Mr Tony Frencham
About the speaker
Our speaker today is Mr Tony Frencham.
Tony is the Managing Director and Regional President for Dow Chemical in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for country operations and business developments.
He joined Dow Australia in 1989, where he worked in a variety of sales, marketing, product management and business development roles in the plastics businesses. Prior to his current position, he held a number of senior executive positions in global business development within Dow, where he led teams in Singapore, Michigan, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Tony is a member of a number of boards including Board Vice Chairman of the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association; a founding CEO member of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, a Board member of the University of Queensland Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and a member of the UTS Business School Advisory Board.
He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemistry from La Trobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Polymer Science from Monash University and a Graduate Diploma in Management from Deakin University.
It gives me great pleasure to invite Mr Tony Frencham to deliver the occasional address.
Thank you for that kind introduction. I acknowledge past and present representatives of the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today. I also acknowledge the UTS Chancellor Professor Vicki Sara, Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Peter Booth, Presiding Dean Associate Professor Christine Burton, Presiding Director Ms. Jacqui Wise, Academic Board Representative Associate Professor Louise McWhinnie, staff, distinguished guests, graduates, their families and friends.
PREPARING FOR SUCCESS
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It has been said that “Success is where Preparation meets Opportunity”. As we congratulate our graduates today it is clear that you have been working hard preparing for your future success. But what is success? How do we define it? In this short address I will share my reflections on success and I hope this will be of value to many of you as you launch your way into the world.
To provide context, I am not a Business graduate but rather a Chemist by training and worked for six years in a white coat before joining Dow in 1989 and turning to the dark side as a sales person – most certainly I prefer the uniform on the commercial side of things! After eight years working out of our Melbourne office I had the opportunity to move to Singapore on a 2-3 year assignment – that was in 1997 and we only returned to Australia last year after 17 years, six locations and four continents. Now, is that part of a successful career? More on that later.
When I arrived back one of my priorities was to address the opportunities available to my Dow colleagues in Australia and New Zealand, and in particular gender equality. To better inform myself on the issue I attended the International Dialogue on Women in Leadership conference on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Brisbane last November. Amongst very many insights was one from a female executive that I suggest can help us all define success.
That first proposition is that to be happy with your success one should compartmentalise their life into time periods, define what success means in each period, and then seek to achieve that success. The point she made was that she had achieved a successful life to date despite the fact that it was a non-linear career due to her commitment to be successful at different periods on education, work, family, and other priorities.
I was struck by that and reflected on my life to date, including the wonderful partnership with my wife which will see us celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year. We were both university graduates and both prosecuting successful careers at global multinationals when we left on our overseas adventure now 18 years ago. In the next three years my wife continued to work, brought our two children into the world, and completed her MBA, across three continents – she should really be up here giving this address!
It was at that time that we re-evaluated what was success for us. We were watching some expatriates chasing their foreign adventure at the expense of successful family outcomes. Our decision then was two-fold: (1) to pursue OUR professional aspirations through one career, and (2) to ensure our children remained grounded and set for life as capable human beings (the latter being the far more important goal). I won’t bore you with the family details, however we couldn’t be happier with the fine people that our two teenagers are growing into and how strongly they have now integrated into their home country Australia.
At any particular time I am normally mentoring four to six employees within Dow outside of my direct supervision. These are often eager, ambitious people such as yourselves who want to conquer the world and are seeking advise on how to achieve this as quickly as possible. My advice to them, and another proposition on achieving success, is that you should assess what is REALLY important to you in your life, working through everything from work, to health, to religion, to community, to sport, to charity, to family, to art, and on it goes. Chasing those one or two things that are REALLY important to you is the surest path I know to being successful (and having fun at the same time).
And whilst on the subject of mentoring, I recently started mentoring a young lawyer in Melbourne who is the daughter of a business colleague and is contemplating her next steps in terms of her career, overseas travel, etc. One of the observations I shared with her is that just as your definition of success can change over time, so the key decisions you need to make will change. Most of you have many key decisions ahead of you in terms of career, partners, family, travel, etc. However, in my experience, kicking some of them down the road and keeping your options open is a great way to improve your chances of setting yourself up for success.
Finally, as you heard in the kind introduction, I was this year appointed to the Victorian Male Champions of Change. From that vantage point, my commitment to all of you, male and female, is that we will change the current systems to ensure that all of our graduates today, and my children and yours, can experience not just equality of opportunities, but also equality of outcomes. We are doing this not only because it is the fair and right thing to do, but also because our businesses, our society, and our country will achieve greater success when our decision makers represent the full diversity of Australia in all its various forms.
It has been said that confidence is the companion of success. Go forth with confidence and pursue your dreams.
Thank you for your attention, congratulations on your achievements to date, and very best wishes for achieving every success on your journeys ahead.