Thread Publishing sat down with Andrew Stevens, former Managing Director of IBM Australia and New Zealand and a Male Champion of Change, to learn more about his commitment to workplace equality – and, tied up in this, equality of opportunity.
Opening question: What advice would you give to a school leaver or university graduate who wants to create a career that matters?
- Be the architect of your career
Looking back on my career I think the ultimate piece of advice I could give to someone starting out, or wanting to start over, is to create some kind of architecture around your career. In other words, have an objective in mind or a point in the compass where you’re heading.
This way, you can still make decisions based on opportunities and challenges, but you always have this frame of reference to go back to, to steer you on the path that you want to go on.
My frame of reference was that I always wanted to run a business. I had no idea that I would end up being the Managing Director of IBM Australia and New Zealand, but the idea of building a portfolio of skills and experience – and even the network that goes with running a business – this was there from the start. These kinds of skills are consistent with running a business, whether you own it, or are an employee.
- Have purpose
Purpose is so important, and its become more important to me as my life has gone on. Try to find a way to link your career plan and your objective for life with your purpose. If you can do this, it can give you enormous energy. You will have to work hard for what you want, but having a clear purpose provides the goal and fuel for the work required.
My purpose has always been to make the world work better, which sounds vast but it’s what attracted me to the information technology industry in the first place. Through big data and analytics, the power of software and social media, mobility and the cloud, we can really do things to create a ‘butterfly effect’.
The so-called ‘butterfly effect’ starts small yet its impact can be massive. A small entrepreneur can move the needle for the world. And I think that’s the joy of information and communications technology – the trade-offs within the physical world are reduced in many ways by the IT world, and that’s a good thing.
- Think big
The third one is to think big. You’ve got to link the three elements here: have the objective or a career plan in mind, link it with your purpose, and then think big and be bold. Because if you are big and bold, and you fall a bit short, you’ve still achieved a lot.
I heard a fantastic thing the other day: ‘A bold person won’t live forever but a conservative person won’t live at all.’ That resonated with me.
The Male Champions of Change (MCC) is a collaborative initiative of corporate and institutional leaders convened by Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission. Male Champions of Change, once awarded, are members of the organisation for life.
Andrew Stevens is a former IBM Managing Director. He is a member of the Business Council of Australia, the Council of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, and on the Business Advisory Council at the University of New South Wales.
Written by Thread Publishing (threadpublishing.com) in support of Male Champions of Change. Connecting the world one story at a time to bring humanity back into business. © 2014
Learn more about Male Champions of Change. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/male-champions-change