Transcript #48. Emerging Jobs and Technologies - with Associate Professor Catherine Ball.

Click here to see the episode show notes. 

Renata: All right, everybody. I don't usually do the introduction live, but I have been doing them for these live ones. My name is Renata Bernarde, and this is The Job Hunting Podcast, a podcast that does what it says on the tin. Together with some awesome guests, I help you nail your next job and have the career that you want. If this is the type of content for you - that is if you're currently on the market looking for a new job and you're keen to get a new job or a promotion in the near future, or if you're unsure what's happening, you know, we have COVID, we have a lockdown, we have a recession. You don't know what to do with your career plans anymore post 2020, make sure that you subscribe by clicking wherever you found this podcast, we are available everywhere. You can also pay it forward and share the love by recommending this podcast to someone you believe will benefit from listening. 

Renata: Each episode includes show notes, which has all the links and information that we mentioned in our discussion, and also has information about how to reach out to me. If you're looking for a career coach or are interested in my services and products, I also have a whole bunch of free tools and resources that you can sign up for my newsletter and get them all in your inbox. This is the third live recording in Melbourne during the Victorian 2020 Digital Innovation Festival or DIFF 2020. DIFF 2020 is an initiative of the department of jobs, precincts and regions. And as I explained before in previous live recordings for DIFF 2020, precints in Australia are not jails. They are our innovation hubs, and we are very, very, very fond of our innovation precincts here in Victoria. We also have a very robust corporate sector with a strong banking and finance sector, mining energy companies, telcos, higher ed public sector, amazing startups, NGOs, development agencies, not for profits. You know, it's really a wonderful place to be if you're a business or if you're a starting up or if you're a professional and you want to look for work. I'd like to thank and welcome all the lovely people that have registered to attend today. The ones that are here live even better. Now, let me introduce my guest, associate professor Catherine Ball is a scientist, futurist, speaker, advisor, author, founder, executive producer, executive director, company director, and charity patron working across global projects where emerging technologies meet humanitarian education and environmental needs. 

Renata: Whew! Catherine also likes to create businesses and champion movements, collaborate with peers, and advise game-changers. She's a sought after voice across the startup, futurist, and tech world. She works globally across a wide range of projects from creating documentaries and world-leading conferences and events to advising on the use of novel approaches like drones across environmental and humanitarian projects. Catherine is a proponent of community engagement with STEM and likes to demystify emerging tech. She has a bachelor of science honours in environmental protection and a PhD in spatial ecology, descriptive and predictive statistics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. She lives in Queensland with her husband and two sons. And that's when I knew that this bio was very up to date because I haven't seen you in a while. So congratulations on having another baby. I have two boys as well. I think it's awesome. And congratulations on your new appointment. I'm very happy for you. 

Catherine: Thank you. It's been an interesting year. Hasn't it? 

Renata: It has been very busy. Yeah. 

Catherine: Very busy. Yeah. Yeah. Life changes. Life is what happens when you're busy making plans for 2020, that's a John Lennon quote. Yeah. 

Renata: That's a John Lennon quote. We need to change it for COVID; life is what happens when you're locked down.

Catherine: You're unable to do anything because of COVID. 

Renata: I think, you know, it's a good way for this podcast to start with the guest’s careers. And I've been very lucky to hear your, how you grew up and how you began thinking about what you wanted to do. And I have to say my jaw dropped when I heard you know, about your upbringing, about your beginnings, your career progression, your early years, and I'd love for you to share some of that with my guests today.

Catherine: Well, it's definitely been a roller coaster, and you can probably tell from my accent that I'm not Australian born though I am an Australian now I've been here for ten years, nearly 11 years. Um, I had very humble beginnings, very hard working mom, who after divorce, kept working really hard to keep us all on the right side of the tracks. Um, and we were, I'd say, what would you call that? Like the working class in the UK probably would call it that. 

Renata: Blue-collar? 

Catherine: She trained as a lawyer. So she wasn't a blue-collar worker. Yeah. She trained as a lawyer in her late thirties. And it was one of the final nails in the coffin of their marriage is I think was that my father was just so jealous that, it was not nice. And so I had that trauma with me, and I still carry that trauma. 

Catherine: We all carry these traumas with, with us. And I guess it also gave me a really strong sense of work ethic and that if you really want to succeed, when everything's against you, like, my mom did it with three kids under 12, like, what is it that like, we can do this. You just have to decide you want to do something and go for it. And so, yeah, I managed to get to university, which again was quite rare for my peer group. And I do feel like my education for me, particularly my education was my global passport, and it's not the same for everybody, but for me, my PhD gave me the wings. I mean, it took part of my soul and half of my sanity, but it gave me a passport to the world to actually be able to get enough points for any visa in any country I ever wanted to go and work in. 

Catherine: I could have gone to the States. I could have gone to Canada, or I could have gone to New Zealand. I ended up in Australia working in Western Australia on some really cool projects. And from there I sort of look so how we innovate inside very, very conservative and legally bound, environmental monitoring programmes. Um, and we managed to get a drone business line up and running. And then my company was acquired by another company. At that time, I won the Telstra national businesswomen of the year for the corporate world. And at the same time, I got made redundant. I won Queensland Telstra businesswoman of the year and nine days later, was done. And so what do you do when you've got a crown on your head and a punch in the ovaries? You know, you just sort of a, you have to stop and take stock. 

Catherine: And so at the end of 2015 start of 2016, I had to decide what I wanted to do, which was quite refreshing because I’ve not had that opportunity to stop and take stock about what it was that I wanted to do. And so I thought I would try a few things. So I started several businesses and sort of try to continue on the consulting work that I'd already been doing. I started a few education programmes which haven't worked. Some of them worked. Um, I've probably opened 12 companies. I've likely closed six or seven, and it's one of these things you've got to go in and try it, test it, be the startup. See if it works. I mean, if it doesn't work, you either pivot it, sell it, or you close it. And so I've been through that business cycle now, maybe three or four, three or four or five times to the point where I recognise where good opportunities lie now. It's a better education than an MBA. 

Catherine: Probably cost me the same as an MBA, but better education than any MBA can probably give you. So I sit here now with the right people around me, I sit here with the businesses that are succeeding and putting my energy behind them. I had a couple of things that I thought were going to work, but when I got pregnant with my second child, I just couldn't do them. So I've only had to close them off and put, pause on them for the moment. But I've got other projects I've just got so much to do. I'm an excellent starter. I recognise that very good at starting very good at knowing what I want to do but then having enough energy to get finished, do things oh that's where I fall over at the moment with having two kids under three. 

Catherine: My career has not been a straight line, and nobody is, and if people are facing redundancy and retrenchment now, I would suggest, and I don't want to sound, you know, pious. But one of the best things that happened to my career trajectory was getting made redundant. 

Renata: A lot of people say that, yeah, people don't know that.

Catherine: It’s about liberation. We don't like to say it, but it was me. I mean, I realised at that point that I would never, ever, ever, ever work again where a timesheet dictated whether or not I was a success or not, I would never, ever, work again in a place where I would not hire the people that I had to report to. You know, if you're sat in a place where you're being tolerated, not celebrated, get out, go somewhere that you are. And if you can't find anywhere, that's ready for you yet create one.

Renata: You have a portfolio career like you have because you have some retainers and some appointments like ANU is an appointment. Um, some of your clients are retainers, and then you have some entrepreneurial companies of your own. And so on. It requires a set of skills and routines and behaviours. What do you think enables you actually to get that done? I know you’re tough on yourself and say, Oh, you know, it's hard to do it, but you probably can identify what enables you actually to do so much. 

Catherine: You have to have a good team around you. Can’t don't do it on your own. Right? So my accountant is class one, Michael Cohen at Hoffman Kelly. If any of you are considering doing a startup, he is the man who will give you mentioned my name. You get an hour's free strategy off him. He is just a genius. My businesses would not be what they are if we hadn't found him. And he was recommended to me by a friend via the Telstra business women's awards. So it's all about networks. I say this quite often; your network is your net worth. And it really is. If you can build the right team around you, I've got an EA Kate who's in Melbourne. Um, and she is my right hand when I first hired her. I think she saved me two or 300 emails a day, like just organising a catch-up thing. 

Catherine: You know, that takes 10 or 15 emails sometimes, I just don't have the headspace. Emails are my enemy; an email is someone else telling you what to do. That's where I am with emails. I don't like them, but you've worked with Kate organised today. Right? She's awesome. Yes. So, you know, having an EA was absolutely fundamental to me. It costs money. Of course, it does, but God, it saves me so much time. And the one thing I don't have enough of is time. And so you have to prioritise your time. Um, so I've got great lawyers that I, I can go to and I need things like IP protection and trademarks and things. I spent a long time with my speaking career, creating good networks through corporates. Um, I'm cutting back a lot of the consulting work, to be honest, it's not the most lucrative, and it's probably the most time draining. 

Catherine: And also people, I don't know, people expect a lot for free and I, I just, I don't do that anymore. I don't have time if someone wants to take my time; it’s my time away from my children now. And I guess I was always very generous with my time. Um, people would say, how can I meet you for coffee? Can I chew your brain? And it's one of those terrible things. When you first start off as a startup, that you want to establish your brand and in doing so, you do yourself a disservice in your time management. This is where I didn't have the team around me. And so I was doing everything myself, and it was exhausting. And I remember having a conversation with a person about this innovation they were working on in robotics and agriculture. And at the end of an hour, I said to him, fantastic. 

Catherine: So, how can I get involved? How can I help? And he said, oh no, I just wanted to meet you and tell you what I was doing. And that was a watershed moment for me because I could have just got 500 bucks out of the bank and just shit, just gone off. There you go—$ 500. Bye. I'm not wasting my time. And even now I have people that are like, um, Oh, can you, can you please provide some assistance or advice on this? I go, yeah. And here's my engagement fee. And here's my plan fee for the next three milestones after that. And if I don't hear from them, I'm like, thank you for not wasting any more of my time. Because if you weren't paying engagement fee to tap into all of that knowledge, that I've got 20 years of expertise that you want to access and you weren't paying engagement fee, we're not going to have a very happy corporate friendship. Right? 

Renata: Catherine, I think you and I are the same that we adore what we do, but we have not always been good at charging people for what we do. 

Catherine: Hallelujah. Yes. 

Renata: Have you changed that? I would have that discussion with you before. 

Catherine: Yup. I've got this thing now. And it came to me. It would have been a year ago now. I was over in Florida. I was a judge on the ocean discovery X prize. And over in Florida, I was just pregnant. I was 11 weeks pregnant. I was morning sick to hell god it was a nightmare trip. I was over in Toronto where it's snowed, which for Queensland, that is just not on. Um, and then, um, flew into New York. I was sick on the plane for the first time in my life. I was just so unwell. And then I had to go to Chicago for a conference and then down to Florida to do this judging. And I was sat at a dinner with some friends of mine, and I was just so exhausted by six o'clock at night, I was just switching off, but I desperately wanted to catch up with my friends. 

Catherine: And he said to me, he said, cath. I used to have this job. I was working in recruitment, and I was working with people, and people would want to come and pick my brains. So they would want to come in, and they would take all my ideas, and they would just go, and they would do it themselves. And there was just no honour amongst thieves, right. There was just, just no honour at all. And I said, well, what on earth have you done? He said I charge an engagement fee. And I was like, really? Because I was like, I don't know that I can do that. And I was like, why not everybody else that's asking me for advice is being paid by somebody else. Like when I do speaking work, and they want me to do it for free originally, I would do some. 

Catherine: But now I really can't because it's, again, it's a day away from my children and my businesses and my academic portfolio now. I won't do it. And I remember stood there once. And I was at this charity gig, and I was thinking that woman pouring coffee is getting paid more than I am to do this. And I've just got to do oxygen mask on first here. Cause if I fall over my entire family falls, we all go. Right. So it's all on me. The pressure is immense. So pressure produces diamonds, right? And one of the diamonds that I will give everyone is if you're working independently like yourself if someone wants to pick your brains, have a coffee or do what you say, well, I can meet you for a two-hour session, but I charge $400.

Renata: That's right. 

Catherine: And if they go, Oh, well, Oh no, I just wanted to pick your brains. I have to fill my Workday. Like, you know, I'm not a charity giving out my IP to everybody for free. And it's a really hard thing for me as a person. And I think it might be a female trait. Just give, give, give, be the good little girl, tell everyone your ideas, tell everyone, Oh, it's so hard. And I've had to be really hard on myself. 

Renata: It's a female trait, but it's also a transition from being a permanent full-time worker. You're made redundant as you've had. And I, as I've been as well. And then you decide, okay, I want to be a portfolio career person. I want to be my own boss and not knowing how to manage Renata, inc. Renata inc. Needs to get paid. And there is an understanding amongst us that 70%. I mean, I was told this by the wonderful Div Pillay from Mind Tribes. I will put the link on the show notes. As soon as I decided to open my business Div and Vick came here for dinner, and they said, 70% of your time will be business development my friend, are you ready for that? Go. You need to start finding your clients, locking in meetings, getting yourself out there. So that's a business development, and that comes, it's active. 

Renata: You are seeking out opportunities. You're not going to charge for that. But as soon as the opportunities start coming in, you need to be ready to engage in a financial deal. And as you said, have engagement fees. Or better still, you know, contracts, consulting, retainers, whatever you need to do to engage two or three or four different types of channels to keep yourself busy and replace that full-time job that you had before financially for you. So it's a transition, and it can take up to two years. That's what we watermark search watermark is very good interim reports, interim executive search reports. So if you're interested in following a career that is a portfolio or gig kind of type of career, look at their reports. There's one that just came out and he you take up to two years for you to feel like you've yeah, you've, you're managing the flows of money coming in. But I agree with you. I was thinking the other day with a client, you know, you see me, and you think how successful, am I? You know, like you, you got the Telstra award. Um, but if you're a solo entrepreneur, you have this visibility, that's amplified through social media, but there is a team of people behind me and get the most important piece is actually my husband who has full-time employment. 

Catherine: My husband is also my graphic designer, my website designer, our bookkeeper, the main carer for the kids when I have to do things like this, you know? So yes, if I do want to, 

Renata: The one who was interested in your microphone, 

Catherine: He’s very particular about audio quality. Well, he's training up now to get into movie and television industry. So he's, yeah, he's a self-taught media production genius. Yes. 

Renata: The other thing I wanted to talk to you, or you, you spoke about, you know, is this a female trait? You, you're very interested in diversity and inclusion as well, and you're involved a lot in that, uh, in that STEM world. Uh, tell me about what you do and how you see STEM in innovation. Cause I think that those are two, they go hand in hand.

Catherine: Oh you've got to have an inquiring mind, if you want to get into science, even if you want to be a generalist or if you want to get into a really deep vertical, you know, become like a quantum physicist, you’ve got to be able to ask the right questions right. And see the world slightly differently. So the biggest thing about innovation and it's been such an overused word, but innovation is actually a really innate human trait, doing things better, learning how to improve and do things differently. It's something we do as a child before we can speak, we are innovating. We are learning. We are iterating. We are testing the world around us. And that's what science is. We then start building things, constructing things, testing things. That's what engineering is, right? So we are scientific engineering technologists that try and find patterns in the world. So we're mathematicians. 

Catherine: We are STEM. In fact, if that's who we are, as a species and we just have some aspects of it, we're better at, than others, I think. Um, and that can even be tailored into the creative arts here. I mean, you know, artists understand the composite of the paints that they use. The quality of their materials, people who are designers understand form and function, people who create music, understand how the brain works in reaction to music and how sounds feel good or don't feel good and how to express emotions. I mean that people say STEM instead of steam, sorry, steam, instead of STEM. Now steam is the new buzzword, but for me really I've seen, and in the business world, you'll know this, there are studies galore that are showing now that diverse board composition actually makes the business more money.

Catherine: So, I think a fiduciary duty as a board director to make sure that there's a diversity of thought around that table. An area which isn't really well covered is probably neurodiversity. So by looking at gender diversity and ethnic diversity, you're actually trying to encourage neurodiversity around that table as well. I'm disappointed that there are still more male CEOs called Andrew than there are female CEO's on the ASX 200. I think it is. Um, but the only way is up baby, as yazz said in the nineties. And so we have just to take that and run with it. And we have to learn from the past that when we open a door for ourselves, we have to also leave that door open for someone else to come behind us. And as a feminist proud feminist, I will say to you that the future of feminism is intersectional. 

Catherine: We have to remember, I'm sitting here as a white Australian British straight woman who yes, I had a working-class background, but I had opportunities given to me. And the system is still set for me in a way that I have the privilege that many other people don't have. And I'm recognising that, acknowledging that. And I'm actually doing something about it as well. And I think we all personally need to do something about how we open the door for other people throw down the fishing nets, throw down the ladders, drag people up with us, take people on that journey. And I tried to do that in everything. And when I choose projects and who I choose to work with, and when I decided to say yes to ANU, the reasons why is because the people there lived and breathed the same value sets that I had. 

Catherine: So STEM is fundamentally important to every job going forward. It's fundamentally important to the Australian economy is fundamentally important to our cybersecurity, our national security, our food security, uh, fundamental health care. You know, look at all the wonderful work scientists are doing now. Apparently kids in schools are in Raptors about scientists. There are so many kids that want to be scientists when they grow up because of what's happened during COVID-19 and the coronavirus, the novel coronavirus outbreak. And I'm just like, this is wonderful that we will have children inspired into medical science and microbiology and epidemiology. And I'm trying to make the world a more equal and healthy and happy place. But isn't it such a shame that it's taken this to actually cause that, but the shutdown and the coronavirus outbreak is being used for many, many things. Um, I think it's almost like everyone has got a really good excuse now. 

Catherine: They can just say, Oh, it's COVID, because of COVID I can't do this. Cause of COVID I'm going to change how I work. And as a person that used to have, you know, contracts galore and stuff, those all drop off, you know, as soon as people are cost-cutting, the first people that go with the consultants, which I don't necessarily think is the smartest way of approaching. Actually you have to look at what people are providing rather than the contracting mechanism that you have, but we'll see an exfoliation across higher ed, um, which in many ways will be a massive mistake and a huge shame to get rid of young career researchers. But I know that there are people inside universities that could have retired 10, 15 years ago, you know, it's just the immune system of the economy is going to kick over and we will actually boom. 

Catherine: I actually feel, I keep saying to people, you know, I'm feeling very tired, and I'm trying to get over the fact I've had two kids too close together, and I'm 41, and I'm ready. And I've got all this work going on. I'm like 2020 for me now is getting my health on track and getting my businesses ready and getting my strategies ready because I know from all of the predictive models and from all of the industry, from things like aviation industry through to agricultural industry, through to smart cities, through to construction jobs, through to, um, you know, consulting work through to everything, power, water, telecommunications, tourism. 2021, by the end of it domestically will be about right to 2019 numbers. The end of 2022, the aviation industry is going to be back to 2019 numbers. By 2023, the aviation industry is actually going to be 20 or 30% bigger than the 2019 numbers.

Catherine: So if these predictions are going to be true, how do we use this time now to prepare ourselves. And one of the only ways we can prepare ourselves for this as an industry, as government, as board directors are to have a diversity of opinion around that table. Have a diversity of thought happening in the government level and actually have people who are trained up and well enough, ready and have these models ready to go. I don't know about you, but I feel exhausted. And I'm not even in Melbourne. I feel exhausted by all of this now I'm at the end of my tether with it. I'm like, come on vaccines. Can we just do some vaccine stuff please, or the treatments? Can we just get the treatments out there, please? Um, and I'm just sort of like, ah, why is it so not? Why, why were we not ready when we knew this was coming? It's one of the next big things. 

Renata: It's frustrating. We were not ready when we saw this coming and 

Catherine: We knew it was coming as well. I mean, this is not something that was not predicted. Everyone knew this was coming. 

Renata: And you have a very scientific mind, and you know, you're looking at the future ahead in you're very entrepreneurial. You can see all the opportunities, but your body doesn't follow. The instinct is to cocoon yourself, especially in Melbourne, I don't know how it is in Brisbane. You tell me, 

Catherine: We have it bubbling in the community here. We have little cases pop up here and pop up there from a couple of young women who came down to Melbourne to steal handbags and were flying on stolen credit cards. And no one seemed to a red flag, any of this thing in the system, again, you know what I mean? They flew from Melbourne to Sydney and then Sydney to Brisbane, but no one red flag, their identity as having been in Melbourne. So then they lied on their forms and that, and they were allowed in and then out, and then they were all over the place because of their criminality, which I think because of their alleged criminality, let’s not be disparaging here or causing defamation, because of the alleged disparity in the alleged criminal behaviour of these young women, between where they said they'd been and what they did. 

Catherine: And when they then ran around, one of them wouldn't even cooperate. Wouldn't even say where she'd been. Um, we then had this popup of a little cluster, a little, um, detention centre and they reckoned genomically. It's linked to those girls. So in young people, this thing is mostly asymptomatic, and it's just bubbling along till it hits somebody who's got a weakness or who's slightly older, who has a worst case of it. And then they go and get tested. And so we're, we're, we're almost, we're not on lockdown, but we're in lockdown almost by fear. And that when you look at all of the places that all of these people that have now got cases of been, you go through it and you go, Oh my God, that's really close. I've been to that cafe before for a friend's birthday. Like I know that place, you know, and it's sort of like, Oh, even though we're not shut in our apartments, we are being urged to stay at home. 

Catherine: The city is nowhere near, as busy as it has been. Nobody is really going out. Cafes are mostly half empty. We're not revelling in it here. There's no party attitude here. We've been reduced down again to 10 people gathering from the 30 that it was. And so, you know, these restrictions they’re kind of there, but they are invisible. In Melbourne, it's much harder because you are literally restricted and very restricted, but we're also now being encouraged to wear face masks if we can't socially distance. And you know, quite frankly, did you not feel at the beginning of all of this, that we should have been wearing masks? 

Renata: Oh, totally. My 26-year-old son, in fact, with some friends brought in thousands of masks when nobody was wearing masks, even in hospitals, people weren't wearing masks and he, they, they gave masks away to medicals and, and health professionals. 

Catherine: Now, all the hospitals wear masks. Yeah. And it's probably because of its outbreak in Brisbane. And it switched and Morton Bay. Yeah.

Renata: So he’s 26, and he's not in the science or health profession, you know? So I think that this is, uh, something I, sometimes we have to learn from people. We often think why, you know, uh, I I'm, I'm thinking millennials, I'm thinking younger generations. I'm thinking people that are probably building I'm thinking Darwinism.

Catherine: And, again, no it's not the strongest or the smartest that survive. It's the ones that are most adaptable to change.

Renata: They are, they are younger. 

Catherine: We have to have diversity, right? So your kids, right. You know, your son doing that, that was one person who's very different from you or me, but that's the thoughts and the ideas that we need about this. And I guess for future-proofing and looking at new ways around career development and getting jobs, and this is the key you need to be spending time with people who are different to you, which is very difficult when you're on lockdown. I feel terrible for people that live on their own that are a bit locked away on their own for six weeks. I mean, that's what happens to criminals that's not what happens to peaceful law, abiding citizens. And I'm really concerned about the longterm house effects of the lockdown, to be honest. And I don't think that's going to come to fruition. A friend of mine just had a cancer diagnosis, the first doctor misdiagnosed her, and she was misdiagnosed by the first doctor. 

Catherine: And if she'd just rested on our laurels and just walked along with that, she'd be dead. And by the end of the year, but she didn't, she went and got a second opinion. And now she's got a really rough six months in front of her, but it's not the death sentence that it would have been. So I'm wondering how many women have issues that need to see specialists. How many men have issues that need to see specialists, how many kids that have issues that need to see people and you can't see anyone at the moment cause you want to lockdown? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's not good. 

Renata: Catherine, when you look at the forecastings that you've mentioned before, about economies picking up again at the end of 2021, 2022, they are going to pick up again, but they will, things will probably look different. 

Catherine: Yes. And this is where tech is going to be a massive thing. And this is where if you are thinking that you're going to be made redundant, or you have been made redundant, or you're looking in a new way to where your career is going, there are a few areas that I would say you would be guaranteed for a job for life. If you worked in them, 

Renata: Oh, please do tell.

Catherine: Well, cybersecurity is number one. Cybersecurity, you can get trained upon reasonably easily, and you can start working in cybersecurity reasonably immediately. And if you are an Australian citizen as well, there are some areas of cybersecurity where they cannot hire in tech people from around the world to work on them. You can't come in on a four or five, seven you have to a citizen Australian citizen. 

Renata: And that would be the same. The podcast has listeners overseas. That will be the same in every country. 

Catherine: Every Country will have its own sovereign cybersecurity need and capability. They'll be developing right now. And we know that actually, even because of people working at home that the cybersecurity risk across the country has gone up because we've been working at home. We're not on cybersecurity systems. We're using the internet in ways we haven't used before in terms of work. So our weakness as a country in terms of cyber has actually really, it's really got to the point of severity to the point where, you know, the prime minister is talking about cyberattacks, large scale cyber-attacks that are happening. There are 200 cyber attacks every second in Australia. 200 a second. I can't even really deal with that. Um, but that's, um, a huge number and it's only going to get worse because the future of war is cyber. The future of national identity is around cybersecurity.

Catherine: The future of our economic stability will be around preventing people, hacking into our big banks and into our water networks and into our electricity networks. Um, so if you have, and you don't have to have computer science skills to get into cyber, that's the other thing you can be a person with an arts degree. Who's always worked in administration and you've probably got a perfect set of skills for the cybersecurity world. So when we look at the fourth industrial revolution and all of the job losses that we're going to be predicted from that from use of AI and smart devices and robotics, the first wave was supposed to knock out statistically different. It was statistically significantly worse for women in their forties, fifties, sixties that worked in administration roles. But those are actually the women that are best. I think for some of the cybersecurity roles because to be a great person in cybersecurity, there are jobs for example, where you need to have an understanding of process and understanding of people and understanding of human psychology and how teams work. 

Catherine: And I think that any person who's worked in a senior admin role or the role of a human resource even has those kinds of skills innately in them. And this is where our skills-based aptitude is actually becoming incredibly sexy in the world of recruitment. Um, you've probably come across all of this stuff before Renata where we do, um, artificial intelligence streams through people's CVS to pick up candidates. Um, we've had ways in which we're trying to reduce gender bias in terms of hiring, um, by anonymising things like CVS. And there was an interesting study that just came out in France, where there was this top university. And I think 40% of women tended to be in this top class, uh, uh, of, of graduates from this university. And it had to have an oral examination as well as a blind exam. So they got rid of the oral exams because of COVID. 

Catherine: So it was only the written paper, which was an anonymised paper. And the number of women represented in that cohort went up to 80%, so 80% of those amazing people that passed at the highest level, were suddenly female. Whereas traditionally it was around about 40% because they got rid of the oral exam face to face and they anonymised everything, and I'm like, come on. So, you know, there are opportunities in cyber there's opportunities and understanding process there are opportunities in artificial intelligence, there are opportunities in data management. And so if you have a look at some of the free courses that your state government may have put forward here, our TAFE Queensland, we have courses in business management, data management, um, cyber, a bit of cyber activity going on, there's some free courses or reduce price courses across the universities. And you, we've got a couple of grad certs that we put together for the federal government as part of their COVID work. Um, and one of those is on data. Okay. 

Renata: Catherine, do you think that these opportunities would then present themselves as entry-level opportunities or would, mid-level manager, mid-level executive be able to transition into a leadership role? Everybody's a leader, but you know what I mean, a leader, people have projects if they have an understanding of what they're managing and trying to achieve. 

Catherine: Oh, absolutely. If people have ideas of wanting to be board directors, you know, to be a board director is already a pretty laborious thing. And you have to; you have to be, you have to be properly compensated and actually really think about things in a different way when you're a board director. And one of the things that I'm really seeing as a need across our company directors in the country is an understanding of cybersecurity, and it’s placed in the risk framework. Um, so if you are a process person and a people person, it doesn't mean you can't be a tech person. And this is the one thing that's always bothered me about how our traditional education systems have worked is that you are either in the arts or you're in the science, you know, you're right. You split somewhere in school or something like that. I don't know what it is, where you're one or the other. 

Catherine: Well, Leonardo DaVinci was both. I'd like to think that I'm both, I speak a number of languages, terrible at art though. Always enjoyed a bit of a sing-song in the choir. And I loved science. And so, you know, I was kind of like a little bit of a polymath, maybe when I was 16. I swear I was more intelligent when I was 16 sometimes than how I am now. I think it's just the tiredness speaking, but, um, I think you could be graduate-level entry. So if your kids are thinking about university choices now, um, I really do recommend the college of engineering and computer science ANU, cause that's where I'm sitting. And I just know that some of the people in there are really constructing the future. The three AI Institute that Genevieve bell put together is just first place in the world to even think about a new brand event, a new type of engineer that we're going to need to engineer the systems, the cyber-physical systems of the future. 

Catherine: This isn't just about pumping out mechanical engineers or pumping out computer scientists. This is about looking at what we want the world to be like. And I guess the thing here to is when you say to me, you know, cause I'm, I call myself the scientific futurist. So if you were a futurist, how would you predict what was going to happen? Has it changed since COVID? And I'm like, no, what we were expecting to happen is still going to happen. It's just going to happen in two years, rather than 15 years. So if you are middle management, if you are at a leadership aspirational, if you are a board director, if you are a graduate entry, if you are someone who's looking to create a startup or a business, there are pools of areas where we know Australia has no skills. There's no way to have skills, and people ready to go and get employed. Now, this is a skill and a training opportunity leading into a vacuum. We don't have enough in these jobs full stop. We just don't have them. So there's, people will have to retrain. People will have to relearn, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's all I've ever done. Yeah. I mean, that's just a natural thing for me though. I'm a bit, I'm an outlier though, aren't you, and I outlined a little bit, maybe aren't me, but maybe the outlier will become common. 

Renata: Yes. When you, when I, you know, 2019, I was holding boardroom briefings on triple three, Collins street, bringing in speakers to talk about AR AI and um, other types of technologies, diversity and inclusion, but also from more of a system-based approach. I, I felt that there is this tendency from senior executives to always work on culture first issues, first organisational structures first, rather than address technology issues. I don't know if you've encountered that or maybe it's the SME’s that I was working with.

Renata: I could see so much benefit from them adopting data automation rather than trying to change what was clearly a very unproductive work environment because the duplication of work, whereas they were trying to fix up the organisational structure first. That’s my forte you know, I, I love talking to people about people, culture, don't get me wrong. You know, that's why they hired me, but I would think they would say, can I bring Diego who is an expert in data automation to look if there is any way that we can actually fix this by actually stopping all of these duplications. And then you will see that the politics that you think is happening will actually disappear because people won't be, they won't be in inside fighting because they won't be doing each other's work anymore. 

Catherine: Yep. And the problem here is, again, not enough people who are in those levels actually have science and technology training. So there are too many people. I think that sit as CEOs and board directors that don't actually have scientific and technological training. And this is again where I feel like there's a, there's a wave coming where it will actually be part of fiduciary duty as a board director, to understand new and emerging technologies, health and safety law is helping with a few of these things. So with drone technology, for example, health and safety law in Australia has written into it. A line that reads something like if there's a known and available technology to use this to, you can use to do this job and you don't use it to do this job, and someone gets hurt. Well, you're pretty much up for corporate manslaughter. 

Catherine: And that makes people stand. That makes people stand up and go, Oh, crumbs. So the levers you're so right, the levers, which we can push to ensure that work is done safely, timely, efficiently, they're not HR levers. They are who you hire, what you recognise as the skills that are required to even understand the skills that are required. Are you educated enough as a manager, as a leader to actually see what other skills, what are the things that we're going to need? I remember doing my PhD typing into an Excel spreadsheet before we had a voice to text. And I remember when I was working at a consultancy, one of my principals, senior principal engineer, I think his charge out rate was $500. He was what I call a two-finger typer. So he was typing big reports because they got rid of all the typist pools they got rid of all, you know, so he couldn't dictate it to have someone type it. 

Catherine: Cause they got rid of all the support staff, right? They got rid of all the admin staff. They skinnied the admin staff down and kept all the really expensive principals that could charge out money because their business model was on making a profit for people in the U S. Their business model wasn't looking at this business is going to be sustainable in five years, they're working on annual paybacks, annual 12-month cycle paybacks to their shareholders that, you know, and so there's something wrong because you can gain that system, make a load of money this year, and then the business falls over next year. But you as a man, you've done your 12, you've managed to meet your targets and tick the tick. Oh, don't get me started on that level of culture. But when I introduced one of the senior directors of that company, to the fact that you could dictate things on your iPhone, I said, you know, he said, I spent forever just typing into this thing. 

Catherine: I'm at the airport. And I'm rushing. I was like, have you ever heard of the voice-dictation thing on your iPhone, and you can actually write your emails by speaking at your phone. And he was like, what? And I showed him that one thing. And then he sent me an email about, um, maybe he wrote the email with this voice about a week or so later. He was like, Catherine, you've changed my life. And I was thinking, this is obvious, but it's not. It's obvious to those of us that are in it. It's not obvious to those who are not. And it wasn't just a generational thing. This mom was very intelligent. He'd been a director of a company for a very long time, but I think if he doesn't even know about the dictation function on an iPhone, how the hell would we be able to convince this person that they need data automation, that they need to have an admin person that's in charge of running the robots. 

Catherine: And, you know, they need to have artificial intelligence that works on this. And you know, it's not an IT thing. It's not an admin thing. It's a core way your business is going to be a sustainable thing. And I think there's just because people are panicked as well. They don't have the headspace in which they can take the breath to get the oxygen to their brain, to learn about the technologies that are actually out there and available. People are like, Oh, but robots are going to take my job. Nope. There was a factory that introduced robots, maybe a bit in Melbourne. They introduced robots into the production line. And for every robot they bought in, they hired eight new staff. Cause they needed people to work alongside the robot in a different way to traditionally how they've been working with, because it was so effective, it made the whole place more profitable so that they had to hire more people. 

Catherine: So you've got to take this leap of faith. And the problem is that those of us that are on the spearhead of all of this in terms of technology, we know it. And I think most people aren't very good at communicating it, or if they do communicate it’s to people inside our own little Twitter bubble, like the people we follow, people that we like. And therefore we hear what we want to hear. Therefore, we hear what we like. And it just goes on in this wonderful oral Boris where we're all just eating our own tails, telling the same thing to each other again, and again, what needs to happen is like with me in that chat, that director, we need to speak to the people that are making the decisions to say, look, you're going to save so much time. You personally will have time to have a glass of wine and listen to some classical music and not look at your phone for an hour before you go to bed because your emails will be done because you've talked to them in rather than type them in. 

Renata: When you think about the companies or people in Australia that are truly innovative and that are making a difference. I mean, you're sitting here in front of me with a road mic, and I'm, you know, very great Aussie brand well known across the podcasting world for the amazing technology that they have. What are you seeing? What are the areas that we're really doing well in Australia, but what are the big gaps as well? Because we have some, don't we?

Catherine: We do, but you know what, I think that kind of well-recognized Deloitte did a study a few years ago, looking at the dearth of people with STEM qualifications, particularly ICT qualifications, computer science, cyber qualifications. I think we've got a gap of about 40% between the people that we're going to be able to pump out through universities and the jobs that need to be filled. And of the people that we pumped through universities, they don't represent diversity in terms of gender, particularly well. Um, some universities are better than others, but in general, I think, you know, engineers are 18% female, 18% women, I should say 18% women that graduate as engineers. And that's not really enough. You need 50 50. Um, but the key here is that that gap of 40% between the people that are being produced in the jobs that exist, that's actually getting bigger. 

Catherine: So in terms of the tech world, there's a load of opportunity, and that would be everything from your banks through to your insurance companies, through to the government, federal government defence. There's going to be a huge push for these kinds of technologies inside defence. There already is. We've got really great innovative defence industries, um, part of Australia, cybersecurity, as I've already ranted on about, I can't go on about that enough, to be honest. I think it's something that it's the next pandemic. And if it hits, it's going to be worse in many ways than, than this one is in different ways, of course. But then we've got opportunities, for example, and even people like Telstra have a CTO, a chief technology officer, and they've got an innovation hub is actually in Melbourne. Um, and so they're constantly looking at new thinkers new ways of doing things, especially with robotics, they use drones on some of their projects as well. 

Catherine: When we look at things like, um, biosecurity plant diseases and agricultural security, smart agriculture is going to be a huge opportunity going forward when we look at things like, um, okay, so some of the work that's going to be obviously open will be things like agriculture in terms of fruit picking. I think the federal government is going to give people income tax breaks if they go and pick fruit. So only one whose kids were going to have a gap year and travel to India for a year, send them up to five North Queensland to pick mangoes the first season. Instead, I'd suggest getting some cash in, 

Renata: Those are some beautiful farms. I want to go there. I need a gap year after this.

Catherine: Can I have a gap year, can I pick fruit, please? Cause that would be really nice, but then we've got places like health care, right? So if we look at healthcare and one of the things Australia is excellent at, I hate to say it we're brilliant with viruses, right? So we've got the Doherty Institute in Melbourne. That's like globally leading, running all of the tests, all of the vaccine trials. So in terms of big data, in terms of people, in terms of money, in terms of where things are going to get spent, there's going to be a lot of money put into pandemic proofing and preparation. It's one area that we are so much better than many other much larger countries than us. We really do punch above our weight. Nuku has the vaccine team here again that they are just leading the world with some of these technologies. So other areas, Australia is really great at drone technology. We're really good at the non-military use of drones and how drone technology is going to be applied across businesses. 

Catherine: Um, our FinTech and our finance, you know, we're pretty good, pretty punch above our weight with that, to be honest, people forget, you know, for a population of 25, 26 million, we're ranked really highly in many of these areas of study. Um, and it's not just that we've imported the right people and created the right aspect since that we've actually grown them ourselves to the pit, the Doherty Institute, Peter, Doherty's brilliant. He's a national treasure that man, and he’s a legend. Um, I interviewed him for one of my books recently and um, and he's just spot on, you know, with so many things, but he encourages women, and he's known actually that his Institute is great in that its CEO is female Susan lumen. And um, there's some wonderful people that have produced some great cutting edge work with this particular Coronavirus have been female-run labs with entirely female teams. Um, you know, that have managed to produce some, some wonderful things. 

Renata: Melbourne is amazing between Doherty, Monash, CSL, local analyser st. Vincent's. The Fama hub here is just incredible. 

Catherine: It's really going to have a huge push on health. I think in Australia has always had a health culture that other countries haven't particularly the outdoors, the surfing, um, you know, yes, we have obesity rates that aren't so great, but I feel like this pandemic is going to shake up how we work. I think we're going to drop to a four-day working week. I don't think we're going to stay with a five-day working week. I think we will start having health built into our careers. I love it too. The idea that you know, 

Renata: If you and I are going to have four days, I hope whoever has a full-time job. The thing about being a solo entrepreneur is you work all the time.

Catherine: You work all the time all the time, but you know, but you enjoy what you do. So it doesn't feel like work so much, but I mean, this is why I have my EA, right? It's take away some of that drudgery. This is why I enjoy working at ANU because I get to chat about really cool and interesting projects. This is why I like to have the conversations I'd like to have. But, um, look, it's a really dark moment. And I suppose anybody watching this, who's worried about their career or who's interested in making a change or gosh, the time is now we are going to have this, the speed at which we bounce back and the way our economy is going to bounce back has been predicted to be better than how we dropped. So the boom is actually going to be better than the drop. 

Renata: Oh, bless you. This is going to be such a great podcast to listen to

Catherine: Just hold on. Like, you know, we'll have vaccines going into people, and we'll be ring-fencing with vaccines rather than lockdowns by Christmas. I reckon. And by April next year, the world will be a very different place. I just want people to look after themselves, be excellent to each other, to quote Bill and Ted, just to keep hungry and interested. Look at the free training. That's available. Look at some of the graduates serves, get connected to a university, have a look to see, you know, maybe your Alma Matter, maybe you have a look at what the ANU is offering. You know, there's, there's just so much, there's so much out there, and this is the time now where we need to look after ourselves. It's true. But I feel like it's a people call it the great pause, though I've never been busier, we've got an opportunity to take a breath and reorganise. As we walk through this one-way glass door, which we're all going through in our careers, in our lives and how we view health and work and the economics of where it's at. We have an opportunity to choose how we want 2021 to be and how we want 2022 to be and how we prepare ourselves for that, I'd suggest, is now. 

Renata: Thank you, Catherine. Thank you. You filled up a whole hour of great ideas, you know, I just don't need to worry about asking you any questions. I just can let you reign free back in this podcast. I might have to get you on to engage fee but 

Catherine: No, this is my friend, and it's this, you know, just that's 

Renata: Can I finish off by saying that the best thing about being a solo entrepreneur or anybody working? Actually the best thing about being in the corporate sector is to have a great network of people you can count on. I know that if I have a big problem, even though I haven't seen you in a year, I can give you a call and you can call me if you need me in Melbourne, as you've done. And as I've done, like it's the best thing. And I'm so grateful for that network that we both have, you know, not just the two of us. We have a whole bunch of mostly women that we can count on, um, to, to help us out in our journey. So that's great. And everybody needs to have that. Well done. Thank you. What are you going to do for the rest of the day? 

Catherine: Oh, I've got meetings Back to back most of the day. Yeah. 

Renata: Yeah, I’ve heard from Kate. Make sure she finishes at 10. 

Catherine: Yeah. Which is now, but, um, but look, thank you so much for having me. And if anyone wants to connect with me, you can find me through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, more than happy to have a chat takes a while for me to get back to people at the moment though. 

Renata: Well I put the world of drones websites on the, and the competition on the chatbox, but I will have all of your links in the show notes when the podcast goes live as well. 

Catherine: Thank you. 




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