Tuesday, 9 August 2011


“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

I’ve had another very full and tiring day in Sydney for work again today. However, at the end of it there was a great deal of satisfaction as much had been achieved. It was good to watch the dynamic of the team once again today and I was satisfied to have contributed in a positive manner to the business of the day. Many things come about in a way that is unexpected, and quite a lot of unplanned activities can contribute greatly to a fortuitous result. So it was today and after an impromptu group discussion that I contributed to, it was gratifying to be told by a few people that what I had talked about was inspiring. It is good to be able to do that and not really plan it. But I guess that is my job, to lead and inspire people.

One of the activities that we had to engage in today was to do some succession planning. This was part of risk-minimisation strategy where we had to think about the people in our organisation and consider possible successors to each of our roles. This of course gets harder the closer one gets to the top of the ladder. One has to consider all sorts of variables, the benefits of internal versus external appointments, performance management and training, as well as grooming of the most promising candidates. One has to give opportunities to people and provide pathways for training, further education, and the chance to get some practice at tasks that are a level above them.

In the academic field the hierarchy is fairly well defined and an able person, beginning at the bottom may gradually work their way up. Over the years, as such a person picks up experience, more knowledge and skills, ability to deal effectively with difficult situations and people, he or she is able to climb the hierarchical ladder. Its lowermost rungs are close to each other and easy to climb. The closer one gets to the top, however, the further apart the rungs become and when one is about to go for the topmost rung, it is well out of reach. There is only one way to attain this topmost position and that is to grow wings and fly to it. A good work environment provides the opportunities for the employees to sprout those wings and attain the topmost position in the hierarchy.

It is always difficult to deal with situations where a good internal candidate applies for a promotion to higher level and one also has to consider some good external applicants. My preference has always been to encourage and give chances to the internal candidates, preferring their appointment over an external applicant who is equivalent in skills and experience to them. When one has an external candidate who is better than the internal one, and one makes that external appointment, a situation could develop that is quite messy and can lead to some people management issues. One has to be assured that the human resources department is able to counsel, manage and support the unsuccessful internal candidates…

Our new campus is just opposite the Central Railway Station in Sydney so it is so easy to reach with the airport train. One avoids the traffic, pays about a third of the fare of a taxi ride and is at the airport in about 12 minutes. It is such a pity that Melbourne Airport does not have a train service. Both Sydney and Brisbane are served admirably by their airport trains. There is great efficiency and sustainability in solutions like this, which not only are beneficial for air travellers, but also reduce the road traffic considerably.


  1. That's great Nic, I wish I had a supportive work environment like that......

  2. Oh, I love the sprouting of wings to fly to the top! Seems to be a very poetic image for a rather prosaic thing, Nicholas...