About the speaker
Our speaker today is Mr Patrick McIntyre.
Patrick is the Executive Director of Sydney Theatre Company, one of the largest theatre companies in the English speaking world. He is also currently a member of a consulting panel to property development firm Lend Lease.
Patrick has over twenty years’ experience in cultural management and his former roles include Associate Executive Director of The Australian Ballet, General Manager of Sydney Film Festival and Marketing Manager at Sydney Opera House. He was a member of the New South Wales state Creative Industries task force, one of seven industry task forces established by the State Government to make recommendations for improving economic productivity
Aside from his main roles, Patrick has spoken on topics such as change management and creativity in business at conferences and educational institutions. In 2010, he was offered a membership to the international cultural CEO program, and was also an invited presenter at a meeting of emerging cultural leaders from around the world at the Salzburg Global Forum in 2012.
Patrick has published extensively as a freelance entertainment writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from UTS.
It gives me great pleasure to invite Mr Patrick McIntyre to deliver the occasional address.
Pro-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, members of Council, staff, distinguished guests, graduates, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the introduction. I think it has taken up some of my eight minutes already. I might think about trimming that for the future.
It’s great to be asked to speak to you today and I graduated in this very room in the early 1990’s. But it didn’t look like this back then. It was an extremely unfriendly concrete square. It seems to prove the rumour that was popular at that time that the whole campus was designed to crush the spirit of students and apparently there was a paranoia that after the student riots in Paris in 1968 the same thing would happen here, so the building was designed to punish us. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s a good story. And on the topic of the building program, it’s fantastic to see that UTS’s architectural program these days seems more designed to stimulate, inspire, provoke and lift the spirits of people who work inside them and also pass by them.
I’m also pleased to see I graduated in a gown that was a brilliant aqua colour which suited absolutely nobody and I think these ones look much better. Enjoy the moment today and congratulations on your achievements.
I do wonder where everyone will end up. It seems now more than ever career paths are very fluid and jobs are rarely for life. Many jobs being advertised today didn’t exist five years ago or even one year ago. With this rate of change, it’s hard to have any certainty really about where you might be or what you might be doing next year or in five to ten years. I think it’s actually a very exciting thing.
Also I think possibly careers have always been a bit like that. Many if not most of my friends are working in fields other than those that they are trained in. My undergraduate here is a BA in communication which actually qualifies me in creative writing. I’m still slightly surprised to find myself as the CEO of an organisation employing more than 200 people a week. It’s possible that many people graduating in accounting and marketing may end up as novelists or creative writers. That will be great.
The changes in business that I’m most excited to see in the present day are the increasing awareness of the importance of creative roles and creativity generally in business. Census data reveals that the creative services and industries in Australia grow by 4.5% in the decade ended 2006, two and a half times the rate of the rest of the economy and this trend is continuing. This factors in those working in the creative industries themselves such as arts, publishing, architecture and design, but also the creative workforce embedded into other industries, such as writers, web developers and so on that work in banks and other firms.
Creativity helps make desirable and distinctive products and services which is absolutely crucial in a competitive market and in particular in a high cost economy like Australia where competing on price is problematic.
But there is a broader desire for creativity not just in terms of roles, but how roles are done; creativity as a mindset and attitude to work and even a way of perceiving the world. You will probably all be aware by now that creativity and its close cousin innovation are kind of overused buzz words in business. What it actually meant sometimes is somewhat foggy. Famously in the Sámi language of Norway, Sweden and Finland, there are 180 words for snow and incidentally 1000 words for reindeer. Creativity has become such an overused word that I wonder if it is one word for 180 concepts.
It is exciting for me as a BA working in business to hear leaders such as Catherine Livingstone, the Chair of Telstra advocates for the use of the process known as design thinking in business, which is a creative process developed to solve difficult problems using creative procedures. I also heard her say at a gathering that business needs more BAs. I’m sorry. It’s kind of tactless to mention that when you all studied business.
But I think that’s a great thing. One of the great heroes of creativity in business was of course Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple who said it’s in Apple DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields the results that make our hearts sing. It’s somewhat hard to imagine using singing hearts as a metric in a blue chip corporation. But it does seem that that is the way business is increasingly tending.
It seems in perhaps the education sector and the culture generally that the study of humanities has been slightly sidelined for some time. But the times are changing certainly in Australia. We have the same rate of theatre attendance as a percentage of population as the UK. We know our creative industries are surging and the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that attendances at cultural events are growing while attendances at sporting events are in decline. Not that it is a good thing; it’s just an interesting trend. So certainly there has been more call for arts rich education in primary and secondary schooling. But ongoing engagement in the humanities just as regular members of the community out in the workforce.
Arts, history, language, philosophy are all things that can keep us in a constant state of inspiration, discovery and growth throughout our lives. The humanities are where we gain new insights into those different from us and where we can continually improve our emotional intelligence or EQ. EQ has been defined as the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness and optimism that characterize our relationships with other people. A lot of people in academia and business are really puzzling over the importance of qualities from EQ informing good relationships, good teams, collaborations and creativity.
The business these days in the 21st century operating in the so-called experience economy charges its customers for the feelings they get by engaging with the business, not a feeling. It’s a very abstract, humanistic and qualitative concept and therefore still somewhat at loggerheads with the drive over previous generation of business to be very rational and measurable.
There is a very interesting quote that I often think about from the Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy Group, Rory Sutherland who wrote this in an article called Logic vs. Creativity. I find it encapsulates the paradox of where we are in business. He said, “If a government department overspends its budget by 20 million pounds there is hell to pay, no end of investigations, recrimination and reports. If however government department under-imagines a solution at a cost of 30 million pounds, absolutely nothing happens at all.”
I wish you all the best in your careers. I hope that you continually magnify your hard won knowledge by continually to learn, adapt and develop EQ. Join a book club. Marvel at art and architecture. Make time for reflection and daydreaming. Have surprising conversations and try not to under-imagine.