David Lang | Open Colleges
David Lang

Human Resource Management

David Lang

Trainer at Open Colleges

"Understand the company - always make sure you have a really good cover letter, and explain just why you want to be part of the company, the benefits you could provide to the company, what do you expect to get from the company."

David has been involved in the hospitality, tourism and training industries for over 30 years. He has a background in five star dining and silver service and has experience in franchise development. David is an active participant in industry and voluntary associations holding positions as Secretary of the Australian Bartenders Guild (International Bartenders Association), Marketing Manager for the Restaurant and Caterers Association of Australia (WA F&B Service Guild) and Chairman of Eastern Beaches Relay for Life (Sydney, NSW).

1 How is the Australian business management area unique or different to other management you've seen across the world?

From the Australian perspective, compliance is a big issue. Legal compliance is one of the things I've noticed when I've done consulting overseas that many people say we're strict about and that we have so many compliance requirements in the ACCC. But to a certain extent, that is a good thing, because you need to have controls. I think with the Australian perspective, there seems to be a lot more emphasis on people being more entrepreneurial, and having a greater range of skills rather than being a specialist. Obviously, we still need a specialist, but that depends on the field you're working in, but I'm seeing that the managers need to have a more diverse range of skills for business.

2 Taking that question back one step, if I'm a student thinking about studying business management for the Australian marketplace, what are two or three core pieces of advice that you'd give a student before they began their journey into this career path?

I think they need to expect that it might not be the only career path that they're going to have. That's quite common globally now that you might start off on one industry and then move across a range of industries. So I would say that with a management course, it's good that you're going to get the generic skills that could be used across a range of industries, just be aware that you might have a specialist industry, but the skills you'll learn in a management course are really readily transferrable, which is a good thing. I think that it's really important that people will have a focus on professionalism as well, and from the perspective of being very careful about how you look in the public domain because - especially on social media, credibility is easily taken down these days, and you'd have to present a professional front right from the start, like having a professional LinkedIn account and things like that.

3 What do you think are the three core personality traits or business skills that a professional should have?

One, a definite understanding of the industry and the job and the company that you're going for. I think one of the things that I get a lot of feedback from managers and businesses that I deal with is that the marketplace is so competitive now that a lot of candidates apply for jobs that they're not going to be suitable for, and when you're wading through resumes and if you even get to the point where you've reached the point of having an interview, one of the things that stands people out more than anything is grammatical errors, spelling errors, really poor formatting. If you're going to present yourself to industry, it doesn't necessarily matter how good your qualifications are because if you present poorly right off the cuff, well, you're not even going to be considered. If you're going for a job, your resume has got to be polished and flipped.

One of the other big things is understanding the company - always make sure you have a really good cover letter, and explain just why you want to be part of the company, the benefits you could provide to the company, what do you expect to get from the company. A lot of employers don't pick resumes that don't have a cover letter, and it doesn't have any statement about the business or an understanding of the people within the company. Many of these companies have annual reports, you can read those, get into media, get into LinkedIn, sites like Smart Company are always presenting business articles, so just make sure you've done some research that you can talk about the company before you get to the interview.

And then there's your professional presentation, one of the things that lets a lot of people down is just not looking sharp. You don't need a thousand dollar suit, but you've just got to present professionally. Polished shoes, for instance, that's a big one. Directors notice this sort of stuff. HR recruiters may also notice this, so it's about being polished.

4 So looking at trends from 2016 through to 2020 and thinking “Big Picture”, what are some of the trends you can see in business management?

Remote workforce is a very big one, because leasing property is a pretty huge expense, and a lot of the companies that I'm familiar with have a mobile workforce and it's cheaper for the company actually give the staff an iPad and a smartphone and using cloud-based solutions. Being able to operate in a mobile environment is really, really critical. And I think that a lot of people find it really difficult. They’d prefer being in an office environment where they'd prefer being in office environment where they feel driven by their boss to tell them what to do, but most companies are moving away from this. So you have to be able to manage and have a perspective of your own time management.

As a manager, being able to maintain your workforce when they're remote - you can't just walk up to them and say, "Hey, how're you going?". Having the solutions for Skype-ing and teleconferencing, using cloud-based solutions for sharing documentation and accessing information, are again very important. As for deadlines, if staff are relying on you to get the information, you need to have it done. If you've got regular information that’s going out all the time and not having systems in place, such as CRMs, HRMs and other cloud solutions.

5 Let's go back to the '50s and '60s, so a couple of generations ago. What is one way that you can see that the management industry within Australia has changed within that time?

What I can definitely see from my perspectives back in the '80s, when I was starting off, there was a focus on if you do a lot of work you're a good operator. But nowadays, it's not so much necessarily how much work you do, but the quality of the work that you're actually able to generate.

Now, I'm not a fan of Donald Trump at all, but there was a really interesting article that I read years ago about one of his seniors, and he was part of the team, and the team members went and complained [to the team manager] that this guy used to sit in the office and look out the window all day and wasn't doing his work. [The manager] replied "Well, this guy generates five times more work than any of you put together, and it doesn't matter how he does it, but at the end of the day, the work gets done and the quality of the work gets done".

So the idea of being very flexible in how you operate, and workforce flexibility is really critical and managers have to understand this now.

Previous article:

Executive Chairman at Stephenson Mansell Group
Virginia Mansell

Next article:

Diploma of Logistics Student
Mick Beekman