MALE Champions of Change (MCC) have released their annual Impact Report (FY2018-19) detailing progress and outcomes in achieving gender equality, advancing more women into leadership and building respectful and inclusive working environments for all employees.

The report is believed to be one of the largest, voluntary public disclosures on gender equality in the workplace globally, representing 230 men and women CEO and Board-level leaders and organisations operating across 155 countries.* 

The results show collective year-on-year improvements on gender equality in every major employment category (see page 3 for more detail). Other key outcomes across the MCC coalition include:  

  • 81.5 percent of members have achieved or improved gender balance overall; 
  • 82.9 percent have rates of women’s promotions that are either gender balanced or greater than women’s representation overall;
  • 74.6 percent have achieved gender balance in recruitment that improved women’s representation in the past year; 
  • 62.4 percent have achieved or improved gender balance in key management personnel – roles such as chief financial officer and chief operating officer which are often on the critical pathway to CEO and board-level positions. 

According to Male Champions of Change founder Elizabeth Broderick, the results show the impact of collective action from the top to accelerate change on gender equality, together with clear opportunities for improvement.

“We need more intentional and disruptive work on the issue of sexual harassment and while that has commenced across the coalition, we keenly await the findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces being led by Commissioner Kate Jenkins," Ms Broderick said.

"Similarly, achieving gender-balanced executive teams and more women in CEO-level positions requires ongoing focus,” she said. 

More generally, according to Ms Broderick, the report shows the immense power of more than 200 organisations with national and international reach acting together to shift entrenched workplace systems that have served as barriers to women’s advancement.  

“What we’ve found is that making work more accessible and inclusive for women, is delivering wider benefits for organisations, teams and employees," Ms Broderick said.

“For example, 89.2 percent of MCC members now provide flexible access to parental leave through policies which recognise and celebrate the role of each parent in the care and development of their children.  

“88.1 percent of MCC members are supporting employees to better manage their work and life commitments through flexibility strategies that are available to all. Here, what we’ve found is that - when combined with enabling technology – flexibility can build employee engagement and improve workforce participation amongst a wide range of groups who might otherwise be excluded,” Ms Broderick said. 

At an aggregate level, MCC members are well-ahead of the national average on many of the lead indicators that are measured in the latest scorecard from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). For example, 77 percent of MCC organisations are conducting and acting on regular pay equity audits compared to 44.7% of organisations that report to WGEA (see table).

 The 2019 MCC Impact report also: 

  • details work undertaken over the past 18 months by MCC members to better understand and address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace; 
  • describes major initiatives led by specific MCC groups on issues such as the under-representation of women in the STEM sector and pay equality for elite women athletes;
  • provides a detailed account of progress on women’s representation across all levels for participating organisations; 
  • shares case studies from organisations across a range of sectors, including large and smaller businesses; 
  • demonstrates how coordinated action impacts performance on gender equality.  

Commenting on the report, chair of Manufacturing Australia and Male Champion of Change said,  “The progress we have made affirms for me the impact we can have when: men step up beside women on gender equality; the most senior leader makes gender equality a strategic business priority; there is sustained focus; and we collaborate outside our usual networks for new and different solutions."

The MCC Impact report is aimed at all those interested in advancing gender equality and tracking progress of the MCC strategy. 

The 2019 MCC Impact Report  (Click here for Summary Report

*The Philippines and Insurance groups are new to the MCC coalition and will be included in the MCC Impact Report in 2020. 

**For full transparency, and where possible, MCC benchmarks its data against results arising from the 2019 Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) Scorecard. The WGEA scorecard is the result of compliance reporting by Australian private sector employers with more than 100 employees, and is a globally-unique data set, now in its sixth year of publication. While not completely alike due to our international and public sector members, we believe this is a useful comparison to include.


THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said vocational education and training (VET) providers need to engage more with small businesses, amid declining use and satisfaction rates.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research recently released the 2019 Survey of Employer Use and Views of the VET system, which found small business employers using the VET system fell from 47.5 percent in 2017 to 44.percent in 2019. The report also showed small business satisfaction with the nationally accredited training fell from 80.7 percent in 2017 to 76.7 percent in 2019. 

“Small businesses have identified a number of reasons for the drop in satisfaction levels with VET,” Ms Carnell said. “They’re primarily concerned there’s not enough focus on practical skills and that the level of training does not meet their needs.

“It’s clear from these statistics that VET professionals need to consult with small businesses so they train the right people with the right skill set.

“Small businesses employ the highest number of people in the Australian workforce, including apprentices, but more than 40 percent continue to experience some level of difficulty in recruiting skilled workers," Ms Carnell said.

“It’s important that VET providers understand the need to be flexible in their approach to training workers, even if that means tailoring courses to match the skills needed by small businesses.

“Instead of concentrating on whole qualifications, they should provide a range of short courses to build a skill set that is relevant to the small businesses in their community," she said.

“If training organisations genuinely engage with small business employers, new markets will open and enrolments will grow.”


By John Sheridan >>

SOFTWARE automates processes and activities and as well as delivering benefits in efficiency, productivity and reliability, it also ‘eats jobs’.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Cloud services, BIM, GPS, 5G, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Drones, Digital Identity, IP protection, Robots, Virtual Reality, Amazon, Airbnb, Freelancer, Google, Uber etc and even ‘fake news’ and manipulation of elections are all driven by software.

And many of the tasks that software now does so well used to be done by a person. 

As a result, businesses and other organisations can do ‘more with less’. Businesses and other organisations can become more profitable because of ‘reduced payroll’. Businesses and other organisations can become more productive.

Undoubtedly, there is a huge upside. Software improves just about every aspect of our day-to-day lives. But there is a cost. 

Cyber bullying. Scams. Loss of privacy. Identity theft. Security. Intrusion. Facial recognition. Fake news. Electoral interference.


These are the more obvious costs. But there is another cost and that is job destruction.

About half of all jobs can be done better by software. And at almost no cost. 

ED Toolbox ( is a simple tool to help students and parents better understand how disruptive technology (software) is changing the world.

Used wisely, students and parents can make better study and work choices, and even begin to help sort out the world of work, by creating new jobs themselves.

All the effort in the world to retrain people, help them gain new skills, change attitudes and expectations will come to nothing if businesses and other organisations no longer need those capabilities, because the operational process or activity has been replaced by software. 

We live in a country where half the working population is in small business. Software comes in – a person goes out. And that adds up to a lot of people.

The July figures from Roy Morgan Research show 8.7 percent of the workforce is unemployed and another 9.6 percent under employed – 18.3 percent. See Roy Morgan for more details. 

We are a rich country with many resources and, in response to this challenge, we should focus on building our productive industries – agriculture, creative industry, defence, education, ICT, medical and health, manufacturing, mining services, smart trades and tourism. 

There is a lot we can do to manage the future. And we need to do everything we can. But we can start by helping students and parents – who are challenged by these changes – better understand the impact of disruptive technologies, and the industries under threat. This is about their study and work future.

Then students and parents can make better choices, and even begin to help sort out the world of work, by creating jobs themselves.

We have the resources, the productive industries and there is no lack of good will. If we can just harness these collaboratively then the future looks good.


Entrepreneurialism needs to become universal. We are an amazingly well resourced country. We just have to husband our resources like farmers, with intelligence, and a clear vision for a productive industry led future.

ED Toolbox is a tool created for students and parents. 

We are now configuring a version of ED Toolbox for high schools, which will include Groups, Resource Library and Events mapped to a region.

ED Toolbox for High Schools is designed to connect all high schools in a region to local businesses, TAFE, universities, incubators, parents and P&Cs, so that study and work discussions can be timely, relevant and real. And so that students can choose the best pathway for the future.

ED Toolbox is simple. It outlines how technology is impacting 19 industry sectors and 400 business categories. 

It shows the level of threat and opportunity for each category and provides examples of how organisations are using technology in a positive way. Sign up and explore your future today.

John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights (DBi) has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 20 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the latest of which is the ED Toolbox.

A NATIONAL mentoring program for women will boost the numbers of women working in the building and construction industry. 

“Numbers of women participating in building and construction remain low despite our industry presenting a fantastic opportunity for women to pursue secure, fulfilling and rewarding careers,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said. 

“Part of Master Builders Australia’s Women Building Australia initiative, the mentoring program will work to boost female participation by supporting women starting out in the industry,” she said.  

“The program, which is funded by the Federal Government, follows the success of a successful pilot project developed and implemented by Master Builders in 2017/18.

“It’s an important investment in the future workforce and skills needs of the nation’s second largest industry. Our industry needs an additional 300,000 people over the next decade so this is about creating jobs now and in the future which boost productivity and growth.

“It is also a pathway to improve the gender pay gap by encouraging more women into a male dominated higher paying industry,” Ms Wawn said. 

“Important to the program’s success is the involvement of both male and female mentors who are established in the industry and whose breadth of experience allows mentees to be matched with a mentor who can best support them,” she said. 

Applications are now open across the country and close on November 11, 2019. Mentoring will commence in February 2020.


SOCIAL MEDIA strategy specialists, Strategic Social Profiles – recognised by Business Queensland as one of Queensland’s ‘100 Faces of Small Business’ – will stage a social media strategy workshop for SME business leaders on May 31.

As part of Queensland Small Business Week, the company has been awarded a grant by Business Queensland, to assist with the staging of the social media strategy workshop for small business owners and managers, to be held at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday, May 31.

The half-day workshop will provide participants with a ‘deep dive’ into social media, according to Strategic Social Profiles co-director Annabel Sullivan. 

She said it would include the five key steps identified by Strategic Social Profiles as being crucial for small business to learn, in order to more effectively handle their own Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.

The Social It Yourself – Social Media for Small Busines workshop will be limited to a group of no more than 25 participants, in order to maximise interaction and learnings, Ms Sullivan said.

As a small business itself, Strategic Social Profiles is keen to share invaluable insights and tips with fellow small business operators during Queensland Small Business Week, which will run from May 27-31.

Ms Sullivan said the workshop would  address the ‘pain points’ generally associated with developing a social media strategy and has been designed for small business operators who don’t know where to start, have neither the time nor the expertise to figure it out and are essentially frustrated and overwhelmed by the whole social media proposition.

“Unlike many other courses, the ‘Social It Yourself’ philosophy behind our workshops seeks to upskill small business people to manage their own social media,” Ms Sullivan said.

“Unless they specifically request our ongoing involvement, we then step back and let them manage their own social media, because they know their customers and clients better than anyone else.”

The workshop will be delivered at the heavily subsidised rate of $49 per person, she said, a substantial reduction from SSP’s standard $495 workshop price, “all made possible due to the generous support being provided by Business Queensland”.

The half day workshop will take place from 9am to 2pm and will include morning tea and lunch.  Those interested in participating at the workshop should register on the Strategic Social Profiles website under the SIY Workshops banner.


By Leon Gettler >>

PAY EQUALITY is one of the big issues bedevilling Australian businesses and companies are under pressure from unions and courts to address the issue.

Philip Morris Australia has become the first organisation in the country to achieve Equal-Salary certification, an award handed out by the independent Switzerland-based Equal-Salary Foundation.

The award to Philip Morris Australia, handed out in March, places Phillip Morris up there with organisations like PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland and the World Economic Forum.  

Australian Government statistics show there is an average 14.1 percent pay gap between full-time male and female workers around the country but independent analysis from the Equal-Salary Foundation revealed only a 0.9 percent difference between what female Philip Morris Australia employees are paid compared with males.

Philip Morris Australia managing director Tammy Chan said it comes down to being carefully managed.

“We started a long time ago for some obvious reasons,” Ms Chan told Talking Business. “Because of the nature of the industry, we are in tobacco, and that environment has always been very male dominated and so we became aware of the issues.

“That is, if we don’t do anything to attract and retain, particularly women, we will have a big problem.”

She said the company had to put a number of measures in place. It wasn’t a “one size fits all” approach.

She said 44 percent of the organisation was female.

She said with pay rises, it had to be carefully managed.

“When we arrange a pay increase, I don’t even get to see the gender of the person I’m looking at. It’s all about their performance. I don’t even pay attention to their last name,” Ms Chan said.

“I just look at their performance and their history and their potential.”

She said the same rule applies when it comes to hiring employees.

“We are paying attention to make sure we are hiring 50:50 for the new position and so we are interviewing enough females to make sure are not discriminating.”

She said while women were represented more in areas like culture and in external affairs, there were more men.

She said companies need to address hidden biases in their systems to address the issue.

Philip Morris is also on the way to achieving 40 percent female managers.

She said one of the key issues there is to address retention to ensure that men and women stay with the company as they go through different life stages.

The key approach there, Ms Chan said, was to be flexible because what works for some people does not work for others. 

“Flexibility means something different for different groups,” she said.

“Everyone’s motivation is different. The individual motivator is much better than a general rule of thumb.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


When Qantas A380 pilot Richard De Crespigny was confronted with a life-and-death inflight explosion, soon after take-off from Singapore, he had to call upon all of his flying and aviation systems experience in order to land safely. However, the real ace up his sleeve turned out to be his passion for – and what he calls Deliberate Practice of – a people management method he refers to as High Reliability Organisation leadership. He learned it from the best in the business – people like flight director for NASA’s $104 billion Apollo program, Gene Kranz – and now De Crespigny has literally written the book on the life lessons he learned from the cockpit of QF32 on that fateful day.


By Mike Sullivan >>

THE SAME techniques that a highly trained – and determined – Qantas team used to avert what could easily have become one of the world’s worst aviation disasters, can be used to save you, your loved ones and your business life.

The events and responses that kept the 469 people aboard Qantas flight 32 alive, over Singapore on November 4, 2010, may not immediately seem related to business leadership and resilience. But they are. And Richard De Crespigny is very adept at explaining how much they are.

Here’s how precarious the situation was: After the unprecedented inflight explosion of one of its four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines, QF32 had shrapnel and fire damage that disabled 21 of the Airbus A380’s 22 systems. Two explosions had severed 650 wires and network cables. Under 50 percent of the airliner’s electrics and hydraulics were operational. Jet fuel and hydraulic fluids were leaking from the badly damaged left wing. Key pumping systems to move fuel around the aircraft’s 11 tanks, to help stabilise the aircraft in flight, were non-operational. 

After working out how to keep the aircraft safely in the air, QF32’s crew were shocked in their careful testing to discover that the A380’s 21-wheel undercarriage could only be lowered using a gravity-forced option – and it also became worrisomely clear the aircraft’s remaining three engines were not operating normally.

Fortunately, as fate would have it – for all aboard whose lives were at stake and for their fearful families – QF32, on that fine November day, had misfortune equally counterbalanced by good fortune.

That luck started with the line-up of QF32’s skilled, experienced and innovative crew – which by chance included two extra ‘check captains’ who were assessing both Richard De Crespigny and the trainee ‘check captain’. It meant there were five minds and thousands more hours of experience to throw at the life-critical problems that ensued.

It also meant greater pressure on the lines of communication and leadership: decisions had to be made fast. All reporting, actions and ideas had to be imparted clearly and without the impositions of ego and rank.


This is where Richard De Crespigny’s unique pedigree really came into play in 2010. Well before this fateful flight, he had developed a deep interest in human performance, resilience and leadership under stress – and he was a devoted student of aviation incidents and accidents.

That special interest had been heightened through his early flying years as a jet fighter pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) – and developed even as a youth from hearing stories and opinions expressed by this father, Peter De Crespigny, a former professional pilot who is still qualified to fly today at age 92.

In fact, when Richard spoke to his friend Neil Armstrong – yes, that Neil Armstrong, the late astronaut, test pilot and aero-engineer – about his father’s exercise regime of swimming 3000m every week to ensure he maintained his private pilot’s licence, Armstrong said: “Give Peter my congratulations. He’s my inspiration!”

Crucially, if Richard De Crespigny had not used his leadership knowledge and easy-going natural style to set up the team atmosphere and problem-solving environment in the cockpit before this flight, a potential overload of experience on the flight deck may have actually contributed to the risk.

One of the check captains, Dave Evans, remarked to De Crespigny later, “It would be hard to find a more A380-experienced crew on the planet …”

But in the author’s research for the book Fly!, an international aviation safety investigator told him that “with so many pilots in the cockpit during the QF32 incident, it was remarkable” that they did not crash.

“He subsequently sent me an analysis of aircraft emergencies where the crew was augmented by extra pilots,” De Crespigny wrote. “Far from an additional pilot making the situation safer, it made it more likely to end in disaster. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the explanation is simple.

“For some flights with augmented crews, the cockpit turns into a committee. Blurring the chain of command allows for distraction, confusion, indecision, arguments and bad outcomes. The investigator was astonished that his had not happened to us.

“In turn, I was surprised that he did not identify a failure to define every team member’s role as an explanation for his findings, followed by the conclusion that some pilots needed training to become better leaders.

“In the case of QF32, I confirmed before the flight, then later enforced, the command structure of our augmented crew, thus preventing confusion when things went wrong.”

All this was part of De Crespigny’s focus on team dynamics and leadership, in which he engages before every flight, fitting in briefings over coffee with his flight deck and attending cabin crew briefings.

Well before the afflicted QF32 incident, De Crespigny had focussed his professional interest on finding ways to help teams perform better through stressful situations and realised that, in his industry, flight safety predominantly came down to leadership styles and methods.

There was a particular discussion among the pilots before that fateful QF32 flight about roles and responsibilities, including De Crespigny working a compromise about operational positions.

“The check captain offered a compromise: if required, he would act as Second Officer. I was happy with this and we took off with all five pilots having a clear, and shared, view of their roles, tasks and responsibilities. This was to prove all-important when the engine exploded.” 


Here is where the author’s rationalisations can be applied to other areas of life, especially business – and most readers will run parallel evaluations of their own business life situations as they read parts of this book.

The QF32 pre-flight cockpit scenario could be similarly played out in a boardroom situation, say, of a company facing a potentially business-ending crisis.

For example, a company which has geared up its activities and borrowed capital to meet certain customer requirements can be quickly derailed when there is a sudden financial downturn in that industry – or a series of failures of their major clients, such as what occurred in Australia during and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) onset in 2007 and for many years following.

Sitting in the ‘business cockpit’ might be the business’s leadership team – one or two of whom know they have not been achieving the desired results – the company accountant, a business specialist brought in to help recover the situation (and drawing money out of the business fast) and representatives of finance companies. Bankers may be urging the company to go into administration before they push the button on that option (for they are the first to be paid) and the landlord may be threatening to lock the doors for unpaid rent. Equipment financiers may be threatening to repossess equipment the company needs to work its way out of trouble. The ATO could also be making legal and bank account garnishee warnings.

Staff are wary and concerned and some are making demands, while rumours are rife, causing distress to their families as well. They have bills and mortgages to pay. The business owner is prioritising staff payments over all else, but this is making the ATO and creditor situation worse by the week.

The business leader has to step up and reason with all parties to build a consensus that buys the business time to resolve its plight for all concerned. The ideal outcome is for the business to continue and for everyone to be paid what they are due over time. It requires the business leaders to find a way to reason with all concerned, find common ground, buy time to deliver on promises and encourage compassion from those around the table while acknowledging all their self-interests.

And there are also the existential issues of what is happening to the business brand and the professional reputations of those on the leadership team.

You might reasonably argue that a life-threatening aviation situation is conducted at levels of stress well beyond the world of business – but is it? The human challenges are similar although time frames are not.

While an aviation emergency unfolds over a short period of time, often over a few hours and occasionally over just a few minutes, a business-threatening crisis often evolves over years. Years of building stress. Years of testing the resilience of leaders.

When a business Black Swan event happens, it is not just about having the leadership skills and team focus to deal with it – leaders often have to question whether they still possess the energy to see the situation through. Leaders also have to be realistic about whether financial and other resources can be gathered and whether the goodwill of staff, clients and suppliers will be forthcoming and sufficient.

The suicide statistics of business leaders who have been beaten by crises and their businesses and family wealth destroyed – enduring an insidious kind of slow-burn post-traumatic stress – cannot be overlooked.

The situations are different, but the impacts both physical and mental can be similar.


Richard De Crespigny was a student of leadership, and the psychology and physiology involved in successful leadership, well before the 2010 QF32 emergency. If anything, he has become an even more avid researcher since that day and he brings his collection of knowledge and learnings to the fore in Fly!: Life Lessons from the Cockpit of QF32.

In fact, throughout the book he explains how his learnings from the challenges of that flight and others have eventually provided many positives for both his business and family life.

De Crespigny is something of a scholar on coping with stress. He draws on other people’s experiences and thoughts ranging from ancient scholars and resilient figures of history, to test pilots and astronauts, to university professors, psychologists and neuro-scientists.

He presents many sensitive and sensible snapshots of wisdom from business greats such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Australia’s Dick Smith and others.


The parallels with business are clear. In Australia at the moment, those officially considering what has gone wrong with the banking and insurance industries would do well to consider a list like the one below, compiled by the author (p169).

De Crespigny was largely talking about the kinds of poor leaders he had encountered in the aviation industry and in cockpits over many years when he identified the classic signs that he noticed of poor leaders. He wrote, they:

  • “are driven and dominated by ego, power and control, using abuse, threats, intimidation and coercion
  • “hoard information as a source of power
  • “talk before they listen and think
  • “close their doors (metaphorically and literally) and selectively filter feedback
  • “cannot settle on decisions
  • “lack empathy
  • “don’t trust, so micro-manage others and undermine confidence
  • “don’t support whistleblowers and people who step up
  • “never admit they have failed
  • “take the credit for wins and find excuses or blame others for errors and losses.”

The author relates crisis and emergency leadership directly to business leadership, among many of the interviews he conducted.

“My cousin Robert Champion de Crespigny AC is a successful entrepreneur who created a mining empire, served as a university chancellor, an advisor to governments and a member on many not-for-profit, industry and educational boards. He says, ‘Success sometimes breeds cancerous ego and greed.  Even good leaders can eventually fall prey to believing their own bulldust. If you look at successful businesses led by very good chief executives, who clearly are great leaders, ego, hubris and conceit nearly always creep in before a fall. They increasingly forget to credit the teams that enabled their success. This is when the rot creeps in. A cook is only as good as his last meal. Generally, when the ego takes over that’s when they drop the ball and fall.’”

With such knowledge and experience building, Richard De Crespigny made a vital declaration for his own career. 

“I was determined that when I became a captain I would be as different as possible from the bad leaders I had seen. I knew that teams, never autocratic leaders, built resilient organisations. History proves that leaders who ignore their teams eventually fail. Survival depends on amassing the knowledge, experience and skills from many people into an intelligent and responsive team that learns, creates and adapts.

“It was clear to me that a leader does not just determine the culture, the leader IS the culture! The leader’s behaviour sets the tone for every activity their team undertakes, not just those that need direction and management. I was determined to set the best culture for my crews and passengers on every flight. So I looked around me for role models and exemplary leaders and studied them closely.”

Richard De Crespigny started finding leaders to admire from his own industry and ended up with an extraordinary list that included many famous names who eventually became his friends, including first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong and co-pilot Buzz Aldrin; NASA flight director Gene Kranz who led the mission control teams supporting the Apollo missions; Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger who landed the stricken Flight 1549 twinjet on the Hudson River, New York; the first man to break the sound barrier, Chuck Yeager; and Australia’s own modern helicopter record breaker and business entrepreneur, Dick Smith.


De Crespigny describes in detail the many leadership styles he has studied. He is clear about his own leadership style – one that worked so well throughout the most critical moments of QF32 and the extensive and exhausting days and months of follow-up with passengers, crew, investigators and the broader aviation industry – and he calls it High Reliability Organisation (HRO) leadership.

“Examples of successful HRO leadership include Gene Kranz, the Flight Director for NASA’s $104 billion Apollo program, and Ann Pickard, who has headed some of the Shell Oil Company’s most difficult and contentious operations including Arctic Ocean exploration.

“HRO leaders are mindful people who are knowledgeable, well trained and experienced. They possess the fierce will to enforce safety. They resist the urge to apply simplistic solutions to complex situations. They understand their systems down to their core components, using these skills to implement novel and creative solutions. HRO leaders trust (but verify) and defer to expertise. They give single-minded advice to their teams – if you are not committed to the company’s culture, values and standards, then leave.

“Gene Kranz gave an insight into this mindset, describing the critical moment at which the decision had to be made to launch or abort: ‘There was no room in the process for emotion, no place for fear or doubt, no time to stop and think things over … You had to be prepared for any contingency, and those contingencies had to be as fully anticipated as possible before you pushed the button.’

“He added that a vital feature of HRO leadership is that leaders unhesitatingly assign critical tasks to someone capable of handling them and then, crucially, trust that person’s judgement rather than overriding it.”

De Crespigny has a very clear view of his own leadership style, having deeply researched many successful leaders and their methods.

“My recipe for HRO leadership includes responsibility, authority, risk, confidence, courage, initiative, care and communication. It requires the leaders to tame their ego and recognise their own vulnerabilities. HRO leaders know there are never enough learning experiences for them to ‘know it all’. Their humility to admit their own weaknesses is a vital step and strength in building a strong and resilient team where each member is capable, valued and respected.

“HRO leadership is hard work and not for the faint-hearted. You must be tough, fierce-willed, competent and courageous. You must also be humble. Communicate your values to your team and protect them, because these are the people that build resilience.”



Richard De Crespigny proves the value of applying the lessons learned in the cockpit of QF32 to other areas of life – particularly business – through a broad range of scenarios over and over again.

“We’re all going to experience a crisis of some form, at some point. For airline pilots or nuclear power plant safety managers, a crisis might be a catastrophic equipment failure that puts hundreds of lives at risk. For communities, it might be natural disasters that devastate thousands. For corporations, it might be crippling financial loss or reputational damage. For families, it might be a frightening medical diagnosis, a job loss or a car crash.

“Here are the strategies I learned over 40-plus years of flying which helped me and everyone else aboard QF32 walk away safely:

  • stay alive (‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’)
  • create time
  • accept your reality
  • mitigate threats
  • assess your options
  • reassess priorities
  • don’t rush
  • think for yourself and resist stampedes
  • forget perfection
  • try inverting the logic
  • communicate
  • remember, there’s no such thing as an ‘unimaginable’ crisis.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate is the pilot’s mantra to prioritise the initial actions in a crisis. It is all about staying alive … and the reality is that Navigate and Communicate can only come into play once a safe state of ‘aviation’ has been achieved.

The same mantra is a hugely useful metaphor to stabilising a business in mortal crisis.

Whether you find yourself saving lives or simply making your business ‘fly’, Richard De Crespigny’s entertaining and thoughtful book certainly has the Right Stuff. 


“Individuals, corporations, governments and every other entity you can think of must adapt, embrace the future and surf the edge of chaos, otherwise they will perish.” – Richard De Crespigny.

 “To have the situation awareness to confront the immediate and very difficult reality, with a full and accurate appreciation of the risks, thereby making the decisions and taking the actions that directly lead to your survival.” Cresley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who glided his airliner to a safe landing on the Hudson River.

“When the winds of ill blow, don’t build walls, build imagination, creativity and windmills.” – Richard De Crespigny.



Contact Us


PO Box 2144