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Ok, so while I’m documenting insights from successful leaders, I thought I would write a quick post about things I picked up while listening to Andrew Stevens, Managing Director of IBM Australia and New Zealand last week.

MTC - Andrew Stevens

As an AGSM alumnus, I get invited to the Meet the CEO series hosted by the University of NSW Australian School of Business. I’ve attended a couple of events before, where Cameron Clyne (CEO of National Australia Bank) and Alan Joyce (CEO of Qantas Airways Ltd) shared their views, and both times I came away with a sense of clarity about approaches to leadership and career management.

I don’t particularly want to dwell on everything Andrew said, since that can be watched on the recorded video, but rather the technology and leadership insights that I found interesting.

First realisation: I really need to go away and read the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. Both Andrew and David Thodey mentioned this paper in the same week, and that tells me I better read it and take a position on its content.


  • While there’s no easy and agreed-upon definition of what innovation in technology means, Andrew defined it as “the application of IT to create new services and business models”.
  • An increase in consumerisation is good for the consumer, because it puts pressure on businesses to deliver better. Big Data helps this by enabling greater segmentation – down to a market of one. This helps the consumer because they can be offered a targeted product or service that they desire at a price point that is within their statistically acceptable threshold.
  • Broadband: the economic utility of this era.

Management and Leadership

  • A good CEO provides a balance of
    • Realism – Analytical definition of the problem being faced
    • Hope – That individuals and the organisation is going forward instead of stagnating or regressing
    • Change management – Being able to move other people with you
  • Great leaders (for Andrew) apply principles from sport – regardless of how well the game plan has been understood and rehearsed, knowing when the game has changed and adapting to the situation.

Lots to absorb and think about from an hour’s interview.

Also, I’m reminded again about the other thing Andrew had in common with David – and in fact with the other two CEOs previously interviewed in the series that I’ve attended: the total and effortless ease with which they communicate. Definitely something I need to keep working on.