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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading

7 Questions with Simon Ives

helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Simon Ives

Name: Simon Ives

Current title: Global HVM Transformation

Current organisation: Glencore Copper

Simon’s a full-stack HR professional solving business-critical problems in relation to People and Performance.

7 Questions with Simon Ives


1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

I work in remote locations and it’s often very isolating. Not just socially but professionally too. Solving complex problems on your own, in complex contexts, without a peer group is a difficult skill to develop.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My background is quite non-traditional. I was the popular kid in high school, good at sports, pretty good grades, good socially. But I came from a broken home. I ended up becoming a father when I was sixteen and having to drop out of high school to get a job in order to support my new family. I tried going to night school after work - a 15km bike ride each way - but I couldn’t keep that up. I ended up working through a few entry-level jobs before starting university, a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at 27. When I was 29 and travelling in India I had a bad case of Malaria. I returned to Australia and ended up staying with my Mum in Mount Isa to recover. I ended up being offered a great job with a national non-profit in the training and development field and worked my way through various roles from there. I never ended up finishing that undergrad, however I have gone on to complete a few other education programs, including an MBA, and all in business.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I’m quite rigid these days. I wake at 5:00am, shower, and practice guitar and music for an hour. The practice ranges from music theory, through technique, sometimes percussion, and often learning new songs. I’m at work by 7:00am and spend the first 15 minutes in my journal completing my “Morning Planning” ritual. This activity really sets up my day for success. I plan out work and what I need to do to succeed including meeting prep, perhaps reports, what I’m going to eat for the day, and what exercise I’ll do. I generally head to the town pool for 20 - 30 laps on my lunch break which gives me additional energy for the afternoon and is a nice ritual to reset for the afternoon, particularly if there have been challenges in the morning. I finish at 5:00pm and collect my youngest child from kindergarten on the way home. I like to cook (I trained and worked as a chef when I was younger) and the kid’s bedtime is between 7:30 and 8:00pm

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

This is a tough one as I’m learning every single day. I’m passionate about servant leadership and the one area that I am focusing on is around techniques for being present in this time of COVID with remote working so prevalent. I’m a digital native and I still struggle in this space.

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?

The Bhagavad Gita without a doubt. This book, and supporting philosophy, really helped me to develop into the person I am today. It got me on a great path for success after a difficult early adulthood and instilled the virtues of servant leadership in me. It’s helped me develop a framework for success and is still a daily inspiration.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

With time, by designing an environment for safe failure, rewarding development effort and not just traditional success, and recognising that leadership, in the large enterprise, is always servant leadership. The leader and the enterprise cannot succeed unless all workers, and all systems, are successful, healthy, and happy.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

I don’t have a story, but a word of advice certainly. Trust the experts that you employ. I’ve seen time and time again executives discount advice and recommendations from more ‘junior’ employees, often because the Executive’s views are different, they feel threatened, or they feel that their experience is ‘more correct’. Some organisations are great at this and have formal systems in place to receive, review, and respond to such advice. However many don’t. I have seen far too many costly legal disputes and IR issues arise because a more experienced executive trusted his gut or disagreed because this wasn’t how things were done in her day.

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