NOTE TO MEDIA:
Nicholas Moore will not be available for media interviews during his attendance at UOW graduations.
All media inquiries should be directed to Macquarie Group Media Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Human skills emphasised for graduate success
Outgoing CEO of Macquarie Group urges graduates to embrace the future, be collaborative and not to fear failure.
After more than a decade at the helm of one of Australia’s most successful financial services companies, Nicholas Moore is heading into retirement on a high.
He took over as CEO of Macquarie Group in 2008, just as the first waves of the global financial crisis were impacting financial markets.
Yet, during his tenure he’s diversified the business, expanded internationally, achieved record profits and increased total shareholder returns by 300 per cent.
Mr Moore officially retired at the end of November this year and today (Thursday 13 December), was the guest speaker for Summer graduations at UOW.
"Today’s graduates are also going to see enormous growth in their lifetime.
It’s going to be an exciting time. It’s their time."
He said his message for the graduates as they ventured out to make their way in their careers was one of realistic optimism.
“I want to leave with them a feeling of optimism, a feeling of hope, realistic hope, in terms of the world being better in their lifetime, as well as a sense of the role they have to play in that process,” Mr Moore said.
He recalled when he started his career in the early 1980s unemployment was around 10 per cent, interest rates were 14 per cent, oil prices were high, and the cold war was in its fourth decade.
“Despite the bleakness of the outlook at the time, we have seen profound social and economic improvements since then,” he said.
“Australia’s per capita income is up 75 per cent, our economy has had 27 years of growth, life expectancy is up 10 years and four times more Australians are in tertiary education.
“Outside Australia, we’ve seen the miracle of China, while globally, 1.3 billion people have moved out of poverty at a rate of 137,000 people a day – or about two-thirds of the city of Wollongong.
“Of course, we can’t just expect progress will happen. The progress over the last 36 years was due to good government making hard decisions to reform the economy here in Australia and elsewhere.
“We need good government policy, reinforced by strong social institutions and our own sense of civic duty to effect positive change. It’s a shared responsibility.”
Similarly, personal success will be supported by the growing global economy but to fully benefit, graduates will need to develop and utilise not just technical skills, but what he called “the skill of being human”.
“The most important thing in business, or any professional career, is trust – doing what you say you're going to do. It’s fair to say the trust people have in our institutions has been in decline in recent times.
“Those basic skills of empathy and of being part of a team are so important. They help us relate to others and build a better understanding of what’s expected. It brings greater impact to what we do.
“You can be the most brilliant person in the world but if you can’t work with the people around you, you’re going to be a lot less effective.”
"The most important thing in business, or any professional career, is trust – doing what you say you're going to do."
Mr Moore said one thing graduates could be certain of was change.
“There will be new industries you've never thought of, companies you've never heard of. Most of the tech companies dominating the S&P 500 Index today didn’t exist when I started work.”
He said the changing dynamics of the labour market and the introduction of new technology such as automation and artificial intelligence presented opportunities for graduates as they developed their careers.
This required graduates to foster curiosity and a tenacious spirit willing to try new things, even if they might fail.
“You’ll get to where you’re going in unexpected ways but the fact you’re trying something new means you’re learning,” he said.
“By trying and failing, you will find a new position of knowledge that you can build on to your ultimate success.”
Success, Mr Moore said, was a relative term that each individual had to define for themselves. But the future was for graduates to make of it what they wanted.
“Thomas Edison talked about success being more about perspiration than inspiration. You've got to make sure that you're rolling your sleeves up and you're contributing. By contributing you’ll feel fulfilled.”
“Today’s graduates are also going to see enormous growth in their lifetime. It’s going to be an exciting time. It’s their time.”