On the morning of Friday 8th May, The Australian Ireland Fund Sydney Young Leaders Committee held their annual Lessons in Leadership Corporate Breakfast which was generously sponsored and hosted by Clyde and Co – a leading international law firm. The Australian Ireland Fund would like to thank the Partners at Clyde and Co for their support – they have very generously sponsored this event for the second consecutive year. Approximately 75 Young Leaders – who were lucky enough to get a ticket to the sell-out event – arrived at the offices of Clyde and Co in Sydney’s CBD early in the morning to network over coffee and fresh croissants and other assorted breakfast delights prior to hearing from our esteemed guest-speaker. Special guests included Consul General Jane Connolly, Vice Consul George O’Keeffe and Executive Director Teresa Keating.
The Committee would like to extend a very warm and sincere vote of thanks to the guest speaker on the day – Paul O’Sullivan, Chairman of Optus and Board Member of The Australian Ireland Fund. Paul was appointed Chairman of Optus in October 2014 and prior to that had served in various management roles with Optus throughout the Asia-pacific region. Paul spoke passionately about how the challenges caused by market disruption in the Telco sector has helped to shape and define his career to date. He urged those present at the breakfast to think about how disruption, regardless of the industry you work in, can provide opportunities for your career – as Paul put it ‘be wherever the waves are breaking’. Paul illuminated his commentary by sharing real life examples of how Optus have recognised changes in traditions, culture and technology and used this information to develop their brand and market share. Paul concluded by sharing his five key insights in relation to leadership which are outlined below:
1. Focus on the vital few – in any successful business 20% of your work delivers 80% of the value. Spend time in understanding what that 20% is.
2. Think challenger – invest time in understanding your competition but also anticipating future competitors
3. Play to win – once the strategy is decided make sure resources are allocated so that there is a successful outcome
4. No surprises – build a culture where people feel free to report potential issues up to management quickly and frankly so that they don’t become real issues
5. Cabinet solidarity – rigorous debate should be encouraged within a business but once a decision is made, everyone has to move forward on that basis. There can be no room for opposition when it comes to executing the strategy.
Based on the number of questions that were asked during a very lively Q&A session, it was clear that the Young Leaders very much enjoyed the talk and were keen to learn as much as they could from our guest speaker.
Andrea McElhinney spoke on behalf of the Sydney Young Leaders Committee and explained why she decided to make the transition from a quiet observer to active participant in the Young Leaders network.
Her key reasons were:
1. She felt it was time for her give back to the AIF both in terms of her time and dollars after attending a number of AIF events over the years.
2. She sees the AIF YL network as a way of keeping her connected to Ireland and a great conduit to establishing new connections she may never have otherwise met in Australia.
A big thank you to our Young Leaders Committee who did a fantastic job in organising what was a very successful event – Brendan Sheehan, David Creaven, John Gallagher, Ronan MacSweeney, Andrea McElhinney, Siobhan Tuite, Louise Kelly, Dylan Carroll, Damien Murphy and Melissa Fisher.