Future Clicks Podcast: Bonus Episode—Futureproofing the Workforce

This bonus episode of the Industry Growth Centres Initiative podcast series, Future Clicks, focusses on futureproofing workforces.

Produced by the Industry Growth Centres Initiative

Delve deeper to explore how successful Australian businesses are futureproofing their workforce:

  • What guarantees success in a complex environment?
  • How do you punch above your weight?
  • Are managers a thing of the past?

Host: Bernie Hobbs

Special guests:

  • Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients
  • Matthew Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Penten
  • Tamryn Barker, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, CORE Innovation Hub


Introduction [00:00]


Bernie Hobbs, Host: Welcome to Future Clicks, a podcast about the future of Australian industries, produced by the Australian Government's Industry Growth Centres Initiative. I'm science journalist, Bernie Hobbs. In this four-part series, we'll dive into the new opportunities facing Australian businesses, workplace skills of the future, pioneering industries and industry pioneers, and why going global is more achievable than ever. Don't forget to subscribe and find out where our Future Clicks can lead you and your business.

What guarantees success in a complex environment? How do you punch above your weight? Are managers a thing of the past? In this bonus episode, we bring together guests from Episode One, Tamryn Barker, Matthew Wilson, and Diem Fuggersberger, to answer these questions and more. This is Future Clicks.

Discussion: Changing Skillsets [01:05]

Bernie Hobbs, Host: If I could just ask each of you, Tamryn, Matthew, and Diem what kind of skillsets do you think a lot of businesses will be looking for now? Just seeing the changes that you've seen in industry in the last years.

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten: Certainly from a cyber perspective in the more traditional science areas, there's no doubt that machine learning in AI is a rapidly growing technology space within our sector, and being able to find those skills, and in those skills, that are applicable to cybersecurity. Genuinely, it's a challenge.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Tamryn, you must be nodding away where you are-

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Yes.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Because that just resonates so strongly with what you were saying.

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Absolutely. Yeah, from the resources sector’s point-of-view, dataset skills, digital capability, things in that direction. So, machine learning and artificial intelligence. One of the community groups that we foster in the hub is meetup that is relatively new. In six months, it grew from three people to five hundred members, which is up-skilling on a voluntary basis, this community group on machine learning capabilities.

So, there's an understanding at the grassroots level that people need to be prepared, and there's definitely an appetite for it in the sectors.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: And Diem, in the food sector, very different from those high-tech sectors…

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: Yeah.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: What sorts of skills are businesses looking for?

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: The skills, I think, that are in my area, is everyone can produce food, but we have to produce food with our skills – as in new innovation. The food has to be very unique. But I think also we have to really tell a good story, had the right purpose and really understand our social media and connecting with the clients, the consumer and the community. Yeah.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: So that communication and again that soft skill-

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: Yeah, that comm[unication]s… that soft skill. Yeah.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: We've been talking about.

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: Yeah.

Discussion: Collaboration is Key [02:57]

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Do you each think that just the skills alone are enough to futureproof the workforce or are there other things we should be doing?

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten: I mean it's about skills, it’s about kind of experience and context and opportunity really isn’t it? You know, skills are one [of the] elements of it. I kind of look at it that skills are something that could be learned. There's attitude and aptitude you start with, but it's also about the right environment to be successful and to be able to grow within that space. Certainly, in cyber there's been a very big, and continues to be a very big, focus on what is described as the global cyber skills shortage, which is very, very real.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: You might want to talk to someone like Tamryn and get a bit of a collaboration hub going on there.

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Yeah.

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten: Yeah.

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: I was going to add to what Matthew said that I think collaboration is very important because you’ve got to see what the collaboration is out there. For example, in my food industry, I like to collaborate with the university, so the educational part. I want to actually add to what I know, how you run a food business and how you come out of it, a winning, a success business.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Great, and Tamryn?

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Yes. It's definitely one area if you're not creating those opportunities to actually build capacity – so not just capability – to build capacity for, as Matthew was speaking to about his experience, for companies to actually scale and grow alongside the evolving problems or challenges that the sector is experiencing. So, I think collaboration is a great way, as Diem was saying, is a great way to test out new business models and to open up new opportunities for how a business can work and can run. She might not have otherwise thought of traditionally.

Discussion: Complex Projects and the Importance of Culture [00:00]

Bernie Hobbs, Host: That brings us nicely to – I mean, we've talked a bit about skills of people and, you know, who you might recruit and how to help make your business stronger with that. But, what about management styles? Have you noticed management styles changing over time? Is there anything that stands out that could also help managing into the future?

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: I can jump in there just because we had a great speaker in our space the other week. I spend a good part of my time trying not to be managed, if you like that’s why I’m always working in these kinds of things.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: [Laughs].

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: I mean that with respect to managers because I know it's a very, very, very challenging skillset that needs to be developed. I think it's ... You have to have a real passion for caring for people and for taking workforces on a journey. What this expert ... Sorry, his name is Ed Merrow. He's done research on why mega projects fail or succeed, mega projects being in the order of a billion dollars upwards.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Yeah.

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Very complex projects. And his deep analysis came to a very, very clear conclusion, which is a great plan doesn't necessarily guarantee success, but it does guarantee failure if you don't have one, but it doesn't guarantee success. What guarantee success in a complex environment is the type of management style that inspires cooperation.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Cooperation within the organisation and without the organisation like, from –

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Yeah, externally. Yes. Yeah. I mean that's what we see. What I'm excited about in anticipating that it's not going to be as rigid as we understand it to be.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Yeah. It will require people who can really balance fear and trust to have that openness to cooperation. So yeah, that's going to be a big skill set. Did you want to add anything to that Matthew?

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten: I had a friend of mine a few years ago had a saying that he wouldn't stop telling me and that is that "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". And, to me it does and I’ve kind of taken that in the way that we've kind of built the same here and built the leaders within the organisation. Look – at the end of the day, we hire adults and we hire people that are better than us. So, I'm not going to sit there and deliver a prescriptive‑style environment for those individuals. It doesn't promote creation, and creation is where all of our value has come from.

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: Yeah. I love that. If I could just jump in, I absolutely love that because it's ‘mission is boss’, right? So, you're inspired by the mission, not by your manager. So, yeah, I love that – 'culture eats strategy for breakfast'.

Discussion: How to Punch Above Your Weight [07:29]

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Now the final question I just want to put to you is, we'll have smaller businesses listening and all smaller businesses are wanting to punch above their weight, like maybe going after big contracts or making inroads overseas. Have you got any tips for smaller businesses who are looking at doing just that, Diem?

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: I think capacity is very, very important. I just give you an example. I actually, I'm a family business but my clients are medium-large, corporate or multinational. So, all those big retailers are our customers. I think you have to be very, very mindful of capacity and financials. For small business, if you're a good business and you've got a good name and you've got a premium product, you will always get the customer, but you have to plan very diligently. That's what I think.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Thank you.

Diem Fuggersberger, Founder, Berger Ingredients: Yeah.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Tamryn?

Tamryn Barker, Co-Founder and CEO CORE Innovation Hub: I think it’s just to take opportunities that are less, less formal. So obviously for startups there's a lot of opportunities for grant funds and mentoring and networking support and that sort of thing that the States and Federal Governments have been proactive in that in the last few years. But, I would suggest other things like hubs like CORE and meetup groups, say, that provide opportunities for smaller companies also to test out their ideas, to continue to validate their product and to make important decisions around hiring and that sort of thing.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Great, and Matthew?

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten: Yeah, from looking to punch above your weight, look for force multipliers, and that can come in all different shapes and sizes, but they are genuinely there for small businesses. You can lean on customers to tell your story, you can lean on partnerships to fix weaknesses that you might have in relation to your offering. You can look at leaning on the brands of others to be able to help establish your position of trust as you’re looking to grow and compete with larger organisations. Existing supply chains have weaknesses, there are gaps there. Look for others to help you in trying to meet those gaps.

Bernie Hobbs, Host: Thanks for listening. The Industry Growth Centres Initiative is an industry‑led approach supported by the Australian Government to foster growth and help create the jobs of the future. Don't forget to subscribe to receive the latest episodes and find ‘Industry Growth Centres’ online and on Facebook for all the latest news and opportunities for Australian businesses.


End [10:21]

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