No new ways to ‘fail’, however there are arguably many more ways to identify stress early, says Gayle Dickerson, Partner at KPMG
TMA Member Profile
1. How did you get involved in the TMA?
Like many people, I expect, I was inspired and encouraged to get involved through others who I respect in the industry. In Australia, the TMA has established itself as a dynamic, engaging and market-leading organisation that represents a broad spectrum of turnaround industry. Being originally from London I liked that it is internationally connected and globally aware. Having been involved with the TMA for 3 years now, initially joining the 2015 conference committee, I am genuinely impressed with the commitment from all the people involved from the energy, hours and financial resources to support the growth in the organisation.
The recent collaboration to partner with Foodbank is another progressive step in the TMA’s evolution which appeals to me. All organisations need to be more socially conscious in 2018 – our staff and our customers expect it. Brianna’s (the CEO of Foodbank) speech at the conference last year caught me totally unaware as to the extent of food poverty in Australia and I trust that as an influential and privileged collective, we can aid their cause.
2. How has it changed over the last five years?
The turnaround market in Australia has become more sophisticated, more complex, and more global. Even only five years ago, genuine turnaround capability was limited to only a few players in the market – today, there are many more TMA members that see turnaround as the future growth in the traditional restructuring and insolvency market.
Whilst there is no new way to ‘fail’, there are arguably many more ways to identify stress early, more options to restructure the balance sheet and more capability to improve operational performance. In my own business, as an example, we are increasingly using technology and data analytical tools to not only identify opportunities but rapidly work out where the upside might be in the business. Of course, you overlay this with experience, but the time spent on uncovering the issues is vastly condensed so more time can be spent on the strategic and tactical decision making and having the conversations with the client.
With my eye still on the trends in the UK, I suspect Australia will follow suit, with many more global funds establishing a base here (10 years ago in the UK there were 8 main banks generating restructuring work, today there are over 2,000 debt and capital providers).
3. As Co-Chair of the 2018 TMA Conference Committee, can you share anything about this year’s programme?
An extremely high bar has been set in terms of previous years’ conferences, which puts the pressure on! However, this year is already set to bring some of the highest profile speakers and turnaround stories to our members – including confirmed speakers from Channel Ten, BIS Industries, and Noni B.
Our conference will be again held at the Museum of Contemporary Art set against the backdrop of the iconic Opera House at Circular Quay. This year’s conference will encourage all of you to participate. It will provide plenty of opportunities for networking and to gain unique insights into the world of turnaround.
We’ve chosen a theme for the conference – VUCA – this is a word that has started to enter our vocabulary to describe the world that we live in is a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. It’s fair to say that’s not going away, it will only accelerate. As turnaround professionals, we are used to dealing with change and need to be prepared for uncertainty and embrace it, rather than resist it, because it is an ineluctable force that is accelerating.
A big thanks to the co-chair and organising committee who are pulling out all the stops to deliver this year’s conference.
4. What would someone who only knows you professionally be surprised to learn about you?
Probably given I am usually seen in high heels and elegant attire, that I played soccer at a reasonably senior level in the UK and Australia. I have recently (& reluctantly) hung up my boots to take up the less intense game of tennis more fitting with my age.
A highlight of my fledgling soccer career was playing at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and scoring in a penalty shoot-out, with the Chelsea stars on the sidelines waiting to train on the pitch. I am sure they were impressed with my Cruyff turn.
5. What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve received some great pearls of wisdom over the years from mentors – we should all have one or more in our careers. Actually, my first piece of advice is to get a mentor or even a professional coach to help navigate and juggle your own career.
You only get out of it as much as you put in but there is no-one too senior who wouldn’t benefit from some time to self-reflect.
Another one that is obvious, but really important, is that if you are passionate about something you’ll be successful and fulfilled. I’ve always had a genuine interest in the retail industry so it has been easy to drive putting in the energy and hours needed outside of the ‘day’ job. Don’t force yourself into being interested in something you’re not – find the niche you have a passion for and focus on it.