Thank you to all our attendees at Tuesday morning’s sell-out event. We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did. We were privileged to hear from Qantas CEO and Managing Director, leader of Australia’s most desirable workplace and the overseer of one of the most impressive turnaround stories in global aviation – Tallaght man Alan Joyce.
Alan gave his time, his expertise and his advice generously, keeping the audience captive with an account of his path to his current position, elaborating on lessons he had learned, and his leadership philosophy. The key point for him? Diversity. From growing up recognising that his three brothers and himself were all very different, but equally talented, to seeing the benefits in Aer Lingus, and later Jetstar and Qantas of surrounding himself with people who think differently, ask the questions he can’t think of and challenge his views, Alan is a firm advocate and an inspirational example of how diversity can bring corporate success.
Charting his journey in the aviation industry, starting off as a graduate in Aer Lingus, and from there to Ansett, Qantas, Jetstar and back to Qantas, Alan took us through the highs and lows, from the revenue losses suffered after 9/11, grounding the fleet in the same year, to the success story of Jetstar, and the position Qantas finds itself in now – record profits, and highest ever levels of customer and staff engagement.
It’s an enviable record, and probably the most valuable takeaways from this morning were his key lessons on what has helped him achieve this:
Thinking big – means thinking differently, changing the status quo of your business, and not looking for the ‘faster horse’ but for the motor car, as Henry Ford did.
Navigating complexity – as you rise in an organisation you get access to more and more information and data – don’t get bogged down. The job of a good leader is to stay at 30,000 feet. Drop down to 5,000 when you feel uncomfortable with something, but otherwise, fly high and trust others around you to manage the day to day.
Being humble – be a person that always believes you don’t have all the answers – be curious, challenge yourself, be prepared to change your mind. One of the greatest achievements of a leader is to bring together people from different backgrounds who can challenge each other and you.
Be yourself – Having a workplace where people can’t be themselves, whether its women, indigenous Australians or people who identify as LGBTI is not only bad for them, but bad for your organisation. In a democracy, we have an obligation to speak up when we see injustice. As a CEO my voice is louder, so I stand up for those whose voices are often not heard. Corporate social responsibility is what good organisations and good leaders do, because it’s right – but also because it builds trust in your brand, loyalty and reputation.
Predictions and philanthropy
Alan also spoke on the key challenges and opportunities he sees coming down the track from a few megatrends: new growth of geopolitical and economic centres, changing demographics, climate change impact and big data and digital revolution. He spent time answering some really great questions from an engaged and enthusiastic audience. We probably had another hour’s worth of questions to go if we had the time.
Lastly, and obviously most importantly (!) Alan talked about his appreciation for the work the Ireland Funds Australia do, and about his time as Chairperson. He encouraged the audience to support the organisation and the charities we fund through becoming a Young Leader.
Yvonne Le Bas – Chair of the Ireland Funds Australia, gave a warm welcome to Alan and expressed her thanks and appreciation for both his support and the role of the Young Leaders in the work of the Fund. The session was ably chaired by our new Young Leaders Sydney Chairperson, John Gallagher. Our huge thanks to sponsors Clyde and Co for hosting, and Tourism Ireland for their generous sponsorship and provision of goodie bags for our guests on the day.