Rob Wilkins podcast interview

Steve Kimmens Career, Podcast Leave a Comment

Good and bad leadership is the difference in your career

Rob Wilkins is a highly experienced leader in learning & development, information management systems and data analytics. A theme running through Rob’s career is the impact of good and bad leadership, and how he has cultivated his own leadership style to develop his people.

He’s worked in CBA, PWC, IBM, St George, AMP, Aussie Home Loans, the NSW Department of Education and now at Catholic Education.

Rob shares the importance of great leadership – how a great mentor can transform your career  – and the lessons he’s applied to lead teams successfully.




my career habit is the podcast where professionals share how they have taken control of their career to support the life they want to lead. 

Each week Steve Kimmens interviews professionals to share my career habit – the experiences, skills and insights that have helped people to make their job work for them.


Subscribe and listen to the podcast:



Good and bad leadership have big impacts on you and your career

Rob shares the importance of good leadership, especially early on in your career.


Bob is a good mentor and a good friend now, but he’s always been a mentor who took me under his wing and showed me the possibilities of my own capability. It wasn’t about trying to guide me in a particular direction or do anything else. What he really focused on was my unbridled enthusiasm.

Rob Wilkins – my career habit podcast episode 2


Good and bad leadership impacts whether you will stay in a role

Rob shares his insights about when to leave a job, and how if you have a bad manager who is persecuting you – it is time to go.

And if you get tapped on the shoulder for a new role, you should give it serious consideration because you are being put in a strong position for that role.





The importance of networks in your career

Not only do network connections create the tap on the shoulder moments for new jobs that Rob shares, they also give you a sound board outside of your immediate colleagues.

It can be a really powerful tool to have a network where you can test ideas.


The depth of that relationship that you have within the network is important because if they’ve got the freedom to call you out and vice versa, it’s great because it saves you making some of the fundamental mistakes that you could make. And that’s something that I think is incredibly vital in terms of being able to keep your head out of the clouds and more grounded.

Rob Wilkins – my career habit podcast episode 2


Rob’s career is a great example of cultivating and growing your network over your career to help yourself and others. Rob mentors a number of professionals through his network. If you are worried about networking, and not sure how or where to start, try the my career habit guide to networking.


How to overcome the fear of networking

The my career habit guide to building your networking to develop your career further.

Read about the networking guide


How to motivate your people as a good leader

Dan Pink’s work has been a big influence on Rob’s leadership style, inparticular Dan Pink’s book Drive and the three key insights on what motivates people:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

The research shows that these three elements are much more powerful and effective ways to motivate people than the old fashioned, and often crude, carrot and stick approaches. The three point framework is a highly effective way to approach how you lead your people.

What I have found over the years is when you give people enough autonomy, that gives them the ability to be able to create the mastery that they are craving, and it also spurs them on to actually look at ways of improvement and ways that they can actually develop that even further.

Rob Wilkins – my career habit podcast episode 2

Another element of motivation that is in the control of leaders is recognising progress

Dan Pink sights research from Harvard University about the power of progress, and how leaders can ensure their people recognise and are aware of the progress they are making

Secret to a motivated and engaged team?

Find out how to use the power of progress

Recognising progress

Thanks for listening and reading the interview about moving from a corporate to a startup career

my career habit is the podcast where professionals share how they have taken control of their career to support the life they want to lead. 

Each week Steve Kimmens interviews professionals to share my career habit – the experiences, skills and insights that have helped people to make their job work for them.

Subscribe and listen to the podcast:




Transcript from the Rob Wilkins interview on the my career habit podcast

Rob Wilkins (00:00):
These things are still forms of resilience, but it’s not about the fact that you’re actually staying there and grinding your way through that’s not resilience, that’s persecution. And a lot of that is self-persecution at times.

Steve Kimmens (00:13):
Welcome to my career habit, the podcast where professionals share how they taken control of their career to support the life they want to lead. I’m your host, Steve Kimmens. And each week I interview professionals to share my career habit, the experiences, skills and insights that have helped people to make their job work for them. Today’s guest is Rob Wilkins. Rob is a highly experienced leader in learning development, information management systems and data analytics. Rob shares the importance of great leadership, how a great mentor can transform your career and the lessons he’s applied to lead teams successfully. We discuss the importance of taking care of yourself in a corporate career. How being encouraged to keep pushing through is damaging for our mental health and physical wellbeing, with some of the warning signs you should watch out for.

Steve Kimmens (00:56):
Let’s get on with the podcast. Rob is a fantastic, thoughtful and generous leader, and its great to have him as a guest. Welcome to my career habit podcast Rob.

Rob Wilkins (01:07):
Thanks Steve. Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.

Steve Kimmens (01:09):
Fantastic. Now, speciality and intrigue theme your career. What does that mean, Speciality and intrigue?

Rob Wilkins (01:16):
That’s a great question. I think that sort of stems back to, a lot of people can talk from a perspective of they fell into what they actually did. And from my perspective, learning and development was something that I was always involved in in some way, shape or form. I started training back in the late eighties, face-to-face training within the Commonwealth bank, but I fell hard into learning and development and computing quite by accident. It was just, there was a relieving role where I could move into EDP, which was electronic data processing back in the days, which I think is now called IT. I could actually get into EDP and I went into there and developed skills applied for a role, which was forms management and information design. So it was designing all the forms for the bank using Macintosh platforms, which I had a fascination for back in the day.

Rob Wilkins (02:14):
If anybody knows Macs, this is back in the days of two CIs and two SIs and things that used to run off diskette. And then when I finished that, I applied for a computer support job at the computer based training unit at the Commonwealth bank. So it was combining both the love of learning, and the training background that I had with the technical skills that I had sort of thing. And the rest they say is history because, I found somebody who believed in me, I found something that I truly was just blown away by and loved, and that sort of falling into instructional design and learning and everything that was associated with computer-based training in those days. But what we would call online learning now is just one of those things that, yeah, it’s sort of, it happened, it was organic, but I really fell into it.

Rob Wilkins (03:03):
And it was then that I found a great mentor, when I fell into it and everything sort of stemmed from there. the intrigue piece, came a lot later and that was about, I started studying and I started learning and I started doing a lot of things with university and TAFE and a lot of places, the intrigue came from the difference between seeking information and formal learning practice. And, and how does that differ? And what I’ve come to understand is that, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, in fact, nine times out of 10 learning, it comes about as a result of seeking information in the first place. So it’s, it’s an interesting space and, that’s where the entry comes because I’m still all these years later trying to make sense of what that actually meant.

Steve Kimmens (03:53):
Fantastic. So you mentioned there that you had like a key mentor that gave you that, that step in, is that something that you’ve seen in your career have been certain, certain key people who’ve been able to help you in certain moments?

Rob Wilkins (04:04):
And I would say that when you find somebody who understands you for you, and sometimes that can sound trite, but I don’t want that to sound trite. What I actually mean to, for that to be is that, you know, the gentlemen I can name is Robert Spence. He was a pioneer of computer based training in Australia. one of around about a dozen people at the time, there was Westpac and Commonwealth bank, the Australian air force and the Australian military who were playing around with computer based training at the time. And, this man spent time with McDonald Douglas in the United States, in the sacred mountain, underneath all the Mount, not far from area 51, all these sorts of things, but he, he spent a lot of time sort of understanding this. And he introduced me to a world of instructional design and in fact, instructional systems design, and anybody watching the podcast is sort of, kind of associate themselves with, instructional design and instructional systems design will know the names of Dick and Carey and Lori Reba and, RobertDick and Carey and all these learning theorists who had a part to play in terms of making sure that people understood this sort of thing.

Rob Wilkins (05:22):
So this Robert Spencer, Bob Spence, Bob is a good mentor and a good friend now, but he’s always been a mentor who took me under his wing and showed me the possibilities of my own capability. It wasn’t about trying to guide me in a particular direction or do anything else. What he really focused on was, you know, you’ve got this unbridled enthusiasm, which I did have. I was probably a little bit over the top at times a little bit opinionated at time.

Rob Wilkins (05:57):
So it was good to have a mentor that sort of took me under his wing. He showed me a lot of my future leadership traits, I think, because I had that role model that I could also base some of the aspects on more importantly though, what he, he did was get me to tap into my belief in my own capability and my own ability to Harnish harness, I should say skills and capabilities that I hadn’t yet sort of developed, but had the potential to develop. So the most important thing was having that person show me a way of being able to learn, to be able to invest in my own development, but more importantly, tap into skills and capability that I hadn’t realistically used at this point in time. that became a phenomenal point of my career.

Steve Kimmens (06:48):
Fantastic. And is that something that’s influenced you as a leader when you’re looking at people in your team or in an organization, how you might be able to help them unlock that confidence in their capabilities?

Rob Wilkins (07:01):
Very, very, very much so. I think, I think my love of learning has exposed me to a lot of management theorists, a lot of, positions over the years, in terms of my leadership, both senior leadership and then executive leadership, it’s exposed me to a lot of good and bad leaders. So I would saying that, he’s influenced was very much more about getting me to concentrate on myself and on earth, what I knew I was capable of. I think he gave me a little bit of humility too. he was always good, always good to pull me back down to earth, ground me, and let me not get too carried away with the possibilities that I thought were there, because I would have often fall into the trap of focusing on the technology rather than coming back to what it is that I was actually trying to do for individuals in terms of their own skill and capability.

Rob Wilkins (08:05):
And my job is learning and development. That was one of the core facets that I always had to actually remind myself home. And he was, you know, absolutely 1000%, the person that actually could get me back into there. And then as I developed, I, I got into things like, looking at a lot of learning theorists and a lot of authors did a lot of reading. I still do a lot of reading, and a lot of microblogging and other things now. And, one of the things I always found was there was, some very, very good authors out there. Dan pink is one that’s actually influenced me quite heavily in terms of being able to do that. And I think I’ve been able to actually take the best of what Bob showed me as a mentor and develop my own approach to leadership and the way that I would actually lead teams and lead the people that I have, entrusted with me, not only for their careers, but to deliver for the organizations that we work for.

Steve Kimmens (09:02):
You mentioned Dan Pink there, what’s his influence been on your leadership approach?

Rob Wilkins (09:04):
I think Dan’s got, the ability to be able to write in such a way and speak in such way. So I’ve been to one of his sessions when he came out to Australia some years ago, but more importantly he’s books. it sounds, it sounds simple, but they’re an easy read, and half the way through a mountain of theory, but he’s got enough empirical evidence in there to be able to actually show me the research behind what it is that he actually does. The Seminole book that, made such a difference to me was a book called drive. And it was three fundamental aspects. And I think for whatever reason, it just resonated with me. and the reasons being is the drive focuses on firstly, you know, have, have you shown people the motivation? Do they actually understand what’s going, what the purpose of their role is?

Rob Wilkins (09:58):
What is their motivation for working in that organization? What is it that they’re going to do to really, create value for the organization? So people come to work actually knowing what their purpose is, overseas in terms of being able to fulfill that, then the other two aspects within drive, where autonomy and mastery, autonomy really speaks to the fact that, you know, we work with grown adults. you know, I’m sitting here with you on this podcast today and, you know, to sit in judgment of the people that we’re working with, most of them could probably do your job. Some of them could probably still do your job even better than you.

Rob Wilkins (10:37):
There’s a humility involved with that. But one thing that they do crave is the ability to be able to actually explore, look at ways that they can improve fundamentally try and, make a difference to the workplace in terms of innovation, creativity, and other things that they could do, having the autonomy to know that they can do that and do that without any form of, critique, being torn down for doing it or doing anything along those lines. What I have found over the years is when you give people enough autonomy, that gives them the ability to be able to create the mastery that they craving. And it also spurs them on to actually look at ways of improvement and ways that they can actually develop that even further. And for me, those three aspects of what’s my purpose within the organization, am I going to have the autonomy to explore and do this to the best of my ability?

Rob Wilkins (11:34):
And I am, am I going to be able to demonstrate just how much value I’ve created for this organization? And can I go on and do that even more? That aspect, has been a guiding principle for me in my leadership style and, you know, fingers crossed touching lots of wood at this point in time. based on reunions with my teams and, you know, conversations with a lot of other people. everybody gives me the feedback and says, yes, it was one of their periods of growth and it was one of the things that they really, really appreciate it because they were happy. They enjoyed coming to work, and they achieved and they were able to actually do a lot of things. So, you know, I’ve sort of concentrated on that because I think the formula is simple and I think Dan pink really hit it on the head when he looked at it, in terms of all the motivating factors. Trust me, there’s a lot more in the book that under underpins all of that, but, you know, in the scheme of things that made a significant difference to the way that I actually led people and worked with people.

Steve Kimmens (12:36):
Yep one of the things I loved in the pink work in drive, and some of the stuff that’s followed that is the power of recognition and, and the power of, and he highlights research. I think the researchers Theresa Emma dial and, and the work around progress and the sense of progress and the power as a leader to actually be able to remind people and demonstrates and look at the progress you’ve made, recognize their progress and that the research shows that the sense of progression in the workplace, a sense of progress to what you’re working to is the most motivating thing you can have in the workplace.

Rob Wilkins (13:13):
Absolutely, and fundamentally that ties back into that sense of purpose and creating value because when you, when you can actually have that conversation on progression and, you know, whether, you know, it, it does draw in a lot of the research recently of these things that we do, which is like annual performance reviews and where the annual performance reviews are things that we really need anymore. And organizations are there things like sentiment indexes and monthly catch-ups that give us the ability to be able to determine that, and they look, there are a lot of systems that are associated with that systems thinking and systems science that comes into that sort of thing in terms of how do you actually reward that if you actually don’t have a judgment point, a whole range of other things, but it still comes back to me for the fact that when you do give that feedback on progression, and you can actually say to somebody, you are creating value, not only for yourself, but for the organization and you’re actually moving forward, people just get it.

Rob Wilkins (14:16):
And it’s a, it’s a sense of I’m taking the steps to that mastery than I’m craving it. I’m taking the steps to what it is that I’m actually purposefully going to contribute to the organization. And for me, that’s a serious point of individuals being able to identify that I have this leader who trusts me enough to go my own path and make my own decisions and do that. And I’m going to contextualize this in one big way and say, Steve, it’s also about the fact that if people make mistakes, you’ve got to be able to have the ability to be able to say, yeah, you made a mistake. so let’s examine that, what did we do wrong? How can we fix that? Right. We know how we can actually fix that. So let’s not repeat the mistake. What is it that we need to put in place so that we can actually build on that scaffolding and keep moving forward?

Rob Wilkins (15:06):
And that’s where a got to step up and be able to actually say, the box stays with me, you know, so the innovative, the team makes a mistake. You gotta be able to fall on your sword and make that mistake and move forward in terms of being able to do that. and that’s where I’ve had good leaders and bad leaders. the bad letters were always the ones that truly wanted to punish. And, you know, in modern day workplace scenarios, there’s no such thing as punishment. It’s, it’s really about pivoting and having corrective action and moving forward very, very, very quickly. So a lot of old style management theorists, and a lot of old star management ways of doing things, that command and control space, it’s really dying, pretty natural death. and I think that’s a good thing.

Steve Kimmens (15:48):
Yeah, on that topic, you kind of described a world where it’s kind of a great working environment, and certainly I’ve been lucky enough to kind of work in, in those sort of situations. But there’s also been times in my career where I’m sure other people have had this challenge of like, when do you make a decision to leave a role? And it can be a really difficult one, you know, you’ve, you’ve had, you’ve had a long career, not to be rude. And, you know, you’ve, you’ve been through

Rob Wilkins (16:14):
Not being rude at all, I’m living with the realities of it.

Steve Kimmens (16:17):
So, you know, you’ve been through a few different challenges and different changes in roles. How, how did you make that decision? Did you have criteria that you work to when you were making the decision, whether to stay in a role or to leave a role?

Rob Wilkins (16:29):
A lot of the research will tell you first and foremost, that people will leave because of their direct manager. fundamentally for me over my career period. Yep. Absolutely. if I had a rubbish leader, somebody who I directly reported to who I thought, yeah, you, you can work in with those people and you can actually test that scenario and you can weave your way through that. But there does come a point where you, you know, from a mental health perspective, because depending on people’s motivations and the motivators and the job market and where people are, yeah. You’ve got to make decisions on the basis of, you know, well, how does this support our family? What are the things, all those things taken into account? You know, one thing that I’ve always said is that if you’re being persecuted on a daily basis, by a leader who just doesn’t understand you, and all I want to be able to do is grind you into the dirt and get as much out at the USA possibly can.

Rob Wilkins (17:21):
And it’s really recognition that you are very, very good. but they make no qualms about the fact that, that, you know, they’re just going to grind you into that dirt. For me, that was always a motivating factor. If I had a really, really bad later I’m out of there. my mental health was far more important and I think people nowadays, but, you know, my mum used to say he held a health is wealth. and it is one of those sort of old passed down sayings, but it’s true. It’s true. When you’re healthy, you have the ability to be able to, turn on a 5 cent piece and say, okay, I was going in this direction. I think I might give this a bit of a crack. Now I might do something along those lines. So that is definitely one aspect that always forced me to look at, okay, why would I actually stay in that role? Another reason I was tapped on the shoulder, I always found that, you know, another saying that my father always gave him, God, bless his soul is never looked at gift horse in the mouth.

Rob Wilkins (18:25):
You know, just take it for what it is. And, you know, always if an opportunity knocks, I open the door up and have a very, he used to say, I have a very long conversation with it. You can always close it, but make sure you’ve had a very long informed conversation about it. And when I’ve been tapped on the shoulder, on all occasions by one, so I’ve had three occasions where that’s happened all occasions by a one I’ve actually taken up the offer, put myself into the mix, managed to secure the role, and I’ve never regretted it, never regretted it. so I think, you know, for me, that’s always been a catalyst to be able to actually acknowledge that. why that’s important is you’re always coming from a point of affirmation and confidence because somebody thinks you are capable and, you know, it’s up to you to prove that you are, but the reality is, are from an observational sense or from a interaction space or from a networking space, somebody thinks you’re capable.

Rob Wilkins (19:22):
And so, you know, when you’re tapped on the shoulder, for me, it’s about really having those long conversations, being able to do that. The one time I turned it down was a time in a big financial institution looking after their I T area and what was painted to me as the role, I asked to be able to actually talk to half a dozen of the leaders I’d be leading, within the area and the two stories didn’t meld. and that was the time that I made a quick call core decision not to actually go through with it because I was probably being put into a role that I don’t think, was in line with the expectations that were being painted. And then obviously the final one is, you know, so I’ve talked about the fact that, you know, you, your manager, you get rid of you’re out of there being tapped on the shoulder.

Rob Wilkins (20:13):
that’s one thing that is really, really important to be able to do it, but the other one is just purely your own, health and your own wellbeing. And knowing when you’ve got to be able to actually get up and go, and this could be for a whole range of reasons, but I know, so the specific example as a head of learning and development at Aussie home loans, I was there for just on NY five close to six years, no real tiny little issues with, some of the leadership decisions that were being made, but they were more pivotal and more other bits and pieces. But I got to the point where I was working anywhere between 60 to 80 hours a week, and you know, for an entrepreneurial financial services organization, that was all about customer service anytime of the day 24, by seven, seven days a week, 365 days a year, if a brokers needed it and that their support that’s associated with that, there was a whole range of the business operating model that sort of had you switched on all the time.

Rob Wilkins (21:24):
you know, I’m sure the organization wouldn’t advocate working those hours, but by the same token, you know, if you loved what you were doing and you knew that things had to actually happen and you had brokers in WA who weren’t going to, you know, they’re going to go through till 8:00 PM in the evening and you’re there, there were conversations to be had and things that needed to be done in a whole range of other things. And, you know, for me, it came back to the fact that I, there was a point where I came home on a Wednesday night and I said to my wife, I cannot do it anymore. I am, I am at the point where there’s some sheer exhaustion. My wife said, well, tell me why. You know, we went through it and I showed her everything that was happening and she knew it, but God bless her cotton socks.

Rob Wilkins (22:07):
She actually said to me, you needed to actually voice that to me. And I did. And I, you know, I was nearly at the point of tears and she said, good Tom to go. it is what it is and I up and left. So they, they they’d be the three areas that I’d always look at, you know, as the fact that you never put up with a crap manager, your health and your welfare and your mental health in particular, in these tight days and times are so much more important. And you know, that to me is a really, really important factor in terms of that. And the third thing is when opportunity comes knocking, have those long, long conversations and investigate everything that you’ve got.

Steve Kimmens (22:46):
One of the things I found a challenge in my career is often people will say resilience is really important. So, you know, when there’s, you’re piling free work or times you gotta be resilient. But I, to me, there’s almost this double-edged sword of resilience where people feel like, oh, I meant to just kind of keep grinding through this. And it’s like, well, there comes a point where you have to ask yourself this question of, are you now just simply exhausted? Can you keep going? And is this going to give you what you want?

Rob Wilkins (23:17):
You know what, you, you raise a fantastic point that point about resilience. You know, the way that we view resilience is putting up with the ship where realistically the use of resilience from a skill and capability perspective for yourself is more about the acknowledgement of what’s working. And what’s not resilience isn’t necessarily about putting up with the crap. Resilience is about understanding. Okay. There’s a point here where I’m about to actually drop out of this race, or I’m about to drop out of this organization, or I’m about to drop out at this point. what’s my plans, where am I heading? What am I going to take the time for? And what, where instead of facing north, am I going to face south, or am I going to bring it to the east or the west? Or what is it that I’m actually going to do?

Rob Wilkins (24:05):
What direction am I going to face? Am I going to have a complete career reformation? Do I want to start again, but do something that I’ve always craved doing? These things are still forms of resilience. but it’s not about the fact that you’re actually staying there and we’re owning your way through that, but that’s not resilience, that’s persecution. And a lot of that is self persecution at times. The major factor that keeps people in a role for too long is usually the money that they’re earning. and so when you look at times like we’re in right now, you know, people that are probably in a role that they don’t want to be doing, but are getting paid big bucks are going to be less inclined to actually jump out of that role because what are they jumping into? They’re jumping into a market.

Rob Wilkins (24:49):
That’s got an extra million people in it at the moment. And the competition for space competition for roles, competition, for everything that they’re doing is at a level that’s unprecedented. So do I really want to actually go there? No, I’m not going to do that. You know, fast forward 12 months time, we’ll have a lot of people who are mentally exhausted and their mental health is not going to be good. Their domain is not going to be good, their ability to get themselves up for roles and projects and other things is waning. And you, you will get this cyclical, aspects to it. So for me, it’s always been one of those things where, and you know what, I will say this, because everybody will, I’m sure people will look at it and say, well, it’s not that easy. And it isn’t. so I’m going to admit that it’s not an easy thing to do, but I know that I’ve been there and done it, and I’ve done it twice now, and I’ll never regret it.

Rob Wilkins (25:46):
I’ve been able to actually get out and my last, you know, by giving away an executive role and walking away from that executive role, I really asked myself in terms of my masters, in my information and knowledge management area, and how do I combine that with the learning and development space and the it project management skills that I’ve developed over the last three or four years, because I’m printing, you know, prints to qualified. And I want to become a project manager and really understand that ICT space. And for me that said, well, you know what, what’s the only sacrifice that I make as a result of this. And maybe it’s only money. well, that’s going to come down to what drives you. and it’s going to come down to being able to recognize what drives you. And if money is a key driver, that’s always actually going to come with an offset and the offset is going to be somewhere along the lines, there’s going to be a mental health or physical exhaustion, right. That comes as a result of that. And, but if you want to stay there because of the money, you know, it is one of those things, is that resilience, I don’t know. I think resilience is really about being able to actually know that you can be up for doing whatever you need to do to take the career, make the career choices and take the career paths that you want to try.

Steve Kimmens (26:56):
So you’re talking there about making different decisions through your career. Do you have a trusted network of people that you talk to to influence those decisions?

Rob Wilkins (27:07):
Yes and I think that’s an incredibly important space for a lot of people nowadays. So obviously a man of my years is going to, had a lot of exposure in terms of the work that I’ve done. And, you know, look, I will say that there’s been an advantage in being in the world of online learning and, learning and development e-learning, and webcasting and podcasting and all the things that we do. One of the biggest advantages to that is that for a lot of the work that I always did, I wasn’t shy to get in touch with professors or thought leaders or other people, you know, right across, the sphere of what we call online, learning, across the globe. And, what’s been really, really important about that is the subsequent, introductions and the networking that came about as a result.

Rob Wilkins (28:08):
I’ve done conference speaking now for probably nine, 15 years and through that has come an incredible array of contexts and people that I’ve had contact with. And I think the most important aspect of that is that over time and through conversation and through the exchange of research, ideas, articles, methodologies, and a whole range of other things, you start to really truly understand some of the experts that you’re working with and why I think that’s incredibly important is because they then become these trusted nodes. If you like in your network, if you were to try and paint a dynamic or paint a picture of your network and who you have interactions with, if you did social network analysis on your emails, on your Facebook, on your LinkedIn, on anything else that you were doing at that point in time, you’d actually find that there are certain people in that network that dominate the conversation will elements and the exchange of documents and the exchange of ideas and other various bits and pieces.

Rob Wilkins (29:15):
And so for me, when you’re cognizant of that, and when you’ve really sort of done your homework in terms of who contributes, what, and what their expertise actually looks like, you know, like I can name probably three or four people, Steven Downs, Craig Weiss, Ryan, Tracy, and Michelle Walker’s here in Australia, JV and Joshie. you know, these people have been the people that are of the trusted nodes in my network where I can always actually throw something out there, have it debate, have a conversation and do a lot of things around that. Over the years, I’ve been able to mentor a number of people and, you know, nowadays the nice thing about that is that I don’t do as much mentoring anymore because a lot of these people now haven’t actually moved into senior roles.

Rob Wilkins (30:07):
They’re doing all these wonderful things, but from time to time, they’ll have a curly one and we’ll catch up for a coffee or we’ll catch up a lunch or we’ll catch up for something else. And, you know, we’ll throw these curly ideas at each other and sort of thing, and, and have those conversations. It’s sort of batted out between each other and sometimes having those sounding boards outside of your environment is critical because there’s no bias, there’s no cognitive bias that associates with the systems that are in place, the procedures, the policies, the processes, everything that’s sort of sitting within there, you’re outside of that. And you’re actually just batting around the sort of the approach, the ideas and the things that you want to do. So, you know, for me, those trusted nodes in your network being cognizant of them and knowing where that skill and expertise can come from, it’s, it’s from a career development perspective, it’s an absolute imperative.

Steve Kimmens (31:04):
And what’d you say that those people are also the sort of people who can sometimes tell you the hard truths that you might not want to hear?

Rob Wilkins (31:11):
Absolutely. So, I can remember on two or three occasions where I had an amazing idea and I said, and I know this will work and they just call on me and basically said, here’s where Y and you know, the depth of that relationship that you have within the network is important because if they’ve got the freedom to call you out and vice versa, it’s great because it saves you making some of the fundamental mistakes that you make. And that’s something that I think is incredibly vital in terms of being able to keep your head out of the clouds and more grounded. And in terms of the approaches that you take,

Steve Kimmens (31:50):
Yes, I can remember having a conversation with you about a role that I’d recently started in an organization and the challenges that I was kind of facing into, and that, you, you had, you kind of articulated to me why that organization worked in a particular way, what drove it. And, it was a really interesting lesson because it gave me a great perspective on the challenges I was facing into it and kind of the limitations of what I could do in that environment. But it also gave me a great perspective on, okay, what does drive each organization? What what’s the organization fundamentally there to do? So it was kind of a great reality check and a great way to kind of reassess and go, okay, so how do I, how do, how can I be effective in this environment?

Rob Wilkins (32:33):
Absolutely. And Steve you’ve hit the nail on the head too, you know, knowing where you work with and how you work with your clients and your organizations, the point of being is that the entry point that you come in there and the sponsorship level that you come in there is commensurate with what you can achieve. I know, you know, now as a contractor and somebody who’s contracting into government and doing a lot of work across the space, one of the things that I’m confident of is being able to have those conversations, you know, so that when somebody does bring me in to work with them, I remind them of the fact that, you know, in order for you to actually, be far more pervasive and being able to actually get this taken up the tree, that’s the work that you’re going to have to do because you bought me in at this level, and it’s not my job to get this exposed for instance, to the CEO, that yours and the teams and your leaders jobs, to be able to actually do that.

Rob Wilkins (33:27):
So what I can achieve for you is commensurate with where you’ve bought me in. And I think that’s important for a lot of people to know in their career space, you know, particularly those who take a path of wanting to have their own business and contract into a lot of clients is, you know, having good relationships and strong relationships with your clients and getting them to actually understand what needs to happen at that space. That’s a really, really important factor. You know, I’ve worked with, I worked with a number of other organizations, you know, even on an introductory level, introducing some things in, and you know, some of the organizations that I work with, particularly around leadership development models and, you know, some of the, the, the really good programs that they’ve got, realistically, they should be talking to the CEO, but in the L and D space, for instance, which is really a really interesting space within itself.

Rob Wilkins (34:15):
And it’s always, it’s been the challenge of the profession for as long as I’ve been in it, that the CEOs are not going to talk to you about learning and development. and if they are, then they’re passionate about it and they’re the best clients to work with because you’re not going to have anything to worry about in terms of doing that. Whereas for a lot of the organizations you’re being brought in at that level. So the success you have is always going to be commensurate with the level that he bought in. And that’s something that you need to always be cognizant of.

Steve Kimmens (34:46):
So, final question, Rob, setting out on his career, looking back now from where you are, what would have been handy to know?

Rob Wilkins (34:52):
When I reflect upon it and you and I had this conversation, when I first started in computer based training, which was all diskette based, you know, we used to load up the discounts for the server in the morning, we would actually go downstairs to the third floor, either side of the desk would be these handles. So take two people to pick up this disc load one in one slot load, the other one in the other slot, which is like a Plato server, close the big swing door on the top of it. And then fire that machine up. And that used to drive all the computers in the unit. And it was disc operating system. There was no windows or any of those sorts of environments and right through until today when I actually am sitting online and I’m just wearing, we live in an age of diminishing astonishment now, you know, nothing really, nothing really blows us away anymore because there’s just innovation and invention on a daily basis.

Rob Wilkins (35:42):
So the big thing for me, if I look back on it, I had the advantage of being reflective in terms of that journey. And that sort of has shown me. But the one thing that I’d probably say to the young robe, particularly at that point in time, when I built joined the computer based training in, and that’s really when my career solidified itself and everything like that, if I could say one thing to that guy is trust the fact that you can learn. I think, you know, for a kid that just failed these high Jessie was pretty keen on getting a job. I wasn’t, I went to teacher’s college for two months and went now, you know, so even back in those days, you can actually get into college, even though you filed your HSC. but I went to teacher’s college. No, no, no, I don’t want to be a teacher.

Rob Wilkins (36:33):
One of the aspects of it was all my friends were doing university and they were getting these wonderful degrees and, you know, going on to do these marvelous things. And I just went, that’s not me secretly in the background. I was thinking I’m not smarter. That was just a big, fundamental thing from that HSSE experience for me. And I think that’s influenced the way that I’ve raised my children and, you know, I didn’t, we didn’t place a lot of importance on the HSE and our kids are really thriving and achieving now, you know, and, I think for me, you know, that, that I carried that forward. And when Bob Spencer, who I mentioned could recognize unbridled enthusiasm, and then put a lot of effort into guiding me in terms of our learning journey and really taking what I knew and the experiences that I had, and really fundamentally codifying that with, graduate diplomas and master’s degrees and things like that. For me, what it said was no, no, no, no. Hey, you were smart enough. You just weren’t ready. And so I’d, I’d want to go back to that young feller and say, you’re good enough. You can learn, just take your time. You’ll get there.

Steve Kimmens (37:46):
Awesome. Awesome, fantastic share Rob. And I think that’s, you know, having that confidence in your abilities I think is so key for, for so many people and having that reinforced is great advice for anyone. thanks very much for being a guest on today’s podcast. Rob.

Rob Wilkins (38:03):
All right, Steve, that’s not a problem whatsoever. It’s been a pleasure. Hope I haven’t waxed on too lyrical.

Steve Kimmens (38:08):
No, at all it has been fantastic.

Rob Wilkins (38:09):
No worries.

Steve Kimmens (38:12):
Thanks for listening to my career, having subscribe and listen to other episodes, go to my career.



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