Boyden Executive Search

In the latest interview in our Leadership Matters Series, Paul McClintock joins Boyden Australia’s Allan Marks and Alun Parry to discuss his executive career, the challenges he has faced during his leadership journey and the problems facing the country today.

During the discussion, McClintock explains what attracted him to the various board and executive roles he currently holds, and the specific challenges that come with each. As the Chairman of the Board for major retailer MYER, Network Radiology practice, I-MED, freight infrastructure business NSW Ports and National Chairman of think-tank, CEDA, McClintock has an interesting insight into the issues that face Australia’s businesses today and in the future.

“The challenges I see across my portfolio are similar, but they’re at different states, and a lot of it is being driven by new technology and the social changes that have come from that.” McClintock says.

“MYER is right in the middle of the battle. Globalisation has arrived big-time in Australia, driven originally by technology online but now also bricks and mortar,” concluding that “It’s a very exciting time to be in retail.

“In the radiology business, much less so, but if you look forward, you can see a level of technological disruption. At the moment, technology is actually a friend, it’s enabling us to produce really national networks.

“Ports is a much longer play. I often joke that at Ports our long-term planning is 30 years ahead, whilst in retail it’s next week.”

As a Chairman of five organisations and a Director of two, McClintock moves on to explain why having a variety of unique issues to deal with each day is crucial to his roles.

“I would love for it to be one a day and then another on another day, but of course it’s not. It’s one meeting to the next meeting. The diversity of what I do means that there are days where I may be dealing with five or six different issues.

“To some extent, you envy the life of somebody who spends their whole year doing one particular job, but a Director isn’t supposed to do that.” McClintock adds.

“If a Director starts to focus on one job, then they start to become management and effectively stop being able to do the job that they’ve been paid to do.”

When asked about the most difficult leadership challenge he has faced, McClintock cites the middle years of his career, where there was an expectation that he had to lead but hadn’t yet built a reputation of a leader.

“The hardest leadership challenge is when you’re not a leader. The period where I was an advisor, you have to provide leadership but nobody sees it as your natural role.

“So, you have to do it by putting your arguments in, and you get a lot of disappointments because often you put a lot of effort into something and it disappears.

“Those middle years of my career where I [was] seeking to provide leadership but I didn’t have the position to go with it were probably the hardest.”

As a child, McClintock had a good idea of what he wanted to do, which enabled him to have a solid, linear career progression. When asked if he could share the best advice he had been given, McClintock references the advice that he gave his son when he was choosing his HSC subjects.

“Forget about all the other stuff and follow the things that really capture your passion, capture your interests and go for those. If you look at my career and see any pattern at all, it’s that I’ve pursued my passions, I’ve pursued things that have been of interest to me. I think that’s as good as a piece of advice as you could give anybody.”

To listen to the full interview and discover more about Paul McClintock’s career, the challenges facing our industries and what advice he has for next generation of leaders, click below.

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