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7 Questions with Graham Almond
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7 Questions with Graham Almond
Name: Graham Almond
Current title: Executive Vice President and Chief Officer People, Culture and Technology
Current organisation: OceanaGold Corporation
Graham has over 25 years global experience (Eurasia, Oceana, Africa, Middle East, Americas) with ASX, LSE and TSX listed Companies leading organizational transformation programs across HR, HSE, Assets, IT and logistics functions and the merger/integration of acquired business' and resource projects. Graham has worked in industries such as aviation, logistics, mining, construction, oil and gas services, retail, legal advocacy and currently leads the global footprint of OceanaGold's people, culture and technology strategy. OceanaGold is a mid-tier gold mining business with a presence in APAC and America's currently undergoing capital expansion and delivering world class outcomes for shareholders. He commenced his career as an Industrial Relations Advocate in the Industrial Relations Courts and Commissions in Australia leading IR related issues for a variety of industries and employers.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Building a culture that is aligned at the top (Board and Executive team) and lived throughout the enterprise.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Focused on leadership experience both within the HR and HSE function and in line management. Moved between corporate and operational roles to develop a better understanding of business drivers and learn more about how positions create value and the role of culture influencing behavior to drive performance and value. Whilst I was presented with Executive HR roles reporting to CEO's in Australia for larger retail organization's in my late 20's, I chose to build breadth of experience and focused effort to obtain international experience to better equip me to lead a people function which can truly think strategically, connect business needs and solutions globally and understand more about global talent/capability. Having led large multi-country based teams from one side of the world to another, the impact of COVID-19 has been an easy transition given the various operating teams and time zones I have had to work with in prior roles.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
1. Wake up around 5.45am, grab a coffee then stretch for 15 minutes to clear my mind.
2. given our international time zones with Board members and offices/operations in Canada and America, the mornings are typically scheduled with meetings anywhere from 6am through to midday. Afternoon is typically spent on my Australian/APAC based needs or working on items I am responsible for. Usually work from home on the days I start at 6am. Most days I am in the office between 7 and 7.30am
3. typically leave the office between 5.30 and 6pm. Evenings are spent with my wife and son. We aim to do something physical for 30-45 minutes 3 times a week as soon as I arrive home. After dinner, I tend to read or catch up on some lost time for about 1 to 2 hours due to unplanned events in the office. Off to bed about 10-10.30pm
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
There are 3 equals:
1. Don't work in an organization which is not constructive, has politics or senior managers/executives who are lenient on their favorites. It isn't worth the impact on your wellbeing and mindset.
2. If your inner being isn't being fulfilled and you can't contribute to the company purpose, move on and work with an organization (or typically a boss) that allows you to contribute.
3. Trust your team, enable them to contribute, foster their ideas and help them navigate risk to successfully execute.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Lominger (now Korn Ferry) FYI for Improvement. Most People and Culture leaders fail to recognise leadership capabilities and how to address noise when people are over compensating by using strengths and failing to grow. Having spent a lot of my time working on matching talented people to organisational capability needs and influencing culture, by developing a solid understanding of leadership capabilities, it has allow me to engage in discussions with Boards / Executives that led to the development and appointment of 3 regional CEO's of very large enterprises or CEO's of 2 public companies. It also meant I was better equipped to help them succeed.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Keeping it brief, I look at positions through an ABC model and categories roles then performance and potential:
A = critical role
B = backbone role
C = non value add role.
A = significant contributor
B = contributor
C = low contributor
I start by looking to identify what roles influence our strategy and value and what is the impact of turnover on the strategy then aim to match the A roles with A players. It is essential to remove B and C players from the A roles.
Then I develop a success profile for the A roles and ensure the A players in those roles receive the leadership development they need to bridge the gap.
Next I focus on the leadership pipeline. Where are the successors and what is their learning agility potential and aim to match the potential with the success profiles and create a pipeline of future talent.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
A meaningful story I experienced early on in my career was the managed sell down of Franklin's Retail Chain. It was nearly 20 years ago now and I was the Group HR Head of our Supply Chain and the Group Head of all the Company Employee Relations. I worked on the IR strategy with my boss and Joe Catanzariti (Former partner at Clayton Utz). When it came time to talk with the Unions, we didn't lose one day of industrial action. This was a first in Australia, especially for an organisation of over 27,000 employees, most of whom now had no future as Dairy Farm wanted to sell their retail business and invest the capital back into Asia. A large part of why we never lost a day was due to my integrity with our supply chain workforce Union Officials (from the NUW) and the Union office (SDA) for the Retail workers. It taught me to always be transparent with our workforce and others around me as one just never knows when the future depends on the behavior and actions of our own past. It wasn't about being Mr nice guy. It was about being focused on the issue (not the person), fair and consistent in my approach of dealing with others.