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7 Questions on Leadership with Tim E Maillet

Name: Tim E Maillet

Title: Director, Future Learners

Organisation: UTS

I’m the Director, Future Learners at University of Technology Sydney and have responsibility for student recruitment, admissions and scholarships across Undergraduate/Postgraduate and International/Domestic student cohorts. I’ve worked in Higher Education and specifically, marketing and student recruitment for 17 years with experience in ANZ and across Asia Pacific. My expertise is in unifying the large, complex faculties across a university in order to build coordinated multi-channel student recruitment campaigns and admissions activities.

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

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


Jonno White

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

People. Leading people is a challenge because they are the ones that determine the result. The best leaders adapt to the skills and abilities of their team to implement systems, processes and establish the right culture to drive results.

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

That’s an interesting question. I think you become a leader when people choose to follow you, not when you’re assigned a title. I grew up playing a lot of sport and that’s where I learned to lead and had the first chance to lead. When I was 15 I was named as an alternate to a very competitive basketball team. I knew I would have to work really hard to earn the respect of my new teammates and crack my way into the lineup, so I put everything I had into it. We trained hard preparing for our first big tournament and, to my surprise, our coaches named me as the captain because of my attitude, effort and the way I connected with each of my teammates. I was by no means the most talented player, but the guys chose to follow me because of my passion for the team and the game.

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

I only plan 50% of my day and allow myself the other 50% for the unpredictable. I try to set aside an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon for emails, but spend the rest of the time in a combination of concentrated work (research, reading, planning, writing), formal meetings and informal discussions. My day is very social, I need it to be because I am very extroverted and need that interaction to energise myself. Once I am home, I spend as little time focusing on work as possible. I find keeping the two seperate is the best way to manage my mental health by maintaining my focus on where I am and who I am with.

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

You get better by making yourself uncomfortable. I’ve recently moved into a larger role after being in my previous job for 6 years. I was very comfortable before, but I can’t say I was giving my best. This new role makes me uncomfortable quite often, but I am learning so much about myself and how to trust those around me.

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?

Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson.

Phil Jackson is a very successful basketball coach who employs a very wide perspective to lead a group of highly competitive athletes. He uses Native American tribal practices, Buddhist teachings, meditation, psychology and empowerment to get the best out of his team.

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

Be clear on what you want to achieve. Things fall into place when you have that clarity.

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

This isn’t a story, but rather the most meaningful lesson is that being a good leader doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone in your team. You might not even like everyone in your team, but the most important thing is to set everyone up to succeed by understanding their skill set and motivations. It’s amazing how success seems to provide a bridge for people to get over their differences.

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