We chat with this retail exec from Australian Brands Alliance Labels about his first job selling jeans at the markets, his business heroes and how the pandemic has changed him as a leader. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? Always be honest and fair with everyone you deal with. Often, I see business leaders keeping empathy, honesty, and integrity out of their work – they save it for a particular group of people or set of circumstances, rather than treati
treating everyone well. But always being honest and fair is not only good ‘life’ advice, it is the best business advice. Make sure you see things from the other person’s perspective and always make sure you keep your business partners happy, including your customers, suppliers, staff and other key stakeholders. If you could swap jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be and why? I’m sure the cool thing to say would be a sports star or super-important CEO, but honestly, I wouldn’t swap. I love what I do! I am really blessed to have an amazing team at work that gives me the freedom to lead a balanced life, including enjoying time with my family, pursuing my philanthropic interests and working in a business that is made up of fantastic people. What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have never really ‘had a job’ working for someone. But my first ‘venture’ was selling jeans at Paddy’s Markets when I was 14 years old. I learned that to be successful you have to always be willing to listen, learn and improve constantly. And I carry this lesson with me every day. How has the pandemic changed your leadership style? The pandemic has exposed how people deal with pressure and change, and I have been very deliberate to not pull back on my belief in empowerment. I have always believed that leaders should empower their team to think and act for themselves and to operate with a proactive approach. I have always put my team first in regards to health and wellbeing, so my team was able to have confidence that their working environment and health were taken care of. And that’s what employees need: a safe environment that empowers them to problem-solve, adapt and respond really well to challenges. What’s something surprising that you’ve learned about customers during the pandemic? We maintained the view that we wouldn’t assume anything during the pandemic and would just watch, listen and respond, so on that basis, nothing really surprised us. Our use of data is insanely extensive, and it allows us to see trends and observe changes quickly and incredibly accurately. So, we have been able to make adjustments to supply, demand, preferences, behaviour and needs, very quickly. There is a great security and confidence that comes from that, and limits, or at least softens, any surprises. In saying that, we’re very thankful to all our customers for their continued support. Who are your business heroes and why? I am equally inspired by a school teacher and a nurse, as I am by a business leader, if those people are improving the lives of people around them and those who will come after them. Every person, regardless of their position, privilege or circumstances, has the opportunity to leave people and places better off for them having been there. I like to keep an eye out for examples of people doing this in daily life. It doesn’t take any effort to focus on the problems and the negatives. But looking for the inspiring moments, and the people who are improving things around them, is worth the effort.