired over 84,000 people online, according to the statistics of ABC Technology + Games. This can be advantageous for small and medium enterprises in pursuing growth. It allows them to expand their operations for less when they outsource to another country. This enables them to access new market opportunities and new clients. It also helps them to save time by outsourcing other tasks, allowing enterprises to focus on strategies that will drive growth. Having offshore staff also helps SMEs to be responsive to their clients 24/7, allowing them to provide efficient customer service and remain competitive.

For Australian businesses, it may entail a rethink of organisational structures and workplace management strategies now that certain departments or teams are situated offshore or overseas. Australian companies need to be smart in maximising the talent of their local and offshore staff, to achieve growth for their businesses.

Donny