A personal journey

| August 29, 2014

In our disruptive digital age we have to foresee change and adapt in order to be successful. Chris Stevens explains how he came to set up TalentFlow, helping individuals and organisations adapting into the future.

I was CIO of Sensis on 24th August 2006. By 12 o’clock I was no longer the CIO. How did I get here?

Today, eight years later, I am the Managing Director of a company called TalentFlow. We work with CIOs on personal and corporate strategies. We are doing the things that I should have done when I worked at Sensis.

Let me backtrack a few years: I was on an excellent career trajectory. I was on a high salary, I was safe, and I worked in a job that I really enjoyed with colleagues that I loved to work with. I was safe. So what happened on that day when my boss gave me the pink slip? And why was I there – the victim, as it were?

Looking back I know exactly why it happened to me. It happened because I did not look into the future. I did not see what was obvious to be seen – that technology was going to threaten the business I was working in. We in management did not do enough to prepare our organisation to respond to the threats and possibly opportunities that the technological changes had in stall for us.

What destroyed the business of Sensis was on the cards 15, even 20 years before. The technology that eventually took over the space of telephone books was already in the making in the 1990s. So we had plenty of warning to see where we should take our business, which was the largest and most profitable unit in a very large Telstra.

But we didn’t change enough. We didn’t foresee what was coming because we were not looking. So I didn’t do anything myself either. I went to work every morning with my colleagues, and I planned for the future, which was an upward trajectory of ever increasing sales, ever increasing revenues and ever increasing personal reward.

The reality crept up on us without us looking around. The same thing is happening today with most companies, because businesses and people tend to look at what is providing them with the success today and not the success that needs to be looked after in the future.

So here I was with my pink slip. Mortgage, family, and a career in tatters. I was not prepared for that, and it took me quite a while to readjust. Then I decided to help other people avoid what had happened to me, and that is why I set up TalentFlow.

TalentFlow is doing exactly what I should have done: Helping people to change to remain relevant and also to help organisations adapt their offer into a fast changing market.  It is part of the job of senior executives to protect the job of their colleagues who rely on their leadership.

There is no other organisation in Australia doing this, and I am proud that we are doing it – not only for our own commercial benefit, but for anybody else who cares to listen and understand that their personal lives is theirs to manage as indeed their job is to look after their corporate directions to avoid a “Sensis” happening to them.