How do successful careers get built? You know, the ones you would imagine yourself jumping out of bed for.
Well, if you ask Gavin Smith, President of Bosch Australia, you might think it’s not as difficult as you’d imagine. That’s because Gavin’s down-to-earth, light-hearted, light-humoured demeanor would make you question why you have not yet taken your career’s steering wheel in your own hands.
His secret ingredient: hard work.
Speaking to a room full of enthused young professionals on Tuesday 27 February at Mercer building in Docklands, Melbourne at the invitation of the Crescent Institute, Gavin spoke about ‘How to stay relevant through continual disruption?’ and answered this question by describing his own life as a series of “disruptions”.
Moving from place to place, he battled with his introverted character and studies, taking 7 years to complete his University degree. Gavin joined the German electronics company Bosch in 1990 and started from the bottom from where he worked himself up the chain of leadership by making the most of the opportunities around him.
He then traveled to Germany where he encountered major challenges with his language and skill set. Yet, through perseverance, he eventually adapted to his environment learning how to communicate with his team. Observing a lack of creative thinking within the company, he also stepped up and informed others where he felt improvements could be made.
Today, he stands firm that innovative leadership is a necessary component of success within the digital revolution we are in. Automation is changing the face of our job market. This can certainly be seen across the nation as NAB begins axing jobs. But his advice more generally, to young people is to be prepared by looking ahead.
Yet, not everyone is thinking critically about preparing for the future. American President Donald Trump has recently announced sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in order to appeal to the lost rust-belt jobs of American midwest. His efforts however, appeal to a bygone era.
These issues have also been seen in Australia as our manufacturing industry has experienced the same shocks. Yet, rather than seeking to regain lost jobs, redirecting advance manufacturing towards transferable industry skills such as clean energy will upgrade a population’s employability over the long-term.
The famous car manufacturer and businessman Henry Fords once said “Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time, more intelligently.” Therefore, we must not linger on the past, but instead keep moving forward.
Repeating the wisdom of Ben Horowitz, founder of Venture Capital company A16Z, exclaims Gavin “Software will eat the world”.
“But don’t be frightened. You can’t stop progress. Instead, you need to adapt and become agile because all this software needs to be interpreted and analysed”.
The jobs of the future will transform the value of the work we do; as we move away from mundane tasks and instead utilise our creativity and analytical skills. This will in turn, change the way we live our lives and allow us greater leisure time.
“The industrial revolution brought challenges but also brought opportunities. So too, are the challenges of today. In order for us to make the most of these developments, we must up-skill ourselves, and be prepared to think ahead”, he advises.
He suggested that to make the most of your career, you need to be prepared to “say yes” as you never know what opportunities might come by creating a networking ripple.
The most important step to build your professional presence and profile, he says, is done by getting out of your comfort-zone and being open to meeting new people. This, he says, is done just by showing up and it all starts – by introducing yourself.