Even though I’ve been back at work since early-January, I always think of Australia Day as the true end of the summer holidays and the official kick-off point for the new work year. Kids head back to school, there’s barely an empty desk, and soon the peak hour traffic will be back to its halting grind for all the city slickers!
But I love Australia Day. It prompts so many different conversations about who we are and what it means to be Australian. This year I took a moment to reflect on what it means to be an Australian at work.
I remember during my first few years of work that a few of my friends took a gap year to travel the world. Many based themselves in London and I was surprised how easily they got jobs. I learnt then that Australians were seen as hard-working and were popular recruits whether it be a bar, a coffee shop or a corporate office. I remember being surprised at the time because I’d always thought of us Aussies as very happy-go-lucky, but it seems we show initiative, get stuck in, and we don’t shy away when the going gets tough. The Australian Spirit is alive and well, and I am proud of the leadership, courage and resilience role modelled across our country in the face of the on-going bush fire crisis. When I think about it now, maybe the English knew our value even before we did ourselves!
I’m sure there are a number of reasons we’re like this and I’d love to hear what you think, but here is just one that came to mind for me.
We live at the “edge of the world”. Just like those people who live on remote farms and stations have to rely on their own ideas and their own skills to solve problems, our country had been, until the recent wave of technological interconnectedness, globally remote. Before it was all laid out on the internet we had to be imaginative, creative and experimental in how we solved problems. And there’s ample evidence that we are good at it! The Hills Hoist, the Black Box flight recorder, the electric drill, the Cochlear implant, WiFi technology to name just a few. I think this is still a great strength of Australians and one I hope we hold onto with pride.
I’ve had the privilege to work with a number of global companies and observe first-hand how we rate as leaders, professionals, employees and business owners. I think we’re right up there and, despite our small population, we punch above our weight. You’ll find Australians working all over the world and I know that we continue to be popular recruits for roles at the very highest levels in business.
So as this Australia Day passes and the energy of the new year builds a full head of steam, I am proud to be a professional and a business owner in this country. I believe deeply in our world-class business capabilities, and I hope we will all continue to embrace the ideas, initiatives, inventions and leadership efforts that reflect our dinky-di home-grown strengths!