Building a high performing team: lessons from our Commonwealth Games athletes

With today marking the start of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, we find ourselves reflecting on the lessons our competing athletes can teach us about high performing teams in the workplace. Striving for excellence both individually and together as a team, they demonstrate the amazing results that can be achieved when passionate, committed, and fully engaged individuals share a common purpose.

While the business benefits of a high performing team are obvious – greater productivity, profitability and performance – it can also give your employment brand a competitive edge, helping you attract and recruit the right talent even in a candidates market.

Here are four tips on building a culture of high-performance, to attract and retain the best candidates:

Create healthy competition

Healthy competition can have many benefits in the workplace. It pushes your team to be the best they can be, increasing innovation and performance while also providing opportunities to learn valuable skills and lessons along the way. It is through healthy competition that we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, and develop the motivation to excel.

Healthy competition also boosts creativity; think of how much more creative a team can be when they are competing for a bonus or trying to win a client account. Ashley Merryman, the co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, sums this up well, “Whether professional musicians or school children, studies have shown competition fuels creativity and even improves the quality of the work produced. More than that, the skills that make you a great competitor – such as a willingness to push boundaries, trust one’s instincts, problem-solve – those are the same skills needed for innovation.” 

International Women’s Day: What advice would you give your younger self?

Observed since the early 1900’s, the theme for the 2018 International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, no doubt due to the release of the World Economic Forums’ Global Gender Gap Report showing that it will take 217 years to close the gender parity gap.

To celebrate this important day, we sought advice from our network of female business leaders and previous podcast guests asking What advice would you give your younger self?” Spoiler alert – their advice is a must-read for all current/aspiring executives of all genders.

Get out of your comfort zone

Episode 96 – Merren McArthur – CEO – Virgin Australia Regional Airline & Virgo Australia Cargo

Merren McArthur is Chief Executive, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) and Virgin Australia Cargo, one of Australia’s ASX100 public companies.

Episode 93 – Jamie Wilson – Founder & MD – Your Digital File

Jamie Wilson — Founder and Managing Director of Your Digital File — talks cyber security, the journey, staying focused, honest conversations and taking to the farm.

“Follow your passion, I follow my gut a lot as well. Don’t turn around and second guess it because half the time you come back and think, ‘I should not have done that,’ just keep on driving forward, learn by the lessons.

The challenges somedays that you have in front of you, they will be different tomorrow and you’ll be over that obstacle,” Jamie Wilson.

Launched in March 2014, Brisbane based tech start-up Your Digital File was founded by former accountant Jamie Wilson after he noticed a gap for a niche cyber security product on the global stage. After his father passed away, Jamie had the difficult task of locating and managing his father’s documents, files, and media and chose to search for an online solution that would be easy to locate and manage, highly secure, and able to prevent the same situation from happening again. After a long search, it became clear that no online cloud based product could meet his expectations. His experience led Jamie to collaborate with software security experts to develop Your Digital File and its patented Cryptoloc technology.

Over the past six years, Arete Executive’s Richard Triggs has seen Jamie’s business flourish and sat down with him on the Arete podcast to hear his personal journey and what is a very exciting story of motivation, challenge and perserverance. In 2011, Jamie spent a year travelling the globe, sourcing information and the know-how from experts before returning to Australia, where a fateful encounter with a cafe waitress motivated him to finally develop what is now one of the most superior and unique cyber security products in the world.

“I suppose the reality that came to me and hit me in the face was seeing Dad in his final days and I thought, ‘you know what, there is so much more to life than just money’. So a lot of my challenges these days is to have a look and go is it really that bad? Put your energy in going in the right direction and you attract it to be able to move forward.”


If you enjoyed this podcast please share it with your friends. We would also love you to subscribe to the Arete Podcast on I-tunes or Stitcher to stay abreast of our latest discussions with leading CEO’s and Non Executive Directors and post your comments. Follow Arete Executive on LinkedIn


Episode 92 – Barry Robinson – President & MD of Wyndham Vacation Resorts

Barry Robinson – President and Managing Director of Wyndham Vacation Resorts – talks the holiday business, flexibility, having passion and finding balance.

Barry Robinson is the President and Managing Director of Wyndham Vacation Resorts (South East Asia and Pacific Rim). Headquartered on the Gold Coast, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific employs more than 2,000 staff members and is one of the Gold Coast’s largest corporate employers, with additional employees located at resorts and sales sites throughout the Asia Pacific region. While Barry runs a large, successful and very challenging business, he is a leader who values flexibility and work life balance. He met with Arete Executive’s Richard Triggs after his morning surf and had a yoga class scheduled for later in the day.

Barry has over 30 years hospitality experience and joined Wyndham as CEO in 2003. In 2009, Barry launched Wyndham Hotel Group in the South Pacific and has been the driving force behind many significant new property acquisitions, enhanced resort developments and has brought a renewed customer focus to the business. Under his leadership, both Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and Wyndham Hotel Group have expanded their portfolios in the Australian, New Zealand, South Pacific and South East Asian markets.

A born and bred New Zealander, Barry was born into family business. His parents owned furniture factories before eventually turning their hands to the hospitality industry, where Barry honed his skills from a young age before being sent to boarding school. Upon graduating from Kings College in Auckland, Barry relocated to Australia where he cut his teeth in bars and at hospitality school before his entrepreneurial spirit and an “epiphany” led him to borrow $10,000 from a friend to establish his own business when he was just 19.

You have to be passionate about what you do, you can luck it out for a short period of time but it’s going to catch up with you… you don’t sit at the top without extreme hard work and I continue to challenge myself,” Barry said.

“I’ve gotten better at it over the past 10 years – at reflecting and I think people don’t do that enough and analysing… I always ask could I have done it differently? I think that’s how you grow and as soon as you stop doing that you become stagnated.”

Barry is also a Board Director of FSHD Global, President of ATHOC (Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council) and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

He lives on the Gold Coast with his family.


If you enjoyed this podcast please share it with your friends. We would also love you to subscribe to the Arete Podcast on I-tunes or Stitcher to stay abreast of our latest discussions with leading CEO’s and Non Executive Directors and post your comments. Follow Arete Executive on LinkedIn

Episode 91 – Fiona Berkin – CEO, Morris Corporation

Fiona Berkin, CEO of Morris Corporation on delegating, having a vision, being driven, integrity and the three Bs.

“There are no shortcuts, it takes hard work, and eventually you will reap the rewards. It’s not so important how you get the results as long as there is integrity; the processes aren’t so important it’s the results that count,” Fiona Berkin, CEO Morris Corporation.

Fiona Berkin is the CEO of Morris Corporation, Australia’s leading privately owned remote village and asset management specialist. Fiona shares her  fascinating story of cutting her teeth in the hospitality industry before joining Morris Corporation in 1997 as a marketing assistant. Just a year after  joining the company, Fiona was promoted to the role of Group Business Development Manager and in 2004 was appointed CEO. Under Fiona’s stewardship, the company experienced vast growth, in some years experiencing triple digit growth percentages, in revenue, profit and employee numbers. Between 2005 and 2011, Morris Corporation skyrocket to number seven on the Q400 (Queensland’s Top 400 Privately Owned Businesses) list. 

Episode 90 – Robert Baird – Sales Director Ezidebit at Global Payments

Robert Baird, Sales Director Ezidebit at Global Payments, talks: Measuring success, personal integrity, service of others before service to self, spirituality through performance and running off with the circus.

Robert Baird is the Sales Director of Ezdebit, now a part of Global Payments. Ezidebit has become a success story, growing from a private Australian company to being acquired by a global business based in the United States. Global Payments Inc is a leading world wide provider of payment technology services which delivers innovative solutions to its market, driven by customer needs globally. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the company has more than 8500 employees worldwide and is a member of the S & P 500, with merchants and partners in 29 countries throughout North America, Europe, the Asia Pacific and Brazil. Robert  joined Ezidebit in 2008 and has a fascinating personal story and a unique outlook on what defines successful leadership.

Episode 85 – Tracey Vieira – CEO, Screen Queensland & Non Executive Director

Tracey Vieira, CEO of Screen Queensland, talks film and television, business acumen, building a personal brand, living with passion, sticking your hand up, and having self-belief.

Tracey Vieira is the CEO of Screen Queensland, a government organisation which works to grow the screen industry and contribute to the economic and cultural well being of Queensland. Screen Queensland’s role is to develop, fund and support the local screen industry, attract production to Queensland, and celebrate an active screen culture across the State. Tracey assumed the role of CEO in 2014 after spending ten years working for AusFilm in Los Angeles in the United States, where she attended the USC Marshall School of Business.

Episode 88 – Kevin Potter – COO, Heritage Bank

Kevin Potter, Chief Operating Officer of Heritage Bank, talks: leadership and gender diversity, self awareness, intent versus impact, listening to learn, and The Beatles over The Rolling Stones.

Richard sat down with Kevin Potter, the COO of Heritage Bank, when he was just three months into his new role but he shared some strong insights into leadership, business, finance and his championing of gender diversity. Heritage is Australia’s largest customer-owned bank, with a history dating back to 1875, when it was founded in Toowoomba in regional Queensland.

John Kotzas – CEO – QPAC

John Kotzas: CEO of Queensland Performing Arts Centre talks firing the arrow and hitting the bullseye, thinking outside the box, belonging and walking the floor.

John Kotzas is the CEO of Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane. QPAC is one of Australia’s leading centres for live performance and the arts, with over three million visitors attending over 1200 performances annually. John is also on a number of boards including being Vice President of the Executive Council of Live Performance Australia and a member of the Griffith University Conservatorium of Music Advisory Council. He has a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education and in 2015 was awarded an Honorary Degree of the University by Griffith University in recognition of his contribution to the cultural and artistic life of Queensland. Since joining QPAC as Artistic Director in 2002, John has been instrumental in the growth of QPAC’S brand and international profile.

“I see myself as responsible for the overall health, welfare and artistic program of the organisation, the reason for that is… I think it’s one conversation. I don’t think the arts conversation and the business conversation are separate. I think the business is our arts and the arts is our business, that’s why we amalgamated those roles,” John said.

John was born in Innisfail, North Queensland and grew up in the 1960s as one of two children in a Greek, cane farming family. His “creative bent” was fostered from an early age and he always had a passion for music, cultural performances and the arts. From the age of four, John dreamt of being a producer but before he could finish his senior exams, he left school and went to work in a cheese factory, saving enough money to relocate to Brisbane. He fondly recalls a time when he lived with his grandmother in Brisbane and indulged his love of the theatre by volunteering at the iconic La Boîte Theatre. John ultimately studied teaching at university and worked in the education field for many years but fate had other plans; it wasn’t long before opportunities began to present themselves and John was lured back to his first love — the performing arts.

“One of the things I love about the arts is that when you embrace the arts they give you the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes and in doing that you expand your mind and you become a better person and you see the other opportunities to help others.”


If you enjoyed this podcast please share it with your friends. We would also love you to subscribe to the Arete Podcast on I-tunes or Stitcher to stay abreast of our latest discussions with leading CEO’s and Non Executive Directors and post your comments. Follow Arete Executive on LinkedIn

Prof. Donna Pendergast – Education Executive & Chair

Professor Donna Pendergast, Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, talks: Hearing others and shaping ideas, being a lifelong learner, growth mindset, collaboration over competition and diving into different worlds.

First and foremost Donna Pendergast is a born teacher, an education leader who is passionate about the possibilities and transformational qualities of learning.

Teachers and education have such a vital role to play in so many ways and I am focused on giving students capabilities to carry through life… education as a field is so crucial to the success of business and social enterprises,” she said.

Campbell Newman – former Premier for Queensland


Campbell Newman, former Premier of Queensland, on: Future economies, robotics, life after politics and reconnecting with friends.

 In the lead up to interviewing Campbell Newman, Richard was a bit nervous. He’d never met Campbell before and he is a man with a strong reputation and somebody who has achieved many things for Brisbane and Queensland throughout his career. But Richard was delighted by Campbell’s humbleness and openness. He found him to be a man of great intentions and one who strives to live a life of service.

Born in Canberra to parents who both represented Tasmania in Federal Parliament, Campbell’s father was in the Australian Army and his family moved around a lot when he was a child. Interestingly, both of his parents voted for Gough Whitlam in the 1972 election but his father later went on to serve in the Fraser Government and his mother in the Howard Government.

Campbell joined the Australian Army as a staff cadet at the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1981. He spent 13 years serving in the army before eventually leaving with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours from the University of New South Wales.

Campbell later moved to Queensland to complete an MBA at the University of Queensland, which led him to a role consulting for PA Consulting Group and then working for GrainCorp. Campbell inevitably followed a path into politics, first as Lord Mayor of Brisbane and subsequently as Queensland Premier. He has since left politics and currently has an interesting career in the board space.

He is the Director of Arcana Capital and LinkSprite Australia and the Chairman of Swarmfarm Robotics. Campbell said that post politics, after considering what he wanted to do professionally, he decided he wanted to restart a business career particularly within future economies. He is also enjoying reconnecting with friends and having free time following the demands of political life.

“It’s liberating, how fantastic it is to be able to do the things I want to do,” he said.

Campbell and his wife Lisa live in Brisbane and they have two daughters.



If you enjoyed this podcast please share it with your friends. We would also love you to subscribe to the Arete Podcast on I-tunes or Stitcher to stay abreast of our latest discussions with leading CEO’s and Non Executive Directors and post your comments.

Follow Arete Executive on LinkedIn

Steve Greenwood – CEO – Queensland Futures Institute

aaeaaqaaaaaaaatzaaaajgnmzde1zdmyltixnzktnde4ms05zmizltliy2vlm2iwognkywSteve Greenwood — CEO Queensland Futures Institute— Talks Ideas for the Future, His Love of Queensland & Why You Should Always Have a Go

Together over a few red wines, Queensland Futures Institute (QFI) CEO, Steve Greenwood, and Founding Chairman, Jim McKnoulty, hatched ideas to create an organisation committed to improving Queensland. A relatively young organisation, QFI was established in 2013, and is an independent, apolitical, public policy body, which generates new ideas and solutions for the economic and social growth of the state’s community. QFI brings together a number of Queensland leaders and innovators from a diverse range of backgrounds to form the Queensland Futures Institute Council, an independent body which sets the organisation’s strategic priorities and policy agenda. Steve has a wealth of experience building and leading strong teams which deliver results. His extensive leadership experience includes the public sector, industry organisations and the commercial sector; strategy and transformation; corporate governance and external relationships.