I just don’t get it …

By Justine Eden

Getting older is an interesting thing, it gives you perspective and context and as youJustine mature, a greater level of self-perception, so that you no longer self doubt quite as much. On the down side you are less tolerant, more cynical and openly vocal when you don’t agree with something……

So I’m putting it out there – what’s with cocktails in jam jars?! Or de-constructed food with foam and pieces of bark? The other day I saw an article about a restaurant in Melbourne that hangs pieces of dehydrated food on a mini Hills Hoist – and charge you a fortune for the experience! And what’s all this fuss about Paleo??

And while I’m on it, what with the footpaths in Brisbane?! It almost compels me to go into local politics on the platform (get it?!) of fixing the pavements for all those (like me) breaking heels and tripping over cracks and holes in the footpaths.   Seriously, the pavements in Denpasar are in better condition!

Traffic jams – why can’t we have a staggered start time for work and schools so we are not all on the roads at the same time, fighting to get somewhere – aging while we sit in the traffic scowling at the person in the car next to us trying to get into our lane. And why do they do road works and close lanes in peak hour???

Ok – I’m on a roll, airlines. Why does it have to take so long to get on and off a plane? Why is the food SO BAD? Why is it such a surprise to get a flight attendant who is happy to help you. Why do I get selected for explosives testing every time I make it through the security check? And don’t get me started on people with carry on luggage and the lack of space for your things.

Call me old fashioned, but I hate self-serve checkouts, they never work and take longer. And why can’t we have drive through petrol stations or the ability to pay at the pump?? Why is petrol so expensive? Even when the Aussie $ was high we still didn’t get reduced petrol prices.

Saying that, I’m quite prepared to pay for service, and don’t you notice great service when you get it these days?! In fact, average service has become the norm. No wonder we are all thirsting for new, better, different – and when we find it we flock to it.

It’s the small things that make the difference, a smile, a hand written card, even a thank you. Maybe I am showing my age……

What we need is new, different and better…….

By Justine Eden
Justine

In a recent article (AFR 20/3/14) Karen Stocks, Twitter’s Australian MD discussed how her male mentors made her think more aggressively about pushing herself and believing in herself.  They stated that if she aspired to be CEO she had to be more aggressive in pushing for it.  Appointed as CEO in September 2013, the article stated that Karen Stocks has an accounting background and is a mother to two teenage daughters.  I found it interesting that that aspect was subtly thrown in….

Another article in the same edition of AFR listed the statistics of women in leadership teams for the country’s top accounting, legal and investment banking firms.  At Goldman Sacs out of 54 MD’s only 4 are women, but yet 91% of support staff are women.  In the legal profession, women are equally represented at the special counsel/senior associate level but at Clayton Utz, women only represent 20% of partners.  The current debate at political level is that “gender reporting data is critical to driving change” (Helen Conway, Director Workplace Gender Equality Agency).  Maybe, but is that a simplistic approach to a systemic issue?

Maybe many women don’t buy into what it takes to get to the “top”?  Particularly at traditional “institutions” such as many of those firms dominating the legal, banking and accounting professions.  Often those firms are characterized by the level of male domination and many existing in them are determined this will continue through embedded cultures and inflexible working structures.  The subtle expectation is often that women will opt out or settle at a level because of reasons such as children.

New players challenging the status quo in these professions have the top tier firms taking note; emerging professional services firms are picking off some of their top talent.  Hive Legal, a virtual firm, was established to “challenge the status quo”  (Lawyers Weekly, 20/2/14), their team can work remotely and this “gives experienced lawyers the opportunity work more flexibly”.  Watch this space, as this firm has already picked up big name clients and talent to join their ranks.

Maybe many of us are just over the grind?  The lack of inflexibility in workplaces impacts both genders, and the politics and constant focus on revenue and cutting costs can be exhausting.  I believe it’s as multi-dimensional as we are.  Women often don’t see themselves as ready to contest the “top” job.  Workplaces and cultures need reform.  But bring on the new breed I say and do it faster!  Because what we need is a lift in engagement, productivity, flexibility and creativity….

Remind me again – Why am I doing this?

JustineWritten by: By Justine Eden

 

Ever found yourself doing something and wondering why you wanted to do this in the first place?  Or perhaps you agreed to do something as a favor to someone you respect, but ended up regretting getting involved?  I have.

Unfortunately my forays into doing “community” based endeavors have not always played out as I imagined.  I went in really excited – feeling it was an opportunity to contribute back to a community that I had lived in as well as get involved in a different sector that interested me.

While these ventures have been wonderful as far as meeting new people and building new friendships what’s surprised me is how often dysfunctional these organisations are.  Boards are usually made up of strong personalities use to being the “captain at the helm, calling the shots”.

I believe that when you are responsible for public funds the need for transparency and governance is absolute and that’s something I take very seriously.  From the way cash is collected and controlled through to the way funds are spent and what it is spent on – there has to be a clear objective that everyone is aware of and the majority agrees on.

Many community-based organisations are run by volunteers who may or may not have a business background, but still bring a myriad of skills that are valuable in every respect.  Discussions seem to take longer to reach a resolution and often you don’t get a consensus but I don’t think that is a bad thing, just sometimes frustrating.

There’s no doubt that most people have the best intentions, but too often hidden agendas and power plays seem to get in the way of appropriate “corporate citizen” behavior.  Many have been immersed in the organization for considerable periods of time and therefore struggle with the new and emerging landscape, where to remain viable you have to change.

There’s a lot of good being done, of course, but like anything, it has to resonate with you.  There needs to be a fit and a connection where you feel like you are making a contribution to the greater good.  For me, its early days and I’m not saying that I am totally giving up, but I have been left wondering if it just not for me……..

Happy 18th Birthday Eden Ritchie Recruitment!!

JustineBy Justine Eden

Hard to believe that our business is 18!  It only seems like yesterday that Kim and I decided to leave our jobs, put everything on the line and start our own business.  It was a big risk but I believe that had we not have taken that path neither of us would still be in the industry.  Recruitment is a rewarding and relentless profession, and sometimes not overly professional!  With two sets of customers, it is often impossible to meet everyone’s expectations.

When we started electronic job boards, social media and electronic networking did not exist.  I was never convinced that these new developments would mean the death knell for recruiters, as many in the business community predicted.  In business you have to adapt and reinvent yourself and leverage new developments to maximize your opportunities, and technology has given recruitment that.

I believe that to remain relevant you have to have your foundation – which to me are my values.  These include (but are not limited) to quality, responsiveness, empathy, professionalism and trust.  Back in 1996, Kim and I felt like our industry just wasn’t offering much of that, and that we could address that by starting our own business.  To a large extent we have succeeded and stayed true to our values, even when sometimes that drove people working for us crazy as we are not prepared to compromise.  You can’t keep everyone happy.

Kim and I have always been accused of not stopping to “smell the roses”, and over the 18 years I have learnt that relying on what you had last week is dangerous.  Two of the best decisions we have made in business was to leverage relationships and move into different recruitment specialisations.  The other was to not heavily gear ourselves and be beholden to the banks.  Growing organically is a more conservative way to go, but with low debt you can sleep at night.

Ultimately I think anyone who is in recruitment for the long term sticks at it because of the people.  I have been fortunate to meet a huge number of people working in all sorts of organisations and in every profession.  I love hearing their stories (sure some are more interesting than others) – but the relationships you build over time are precious.   It means a lot to me when I get a referral and I love the fact that many of our foundation customers still do business with us.

So thanks to the candidates, the employers and our team, because your support and encouragement fuels our fire.

The Infrastructure Future is looking bright!!

By: Nikki ChapmanNikki Harding

So with the festive season now a blurred distant memory, we again begin to speculate what’s going to be different this year from last? What projects will magically appear to drag our current unemployment rate down from 6%  – the worst figures in almost a decade.

Well here’s some food for thought, currently in Queensland alone there is almost $5.5 billion worth of infrastructure, road and rail projects currently up for grabs with the ‘expression of interest’ or EOI’s being sent out, or tenders currently underway.

Some of these projects include:

  • Toowoomba second range crossing valued at $1.7billion
  • Gateway motorway upgrade valued at $1.2billion
  • Kingsford Smith drive upgrade valued at $650million
  • The Under River Tunnel valued at $2.2billion.

These projects although not beginning in some cases until early to mid 2015, will require numerous skill sets prior to construction, especially in the estimating, planning, contracts and procurement spaces as well as conceptual and detailed design and engineering, creating a flow on effect for other areas.

So whilst the market may seem bleak at present, there is a silver lining on that cloud of skepticism, and whilst I don’t have a crystal ball I do believe that with a sense of renewed confidence we can optimistically look forward to what looks to be a much better year for those looking to grab hold of the next challenging role in their career.

Executive Exhaustion

By Justine Eden, Director Eden Ritchie RecruitmentJustine

Recently speaking at a UNSW Australian School of Business event, John Borghetti stated that he gets up at 3am on Sundays to catch up on the 4-500 emails he gets each day….  And that’s after an extremely efficient EA culls the majority.

David Jones CEO Paul Zhara resigned late last year for personal reasons, stating “he is tired”.

Courageous or crazy?  Many would covet Paul’s job, the parties, the fashion, the people – but the relentless pressure to perform 24/7 while staying true to yourself and those important to you – may not be for everyone…

For most operating at the “C level” the pressure to perform is relentless, with pressure on results coming from many angles.  These executives are expected to respond to changing customer preferences, social demographics impacting on demand, exchange and interest rate impacts, political imperatives and rapidly changing technology.  And these are only a few of the challenges.

Authentic leaders need to balance the strategic with the operational – walk the floor and know their people but set the direction to navigate their organisation through future challenges.  They are required to be strong and confrontational when necessary, but both humble and inspirational to capture the hearts and mind of a diverse workforce – one that may comprise multi generations, ethnicities and technical expertise.

Many of us don’t aspire to be the CEO of a large organisation, but throughout our career, most of us will experience the overwhelming feeling of just carrying too much.  How you respond to that both outwardly and inwardly can either be a benefit or a curse.

Some are not prepared to ask for help, thinking they will be seen in a negative light, others are too proud to think that they just can’t do it all themselves.  Many end up exhausted and angry, reacting badly – leaving others around them to judge them by their bad behaviour – rather than seeing the outcomes they’ve delivered.

Whilst tablets and mobile phones allow us to work out of the office, the 24/7 addiction to checking new emails, texts and calls can invade our lives.   Go out to any restaurant on a busy night and notice how many people are on their phones rather than talking to their dinner companions!

Bottom line there is no simple answer.  Whether it’s surrounding yourself with the best people, delegating effectively, using only the latest technology or setting rules as to when and how you handle your inbox; those effective leaders would say it’s a combination of several things.

At the center of it all is discipline.  By that I mean the discipline to purposefully adhere to an efficient working style, consistently and never wavering.  This goes for out of work as well, whether it’s fitness, personal development or networking – all things need to happen on a frequent and consistent basis.

Keeping an active watch on both the present and future and being agile enough to respond is essential regardless of your level.  Being an active participant in your life, setting the course and forward direction, rather than being a passenger and going with the flow……

Electronic Health Records

Kylene Reynolds

By Kylene Reynolds

On reading various articles relating to the Electronic Health Record, this was of particular interest due to the failure of doctor’s engagement.

Early November, it was announced by the Federal Health Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton, that a review will occur for Australia’s struggling Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) program.

A year after the introduction of the electronic health records system, only a fraction of Australians have established a record and for those who have, only a few hundred doctors have added a Shared Health Summary.  Hon Dutton advised, “this defeats the purpose of having a national, electronic system that is meant to help save lives”.  The government fully supports the concept of electronic health records but it must be fit for purpose and cost effective.

A specialist panel will conduct the review into the personally controlled electronic health record system dealing with various issues.   The Panel will make findings and recommendations to the Minister.

If all clinicians are fully educated and well supported, they will be able to deliver a real solution that utilizes technology to deliver better, and more informed healthcare.   It seems simple enough, take a doctor or other health professional, and add a computer and the result is ehealth.  So basically that means that almost every healthcare interaction from primary care through secondary care, acute care in a hospital, public health interaction, all the way through to healthcare funding at the highest level, is to some degree affected by ehealth.

With electronic health records (EHRs), information is available whenever and wherever it is needed by both the health care professionals and patients.   EHRs provide accurate, up-to-date and complete information about patients at the point of care; enable quick access to patient records for more coordinated, efficient care and ability to securely shared electronic information with patients and other clinicians.    This most certainly has to be of benefit to all involved – with the ultimate outcome of saving lives.