IF SHE HAD A DOLLAR for every time someone asked what Dreamtime was, Aunty Munya Andrews says she’d be a very rich woman.

Ms Andrews, who is an Aboriginal elder and barrister, runs Indigenous cultural awareness training with her partner Carla Rogers at Evolve Communities. She has also written a book, Journey into Dreamtime to help people better understand Aboriginal culture.  

“Of all the questions I get asked the most common are about the meaning of Aboriginal Dreamtime,” Ms Andrews said. “Aboriginal Dreamtime is for everyone, not just Aboriginal people.

“It is a spiritual philosophy that has as much to offer humanity as any other – such as Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. It can help everyone you cope with and master life, like any other belief system.”

An Indigenous barrister originally from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Aunty Munya was raised in a remote Aboriginal community steeped in traditional law and culture. She is a specialist in intercultural interactions and has run Indigenous cultural awareness programs for over 30 years.

“Joseph Campbell, who wrote prolifically on world mythology, says religions are like computer software – if you don’t understand a religion, it’s only because you are not familiar with its programming language,” Ms Andrews said.

“My book Journey into Dreamtime is about helping people to understand that language by introducing them to Dreamtime concepts, such as sacred sites and song-lines.

“I teach people what Dreaming means and what it means to have a particular Dreaming like Kangaroo or Possum Dreaming on both a practical and spiritual level.”

Ms Andrews believes that most Australians want to know more about Aboriginal Dreamtime so they can forge a deeper connection with Indigenous people and have a deeper insight into the spiritual and psychic makeup of this land.

To that end, the book looks at a range of important questions about the Dreamtime, including: Why the Rainbow Snake known by that name and why it is deeply revered; What special role it plays in traditional healing; What are sacred sites and how they empower you; What it means to have kangaroo or possum Dreaming; How you discover your ‘Dreaming’ and what it can teach you. 

 “What’s more, it’s indigenous to this land and can foster a deep sense of belonging to people who come from other shores,” Ms Andrews said.

“After all, we’re all Australians and we have much to learn from each other.”



By Eric Tan >>

THE POSITION of a chief executive officer (CEO) – unlike any other in an organisation – plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of the organisation and consequently the welfare of its stakeholders.

Consequently, given the power vested in CEOs of modern corporations, the importance of the succession process can hardly be overstated.

It is, therefore, not surprising that CEO succession – a topic of considerable interest to academics and practitioners alike – has been the subject of intense academic research and debate in finance and management literature.

In a world that is increasingly seeking equal representation, parity in opportunities and inclusion of people across different backgrounds become the guiding principle for businesses in their hiring practices. 

While, on the one hand, the succession process is fraught with risks of hiring a person who could potentially do more harm than good, on the other hand, however, succession serves as an error-correcting process. The shake-up may be necessary to move the firm forward to keep up with competitors.

Good succession planning contributes to a smooth transition at the top. It also serves as a proxy for effective boards and good corporate governance – which strengthens investors’ confidence.

Observable past experiences and personal traits of incoming CEOs, therefore, provide important clues in identifying the ideal successor.

The cost of poorly defined and managed succession planning is extremely high, and could lead to elevated managerial and operational risk.

As such, a careful consideration of current and future firm developments is crucial in determining the qualities necessary in the incoming CEO.



While corporate boards often tend to emphasise past success as the defining quality in the incoming CEO, one should not underestimate the importance of personality traits such as gender, age, ethnicity, career path, educational background, and social status as potential determinants of future success.

In other words, boards should try to align a firm’s strategic direction with a much broader set of candidate profiles, rather than solely relying on past performance to build a talent pipeline.

In addition, boards should also consider the performance consequences of succession events such as:

(1) the potential loss in firm-specific knowledge and human capital;

(2) the departures of upper-level managers following the succession event;

(3) a likely decrease in firm integration; and

(4) the potential for a drop in morale within the organisation.



In recent research, conducted jointly with academics at the University of Otago, we examine the value and performance implications of differences in personality traits between the predecessor and successor CEO, termed as ‘succession gap’.

This research is in the form of a co-authored research paper with Renzhu Zhang, Gurmeet S. Bhabra, and Hsin-I Chou – who are from the University of Otago – and is based on our recent paper entitled CEO Succession Gap and Firm Performance (see link below).

We address this research question by examining a sample of S&P 500 companies spanning the period 1996 to 2016. We construct a gap index by comparing differences in predecessor and the successor CEO characteristics along several dimensions such as gender, age, career variety, cultural background, highest education level, and social capital.

We find that when the succession involves a forced removal of the CEO, or when pre-succession firm performance has been poor (such as disruptive environments), an attempt to further shake up the status quo through a radical shift in the personal traits/experiences of the CEO leads to worse subsequent firm performance.

However, under non-disruptive conditions, we find succession gap to contribute positively to subsequent firm performance.

In our further tests, to examine the channels of underperformance, we find that successor CEOs who differ considerably from their predecessors tend to co-opt a greater proportion of the board, enjoy greater discretion in making far-reaching changes regarding downsizing and disinvestments, and generally lead firms that are characterised by higher levels of post-succession strategic instability.

Overall, we find evidence that appointing a successor with a gap in characteristics does not always increase firm value.

In fact, it can be harmful when the succession event is disruptive.



Our empirical findings have strong implications for how firms manage CEO successions.

These findings suggest the following good CEO succession planning best practices:

1. Identification of a successor who possesses strong leadership skills that reflect future aspirations of the firm.

More importantly, the successor should have in-depth industry knowledge and a good understanding of the corporate culture. Such successors will be less likely to demand drastic changes and will experience less resistance within the organisation, enhancing, rather than disrupting, existing relationships.

After all, it comes down to linking the kind of culture the firm needs and the next leader’s attributes and qualifications.

2. Cultivating good internal corporate governance practices in identifying candidates – either internal or external – that best suit firm needs in a rapidly evolving business environment.

While most firms prefer internal candidates because of lower search costs and they are often less disruptive, the assessment of external candidate is vital to ensure proper due diligence of the decision.

3. It is imperative to ensure ongoing accessibility to the outgoing CEO post-succession to ensure a seamless handover, thereby minimising disruption regardless of whether the successor is an internal or external candidate.

4. In most succession events, planning is largely ignored as a CEO’s departure is generally viewed as a distant event and, thus, often neglected.

Given that forced succession is costly to the firm in the form of reputation risk and potential loss of shareholder credibility, it is important for the incumbent CEO to be open about their own succession by identifying a potential successor early on to cater for a sudden or unexpected departure.

5. When enjoying stability and prosperity, CEOs are known to cling to policies and actions that led to past success but may not work under current or future situations.

Such ‘competency traps’ will lead to the incumbent CEO’s technical and political obsolescence that is unable to provide suitable solutions to new issues and to maintain a stable political environment within the firm. Such succession-related risk can be avoided by considering incoming CEOs with succession gaps who are more driven to acquire human capital than their counterparts.


CEO Succession Gap and Firm Performance is available to view at:



The author, Dr Eric Tan, is a senior lecturer in finance at the UQ Business School (UQBS), Queensland.


NEW RESEARCH by software group TechSmith shows how increasing visual communication could unlock $6.527 billion in productivity and boost Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) substantially..

According to the TechSmith report, Australian businesses could experience significant financial and productivity gains by including more visual content — such as screenshots, screencasts, images, and video — in communication with employees.

TechSmith commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research to examine TechSmith’s own scientific research and productivity data, along with research into how people spend their time at work, to assess the impact of better use of visual communication in the workplace. 

The Centre for Economics and Business Research report for TechSmith found that, in Australia, businesses stood to gain up to $6.527 billion in productivity. It is an astonishing figure that is verified by breaking down the impacts of better visual communication on an individual basis.

The research found that using visual content in workplace communications could unlock about seven extra minutes a day for every affected employee.

The average boost in GDP, if businesses were to use more visual communication, was estimated at 0.52 percent — or more than $167 billion annually across the six geographic regions studied, including Australia.

TechSmith CEO Wendy Hamilton said she was not surprised that visual content helped people perform.

“We’ve always known that visuals are essential to the effectiveness of communication, and therefore are essential to instruct and inspire,” Ms Hamilton said.

“The essential findings of this study are, first, that visuals matter even more than most assume and, second, there is an urgency for leaders to adapt as employee demographics change.”

Ms Hamilton said Australia had a lot to gain if businesses were to increase their use of effective visuals. Australia could see a 0.55 percent boost to its economy – the second highest hike of any geographic region studied –  due to Australia’s combination of long working hours and a high proportion of communicating workers. 

The TechSmith research also revealed the value of using more visual content in workplace communications to individual businesses.

For example, Australian businesses could save $1,384.70 per worker per year, based on average annual hours and GDP per hour.

In an eight-hour day, communicating with employees using effective visuals, such as videos and screenshots over plain-text email, the research found this could save each affected employee six minutes and 43 seconds.  Over a 40-hour week, that equates to 33 minutes and 36 seconds.

TechSmith is a company uniquely placed to provide such insights. Founded in 1987, TechSmith Corporation provides practical business and academic software products that change and improve how people communicate and collaborate.

TechSmith’s economic modelling was conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in March 2018 and combines TechSmith scientific data and publicly-available data across Australia, Canada, France, the UK, the US and the DACH region, combining Germany, Austria and Switzerland, to quantify the impact of visual communication on business productivity.

Download the full report





AUSTRALIA has the chance to reinvigorate its motor industry by taking a lead in driverless vehicles according to the author of a new book, Autropolis, the diverse mobility revolution.

An imminent revolution greater than the introduction of the personal computer (PC) or the smartphone, according to economist and future strategist, Brian Haratsis, is the autonomous vehicle (AV). 

Continue reading

LEADERSHIPHQ chief executive Sonia McDonald’s recent Diversity Award, presented by NSW Minister for Women Pru Goward, was a timely precursor to this month’s release of LeadershipHQ’s second book, Leadership Attitude: How Mindset and Action can Change Your World.

Ms McDonald, its author, said the book focused on “identifying personal strengths and acting upon them, using a mentor, and empowering others, to develop leadership qualities that motivate, influence and inspire”. 

Ms McDonald said understanding personal leadership traits and attitudes were the drivers for developing leadership abilities.

“Leadership is not a role or title; it is how you think, feel and see yourself and how you act as a leader,” she said.

“Thinking like a leader generally means you will start behaving like a leader.

“I work with leaders across a wide range of industries and occupations and there is no doubt that being confident and owning who you are leads to increased leadership abilities.

“Be authentic: the best leaders are the ones that know that self-awareness is the greatest capability.”

Last year Ms McDonald was named in digital business magazine Richtopia’s 250 Most Influential Women Leaders of the world.

She is also a regular contributor to The Australian, Business Insider and Richtopia.

Leadership Attitude: How Mindset and Action can Change Your World retails for $28 and is available via the LeadershipHQ website.

The Kindle edition retails for $9.20 and is available through Amazon.



CREATIVE business web hub Squarespace’s research on Australian business conditions has discovered a surprising fact: Australians would rather ‘be their own boss’ than ‘be on the booze’. Holding them back – Australians are contrastingly risk averse.

The results are a little more complicated than that, but the overwhelming fact coming out of Squarespace’s Australian Thought Leadership research found 68 percent of Australians wanted to be their own bosses. Specifically, more than half would be willing to give up alcohol for a month, or social media for a week, to do so.

The findings[1], released by the international all-in-one web publishing tools company, which has just entered the Australian market, reveal entrepreneurism is alive and well.  

The Squarespace inaugural study found that one in two Australian adults (18 to 59 year olds) are either interested in starting their own business or passion project (40 percent) or have done so already (10 percent). The results highlight how this ‘independent generation’ is largely motivated by freedom, flexibility and the desire to feel passionate about what they do.

In fact, 78 percent of Australians believe doing what they love or are passionate about is more important than earning a lot of money, and more than three in five (63 percent) millennials have a passion project that they would like to turn into a job or career.

So why aren’t more Australians chasing their entrepreneurial dreams, or pursuing that side hustle? The study also found that Australians are risk-averse, with only 19 percent associating taking new risks with workforce success. Most Australians are hampered by fears and concerns, largely rooted in the financial costs of failure.

Founder and CEO of Squarespace, Anthony Casalena said, “As an entrepreneur, I’m very familiar with the risks and fears associated with starting a business. In the early years of Squarespace, I was the only employee, acting as the sole engineer, designer, marketer and support representative for the entire platform.

“Today, it’s easier than ever to start a business and strike out on your own. We’re excited to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in Australia by providing them with the resources they need to establish a strong online identity and pursue their passions.”

Mr Casalena said Squarespace could help Australians “take the first step in expressing themselves and their businesses through a beautiful online presence”.

Squarespace has developed an extensive suite of online tools – including a website builder, e-commerce platform, and domains manager – so that virtually anyone can bring their ideas to life online.

“I work full time as an interior designer, but noticed a gap in the market when I couldn’t find natural products for my whippet Stassi’s sensitive skin,” said Danni Dias, founder of Mr. PAW, the Melbourne-based all-natural, vegan dog grooming products company.

“I created a product that is gentle on my pooch and kind to the environment, and Squarespace enabled me to share it with the world on a beautiful site that is easy to manage – even for someone that isn’t very tech savvy.”

The Squarespace Australian Thought Leadership survey explores how Australians view the changing workplace, their appetite for entrepreneurialism and the motivations, fears and barriers to follow their creative passions. Survey data were collected via an online survey of 1,003 Australians aged 18 to 59 years, designed to ensure results would be nationally representative at the state by gender by age level.

The Squarespace Australian Thought Leadership survey, conducted by AMR Research, explored lores how Australians viewed the changing workplace, their appetite for entrepreneurialism and the motivations, fears and barriers to follow their creative passions. Survey data was collected through an online survey of 1,003 Australians aged 18 to 59 years, designed to ensure results would be nationally representative at the state by gender by age level.




  • 68% of Australians want to be their own boss
  • 58% women and 47% men would give up alcohol for a month to do so
  • 58% women and 50% men would give up social media for a week to do so
  • 46% women and 35% men would give up lovemaking for a month to do so
  • 40% of Australians are interested in starting their own business or passion project, and 10% have already done so
  • 63% of Australian millennials have a passion project that they would like to turn into a job or career
  • 78% of Australians believe that doing what they love or are passionate about is more important than earning a lot of money
  • 68% of Australian women associate success in the workforce with doing something they love or that they’re passionate about, while only 40% associate success with earning a lot of money
  • 54% of Australian men associate success in the workforce with doing something they love or that they’re passionate about, while only 45% associate success with earning a lot of money
  • 19% of Australians recognise taking new risks as a driver for success in the workforce
  • 59% of those interested in starting their own business or passion project cite financial risks as one of their fears, with not earning a profit (53%) and business failure (47%) are also common concerns



Australian millennials (18-34 year olds) are redefining the modern Australian workplace – they see the nine-to-five schedule is evolving, are driven by passion (not money), and are driving a more digital economy.

  • 77% of millennials would like to be their own boss – a significantly higher number compared to 64% 35-44 YOs and 61% 45-59 YOs
  • 63% of millennials have a passion project that they would like to turn into a job or career – a significantly higher number compared to 55% 35-44 YOs and 43% 45-59 YOs
  • 83% of millennials believe the workforce is shifting from a traditional 9-5 schedule
  • 78% of millennials believe the entrepreneurial generation creates new jobs that previously did not exist
  •  65% of millennials have experienced personal success as a job candidate or prospective student from having a personal website.


Women are more passionate and empathetic than men in their pursuit of success in the workplace. They are also more motivated to start their own business by the desire to spend more time with their family, however, for many, the biggest barrier is knowing where to start.

  • 68% women v 54% men see success in the workforce is more about doing something they love or that they’re passionate about
  • 53% women v 40% men see making a difference in the lives of others as a marker of success in the workforce
  • 50% women v 40% men believe that accomplishing goals with a team of others defines success in the workforce
  • 49% women v 33% men are motivated to start their own business as a means of spending more time with their family
  • 51% women v 32% men cited simply not knowing where to start as the biggest barrier to starting their own business.



[1] Study conducted by AMR Research, of just over 1,000 Australians ages 18-59 years. Survey data collected was designed to ensure a nationally representative snapshot of adult Australians across demographics and states. 

A LARGE proportion of Australians are unable to tell the difference between good and bad financial advice and are unaware of techniques used by advisors to manipulate critical financial decisions, according to a major University of Sydney study.

In the wake of the study, University of Sydney Business School professor Susan Thorp has called for a tightening of regulations to protect what she calls “vulnerable” clients. 

Working with Prof. Thorp on the research project were Prof. Julie Agnew of the College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA; University of NSW’s (UNSW’s) Prof. Hazel Bateman; Dr Christine Eckert of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Business School; the Australian National University’s (ANU’s) Dr Fedor Iskhakov and Prof. Jordan Louviere of the University of South Australia.

Prof. Thorp said almost half of all Australians suffer from poor levels of financially literacy and many turn to financial advisors for help with decisions on such things as superannuation investments.

“Even before our research began, we were aware that many people who attend financial advisors view the advice that they are given as very good even when an objective evaluation of that advice found it not to be so,” Prof. Thorp said.

“Puzzled by this,” she said, the research team set out to “unpack the process by which this trust relationship between the advisor and the client was formed”.

The researchers produced videos of a number of advisors, some providing good and others providing bad financial advice. The videos were then shown to groups of people who were asked to identify which of the advisors they would trust.

“We found that people, on the whole, were able to tell the difference between good and bad advice on the topics that were relatively straightforward such as paying off credit card debts,” Prof. Thorp said. “But when it came to more complicated decisions, like superannuation investments, far fewer people were able to tell the difference between good and bad advice.”


The research found that trust in the advisors was easily manipulated.

“We were able to show that if an advisor gave good advice on an easy topic, that formed a good impression in the mind of the client, and they continued to trust that advisor, even when they gave them bad advice down the track,” Prof. Thorp said.

“It seems that this strategy is probably quite widely used and would be influencing people’s decision making.”

The research also measured the impact of showing clients an advisor’s qualifications.

“One of the things we were able to do in this experimental context was measure the impact of a certification and we found that displaying a qualification made people more willing to follow advice than they otherwise would be,” Prof. Thorp said.

She said clients were often unable to tell the difference between genuine and fake qualifications.

Prof. Thorp believes her research indicated a need for higher qualifications and standards for financial advisors. She has also called on the advisory industry and regulators such as ASIC to more rigorously enforce laws protecting consumers.

“A lot of people are aware of being modestly manipulated by an advisor,” Prof. Thorp concluded.

“What’s important here is that the skill gap between the client and the advisor can be large. The potential for misunderstanding or manipulation is quite high in this situation. In other words, clients are vulnerable so they need to be properly protected.”




Contact Us


PO Box 2144