Being asked to think on the top 5 influences in your life is an interesting exercise, especially if you haven’t thought about it much before. It makes you sit down and take stock of people around you and their impact on your professional and personal self. For me it also allowed me to be objective about something that is inherently emotive – making it oddly challenging, but enjoyable.

My top 5 influences on my life: My wife, Gem: Now I’m not one to just gush – not my style, but if ever there was someone who just makes you want to be better, it’s my wife, Gemma. Endlessly supportive, kind, empathetic and intelligent but she will also challenge my thinking, and has taught me more about myself than I would have been able to figure out in a lifetime of fumbling. Everything from my level of resilience, ability to critically think on life’s challenges, the willingness to back myself to the point of proving I should have all along – this list could get very long….. In a nutshell, skills that are completely transferable from personal life to the workplace, I firmly believe for the most part have been learned and/or honed by Gem.

My son, Fletcher: Having always been a competitive chap, and having the drive to be better than I was yesterday, looking for excellence in my field has always been a driver – even if a hollow one that might have been rooted in ego. My son, Fletcher, gave the striving meaning and a rationale that without him I wouldn’t have found. Succeeding in anything will always be chiefly down to an individual desire, but with a larger purpose being your “why”, it becomes less about you and more about them. He’s also taught me a huge amount about myself and about patience. (Still learning daily and consider myself a learner dad).

My dad: Never pushed us (my brother and I) down a particular path or way of thinking and instead taught us that regardless of the path we chose, to look to be the best at it. A tireless worker who showed us what a good and honest work ethic is so that we learned it by watching it, not just by being told about it. My mentors – let’s call them 1 & 2: As I’ve gone deeper into my career, having mentors has been an important part of my learning and growth. Beyond a certain point, your “on the job” learning opportunities can become much fewer and so taking charge of my own growth was key. For this, I asked two people who I have enormous respect for to be my mentors. Both very different people, from very different backgrounds – one is an executive from a legal background and one, an executive from a people operations background. The key here being that purposefully they are from very different worlds and their styles couldn’t be more different, but I respect them both to no-end. From one mentor (people operations background): I’m fortunate enough to be able to continually learn and deepen my functional knowledge while learning behavioural styles that work well at the executive level in business. This while learning more about people strategy – the pros, the cons, the trade-offs, and the “why’s” that will give people operations the ear of any boardroom. From the second mentor (legal background): Their seat among many boardrooms in General Counsel roles has allowed them to build skills and capability that would usually sit outside of my lens. In order for me to broaden my lens, it’s important I gain insight across the business, and in turn, this has enabled me to not only think more broadly but also bring those learnings back into the people function and be empathetic to audiences that we may usually not share much connection with. Both mentors challenge me. They challenge my thinking. They both tell me when I’m wrong, right, and everything in between which in turn helps me grow constantly. All of the above and I’m still a work in progress! NG