Tag Archives: football

Careers – Why did you leave?


9 January 1986 marked an important day for me – it was my first day of my working life after leaving school.

Just recently I “relived” my journey from that day and the decisions I made along the way; holidays are good for that (sometimes). More on these decisions further on.

It just happened to be exactly 31 years later on 9 January 2017 when I was sitting in a restaurant with friends including three 17 year old boys (including one of my own) while on holiday in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast when talk turned to what these kids were going to do in life.

With the three of them heading into their final year of high school this year, the discussion turned to how big a year it is for them, that they get a decent VCE score that will enable to have more choices in what they can do at university and/or in the work force, etc.

They asked me how my final year in high school was, what I studied at university, what my first job was and finally how did I get to where I am today.

Immediately I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want them to know that I didn’t do my final year in high school and didn’t go to university (until much later anyway). Why? Simply for me, I believe the professional world has changed and finishing high school with an eye to further education is much more important for these kids; I didn’t want to give them an out.

I didn’t want them thinking “if you didn’t do it and have done ok then it can’t be that important”. So what did I do? I preceded to tell them the whole story – why I left school, why it was different then, what I did, what steps I took and what chances I took.

Did it help them? I hope so. Did it help me? Yep. I actually found it very therapeutic to trace back my steps from my last days in high school, exactly 31 years to the day.

Today with LinkedIn it’s pretty easy to get a quick overview of someone’s work experience path but what we don’t always see and appreciate is the decisions or reasons each takes in each “fork in the road”.

Here’s a quick snippet of some of my big decision points:

Leaving school
I didn’t mind school, my marks were good and wasn’t looking to leave after Year 11 but dad thought that since he left aft Year 11 and had done ok then maybe I should. A job as a trainee computer operator was up at a company a friend of his was at and he “strongly” encouraged me to apply.

I got the job at Idaps Australia and started 9 January 1986 when I was 17 years 42 days old. As a comparison, my son was 17 years 75 days old for the chat described earlier (my older boy was 20 years 44 days old on this day, has completed high school and two years at university).

I must point out that although I started as a trainee computer operator my interest level and/proficiency in computers and technology was very close to zero.

Leaving Idaps
Life as a trainee computer operator (on IBM mainframes) at Idaps was great – 3 weeks of shift work, 2×12 hour shifts every 4th weekend and then 7 days off, again every 4th week. It was during 1986 however, that I found myself at Richmond Football Club at about Round 9 playing in the U19s which then led to me being appointed Captain in 1987. Juggling shift work with U19’s football was ok but as I entered the Richmond senior pre-season I had to make a decision.

I left Idaps (or more to the point I left shift work) after nearly 2 years so I could train properly for football and during 1988 I undertook a Diploma in Computer Programming at the Control Data Institute. This was a 6 month “intensive” course which I finished in August 1988.

On 10 October 1988 I started life as a computer programmer with Reynolds & Reynolds under the tutelage of Greg Roebuck. I was still only 19 years 316 days of age.

Leaving Reynolds
I spent over 10 1/2 years at Reynolds helping to develop, support and grow the best Dealer Management System in Asia Pacific. I got to spearhead some of defining products for the company including parts priority orders which became the building block for us to build CLERA, real time automated parts ordering between dealers. The technology used here then led to real time automated vehicle uploading and not long after that, carsales.

This was around me turning 30 though (this was significant to me for whatever reason) and I was fighting with two lessons from my dad – 1) keep loyal and you will get looked after and 2) if you want get anywhere do it yourself.

It was at this time that a colleague probably saw that our skills matched to do something ourselves. He didn’t talk me into leaving but I highly doubt I would have left without his influence. During May 1999 we started Digital Motorworks in Australia (DMi as it was known) and left Reynolds.

Leaving DMi
Like Reynolds I learnt an enormous amount running DMi from startup. The first 4 years saw me looking primarily after the technology side but with high interaction in deal making. We were acquired by ADP and then my partner left the business meaning I was CEO from July 2003 through May 2009.

DMi grew top and bottom line healthily each year but investment was drying up and we were servicing primarily a legacy environment so I completed a Masters in Business Systems as “personal insurance”. During 2008 I started talking with Greg Roebuck about a range of opportunities at carsales including partnerships, JV’s, etc and finally he said “come and work for carsales”.

I started at carsales on 9 June 2009. Greg Roebuck has announced his retirement this week and Cam McIntyre steps into the chair. I’ve worked directly for Greg for over 18 years so it feels like the start of a new journey and I have lots of unfinished business with carsales under Cam.

In reality, the decisions I’ve had to make in relation to may career have been pretty straight forward compared to many. I’ve never jumped around for more money, there’s always been much more to it. I like it that way.

NB Please don’t associate this post as anything predicating me leaving carsales.


Football v Career – Actions Defined by Subconscious Thinking


Have you ever thought about your subconscious actions and how they affect the course of your life?

I am amazed at how our subconscious thinking defines our actions; when I think back now to the late 80’s, early 90’s it was my subconscious thinking that drove actions that set the shape of my professional life.
20160710_CareerAdvice
This was when I commenced my employment with Reynolds & Reynolds in the automotive technology space (the space I am still around today) and played my first AFL Senior season in that same year (VFL back then).

Now looking back, the path that both of those took is a lesson in itself. This is not about me looking back thinking “what if” (maybe a little, sometimes) but more a real lesson in what shapes our beliefs and ultimate actions.

Football
I loved football and still do but it has never been my life nor did I ever set out for it to be my life. I didn’t work hard to play AFL, it just “happened”. One week I was playing local U18 football (no training, out on Friday nights before a game) and the next week I was playing with Richmond U19s, appointed Captain the following season and played my first senior AFL game the year. Yes I did all the hard training including the long pre-season but nothing extra or out of the ordinary (unfortunately). Football was just meant to be fun.
20160407_PBFooty1988
Technology
Now I compare that with my software development career which kicked off in the same year. Almost from the start I was driven to do more and be better than the other programmers. I quickly got a reputation for not letting something go before it was done. That meant late nights, weekends, etc, going above and beyond, doing the extra work.

Dad always said to me about working to “work hard, be loyal and you’ll get looked after”. Football to me was always short term thinking. Work, my profession, has always been thinking about the long term.

What if I worked my butt off in football to get every bit I could out of myself? What would I be doing now? It might be exactly the same. It might be different. I don’t really care and don’t dwell on it because I made that choice many years ago subconsciously and divided by effort/time accordingly (or maybe I subconsciously knew where my talents really were….).

I still love football and I am still involved today as a Board member of the EFL and through my kids playing. It is and always has been an outlet for me. Would I have loved to have played more senior AFL football? Definitely but not necessarily at the cost of what I’m doing today. Remember too, it wasn’t fully professional back then either and let’s face it, I was never going to be in the elite bracket!

I like to think I’ve “worked hard, been loyal and been looked after” to get to where I am today so I’m pretty happy with my lot and it was my subconscious thinking that defined it for me.

Have you thought about your journey and how you made it to where you are today?


Building For The Future


20160614_BuildingForTheFuture

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to draw parallels between business and sport. Here’s one of those.

Our carsales‘ CEO regularly says to us that we should be aiming to build a business where our kids will work.

I love this as an aim as it promotes a long term sustainable view on building the business. This is an important balance for our company as we look to build shareholder value.

I also love the thought of my kids working at carsales. I’ve spent the past 20 years doing all I can to help them grow and this would put icing on the cake for me.

In late 2002 one of my best mates told me he was thinking of coaching our then local football club, Rowville. This was a big move. Rowville had finished 8th of 9 teams in 4th Division meaning it was effectively ranked 38 of 39 teams in the Eastern Football League (EFL). It was rabble (in their words)and not just in performance on the field, the culture was shot.
20160614_2003Rowville1
Not only this but he had spent the previous 18 years at VFA and 1st Division level. This was a big drop so the question was why? “Our kids are going to play at Rowville and I don’t want them playing 4th Division so let’s get the club up to 1st Division by the time they are playing senior footy”, he said.

Fair call, I was in. I came in as assistant coach/chairman of selectors and dusted off the boots after two years retirement to play as well. We pulled together around a dozen mates and mates of mates most of which were 30 plus but had played higher levels of football. The club was nervous of putting “dad’s army” (their words) out on the park but we assured them that we’ll go ok and start the rebuild of the club to move up Divisions.

In 2003 Rowville did not lose a game to be Premiers and Champions with an average winning margin of 85 points. We moved up to 3rd Division in 2004 again winning the Premiership and losing just the 1 game through the season.
20160614_2003Rowville2
It was time to execute the next stage of the plan. Most of the old guys like myself, finally retired after the 2004 win to bring through more ex-juniors who we were blooded over the previous 2 years. In 2005 in 2nd Division with a different looking side, Rowville made its 3rd Grand Final in a row, this one a little unexpectedly. It was a blessing they lost that one as they weren’t ready for the premier division just yet.

Fast forward to 2012 with my mate back at the helm as coach after a few years off and I was back as assistant coach. With a side containing 19 (out of 22) ex-juniors, Rowville wins the 2nd Division premiership to win promotion to 1st Division. The plan was complete, nearly.

Our kids weren’t playing senior footy quite yet so the club needed to consolidate in 1st Division. Well in 2016 my mate is now President of the club and they are well and truly in the top half of 1st Division with great kids coming through; kids that we have both coached through the juniors as well. The future was built. Sustained performance had improved through a complete change in culture.
20160614_2003Rowville3
As with our long term strategic direction at carsales, Rowville had a plan that they executed and now can provide a great environment for our kids to enjoy at a professional, high level. I take my hat off to my good mate for following through to a great achievement.

Plan, execute and enjoy the fruits – build for the future. This is the mission at carsales too.