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7 Questions on Leadership with Federico Marcon

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Name: Federico Marcon

Title: Deputy Director, Development

Organisation: Monash University

Federico is the Deputy Director, Development of Monash University, the largest University in Australia with campuses in China, India, Indonesia, Italy and Malaysia. Federico leads the team that manages the portfolio of domestic and international philanthropic partners supporting the University’s large-scale and mission-oriented programmatic initiatives.

In Australia, he has previously covered senior management positions for large international organisations such as World Vision, Plan International, Australian Red Cross, WaterAid and the Global EverGreening Alliance.

Prior to moving to Australia, Federico worked for the European Commission and the United Nations, managing multi-country programs on human rights, education and vocational training, labour market policies, economic development and micro-finance in Guyana, Gabon, Timor-Leste, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Federico's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

To strike the right balance between inspiring my team and colleagues (which is an essential component of leadership), while also inspiring myself to venture into unchartered water so to refresh my thinking and be even more inspiring for others

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have been fortunate enough to be in leadership positions from an early stage of my career, being the captain of a competitive basketball team and then working for the United Nations, where I covered senior positions at a relatively young age. But I wasn't born as a leader and didn't really seek to become one. It is just life that gave me some amazing opportunities to grow

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

I try not to have any pre-determined structure, since I feel this could hinder my creativity. However, I don't go to bed unless I have read at least 30 mins of novel/fiction and 30 mins of work-related stuff (leadership, management, innovation, change management). Speaking a few languages, I like to read leadership books in different languages, to absorb lessons from various cultural background and fight back the Anglo-Saxon dominance in this sector

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

As a leader, you need to be able to own your team's mistakes and protect them from internal and external pressure. A bad leader is the one that would throw their team under the bus to protect him/her and preserve his/her position. By doing so, you lose credibility and respect

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?

"Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life" - by Francesca Gino. It gave me more awareness and power to acknowledge the fact that major breakthroughs stem from unconventional thinking, and it doesn't make sense to join the army if you can be a pirate.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Nurture your personal life as a priority over your professional life, and try to be the best human being you can as a friend, parent, partner etc. This will translate in great leadership. Also, be curious and keep asking you questions to better understand society and discover the world. The worst leaders I had are the ones who would spend 18 hours in the office and then go home and sleep and come back to the office the following day. If you are not up to speed with what is happening around you (and around the world), there is now way you can inspire other people

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I promoted to a senior position a colleague of mine while she was on maternity leave. Everybody thought it was a crazy idea, but after 5 years all the sceptics recognise that she is the most amazingly talented professional in the organisation. Where she has progressed to now cover a regional leadership position.

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