Jobs jobs jobs?

Panelists discussing the future of the job (left to right): myself as moderator, Colleen Yates, Nate Sturcke, Colin Barnett, Phebe Cho, Julian Coyne, Pia Turcinov.

Australia has notched up a world record – 26 years without a recession. That’s the longest time between recessions for any developed country, since records began.

During  that time Australia has withstood the Asian economic crisis of 1997, the tech crash of 2000, 9/11, the global financial crisis of 2008 and a mining construction slowdown post 2012.

The last time Australia had a recession, in mid 1991, Bill Hayden was Governor General, Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, Carmen Lawrence was Premier of WA, and we had the first Gulf War. Bryan Adams’ Everything I do, I do for you was number 1 forever, other hits of the year were I’m too Sexy, Things that make you go Hmmmm and Ice Ice Baby…. agh they don’t make ‘em like that these days do they?

Back in ‘the recession we had to have‘ (as then Federal Treasurer, soon to be PM, Paul Keating termed it) Federal opposition leader John Hewson affirmed the GST as a major policy platform (which later became electoral suicide). The Simpsons debuted on Network Ten, Hawthorn beat the Eagles in the grand final and Mitchell Marsh was born. The population of WA was 1.6m, 1 million less than today.

There’s no doubt the Australian economy has been resilient, and been fairly fortunate. A whole generation has grown up with almost full employment, low interest rates, more and more jobs, rising standards of living and lots of opportunity.

The current Aussie economy is dynamic, with over a million Aussies changing jobs annually, with businesses constantly entering and exiting various marketplaces.
While agricultural and manufacturing jobs have declined in total numbers, the expanding service sector has taken on more.

12 million people have jobs in Australia – 6.5M men and 5.6M women. Healthcare and social assistance is now the single largest industry, accounting for over 12% of the workforce. Unemployment has held steady around 5.5%.

And yet… there is an impending sense of unease out there.

When some people hear politicians and even a Prime Minister spruik ‘Innovation’ all they hear ‘redundancy’ and ‘unemployment’.

Change, although the only constant, is threatening and scary. It makes people look for the easy scape goat solution, be it Brexit or Trumpism.

The answers are not so straightforward.

A few months ago my teenage daughter bemoaned to me that she does not know what she wants to do when she is older. I told her not to worry.

“The jobs of 5 and 10 years’ time have not been invented yet, isn’t that amazing?!” I say.
“Well, that doesn’t help!” comes the reply. “Take it from a former CEO like me,” say I, “the employers of tomorrow will want your creativity, your leadership skills, that you can work in a team, or independently with initiative on your own, your problem solving, your empathy with customers… THAT’s what they’ll hire. Learn & demonstrate those skills and you’ll be fine.”

But what kind of jobs will be there for our kids and grandkids in the near future? What industries will fall, and what new ones will rise? Will we even have a thing call a “job” or a “career”? Does it even matter? Will more of us have more free time? Will robots be waiting on us hand and foot, or by robotic arm and robotic wheel?

This was the topic of an Innovation Summit I moderated recently, a 4-minute chat with the panellists from West TV can be viewed here.

Some of the discussion:

  • while a robot might replace 5 manual workers, every new tech job creates 5 more.
  • some jobs will disappear, others will be required.
  • many of us may will enjoy a ‘portfolio career’, where we take on several titles – we’ll be part social media consultant, part MC, part web developer, part teacher.
  • A (Cognizant) report declared recently that the following jobs will be created within the next five years: data detective; bring your own IT facilitator; ethical sourcing manager; AI business development manager; master of Edge Computing; walker/talker; fitness commitment counsellor; AI-assisted healthcare technician; cyber city analyst; genomic portfolio director; man-machine teaming manager; financial wellness coach; digital tailor; chief trust officer; and quantum machine learning analyst.
  • Within the next 10 years we’ll have: virtual store Sherpa; personal data broker; personal memory curator; augmented reality journey builder; highway controller; and genetic diversity officer.
  • It will be important to spread our risks as an economy – the mining industry is super wonderful when booming, and awful at other times (which is the majority)

The “death of the job” has been predicted before. Although the disruptive changes we are seeing seem to be changing more things more rapidly, there is time to adjust, and new opportunities will always be thrown up. The winners will probably be those (countries, states, organisations and people) that can adapt, and the losers will be those that are stuck in their ways.

Go jump off a ledge!

A few weeks ago, I gave the address at the UWA graduation, 18 years after I had graduated there in the same hall. Here’s my speech… and here’s a link to watch (from the 16 minute mark of the night)

Well, what an occasion.

For those of you graduating tonight, smile, take selfies in your gown and finetune your snapchat stories.

You deserve it, it’s your night. Well done.

Parents and friends, you should feel justifiably proud of your charges spread out in their finery before us.

For UWA is a top university, already firmly placed in the top 100 globally, and as if that is not enough, has set out its stall to break into the top 50.

No one will be able to take away this degree they have earned, and strived for, and shed frustrating tears for.

It’s there, letters after their name, forever. Well done.

And for those of you robed professors behind me, I haven’t forgotten about you either.
I know you’ve sat through these interminable things for more years than you dare to count.
You deserve a self-satisfied Cheshire cat smile, and so please, in your amazing extravagant felt & silly hats borne of a different era, sit back, kick off and relax, because I will only be 7 minutes.

If there’s a theme for my brief talk this evening, it’s go jump off a ledge.

Every now and again I implore you to look about, smell the air, nod knowingly to the safe well-trodden path and simply go jump off a ledge.

Not in actuality, just figuratively. I have only once (actually) jumped off a ledge.

It was many years ago. 1981.

I was painting the roof on my parent’s 2-storey house back in the west of England where I grew up.
I was 18, between school and university, what I laughingly referred to as my gap year.

The Ashes was on the radio, Ian Botham was singlehandedly toying with the Australian cricket team, and I was somewhat distracted.

Balancing on the moss-covered tiles, I felt myself slowly slipping downwards and had but a few seconds to examine my predicament.

As my feet came to the edge of the building, I leapt and somehow made it onto the driveway without injury.

So NO, dear parents and friends, I am not urging your newly bestowed to throw themselves off the nearest actual ledge they can find, but I am asking them to have a think about doing so, when, metaphorically, they have a choice.

Leap at certain times in your life, and often when you feel most comfortable. In fact, especially when you feel most comfortable.

It’s perhaps the best advice I can give you.

For it’s when you push yourself that you perform at your best, discover what’s new, achieve the most and have more fun.

In Easter 1999 I was sitting where you are today, a freshly minted graduate, top of my class indeed, with an MBA from this very university.

I’d never topped anything in my life, as my Dad seemed amused enough to remind me on countless occasions.

A few weeks later I was walking down a beach in Esperance with my wife Lisa. I had been quiet for a few days, something you may gather is rare for me, so Lisa knew something was up.
I’d been thinking.

I stopped in the pristine white sand, turned to her and said: “I know I have to use this MBA. I have to use this and do something else, but the trouble is, I have no idea what I should do. I’m a school teacher, I’ve never been in business…”

Before I had barely said any of that, Lisa said “Go for it.”

You know you’ve married the right person when you get a response like that. Well of course I knew that many years before, but you know what I mean.

I was Head of Commerce at Hale School, and had an MBA.

Now I was arguing to throw that all away, and for what? To do what?

I had no clue. Should I leap out in management consulting as so many MBA grads do? How could I do that, without any business experience? Should I start up a company? How is that possible? Get a job – if so what? What jobs are there for ex school teachers?

All these things ran around my troubled mind for many weeks after.

Then, the idea that became appeared. The world’s first map-based real estate website, launched here in Nedlands, a stone’s throw from this very hall, by 2 UWA grads.

It was very tough convincing real estate agents to post properties on our website back in 1999, let alone keep them updated and then pay for the privilege.

I know you don’t remember 1999, most of you were not even 5 years old, but stay with me.

Over time, our little internet business grew. Real estate agents were getting enquiries, and after a few years, we were profitable, paying dividends to our plucky shareholders and then after 10 years, we sold the business, lock stock and barrel, to REIWA.

REIWA took on all our staff as employees, and shareholders received a cash exit.

None of this would have happened without me jumping off that comfortable ledge I had at Hale School.

After 3 years at REIWA, I jumped again, this time into Business News to help them with their digital transformation. A few years later I was made CEO.

After 4 more years and just a few WEEKS ago, I jumped yet again, and finally I did get to set up my own consulting business.

I simply don’t know this will go, I’m only in week two, but have already secured my first paying customer, which has me flying to Cambodia next week, and a second client as of this morning.
So, you get the picture.

Your 20s are for experimentation – with your career I mean – you may move a few times and that’s fine. You have bucket loads of time on your side.

Even if a few moves don’t work out, you have plenty of time to recover. You may be embarking on a 50-year career.

So don’t settle, keep moving forward.

And when a ledge presents itself, take a leap.

If it does not appear, create one, and jump anyway.

Because that’s how WA built its sizeable resources industry, through a pioneering spirit, and that’s how we will build our future economy, in health, tourism, education, agriculture, technology and all the rest.

In fact, with the rapid rate of change these days, we don’t even have an option. UWA should be handing out parachutes with those fancy gowns you’re all wearing, or maybe they really are a parachute after all?

When I was a kid, a favourite west country insult was: “Go take a long walk off a short pier”.

In other words, UWA graduates, go jump off a ledge!

Thoughts on Leaving REIWA


A full version of this post originally appeared in Property Portal Watch

PPT: How long have you been with REIWA?

CG: Three years. It’s flown by. Part of me says “hey your job is not over yet!” but then again I suppose I leave something on the table for the next person.

PPT: What prompted your departure from REIWA?

CG: I was lured away rather than spat out! The attraction of the new position I am going to is all consuming.

I compare it very much to my decision to leave the UK for Singapore in 1989, or leave Singapore for Perth in 1997, or leave teaching to set up a dotcom in 1999 – all HUGE decisions, not made lightly I can tell you. I have had 5 jobs in 27 years, so I don’t hop around. When I am in, I am all in. But I thought it through, bashed it around for a month or so, and obviously talked it through with my wife Lisa and a few close friends, my brother, etc. They were all very supportive.

PPT: When was the decision to leave the company made?

CG: Three weeks ago. The CEO of REIWA was actually away for a few days, so I told him first a few days later (giving over a month’s notice), and then the team the next day, individually.

PPT: Where – if you can disclose this information – are you going to? or elaborate what your plans are, going forward?

CG: I am going to Business News (renaming from the current ‘WA Business News’) which is a WA-based subscription business newspaper. They have an excellent reputation in the business/community over here, are innovative, positive and vibrant.

I supposed I am looking forward to a new industry and the opportunity to assist in developing their digital products and be a part of their future. I have long admired them (in the sense of being a subscriber and reader and attended many of their excellent events). I know some of the senior staff and really look forward to working alongside them. The position is a totally new. I suppose what they need is someone with actual hard won practical business/online experience to help guide them from a print-based present to a digital-based future, building on the excellent foundation they currently have. I can’t wait to get in there and roll up my sleeves.

PPT: What are some of the achievements you are particularly proud of during your time with REIWA?

CG: I hope I have been able to effect a few changes that are now embedded and will survive. And it’s a team game of course – I have not been able to do anything on my own. The 2 CEO’s I have worked under have been wonderfully supportive and forward-thinking; the entire executive team, and my and Member Services teams. All fantastic.

With them, I have been proud of the improvements we have made to – the coolest multi-purpose search (mixing suburb, region, keyword, ID, postcode all in one easy to use box) on any property site in my humble opinion. Anyone reading this – have a play on the home page search box to see what I mean. The site is humming and alive and has some unique features on it. Our ‘Best in WA’ campaign is a clever concept and going great guns for us.

I am proud of the 50% increase in unique visitors since I arrived in May 2010, and the increase in subscribers, depth revenue purchases, web development income – all at record levels. We passed one million visits for the month for the first time last October, and in January went sailing past it with 1.2m visits. These things have not been easy to do. Everyone has worked hard.

I am proud (my rivals will hate me for this) that in the latest Nielsen published traffic reports for WA,’s traffic has grown 21% in cwthe past year and my main 2 rival sites have seen their traffic fall 4% and 18% over the same period. You can’t argue with that!

PPT: Are there any regrets on your behalf…ie: plans you had in mind for the company which you wish you had achieved?

CG: I came to REIWA to make the #1 property portal in the State. You might get laughed at for even suggesting that in other States, but with you really do have that possibility. There was a time when it was #1. It can be again. The members want it (and they, remember, effectively OWN the site too), and they are so willing us to do it.

The only regret I have is I do not leave with being the clear number 1 site for property in WA (yet). It is clearly now on that path though. Again, it’s patchy – for some subscribers we DO deliver them more traffic/leads than anyone else, for others we are roughty the same as our main rival site(s), for others nowhere near as many. There is still work to be done.

Full interview: Property Portal Watch

After 13 years in online real estate

I suppose I must have a 13 year itch. After 13 years in school teaching (3 jobs on 3 separate continents 1986-1999) I knew it was time for a change. Strangely, after a similar amount of time in online real estate (2 jobs, coFounder of then Executive manager, 1999-2013) I also know it is time.

Not that I leave REIWA lightly. Simply put, it is the best job in Australia for what I do – working at the not for profit member organisation that is REIWA (a supreme Real Estate Institute, and one of the top member organisations in the State), and with taking on the might of large media-backed competitors on behalf of the industry. We all feel the weight of expectation, the support of the members and the will of everyone to succeed. We’re all proud of the history, and also excited by what we have done recently and the trajectory we are on. has done amazing things in the past few years – a 30% growth in traffic over the past year alone, and a massive increase in enquiry rates from the site. The ongoing improvements to the site, and 2013 redesign will be fantastic, and I only wish I could be there to see it all through. In some ways, my job is not done, but then again I leave something on the table for the next person to add their knowledge, ideas and take it forward. is much more than one person anyway. I feel lucky to have be able to have made a contribution over the past 3 years. And now it is someone else’s turn.

It goes without saying that I will miss my REIWA colleagues immensely, some of whom I have worked with since days for 10 or 12 years or so. I have made some great friends in the industry and have contacts all over the country, and even in other countries thanks to the wonderful Inman Real Estate Connect conferences I attended in New York and San Francisco.

I’ve learnt a lot about online in the 13 or so years since Nick and I set up, a few months after graduating with our MBAs from UWA Business School. I feel confident these will translate into my new position (GM of Digital) at Business News. BN have a fantastic opportunities and I feel quite humbled to have been invited to go in there and assist with things. It is going to be a fascinating next chapter for me, and a challenge I hope I am up for.

So, this is a decision not made lightly. I wish REIWA and all the best, and no one will be prouder than me of the successes that lie ahead.

Are you Blooming?

are you blooming?

My other favourite speaker from today’s TEDxPerth was Tasha Broomhall and her talk about mental health – Are You Blooming? It was extremely personal for me, as my Mum suffered with terrible mental illness problems all the years I knew her; but Tasha deftly handled the subject, with some light hearted touches despite the serious subject matter. Here are my notes…

1/5 Aussie adults experience mental illness this year. Some are short term illnesses, some are long term, year after year.

48% of us will experience mental illness in our lifetimes. If it’s not you, then it’s your partner, your child, your best friend. It is part of all our lives.

You can’t diagnose it by looking at people. Examples include – substance use disorder, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, psychosis. Most common mental illness is anxiety disorders. 14% experience it every year. We may call it “stress”. It can be debilitating, yet there is a lot of help out there. Too much shame and self stigma. People do not want to disclose.

To stay mentally well, check yourself out, and if you are not well, get help. It does not have to be everyone’s business, but it should be yours. Lifestyle balance used to be 8-8-8 hours of work, rest and play.

Bloom = things we believe in are the things we do

Find four. Four things a week that nurture you.

Wake up and review, not just on those two days a year.

Show compassion to others that experience distress; look after yourself and take charge.

For more:
Photo from

Put it in a bubble and wave bye bye

Forever blowing bubbles
[tweetmeme source=”ChazGunningham” only_single=false]You may already know, dear reader, that I have been smitten by the bug that is golf, yet my golf has never been all that great. I still spend most Sunday afternoons traversing the opposite fairway roughs of ‘Royal Wembley’ golf course as I zigzag my way twixt tee to green.

They say that golf is played in the mind, well in my experience it is mostly played in bushland. You play a stationary ball, there is no opposition player trying to tackle you or knock your head off, so why is it so %#@^ hard? The line between playing a good shot or shanking it sideways seems to be measured in microns. I can play gorgeous straight drive after gorgeous straight drive on the driving range, booming it 200 metres or so. Five minutes later at the first tee and the everything is slicing into the trees, n’er to be seen again.

It’s OK, please don’t try to give me advice, I have to work this out on my own. I have had lessons, new clubs, various hybrids, gloves, balls, practice regimens, as much advice as my brain can handle and beyond, read all the books, magazines, blog posts, watched the videos and bought the T-shirt.

Probably the best thing I’ve picked up along the way is to put all your frustration “into a bubble and wave it bye bye“. For age has taught me that you can get as frustrated as you like, but it will do no good. You need to concentrate on that next shot, but calmly, to hit that sweet spot. You know, the shot that disappears in a straight line with no noise, and no effort. You’ve hit it perfectly. Middled it. Never a better feeling.

So, after 30 years of swinging a golf club, usually not as elegantly as I’d like, my advice is, when you get frustrated (in anything), … put it in a bubble, and wave it good bye. And move on. Next shot. Next email. Next client. Next staff member. Next product. Next idea.

Believe me, it works. Because without it, all that happens is you get your blood pressure up and five minutes later you are still where you are… but a whole lot grumpier.

They never learnt NO!

With my own children now at primary school age, I realize the importance of them learning some key lessons that should hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

One of these lessons is learning what “no” means. It’s incredible how many adults I have met who still do not know what “no” means. Somehow they simply did not learn it when they were aged 5 or so. They then got through adolescence ignoring the no’s, and into adulthood they still cannot handle its true meaning.

Tell these ‘adults’ “no” and they either go bright purple, stomp out of the room shouting, carry on regardless of the ‘no’ or their head explodes, or all of the above. It’s amazing isn’t it? Sad really.

No means no. As my primary school teacher used to tell us if we did not respond immediately to the ‘no’, “Which part of ‘no’ do you not understand, the ‘n’ or the ‘o’!?” We use a variant with our two children: “Sometimes (insert child’s name here), the answer is NO”.

Teach the children well, because if they have not learnt this by the time they “grow up”, they are a real pain to deal with!

Photo credit: OneChanceFancy

Labour Day

It’s labour day long weekend (I love how most public holidays fall on Mondays in this country!).

“Labour Day” conjures up a few things in my mind – to my wife it probably brings back memories of a 14-hour labour for our first born, to me that too, but also there are images of Red Square in Moscow and those Soviet day march pasts, with ageing rugged up Communistas waving to the frozen masses below behind grey slate walls.  That’s May Day I suppose?

Labour Day in Western Australia is the first Monday in March, and is supposed to celebrate the drive for the 8-hour working day (8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours sleep). Which reminds me of something someone wiser than me once said: “your life is like a 3-legged stool. One leg is for work, one leg is for your family & friends, and the third leg is yourself. If any one leg is neglected, the whole stool topples over.” So have a balanced life – time for yourself, time for your family/friends, and time for work.

Amen. And on this labour day, may I say “Oop the workers!”

Image: from Labour of Love

LOST TECHNOLOGY: The Banda Machine

Agh the smell of the spirit, the beating click click click of the drum as you turned it, the remnant of wax on your fingers … I come to pay homage to the old Banda machine (as we called it in England). Invented in 1923 and basically not developing much since, destined to be put out to pasture courtesy of the photocopier machine, the good old rolio (as it was called in Australia?) or “ditto” (US) was a feature of pre 1990s schools, churches and libraries, where earnest professionals copied off class room lots of purple typefaced handouts. The printing faded over time, but you could get creative by applying different coloured wax backings – great for Maths or Economics charts or diagrams – and if you kept the originals carefully enough, you could print off more the next time (although they were never quite as good the second or third time around).

I remember coming across this amazing contraption in my first year of teaching, 1986, in a government school in Hertfordshire. It took some getting used to, but you could get the waxed backed paper into a typewriter (agh remember them?!) or carefully write on them (no mistakes allowed, nothing could be erased once the impression on the waxed backing had been made), before carefully inserting the paper into the Banda (get it the right way round, and make sure you have enough of the backed paper in the open slit but not too much) and carefully rolling the drum to produce your copies. Slow, steady rolls, not too fast as the paper would dislodge, too slow and you’d impart too much spirit and splotch your production. The paper often scrunched, your waxed back original could rip, the alcoholic spirit might be too less or too much … this was an art not a science. The cries of anguish could be heard in the main staff room and probably down the hallowed halls. But my departmental budget did not run into photocopying (easier, no original production required, but only black and white), so it was off to the Banda machine to create my handouts.

While I don’t want for those per Internet times again, there was something wonderfully Heath Robinson about the Banda, and creative about what you could do with it. And the smell – oh yes.

BANNED 3: Turning up Late

what time do you call this?!

Well, I am on a roll now; so while I am ranting, may I also suggest that lateness is nothing about bad time management, it’s about respect.

If you respect the people waiting for you to join the meeting, or the clients you are to visit, or someone who has come to see you, and are late, then you demonstrate a simple lack respect for them. You are being rude, and there is no excuse. It’s not about time management, it’s about not respecting the people who are waiting or are made to wait.

So be on time, have respect, make a good impression, turn up early, prepared, looking neat and bright. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Photo credit: The Lego Woman