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Real Business : Autumn 2008
6 REAL BUSINESS AUTUMN 2008 GET THE EDGE What I've learned GAVIN SLATER FCPA IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL AUSTRALIA GROUP EUROPE, WHICH OPERATES CLYDESDALE BANK AND YORKSHIRE BANK IN THE UK ACCOUNTING TALENT HOT TO TROT A survey by human resource firm Talent2 has pinpointed tax accountants and financial controllers as two of the top three most in-demand jobs for 2008. The poll of more than 600 recruiters also placed learning and development, corporate social responsibility and internal communications managers in the list of the hottest occupations this year. FMCG brand managers, solutions architects, engineers of all types, as well as IT security and marketing campaign managers round out the top 10. success is being able to translate strategic intent into visual and achievable programs of work and actions. Often the seemingly impossible is best achieved one step at a time. Always look for opportunities for simplifying your business and processes. For example, just a few short years ago our business in the UK had over 1000 different products. We now have just over 100, and have increased our customer numbers by 7.4 per cent in the past year. We also had complex processes that had simply evolved without real challenge. Try to avoid over-engineering in everything you do. Whether it's a major organisational change or even a team presentation, giving your stakeholders a clear and simple understanding is invaluable. 4. Do what you do better Whatever it is you do, you should always strive to do it better next time. Top athletes always look to better their previous performance, and business should be no different. Take time to reflect on how you are doing things, and seek to identify ways in which you can improve your personal performance and that of the organisation. Most often it does not require wholesale change -- a few small changes can make a big difference. 5. Broaden your outlook In this fast-paced world, very little in business stands still, and you shouldn't either. While it may be tempting to remain within your comfort zone and maintain a narrow horizon, it's not a strategy I'd recom mend. Broad-based experience is invaluable, and you should never stop pushing yourself. Open your mind to possibilities, try new things and speak to new people. Never stop learning and don't forget to take time to look up and see the bigger picture. Having a healthy perspective on things is important. I've been fortunate to have worked on both sides of the world in roles that have provided constant challenges. Although Australia is home and I hope to return at some point, I've relished the opportunity to work in one of the world's great financial centres and to have been part of a momentous and positive change in our business. Nevertheless, I'm not finished broadening my outlook. That process never stops. n 1. Think like your customers Taking a step back and looking at things through the eyes of your customers is time well spent. Don't assume you know what they want -- ask them, improve things and then ask them again. The customer must be at the centre of the organisation. Our strategy has been to go "back to the future" and create a differentiated banking experience, almost as it was 20 years ago, with the local managers at the heart of the business community. Our business banking network has doubled in the past three years as a result of our approach. By thinking like our customers, we have been named the best business bank in the UK, and our call centre was named best in the world last year. 2. Find the right people OK, so this point is one that is more appropri- ate for those aspiring to management, but it applies to staff at all levels. Do not compromise on having the right quality people working with you. It starts with attitude. Employees with a positive and can-do attitude that pas- sionately believe in the brand and what the organisation is trying to achieve will always deliver more than those who are dispassionate and not too worried about the outcomes. 3. Keep it simple In a complex world, simplicity may be rare but it can be an incredibly powerful tool. A key to News Briefs LEARN TO LOVE YOUR SUPER A man. A woman. Unrequited love. But is everything as it seems? In a bid to get us talking about our superannuation, CPA Australia has produced a four-and-a-half-minute mockumentary, available on YouTube, based on the premise of a "man" in love with Kim --- the disinterested object of his affection. Read between the lines, and the real message is that people, at any stage of their working lives, need to learn to love their super. Kim wants to live in the moment. She would prefer to think about her financial future in the future. Will she eventually realise that her solemn suitor is what she really needs? EXTREME ACCOUNTING Finance professionals must complete specific training lasting several years before they qualify to practice. And the work they do from day to day requires rigour, discipline, excellent time management, and the setting and achieving of goals. Sound familiar? Those same attributes are required to be a successful athlete, and most particularly for extreme sports such as ironman triathlon (3.8km, 180km bike ride and a marathon), mountain climbing and the like. These disciplines demand considerable levels of dedication. It's little wonder finance professionals are over-respresented in these kinds of activities compared to other professions. gavin slater NET GAINS Visit the NAB website to find out more about careers with the bank: www.nab.com.au/About_Us/0,,2080,00.html NET GAINS You'll find the video at www. youtube.com/watch?v=hJALFjEJ8Go NET GAINS Check out www.extreme-accounting.com