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Scaling Up [S5.E4]: The only car sales(man) you ever want to meet with Cameron McIntyre, CEO of Carsales.com

In this episode, we are joined by Cameron McIntyre to discuss the strategic insights that birthed (and have sustained) Carsales.com, as well as the variety of skills required to succeed as a modern day chief executive.

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Ed (02:31): Cam, an absolute treat to have you on scaling up. Thanks for joining me. I thought a nice place to start would be with a quick history lesson of sorts. There must have been something in the water back in the late 1990s in Melbourne because three of Australia’s largest technology companies were all founded within, I don’t know, two years of each other and all within a couple of kilometers of each other. And here in the car sales office we can see the seat building bright and shiny and the Rea building down the road, what was in the ecosystem at the time.

Cam (03:00): It’s great to be here, Ed, and fantastic to get the opportunity to talk to you, but it’s one of life’s mysteries made, isn’t it? I mean, how did this all come to pass? I can only talk to the car sales story, but we grew out of a little tech company that was operating down in Monash University building computer systems for car dealers and they decided to build a, a platform for dealers to exchange parts on and that just evolved into all its published cars on the internet and really organic founded in 1997 and it’s been a great ride since. But yeah, it’s just amazing. Melbourne has a fantastic ecosystem around tech businesses. It’s just evolved organically.

Ed (03:38): Greg Roebuck, the founder of car Sales that you alluded to, founded the story in a garage, a mentor of yours through your car sales executive journey. He recruited you in 2007 as the CFO. What did you see in the business both culturally and structurally when you arrived?

Cam (03:56): Yeah, 2007 was a really big year for me. I guess I take a little step back and go, Before I came to car sales, I was part of census and census was the jewel in the crown of Telstra, and we’d spent a lot of time analyzing marketplaces because we were a directories business and marketplaces made a lot of sense to us. So, for me, understanding jobs, cars, and real estate, was something I’d spent quite a bit of time on in terms of understanding the ecosystem. Internet was evolving, emerging in early two thousand. Yeah, Google had arrived in 2002 and so you could see a winner take all with these sorts of, businesses as they were growing. And look, I was fortunate enough, I got tapped on the shoulder one day and asked to catch up with Greg. We had a great chat.

Second interview was at the pub over a couple of beers, and I really liked Greg. I really liked where the business was going. The talent that we had in the board in terms of to James Packer and John Alexander in in those days was quite a powerful board. And the business was obviously going to go places and I’d, I’d spend a little bit of time at school overseas and there was a professor that said to me life short, do something cool with your life. And so, for me, this was the moment in my life where I needed to take some risk and I needed to have a real red-hot crack at something. And for me, car sales was the perfect opportunity.

Ed (05:21): And the risk reward has certainly paid off. You talk about marketplaces being winner takes most, or in some cases winner takes all business models. I think at the time when you arrived, car sales was probably 20 million in revenue. And correct me if I’m wrong, did you get a sense at that point in time that car sales was going to be the winner in Australia in the marketplace of selling cars?

Cam (05:44): It was a really competitive environment. So back in 2007, our biggest competitors were Telstra. I mean Telstra where I’d come from, we owned Trading Post and they were big, they were our biggest competitor. We were competing against News Corp, News Corp owned Cars Guide. We were competing against Fairfax, our oldest media company in the, in the country. So biggest Telco, two of the biggest media giants. And we were just a little business operating out of a shop front locally. So as much as we had a good eye on it and we are a pure play digital player, we still felt like we were a bit of a challenger and we had to run super hard and super-fast and just stay focused on what we were wanting to achieve. So, it never felt like it was a winner take all. I mean if I reflect on back in 2007 the combined market cap of car sales, theoretical mark cap of car sales cause we’re public unlisted plus Seek plus REA was the market cap of Fairfax. Those three businesses combined were as big as Fairfax.

Ed (06:48): Haven’t the tables turned?

Cam (06:49): Well, the table has turned

Ed (06:51): It’s easy to forget looking back what has been built over 25 years, it’s such a wonderful insight to hear you say that you felt like the challenger because when you are looking back, you can always tell yourself different stories. Can you remember what the key strategic pillars were at that time? It seems from the outside you were just laser focused on enabling sellers to sell their cars with as little friction as possible. And that really resonated with the consumer.

Cam (07:21): That is 100% right. I mean our game plan was always focused around the consumer. You win the consumer; you win the war. So, there was an absolute laser focus on removing friction, making it easy for people to transact on car sales, being highly accountable to our customer as well, being our dealer customer, but also being our private seller customer and having a business model that was simple as well, that people understood but also generated outcomes. So, we’re very focused on outcomes and , when people sell their car, they only care about two things really. I mean they only care about one selling their car and getting a good price and then doing it as quickly as they possibly can. So yeah, our laser focus was around those outcomes, and we knew that if we comped ourselves against every other business model of our competitors, we had a distinct competitive advantage if that was the focus, because it was much harder for traditional media to replicate that sort of model.

Ed (08:19): We’ll come back to these pillars as they kind of stand today, but the playbook really enacted itself of aggregating the supply side of the marketplace by making it as easy as possible to sell, as you say, whether you’re a dealer or a private seller. And then with so much liquidity, the demand side would always just flood in and that’s why when the network effects start working, it is a winner take most environment. But just to hold the period of time. A few call outs. You mentioned James Packer on the board, PBL were a very chunky minority investor. I think they earned up to 49% at points in time. What did you learn from managing that relationship with a very powerful investor, someone who maybe wasn’t necessarily completely aligned with the long-term vision of the business, but as the CFO, often that relationship falls to you and I’m sure it held you in great stead for your future as the CEO, but can you give us an insight into managing that particular stakeholder?

Cam (09:20): So PBL actually controlled car sales. So, we had probably the worst public structure or the worst corporate structure of any company that you’d want to have, which is a public unlisted company with a major shareholder. that was the biggest media player in town, and we always had the intent of becoming a listed company. But the PBL worked great, they supported us well. you have the current chairman of car sales was the chief operating officer of PBL and Pat O’Sullivan’s a great mate and he’s been involved with car sales for as long as I have. So, we always had excellent support. I reckon we always had a rockstar board whether it was James and John Alexander and Ian Law and Pat, and then we had Adrian McKenzie from CVC and it was always a pretty powerful board. So being a CFO in that environment was particularly intimidating. But you always got the right level of support from PBL that we needed. But ultimately as a business we needed to continue to evolve and the connections between ourselves and PBL media over time there wasn’t a lot that we were doing together in any way, shape, or form. Were very much an independent business and that’s how we obviously evolved.

Ed (10:31): You probably see this in the startup and technology ecosystem more so now, but there are a lot of corporate venture arms and a lot of strategic investors. If you were a startup founder, how would you think what are the misgivings or trappings that you might fall into if you are taking on one of these strategic partners as opposed to a more traditional source of capital.

Cam (10:50): For any, founder of a startup? Getting moneys easy. There’s lots and lots of money out there, but in terms of finding the right support that you need in our business that support takes a whole bunch of different shapes and sizes. But yeah, you really need to find people that have the experience. So that intellectual property. So how do I go from point A to point B? How do I tap into people that have done it many times that can help me avoid mistakes? Because I mean ultimately as a startup, that’s what you want. You want to avoid mistakes. And so, for us having PBL media, yeah, there was a lot of mistakes that we avoided because they were able to give us a steer on things that they’ve seen happen in the past and they were pretty important in the early days. So, for me it’s IP. Yeah, there’s probably a little bit of access to technology if there’s crossover, but for anyone looking to start a business, it’s the IP that you need, the talent in terms of advice that’s the most important, less so about the money.

Ed (11:48): That’s a great call out, I certainly agree with your view. Let’s keep going along this timeline. You mentioned that car sales at the time was a public unlisted company and was because the first attempted public offering to join the ASX was not particularly well timed, just before the, well in the middle of the tech rack of 2000. And so, you were enlisted with the job of getting car sales on the boards of the ASX. Obviously timing again, couldn’t have been any better or worse, whichever way you want to look at it, but you got it away in the middle of the GFC. What were your key learnings from that process and advice for other CFOs who are looking to list? I’d love to kind of unpack your experiences as a CFO while you listed a business.

Cam (12:34): When I came into car sales, Yeah, sure. My title was CFO and that was on my business card. But anyone that’s involved in a startup or a scale up knows that what’s on your business card is your title is only symbolic of your core skillset. You have to do everything, and you have to be involved in everything. You have to have that sort of personality where you just want to immerse yourself. And I think anyone who’s looking to get involved in a company from a CFO point of view, looking to list it, you really have to get your hands dirty. It’s not a process that you can just sort of kick off and in six months you’re done. Yeah, so in our case, I came into car sales early 2007, now we got smashed by the GFC. We’d started the, the listing process towards the back end of 2007.

We got into early to mid ish 2008, the window closed because the GFC hit us and you’re halfway through a prospectus and you got to put pens down. And then we had to pick it up again in, in 2009. But for me the lessons were you have to start early. It’s a two-to-three-year window for anyone looking to IPO business, you’ve got to have track record, you got to have your corporate governance in reasonable shape. You need to have an audit committee; you need to have a board with structure around it. You probably need to spend some time doing some non-deal roadshow, which is what we were doing. Greg and I were yeah, wandering around doing non-deal road shows, talking to investors, helping investors understand our business model and what it is that we are trying to achieve. So that when you do start that IPO process and it’s I look at my career and go, what were the most exhausting times in my career? And an IPO is absolutely exhausting. Everyone thinks it’s exciting and, and cool, but in a small business, a startup business where you’re trying to grow the company and do an IPO at the same time, it’s enormously challenging. So, start early and, get the work done.

Ed (14:26): That really is wonderful advice. I want to keep maybe attaching this company timeline to your own personal growth journey because you move from, as you say, job titles didn’t necessarily matter, but at the time you’re the CFO became the COO, and ultimately, you’ve been the CEO and done it bloody successfully over the last five or six years. Can you articulate the skills you had to add to your bow over that growth journey, moving between those roles and maybe the benefit the previous role had on the role that you then took up?

Cam (14:57): Look, to start with, I mean, you have to have a learning mindset. You have to have an inquiring mind; you have to be prepared to put the time in and the effort in. And it’s a real commitment. Like you’ve got to really immerse yourself and be prepared to go all in. So, I think for me to go from where I was to where I am, it’s been a real commitment. My family at times had to take a backseat and if my wife was here, she’d tell you she still is, but you’ve really got to focus. And so, I guess the learnings along the way have been businesses about people, businesses about building culture, the corporate skills, doing deals and so on. A lot of that’s ticket to the ball game, right? I mean, understanding people, understanding how people work, understanding how to motivate people, understanding how to get people around a cause and push them forward. I mean that’s, that’s a core skill and competition. How to build a culture in a business. I think they’re the real learnings that you need to get in your kit bag in order to be truly successful. All the technical stuff, I think, Yeah, that’s easy to pick up.

Ed (15:59): We’re going to come back to the culture that you have built here over many, many years. A little bit later. I want to stay here for the moment. When I was researching you and your own journey, you said something really interesting and that was the most important thing for you has been improving your own growth quotient. And so, I’ve heard about IQ, EQ, AQ, adversity quotient, but growth quotient is at the top of your list as to what has made you successful. That’s a really interesting concept that I hadn’t heard before. And so, to hear real time was fascinating.

Cam (16:33): We’re very fortunate. We’ve got a wonderful organization full of great talented people and a lot of these people have been involved with the organization for a long time and they’re truly passionate about what we do here. And so, I guess my philosophy is you’re only as smart as the group of people that work in the organization. And so, there’s this concept of GQ and for me it’s how do we function as a collective? How do we operate as a, as a team that really makes us stronger and moves us forward. It’s not any individual and it’s certainly not me. I work hard, I make good contribution where I can, but we’re a far more powerful organization as a group and working together as we do. So, for us, that’s the focus. And it’s not just a focus of the management team, it’s also a focus of the board. So, we have a really strong board, very collaborative with management. We operate really, really well together. And I think that’s a competitive advantage

Ed (17:33): Without doubt. There’s a strong view that a board with a growth mindset, not necessarily there to govern the business. They are entrepreneurial and they’re trying to grow the business hand in hand with management that can really ultimately create the great outcomes for shareholders.

Cam (17:48): A hundred percent. And I want value for our board fees too, right? I mean, they’ve got to work hard. I mean, we are lucky, we’ve got a really well-balanced board. They bring an incredible amount of insight to the table, many of them being involved with the company for a long time. So, there’s a great sense of trust between management and board and they back us and we make sure that we always deliver. But there’s a, a great sense of trust and a car sales board meeting, the governance piece goes for about 30 seconds and the real conversation is around strategy. So, what are the things that we are looking at? What are the things that we’re working on? How are we looking to move the business forward? Where are the risks? How are we looking to avoid those risks? I mean, I’d describe our culture as a paranoid culture, right? Yeah. We never want to have happened to us, what we did to Fairfax we were able to disrupt them, and we don’t want to be disrupted ourselves. So, it’s always about being focused on the future. Horizon two and horizon three, what’s coming at us? What is it that we can’t see? Because it’s the competition that you can’t see that you should be fearing, not the competition that you can. So, there’s always a lot of conversation around that with the board and with the management team.

Ed (18:57): We’re going to come back to horizon two and three. I do want to just close this loop. It seems to me that the founder transition and Greg moving out of the bus would’ve been hard for you, a mentor, a great CEO and founder, but ultimately left the business. And it was a bit of a textbook founder transition because often founders can hang around the hoop either too long or they move to the board and metal in places that they shouldn’t. And yet Greg had the egoless view that he was just going to remove himself from the business and give you a clear runway. How did that make you feel?

Cam (19:32): I was petrified, yeah, I mean the world is littered with CEOs that replace highly successful founders and stuff it up. So, I didn’t want to add my name to that list. I’ve worked in organization with paranoia dominates and I’m replacing one of Australia’s best founding fathers. So yeah, I was nervous about all of that. But yeah, the things that I had going in my corner was that obviously I’d been in the organization for a long time and Greg, and I have a very close friendship relationship and yeah, he, he’s always been a great mentor and supporter of mine for, for many, many years. And so, I always knew that I had that in my corner, had a great board, had a great management team. So that’s always been important, but for me, keeping that connection between the founder of the organization and the organization’s been important too. So yeah. Greg and I have a coffee every week. You said he started in a, in a garage. Well, guess what? He’s gone back to a garage and,

Ed (20:32): I’m sure it’s a better looking garage.

Cam (20:34): Oh, it’s the world’s best looking garage. But, yeah, I mean he’s still a great mentor, great friend. I’m able to tap into him, when we need to from time to time, which has been fantastic. I, I just don’t think enough companies when they transition from founder to non-founder do that well. And I think if you can keep the founder connected to the business in a way which makes them feel good, makes them feel like they’re making a contribution still and it’s their baby at the end of the day I, I think is a great outcome. So, I’ve been very fortunate

Ed (21:25): Let’s bring people up to speed in this car sales story and we’ll move on to Horizon too after that. But I think last year did all a bit over 450 million in revenue, but you’ve become free cash flow machine and it’s a great example of what software and technologies can become in a day and age when we associate cash burn in fast growing technology companies at some state of maturity. Although you, you’re still growing, but at scale I should say the margins are insane, the cash gets generated and in your case, you pay dividends. What was the key to unlocking this at scale and the key pillars of the marketplace handbook that enabled you to not only win the market but expand margins along the way?

Cam (22:12): Yeah, so I mean there’s a lot in that question, right? I mean, that’s a very big question. The first thing to say is here has the most things for sale tends to win in marketplaces. So how we’ve thought about evolving that top line and building margin out, it’s about offering services that create significant value, being accountable. And if, if I’m accountable and I can demonstrate value, then the conversation around that value that I’m delivering is much easier because it’s transparent. So, in our case I mean for our customers I know the opportunities that we’re delivering to them, we’ve got a pretty good idea in terms of the outcomes they’re generating from those opportunities. So, measuring a return on investment is much more transparent and the conversation that flows from that is much easier to have. And so, for us, the focus has always been on building unique services, unique capabilities, hard to replicate for others, demonstrate significant value to our customers and help our customers’ businesses grow.

So, if we focus on what’s in it for the customer and how do we help our customer become more efficient in what they do and get better outcomes for their investment, then everything should take care of itself. So that’s been a core growth pillar. And then outside of that, it’s been, okay, so where are the opportunities to deepen that or widen that? And , in our case it’s been about how do we then take that capability we’ve built here, and we’ve done it reasonably well, and then take that into other markets that are less mature, we can replicate it. Because the Australian car market is very small relative to the United States or most other countries in the world. But we have a, as you mentioned before, one of the best marketplaces for jobs, one of the best marketplaces for real estate and one of the best marketplaces for cars in the world. And it’s how do we take that intellectual property and IT and tech and leverage it into other markets? I think one of the things we don’t do so well as a country is recognize the fact that we do actually do some really good things in tech, which is world leading. And so, for us it’s been about taking that and moving that offshore as well.

Ed (24:24): Probably a good time to talk to this because as you say, to leverage the process power that car sales was built up over two decades and move them into bigger markets is a massive growth driver for this business. What have you learned in dealing with some of these emerging markets, Brazil or in Southeast Asia? Very different culturally, different governance structures. How have you managed the business from a Melbourne head office and yet have this global outlook?

Cam (24:50):I think one of the mistakes that a lot of corporates make is they go, well, we’ve made this business successful here, let’s replicate that success into another market. And they go in there with the view that we’re just going to take what we do here and we’re going to drop it in there and it’s going to all be fantastic again. But yeah, there’s, there’s so many things that get in the way of that language culture, market structures, history of the way markets have evolved are all vastly different. Even within a country, you can have different regions that function very differently. So, our philosophy when we’ve gone into markets like Brazil for instance, has been the first thing and the most important thing. And if I reflect on every deal that we’ve done really well and every deal that we haven’t done well, what’s the common denominator?

The common denominator is often the people and the partner. So it’s about finding that cultural fit, finding the right people that you, when you get along with two that see the world through the same lens, might have different culture and different language, but you see the world similar, you both have a similar perspective around what the future looks like. That’s been critical. And then going into a, a country with the view that we are going to be very flexible there’s a lot of stuff that we have that we’ve learned and evolved, but we are not arrogant enough to assume that that’s going to necessarily work in that country. And so, we always go into a new market with a view that it’s about what the market needs, not what we want to deliver to the market.

Ed (26:18): That’s wonderful insight. Part of the growth journey has been, as you talked about, delivering more value to your customers, be it that utility through finance or inspections or instant offers. I’m sure there’ve been products or innovations that you’ve tried that haven’t worked. How have you thought about innovation generally and fostering a culture of innovation?

Cam (26:39): Well, I guess the first thing to say is the philosophy’s always been, we never want to die wondering. And it’s about having a crack. It’s about testing and learning, failing fast. When stuff works great, we’ll just keep feeding it. When it fails, we’ll kill it. Sometimes we’ve held onto the dream a little bit too long with some things, but many things we have killed quickly. But the innovation culture here is that we are prepared to one disrupt ourselves. And I think any business needs to be prepared to disrupt itself because if you don’t do it, I guarantee you there’s three other people that are out there trying it now. And I think that was an early mistake that some companies made in the media space many years ago. They weren’t prepared to disrupt themselves. So, we have to be prepared for that.

And so, we innovate 100 different ways any day of the week. We’re always looking at a hundred different things that we can change and evolve when it comes to our platforms, it’s about iteration, it’s not about revolution, it’s about making constant change, constant tweaks. We don’t have anyone in this business with the title of captain of innovation or CEO of innovation. Now innovation is everyone’s responsibility. And it’s not just innovation around product. I mean, most companies think that innovation is all about product when it comes to technology, and that’s a big part of it. But if you were to ask many people here, what was one of the key success drivers of car sales? Tech was one of it. But the biggest, I think part of our success has been our business model. So, it’s been innovative around your business model and structuring your company in such a way that’s hard to replicate and is unique.

And so, for me it’s innovating around business process, innovating around product and technology. And so, as an organization we’re focused we try and stay focused on all those things. And then it’s also been about looking at what’s going on in the world around us and adapting ideas, not being arrogant enough to assume that what we do is the most innovative and it’s been prepared to take perspectives from others, adapt them in our market and use them. , I’m not afraid to say we like some of the stuff that the Seek guys have done over the years and gone, well, we should do that. And I think that’s an important trait as well. But yeah, we run hackathons and all the rest of it.

Ed (28:56): Naturally lends itself to this next question around this horizon too. And what’s next? We’re sitting in the boardroom here today, I’m sure there’ve been some robust discussions as to whether it’s with all the data and liquidity in the market, do you hold inventory or, I’m sure there’s a whole range of some crazy, some really great strategic ideas. What do you think is that next big horizon for car sales?

Cam (29:19): So look, the market is evolving a lot and every, everyone’s markets are, If I think about automotive, you’ve got EV and the emergence of EV and what does that do over time? The car fleet in Australia is one of the oldest in the OECD, the average age of a car on the road in Australia’s about 10.2, 10.3 years. So yeah, we, there’s change coming around EVs and you car sales in a great position. The way consumer behaviors are evolving is changing quickly. When you think about what we’ve all endured over the last 18 months, the emergence of the digital economy, people talk about the emergence of the digital economy, there is no such thing. Digital is now everything. Digital is now in every organization; every company has to be digital. So, for me, consumer behaviors change. So how do we stay relevant in that context and provide solutions to our customers and our consumers that meet the requirements of the digital age?

You’ve then got autonomous vehicles and when’s that going to happen? I mean, five years ago I remember the conversations that were going on with many of our investors about by 2025, 50% of the cars on the road are going to be and some things happen quickly, and some things happen slowly. This is going to be one of those things that will happen slowly, but it will evolve. So, there’s a lot that’s going on in automotive and it’s a very exciting time. So, for us, it’s thinking about what the needs of our customers are going to be, where the consumers going to be over the course of the next five to 10 years and making sure that we have solutions in place. And one of the talking about innovation before, one of the things that we’ve launched recently has been a mobility marketplace.

So a business called Placie, which effectively takes all the taxi companies, many of the large, ride sharing platforms, public transport, limousines, combines it all into, into one single platform and provides consumers with optionality around how they want to consume mobility services because with public transport being disrupted the way it’s been with pandemics and people not wanting to get into ride hailing and so on, all those behaviors have been disrupted. So, it’s how do you provide a solution in a market like that? So, for me, mobility services are one of those horizon two, horizon three things that we need to watch

Ed (31:34): Hand in hand with innovation and fostering this innovation culture is essentially around attracting and retaining talent. Has this become easier or harder as you’ve grown? Because on one side of the coin, I can imagine there are lots of people that want to do things at scale. , the complexity and challenge of technology at scale really interests them. But on the other side of the coin, there are more shiny new toys for engineers to work out that are offering big equity packages and a different challenge, I guess both emotionally and professionally. How have you thought about making sure that car sales is the employer of choice in Melbourne?

Cam (32:11): Yeah, I mean, it’s a great question. so I’d say to you it’s become harder, and it’s become easier all at the same time. I mean, it just depends on the talent that you’re looking for at the time, but our focus as an organization has been on our EVP, EVP being employer value proposition. So how do we differentiate ourselves as an employer to ensure that we’re attracting the right talent into the company? And so, there’s, there’s a whole lot of different layers around that. So, it’s about making sure that as an organization we’re innovative, making sure that we’re forward looking, making sure that we’re, using the latest tools and technology and we’re thinking about the way we operate as an organization in a contemporary manner and structure. We’re giving people autonomy and freedom to be innovators themselves. Like I said no one has the title of chief innovator in this organization.

So, we try and give people some ability around that. So, it’s about EVP, it’s about all those things, but it’s also about the culture of the business as well. So, people, when they start employment with any organization, actually when they start their careers, they don’t want to just work in a job. They don’t want a job, they want to make a mark, they want to leave footprints in the sand. And what you offer has to be more than just a job. You’ve got to allow people to make a broader contribution. And so, the way we think about our EVP is for engineers, let’s say. And when engineers come here, they’ll have a job coding, but we also want them to feel free to make a contribution to education. So, we work with other providers which will go into school and CS is one of them where we’ll allow engineers to volunteer their time, go into schools, educate kids on tech, because ultimately those kids will hopefully one day feed back into car sales, but our engineers get the opportunity to make a bigger contribution to society. And I, I love that stuff and I think as an employer that helps us in many, many different ways. So, it’s about how do you combine all of those things, building a great EVP, a great ecosystem, and we have a great ecosystem here in Cremorne that helps people make a broader contribution

Ed (34:24): And a great call out to a mutual friend, Hugh Williams and CS in schools and the wonderful work they’re doing there. It’s a nice time to go a bit deeper on the culture that you are building and have built over many years. I don’t think I’ve ever been so warmly welcomed is when I walked through the door this morning, I asked the lovely lady who was working on the front desk, what do you love about working here? And she said, I feel loved and included. And that speaks to your warmth. I know this is something you are very passionate about, a director of Inclusive Australia ambassador for the Workplace gender equality agency. You want to be center stage in changing the employee landscape. Can you talk to the challenges of operationalizing and prioritizing diversity inclusion when you are now a very large corporate?

Cam (35:11): That’s a great question. I mean, the challenges are being a tech company, it’s how do I or how do we bring more females into technology, get more females interested in tech? I mean, if I look at our, our workforce and we work super hard at this, we would still only have about 33% of our workforce that’s female. And it just burns me like it really gets to me when, when we lose female talent, big challenge is how do you bring more into the pool? And we talked about CS in schools, it’s got to start early. you’ve got to start really early, and you’ve got to create the right environment that would make females want to participate. So, it goes very deep into things like language that we use. Even our jobs that we place on the platforms, like Seek the language that we use in those has to be gender neutral.

It has to be attractive and inviting for females to want to, participate. My view in all of this, and the reason why I’m so passionate about it, or one of them is because I know that our business becomes more successful with greater diversity because greater diversity brings different thought into the company. And I mentioned again we don’t have an innovator in this business, but by having people with diversity and background and everything else that goes with that ultimately makes us a stronger business. It makes a more profitable business, brings better ideas and better capability. So, I know it has a, a fantastic commercial outcome, which is good for our shareholders. And that’s what I’m chasing. But it’s hard. It’s super hard.

Ed (36:50): Yeah. But the positive impact will outweigh the challenges every day of the week. I’m interested, you talked to the board and support they’ve given you. One thing is to talk the talk, but I really feel that the car sales leadership, be it management team and the board is deeply motivated to walk the walk, particularly around this issue. If anyone reads the car sales annual report, it is front and center. The values at front and center, the DA and I front and the center. How’s your board supported you on this micro mission of, of trying to change your workforce?

Cam (37:22): I guess they’re extremely open and we all share the same vision for the organization. We all share the same perspective around our values and behaviors in organization. And we do walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to values and behaviors. And even the last 12 months, we’ve, we’ve just spent a lot of time and effort on redefining our company values and bringing everyone on the journey around those, those values, including the board. So, the perspective is we’re all in it together. we’ve had to do some, not had to. We’ve wanted to do some really, different things when it comes to giving our people choice. And some of the things that we’ve done over the last 12 months, particularly in the, in the space of diversity and inclusion to make the workplace a better place for people, have been really well supported by the board at all levels. So I think it’s the openness that they have, it’s the willingness to make change and it’s a recognition that these values and behaviors, again, help support the organization in terms of its mission, but also support the organization in terms of delivering better outcomes for shareholders, which is what their core, requirements are in terms of working for shareholders and creating value for, I think it’s all been very self-supportive. So, it’s been relatively easy to get, get them over line on all this stuff.

Ed (38:41): One last question, because your time is much more valuable than mine. I feel like I could talk to you for hours. Maybe just a mistake that you look back on as a leader that has provided a, a great opportunity for personal or professional growth.

Cam (38:56): Wow. This is one of those questions where you go, Yeah, I’ll give you a mistake, but I’ll, I’ll turn it into how I conquer it all.

Ed (39:04): We can stick with a mistake that you regret.

Cam (39:06): Yeah. Look, to be really honest, I mean, we’ve made plenty of mistakes and I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my career and none of them have been fatal. But I guess as an organization and as an individual we’ve always encouraged mistakes, but when you do make a mistake, it’s about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and never making the same mistake again, right? So, there’s, there’s plenty of commercial mistakes I’ve made. all of them have been very small, easy to fix, which has been fortunate. Nothing really comes to mind, Ed, that sort of stands out as being tragic. I think coming to car sales was the best thing I’ve ever done and, I’ve really loved the journey and, still love the journey that we’re on. So that’s a, that’s a super hard one to answer.

Ed (39:53): Cam, I absolutely loved this. Thanks so much for your time. That was brilliant.

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