#58 A Broader Role for Finance – Stephen Moir, Founder and CEO, The Moir Group | Workplace Mental Health

Dec 1, 2023

Stephen Moir, Founder and CEO of The Moir Group, a recruitment organisation specialising in senior leaders in finance, emphasises that beyond technical finance skills, the ability to exert influence across the company is crucial. Passionate about the environment, Stephen and his wife Carolyn founded the ‘Professionals Advocating for Climate Action’ network dedicated to practical actions. Stephen believes that work significantly shapes our lives, and a satisfying job is essential for a good life.
"Caring in the workplace really comes back to a few simple things. One is to try treating people the way that I would expect to be treated myself, to treat people fairly and with honesty, treating each employee that we have in our business as a person, and trying to understand what motivates them, what’s important to them, what stage of life they're in, and having empathy and care around that as well."
- Stephen Moir


  • What caring means in the workplace for Stephen
  • Stephen and his team’s unique approach, seeing the role of finance as different to many others
  • The crucial ability to exert influence across the company
  • Work significantly shapes our lives, and a satisfying job is essential for a good life
  • The 10% of finance professionals that measured the cost of poor mental health in dollars


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Transcript from the interview

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Graeme Cowan, Stephen Moir

Graeme Cowan  00:08

It’s a real pleasure to welcome Stephen Moir to the Caring CEO. Welcome, Stephen. What does care in the workplace mean to you?


Stephen Moir  00:20

Well, I think, firstly, it’s great to be here. No new a long time. I think, you know, for me, caring in the workplace really comes back to a few simple things really, one is trying to treat people the way that I would expect to be treated myself. And you know, I think as you go through your career, and that’s obviously, the space I’m in is careers and jobs. And, you know, I’ve had experiences myself of working for people. And I’ve also see that in terms of the candidates I interview, and why they’re looking for a move. So I think that’s, firstly, to treating people well, and how I would like to be treated. I think, also then trying to treat people fairly treating people with honesty, and being very, you know, what you say, is really what you mean and everything. So just being very transparent. And I think being very clear in terms of your expectations, as well. And I think then trying to treat each employee that we have in our business, as a, as a person and trying to understand what motivates them, what they, what is important to them, what stage of life they’re in, and have empathy and care around that as well. But I think that’s, and I know, we may talk about this a bit more, I think that’s very compatible with setting a high benchmark in terms of expectations and performance as well.


Graeme Cowan  01:34

Yeah, I once had a boss called Jack Omani, and he would manage by what he called the Golden Rule, which is what you describe, you know, treating people like you’d like to be treated. And it always stuck with me. And he was a very, very successful leader, he ended up becoming the CEO of cochlear in Australia, and add other roles overseas as well. But, you know, I think often simplicity works, doesn’t it? When we think about a fast moving office environment,


Stephen Moir  02:04

I think it’s actually, you know, that idea of simplicity and trying to keep things clear and simple becomes more and more important as you as I’ve got older, and I think by doing that, you make good decisions, you make consistent decisions, and it helps you as a person as well, I find


Graeme Cowan  02:25

you the local managing director for the Michael Page group was sort of specialize a lot in the finance sector. And then 16 plus years ago, you started the Moyer group. What did you hope for that group when you started it?


Stephen Moir  02:40

i To be perfectly honest, just to get through the first year, and I look back on it, it’s 16 and a half years now. So yes, it was in the same space that I’ve always been in. So in terms of sort of recruitment, supporting people with their careers, I think, you know, Michael Page, I worked with them in the number of countries around the world, and that that organization, helped people in lots of disciplines. So it wasn’t just finance, it was all those kinds of, I suppose, you know, HR, marketing, legal it. So I sat across all of those. My own business, I decided to be specialized in one area, which is finance, so CFOs, and controllers and things. But to be honest with you, you know, I suppose my last three or four years at Michael Page, I was more managing the business as opposed to hands on recruiting. And then starting my own business, I wanted something where I could have some control. So at that stage, my children were very young. Two were born, one actually hadn’t been born at that stage. The other two were like, two or four or something. And I wanted to have some more control over my time what I was doing, I thought, I started my own business, that was a good way to do it. But I basically did it. You know, I started just by myself, and then build things from there. And I really didn’t think but I just thought I’ll give this a go. And if it doesn’t work out, I can always go back to being an employee somewhere else. And let’s just see how we go. And I just jumped in it was that simple?


Graeme Cowan  04:11

Yes. And you’ve obviously evolved over time. How has recruiting, for example, a CFO or chief financial officer change from when you first started to what companies are looking for now in that role?


Stephen Moir  04:30

I think, Well, I think the first thing is I am as passionate now about what we do as a business as I was 60 and a half years as I was when I was 22 when I started in recruitment. So I love the idea of supporting people through their careers. And at our org Motor Group, we our purpose is satisfying job fulfilling life. And what that means is we recognize that a job is a fundamental thing in life, and that we play an important part in terms of supporting people in that, that in their career, so we partner people with people throughout their career, and I take a lot of pride in that. And if you then look at the CFO, that role when I was doing this years ago, a lot of people when they were interviewing them, they were looking for a move, what they talked about was they wanted a seat at the table, you know, not in the backroom sort of thing. So if I look at the CFOs, nowadays, I know I never get that question. You know, the CFO is right there. With the CEO, they’re often the right hand person, a lot of CFOs becomes CEOs. So a lot of them have broad responsibility, you know, for other functions like IT procurement, sometimes HR. So they’re more like a COO. So the breadth of the role, a lot of them now have sustainability and ESG coming through to them. So the breadth of the roles changed significantly. And therefore, the expectations on those roles have changed a lot, particularly around the softer skills in terms of how they lead people, motivate people care for people, all those things.


Graeme Cowan  05:57

And then I know, You’ve been very passionate, and you just mentioned it about how important good work is to good life. And you’re kind enough to give me a book called eating. And it’s a very intriguing jacket, Japanese concept. Would you mind just giving your listeners an overview of that, and why it resonates with you.


Stephen Moir  06:22

So if you guys really around, finding your purpose, what is your what what drives you and motivates you and it talks about people in this area of Japan, Aachen, our, I think it is where they live a very long and full life. And it sort of talks about what do they do to enable them to live that full life. And basically, they’re all very, they’re very engaged in life. And they all continue, really to work. So it may be different to what they did when they were younger, but they go out and they work. They all have like vegetable gardens and stuff like this, but they they’re very involved with activity and doing things. They’re very involved in community things. So again, if you think about the role of work and connections and people, it’s central to those communities that have good, long, full lives, and there’s other things as well. But that’s central to it.


Graeme Cowan  07:23

Ya know, that the Okinawans are in the blue blue zone in the lead very, very long lives. And it is they do eat healthily, there is a great sense of community, but they also don’t really retire. Stay active. And that’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? Because I know many people and I know people who have retired and it’s been incredibly difficult for them. They haven’t planned that transition well. And what do you think is the key to staying engaged beyond the traditional retirement age of safe? 65?


Stephen Moir  08:05

Yeah, well, I think about this quite a bit. Because I actually think there’s a couple of things. And it’s quite an interesting time on this one, because I think there are a lot of people actually in their sort of mid to late 50s, that are retiring or looking at retiring. And sometimes that’s forced on people. And I think that can be very confronting somebody, you know, you lose your job through no fault of your own as a global restructure of the business you work in, or whatever it might be. Or, you know, if you’re in some professional services firms, you have to retire at a particular age. But I think there’s also this other group of people who, and I think it’s a post COVID thing, who have been in very senior roles, and they’ve just decided, basically, I don’t want to do this anymore. And that’s around the expectations, I think that some of those corporates are putting on them. The pressures, the work expectations of productivity, and I’ve seen a number of people fall into this category who’ve just taken, they’re just going to have a year off, go and do different things, people come back then after those tick, if you take a chunk of time, like 12 months off, and do things completely differently, they might go and do a completely different type of role. They may go and work for say a not for profits or take a substantial cut in salary. They may go and have a mix of things. So you might do a bit of that you might sit on a few boards, you might help out, you know, pro bono and stuff. But I think my advice to people always, you know, is to stay engaged. It doesn’t have to look the same as it was when you were 30 or your 40s. But I think and this is personally what I’m going to do is have a number of different things that motivate you, that interest you and that keep you engaged with different communities keep you curious, because if you do all of that you’re going to enjoy it and you’ve got a lot to offer back a lot of people sometimes don’t realize what they have to offer back as well. You know, I’ve been a I’ve been a CFO for the last 40 years, what do I really, and without really understanding that they have fabulous skills to offer back in all types of environments, and really to embrace that and use them.


Graeme Cowan  10:14

Because it does involve, you know, staying connected with, with life and people, and makes me think about some Gallup research which found that they interviewed 90 year old men, and they found that the average age they retired was 85. You know, that’s sort of how fantastic Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. And, and there’s actual actuarial research that shows that the early retire the earlier die. So there is reason, you know, to pursue making a contribution, even if it’s, you know, not for profit or something else UK really much about, there is great evidence that you’re going to stay healthier by doing that. And I


Stephen Moir  11:01

think it’s also changing. I think, for a lot of executives, the, the route was always into sort of sitting on a bunch of boards and things like that. And I think, again, for many now that that is not necessarily the path that they will choose going forward, I think some will. But I think for many, that’s not very fulfilling. And I think there’s lots of other opportunities, opening up in all kinds of things that I would encourage people just to have a go at, you know, if you’ve got a particular passion. I know we might talk about this, but I’m very passionate about the environment, for example. So there’s a whole bunch of there’s a whole community there. That’s really interesting. So I think it’s following those passions you’ve got jumping in, and then you find a way and suddenly you’re you’re quite involved. And it’s it opens up a whole other circle of friends, you realize that your skills are very transferable. And, yeah, it’s fun to it’s a great


Graeme Cowan  11:55

case study of, you know, you establishing that professionals group really wanting to be active on climate change. Why did you do that? And what have you learned along that journey?


Stephen Moir  12:09

So we, this is my wife, and I, we Carolyn and I started this just after the fires almost four years ago, almost exactly four years ago, actually, in the end of 2020, or end of 19. That was the beginning of 2020. And, really, we just felt that we had to do something. I mean, we very interesting, actually, we were overseas at the time, we were in Seattle, visiting my brother who was living there. And it was in just in early January 2020. And all the news in America was dominated by the fires in Australia. And we were watching this this place called broulee, where we used to go on holiday every year for many, many years on the south coast. And rally was on the news in on CNN or something in America, and had terrible impact. And we just thought we just have to do something. So we decided to set up this group. And we thought we didn’t really we’re not really people that want to go and sort of hug trees and all that kind of stuff. But we wanted to do something that and we couldn’t find a group that was really sort of, you know, was like the sort of thing we would like to do. So we decided to set one up ourselves. And we basically just invited a few friends around to our front room. This was in I think, February 2020. And then COVID came along, so we couldn’t do that anymore. So we went online like this, and and then it just exploded, because basically, we were able to access a lot more people. We’ve now got four years later, almost 500 people in our group all around Australia, people in New Zealand, and also now in Europe, particularly the UK. And they’re all school professionals for climate. And there’s a mix of people. But basically, it’s twofold. One is to use our community to influence change. So quite a lot of people sit on boards or senior executives, or just quite a few doctors, professors everything. And so giving them the knowledge and the skills to be able to influence their communities. And then secondly is around practical things. So many of our group have done, you know, the solar, the composting, one we did last month was on fast fashion versus sustainable fashion. So all those practical things you can do as well. And what’s happened is, it’s because it’s really nice to do it with Carolyn. So that’s been a nice thing. We do it together, have fun. And secondly, we’ve sort of been able to influence quite a big community and we’ve learned a lot along the way and we’ve got all these new friends as well. So


Graeme Cowan  14:45

it’s nice. It is, you know, brilliant to have built that to 500 people, and I guess get everyone access to things that are practical that we can do in our everyday lives. Do you have what what What do you feel particularly proud of? After having you’re in that group up to 500?


Stephen Moir  15:08

I think that, you know, that, from the practical level that there’s all these people, I don’t know how many now, but that have actually made changes in their daily life that has had a positive impact on the environment. So those practical things, I know that through various members of our group, we they’ve influenced change in their organizations, in terms of, you know, what that company is doing, and their commitments to net zero and things. So there’s been definite changes there. So they’re probably the key areas, I think there’s some very specific things I’ve been involved in politically as well, which I’m really pleased about in terms of changing some of the decision making that’s happened in this country. So that’s been a very good thing. I think. So a whole mix of those things, really.


Graeme Cowan  16:01

It’s wonderful to, you know, grow something grow the impact that you know, share, insights, share knowledge. And I also see that, you know, you’ve just, you’ve created a ESG division, and you recruit people in the sustainability side of things. So I guess that’s also the internal into your professional life as well.


Stephen Moir  16:26

Yeah, that’s right. So it’s an error I’m passionate about. So we started up that division, beginning of this year, we’ve got a very experienced person heading that up. And so it’s a passion of mine. But I’ve also realized that it’s in its very early days, you know, the biggest six companies are across this, but most other organizations are either not sure what to do, or they got their head in the sand, really, but you know, especially around the reporting, it’s not going to go away. So it’s all like it’s coming down the line at them. And so we’re supporting a lot of organizations term terms of what to do. So recruiting people for them, like heads of sustainability and things, but also giving them the support in terms of what they need to be thinking about. And it’s very closely aligned to our finance business, because a lot of it is around this recording.


Graeme Cowan  17:11

Yeah. You have to take you back again to February 2020. But this time, just thinking purely of your business. And just thinking, you know, where you first thought that COVID was going to have a significant impact on your business. So what was that six months like for you, when the tech was basically switched off? What were some of the tough decisions you had to make? And how did you manage to keep your head up? It was very difficult. And it was difficult to see the end of the tunnel. Just if you’d want to talk me through that, that period of time. And yeah, what you learned?


Stephen Moir  17:55

Well, I learned to loss. I think a couple of things. I mean, firstly, I started my business in mid 2007. And then six months later, the GFC happened. So I have been through various economic cycles and recessions before so I think the first thing I realized was to back myself that I have been through this before. And, yes, this was different and unknown, but I knew. And you know, in a reasonably humble way, I knew that I personally, and our business would get through it. So I was confident of that. I suppose I set out to be very clear in my communication with our team in terms of what our approach was, what, you know, I was very clear around what we were facing, what it meant. And then I tried to sort of bring everybody with me on that through through regular and constant clear communication. And as part of that, you know, we had to let some people go, unfortunately. But again, I tried to do that in a way that was as caring and as supportive as I possibly could, but I couldn’t avoid that.


Graeme Cowan  19:02

Yeah, yeah. It was looking back on now. It’s kind of hard believe it is, but like, I know, funnily enough, my 90 year old mother just got code for the first time yesterday, you know, really fine. So she okay. Yeah, she’s pretty weak, but you know, she’s had all the inoculum there isn’t all that sort of fingers crossed.


Stephen Moir  19:30

It’s still very disruptive, you know, and it’s, you know, talking about that period, I, I went, my mother lives overseas, and I went to see her as early as I could. And just the process of getting on an aeroplane I remember this, I thought it was in 2021. I think it was just incredible. And he looked and there was just nobody in nobody at the airports and


Graeme Cowan  19:53

it is a bit like an old movie is actually the worst is behind us. But one thing But, you know, we’ve also been able to share journey with your clients is that, you know, the volatility, the stress, the burnout isn’t decreasing, it’s not decreasing. And what do you think that your clients can do better to build that sort of group resilience build that sense of purpose? Well, I


Stephen Moir  20:24

actually think it’s increasing, and you’re probably closer to this than I am. I think the sense of, you know, the sort of the relentless push that corporates have around productivity and doing more with less, is it’s yeah, it’s relentless. And I think for a lot of very capable people, again, I think these big shocks, like COVID, make good people, anybody really reassess, you know, but if you’re good, you know, you can bet yourself and I think, anybody, you got to back yourself, right, if I’m being asked unrealistic things, then there will be an employer somewhere out there, that will, will not be like that will will, you know, will treat me with with a higher level of care and support. So, I think, you know, for employers, they’ve got to, you’ve got to think differently, I think there’s a bunch of companies that have just gone back into the same mode that they were in, to pre COVID. Without realizing that things have changed, I think, you know, when we’re working with, with organizations, there’s still some organizations that are insisting on having people back in the office five days a week. Now, I know that that may suit the CEO, or the CFO or what have you. But I can tell you, that does not suit the majority of their employees, because most people do not want that. And I think they just need to be, they need to be more flexible, I think they need to, you know, maybe look at things differently. I don’t think, you know, it’s been a crash hot year, for a lot of big Australian corporates this year, I just, there’s a lot of issues out there. And I just think I think there’s a chunk of them that personally are poorly led, you know, I talk a lot when I’m talking to candidates about joining an organization that has inspiring leadership is one of the key things you should look for that and a culture that you’re very aligned with. And probably 80 or 90% of people I meet that are looking for a move, it’s because they don’t get on with their boss, or they’re not aligned to the culture. So finding an environment that really suits you has got excellent leadership, it determines everything, even if the role is different. If you’re in an environment like this, you’re going to flourish and guarantee in 12 months time, your role will be broader or different to if that’s what you want. So that’s a such a key thing. And I think there’s a chunk of companies that are poorly led, and they’re the ones that are run, you read about in the fin review, actually,


Graeme Cowan  22:57

yeah. One thing that I guess must be pretty worrying for everyone. Because people are working harder. There’s, you know, people leaving, they’re having not always being replaced, there’s those sorts of issues going on, there’s AI, which is supposed to, you know, completely reinvent the workplace. But just about a month ago, the Productivity Commission actually said that our productivity had decreased in the last year by a small amount, but nevertheless, decrease with people working longer hours, supposedly having access to new technology that helps everything becomes more digitized. What’s going wrong?


Stephen Moir  23:36

Well, I think this whole focus on productivity is not necessarily you know, yes, it’s important, but it’s not everything, you know, I actually think and this ties back into the environment, as well, that there is going to it’s going to be forced on us there’s going to be a realignment around, you know, this relentless focus on driving productivity, share price, etc, is going to change. And yeah, the the, what’s going to happen with the climate and environment is going to it’s going to be part of that, but also people and the newer generations coming in, are simply not going to put up with that, you know, if you look at people that are now joining the workforce, yes, you want to get well paid and fairly paid, but you also want to work for organizations that have a very strong sense of purpose. And if they don’t, you’ll go to one that does, you know, and again, that good on that generation for for thinking and, you know, and working that you know, operating that way and if you know if people are not prepared to put up with if you know, if you if the if the business is poorly laid or there’s unrealistic expectations, people will leave and strongly encourage them to do that.


Graeme Cowan  24:52

Yeah, yep. And, you know, they’ll vote with their feet. And and good people will always Just find other options.


Stephen Moir  25:01

And that’s the thing, you know. And it’s interesting, again, obviously, the environment is what I’m passionate about. But, you know, whatever it is, if a company has a clear purpose, and then it’s operating, not, you know, it’s operating at odds with that, or it’s not. It’s not being transparent around what it’s doing. Those good people see that, and they will leave. And if anything, good leaders recognize that if you want to retain your best people, then you’ve got to be strong around your purpose, you’ve got to have a good purpose, you’ve got to live that purpose. And you’ve got to be actively doing things that you know, support things like the environment supports that sense of equality in, in, in Australia and things. So it I think it’s quite exciting actually looking forward, you know, much more than probably when you and I were starting off ground.


Graeme Cowan  25:53

And hopefully, that means that they’re measuring other important things like I did a webinar with your with your team, which was how, how to lead middle healthy and safe hybrid teams. And I shared their, you know, how you can calculate some of the cost of this disengagement distress. And one of the things the questions that we asked on the webinar was, Are you measuring cost of absenteeism? And the majority went to Lowe’s. And that that is significant. But what is even more significant is that presenteeism where people aren’t fully engaged, fully productive, that’s estimated to be between three or four times higher than absenteeism. That same mental stress contributes to turnover, employee turnover, which also is expensive as well. You know, do you see that those sort of measures will be part of the executive suite, part of the executive agenda, to measure the energy, the mood, the commitment, you know, in real on a real time basis?


Stephen Moir  27:00

Yeah, definitely. And they have to be, and if you think about, when I talked about, you know, inspiring leaders, they are all over this stuff, you know, what I mean? And they consistently build great teams have good people around them. And they are the kind of leaders that are then there, those kinds of leaders that guide and support and advise as opposed to the follow me over the barricades kind of stuff. And they are the kind of people that you want to be having in your community you want to work for, because, you know, they’re very tuned into all this. And they’re, it’s motivating you to be in those environments, you know, you do your good work, you, it’s motivating to be around people that that support you and care for you. And therefore you so good leaders understand all that they know how to create those kinds of cultures. And what comes from that is then performance. And I know you’re you’re, you agree with this, and I’m very strongly believing this that like by then giving people those account that the accountability you give the people to guide rails to create the culture. You give them the sort of guide rails within which to operate, then you give them the space and the accountability to actually perform, and you hold them accountable to that. And that is a great way to run a business and good leaders consistently do this, and they do an excellent day.


Graeme Cowan  28:26

And one of the root privileges of this show is speaking to amazing leaders who do champion the cultural change the culture of care, and high performance and, you know, setting ambitious targets. But first and foremost, I believe, and I’m sure you do, as well as the culture, how we treat each other. That’s the foundation that allows people to thrive. And you know, if I just think of one person that I interviewed, who was way ahead of the curve on this was Pat Gray, who is a former CEO of Ramsey healthcare. And I work with Ramsey over 20 years ago, helping them to establish what they came to call the Ramsey way. And their vision was people caring for people. And one of the first things that that pet did was to really recognize that we’re in big trouble financially. And you know, the banks were out the door and all this sort of thing. But in a in a conference they put together was a little rough at the time, he put forward this vision that we want to be recognized by our peers as being the best hot hospital operator in Australia. And so that was the vision that he got everyone to sort of buy into. But how he made it happen was really going around talking to the CEOs and directors of nursing the Finance Directors in each of the hospitals and say, Well, you know, this is your hospital. You know your community best you know your doctor’s best, you know, family’s best. What are you going to do to make it you the best hospital In vivo, and an operator in this region and what have you, and it and then he would say to them, Okay, which one do you want to choose to focus on? That’s yours, haven’t got time to do it, you know, you own it, you run with it, you do all that sort of thing. And it was remarkable the time that, you know, Pat was the CEO, you know, there was a total return on the stock market during that period, about 15 years, before 160 odd percent. And Ramsey delivered over 5,000% Over that same period. And, you know, it was a graphic illustration to me that their vision, which is people caring for people, that has produced great results as well.


Stephen Moir  30:49

Now, it’s a great example. And I think, you know, there are lots of good examples. They’re often in businesses, to be honest with you that you’ve never heard off before. And I think often some of the best leaders are in those kinds of organizations. And I think, particularly when you get to a certain point in your career, where you’ve got a lot of good experience there, those kinds of environment, those kinds of companies are really good ones to join. And you can have a big impact.


Graeme Cowan  31:12

Yeah. Can you think of an example that you can talk through of an inspiring leader that, you know, brought everyone on board brought them with him? Or her?


Stephen Moir  31:24

Yes, I mean, there’s lots. One I like a lot is over in the US. Satya Nadella hit so he runs Microsoft. So he took over Microsoft at a time when it was performing badly. Culturally, they were all over the shop, really. He, there’s a very good book, you would know around positive mindset. So he read by Carol Dweck, he read, he read that book. And then he’s actually written a very interesting book about how he transitioned transformed the business. But he started with the culture. People, some people have been at Microsoft, a long time had to go, all those kind of difficult decisions. And then once the culture was strong, everything else was floating. And if you look at the performance of Microsoft, subsequently, it’s been exceptional. But it all again, all came back to the culture, just like you were saying, and making sure everybody’s on the bus. You know,


Graeme Cowan  32:17

that is a great example, when he’s his book I have here is hit refresh. Yeah. And it was interesting, and that was a growth mindset. But I also saw on YouTube, the speech he made in when he was just announced the CEO, and what he talked about it really, you know, tapped into purpose. And he talked about how technology had helped his children who had learning difficulties. That’s right, you know, to read and to comprehend stuff. And then he threw out the challenge that, that, you know, what can you use Microsoft’s capability for, to solve problems you’re passionate about? And, and so put the challenge out there to the people there, and I’ve spoken to, you know, Steve, worldly Australian managing director for Microsoft on his shadow. And he just sort of recounted how quickly it happened, how quickly it was, like it was in six months, it was like a different organization, which is amazing for organization that saw


Stephen Moir  33:19

that, but that is that is quite common. You know, you can think that if you’re in an organization, I’m sure everybody’s been in an organization that has a poor culture, or it’s poorly LED. And you can think it’s never ending but with the right leadership, and, and focus and communication, you can turn that around very, very quickly. Lots of lots of examples and, and to be part of that, often a career highlights for many people, you know, you don’t often get someone that you’ve reported to that is like that. And if you can have that once or twice in your career, you’re very lucky. I think.


Graeme Cowan  33:54

We’re Steve roll recounted at the time, he had a conversation with Saudi Arabia, and he said that he was really passionate about corporate mental health and he set up the corporate Mental Health Alliance. But before he did, he had a chat with Saturn just said, Look, I don’t see this bringing any money to to Microsoft, you okay with me doing this? And he said, Why are you asking? Just, you know, just make it happen? Like you did you identified something you’re passionate about and had the freedom to actually pursue it, but it is, it is very invigorating and energizing quite frankly,


Stephen Moir  34:34

it is and then other people get energized by it because they see it happening. And then they come up with ideas and it drives them in a culture of that kind of you know, it’s it’s a it’s a safe environment to come up with ideas and to drive things and you know, some will succeed some work, that’s fine, you know, but least the ideas are happening and those are those businesses will thrive. You know, and I it’s interesting when I related to talking to people that are looking for a move to Often, companies try and put people in a box, you know, do you have the same sector experience, they’ll go into your background, do you have all the same technical skills. And that’s very frustrating for people, because it’s irrelevant. But what it does show and I talked to people about, see that as a, as, like a bit of a red light, that this business is probably not good enough for you, if that’s the way they’re thinking, they’ve got a closed mindset, you know, that they’re not good enough for you. So don’t worry about it, just move on. There’s a whole bunch of companies out there that do not think like that, and not lead like by, by that way, and that’s where you need to be focused.


Graeme Cowan  35:34

So remember, lamenting that that trend, where I was in recruiting in a going back many years, and, you know, they’d say, Oh, they gotta have, you know, five years of pharmaceutical experience, because our our business is really different, you know, changing really quickly, it’s really competitive, and you can’t find good people, it’s really different.


Stephen Moir  35:54

And there are some companies still operating that way, can you believe it, and it and they tend to be ones that are operating bit like rabbit in the headlights, they’re just going from one crisis to another and they’re trying to just deal with those rather than being on the front foot. So it’s interesting to watch.


Graeme Cowan  36:13

This something I was just about, Oh, yes. For the audio editing, and take this section out. I know that you’ve been inspired by a number of books, we just talked about it a guy and its impact on you are the one or two other books that you’ve found really, really helpful for guiding your business.


Stephen Moir  36:36

Well, I really like to hit refresh that you just spoke about. So it’s one of my go twos. I really, there’s a really good book about Abraham Lincoln, that I’ve got the name of a lady now. Fantastic talking about his his basically, it’s his life and what he did and how he did it. And I’ve read that a couple of times. Interestingly, I was reading that, at the time when you know, all the drama was going on in the US at the Capitol Building and stuff. And very interesting, just looking at how Abraham Lincoln Team of Rivals, that’s Abraham Lincoln Team of Rivals, and how he brought this coalition of people around him that basically took America through very dramatic time in their history, and how he got that group to work together. And it’s fabulous, actually. So that’s another one. Probably a couple of my main ones, actually.


Graeme Cowan  37:34

Yeah. And I think that Abraham Lincoln book, you mentioned was made into a movie as well, with Daniel Day Lewis playing, playing Lincoln. And it is an extraordinary story, how, how, just how pragmatic he had to be to move forward. And, you know, he had to bargain and influence and bring his perceived enemies close to him.


Stephen Moir  38:03

Right? Yeah. Cuz they were all rivals for the presidency. And I think the other thing from that is just his resilience. And if you look at, you know, I think, any great leader, in whatever field they’re in, they demonstrate that resilience. And I know you’re big on mental resilience, that’s obviously very important. And I think just resilience generally, in terms of just never giving up, always putting one foot in front of the other. And I think, with my business, that’s one of the things I’ve always tried to do is no matter what, it’s just to keep on going and keep on. If I do that, I know, things will work out, okay. And I look for that in people I bring into my business, I look for that when I’m running an assignment for one of our clients. It’s I think it’s the most important what was one of the most important, if not the most important to


Graeme Cowan  38:51

remember hearing jury cycle being interviewed. And he said, Yeah, lots of young comedians asked him, what’s his secret? How do they, how do they thrive? How do they get good jokes? And his advice was just do the work. And doing the work and his his world was writing one jerky day? Yeah, no matter what, every day,


Stephen Moir  39:15

they do, have fantastic do the work. It’s like, you know, you see someone like Roger Federer, and he wins all these tournaments. And I’m sure a couple of weeks later, he’s out there on the court. Nobody watching just practicing his backhand or something, you know, you’re just doing the work. He’s just it’s that basic stuff, isn’t it that you just, you have to do day in day out.


Graeme Cowan  39:33

It’s been a real pleasure catching up, Stephen, and I’ve really love the topics. We’ve talked about the new leadership that’s required to thrive in this environment. I always end by asking you to reflect back when you’re 18 and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your 18 year old self?


Stephen Moir  39:56

I think I would. You know, since I spoke at a school recently And I ended up with the same, you know, ended on the same message, you know, it was a group of year 12 students. And I think, you know, my advice to them, and it’s exactly what I would say to myself, That’s what I think I said, I talked about it was, you know, put the jacket on, you’re really good back yourself, everything will work out.


Graeme Cowan  40:19

And that’s a pretty consistent message. But I think it’s fantastic. You know, most people talk about on the show often talk about, you know, stressing too much and, you know, backing themselves and just doing those things. And Amy Edmondson, gave a really interesting twist on that as well. She said, The I’ve had a bit of stress in my life and worry about what I’m going to succeed or not succeed. I wish I just told myself, what do I need to learn right now to thrive in this moment? And I love that, you know, going back to the Learning Zone and being in the learning to, to help adapt to new situations.


Stephen Moir  40:51

Yeah, definitely. And then, you know, you’re gonna have failures, you’re gonna have successes. They’re all part of it, aren’t they? They’re all part of that learning.


Graeme Cowan  40:58

Absolutely. Thanks so much, Stephen. It’s been wonderful having you on the show.

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