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The Back Story interview: Chris MacLeod

The Back Story monthly interview features ADAPTOVATE employees from around the world. Each month we ask them 10 questions. Our team is the greatest asset we have, and it’s a privilege to share just a little bit more about who they are.

This month we are joined in conversation by Chris MacLeod, a senior consultant in our Sydney office.

First up – how long have you worked with us?

I joined in January of 2021.

Why did you join us?  Were you in the industry previously, or looking for a new career direction?

I had been running my own digital marketing strategy consultancy since 2013, and completed an MBA here in Australia in 2018. Before that I’d been a restaurateur, active travel guide, English teacher, magazine editor and had spent more than a few years in sailing and marine manufacturing. Always curious, and trying to always be learning learning new things, I attended a university-run recruiting event in 2020 and was immediately drawn to Adaptovate. After meeting Paul, Simmy and Doug, I knew I had to find a way to join this family.

How has your previous experience and career helped define where you are now? Would you have done things differently?

I’ve always deliberately put myself in positions where I’m thrown in the deep end and forced to learn. It’s sometimes very uncomfortable, and I certainly have had some failures along the way. The thing is that I’m here, not in spite of my experience, but rather because of it. I’m very much in the right place, with Adaptovate.

How do you balance your work life with your ‘real’ life –   Do you have a good balance and how important is it to you?

I’m still learning as I go but, to be honest, I’m not sure I see work and life as two distinct zones. My love of my family and my bottomless curiosity are enabled and emboldened by doing something for work something that I find inspiring. I love being in a position to support and effect positive change in the world – one business or individual at a time.

With so many of our team remote working,  we always like to ask how do you have your home office/desk set up?   Organised or chaos? Any top tips?

My set-up is very much a constant work in progress. I have an adjustable desk and foot-stretching pads so I can stay on my feet. Very organised and deliberate, but always open to new ways of working. As for top tips – plenty of natural light, a good view (if possible) and plants – a lot of them.

Do you play music during your Agile workshops with clients?    What do you recommend on your latest playlist?

Funnily enough, I’ve played some elevator music for comic effect during a few session breaks. My goto music is an instrumental version (muzak…) of “The Girl From Ipanema.” A little Frank Sinatra can also go a long way in a similar context.

How do you think technology has best helped humanity and do you have any concerns about our future?

There’s quite a bit in that question. I’ll put it this way – the democratisation of information is both the best, and in some ways also the worst, thing to happen to humanity. Information from both reliable sources and from many less so. Each are widely available at the touch of a button, but we can also easily choose to filter it all through our biases and preferred narrative – to the exclusion of anything that challenges our assumptions. This is really problematic. There is an information culture war already taking place in plain sight, in places like the US. We will need to be better at educating our children to know how to deal with both the bright and dark sides of technology, particularly our sources information. My own mother was a scientist who helped bring machine learning to life in the 1970’s at what was then called the Stanford Research Institute. She also worked on NIH projects that led to MRI technology. I’m very fortunate to have had projects like Shakey The Robot and AI Ethics as regular dinner-time conversation. I wish that was an experience that was much more common than it is.

Strategic Foresight allows companies to detect changes early and ensure action is taken quickly.  Which companies have you seen able to  change and adapt quickly.  (and hopefully using Agile methods to do so)

There are plenty of recent examples of start-ups that come to mind. That said, I’m still always inspired by the companies that had survived, in spite of the accelerating demise of the long-standing business model. Companies like Proctor & Gamble, Cisco and my favourite – John Deere. John Deere has been successfully innovating since 1837!

What does success mean to you personally?

Creating change that has real impact.

Finally – You’ve time travelled back to your 10- year old self – What advice would you give?

I’d suggest a few “Rules to Live By,” courtesy of Tim Minchin: “Be hard on your opinions”, “Be a teacher”, “Define yourself by what you love”, “Respect people with less power than you” and “Don’t rush”.

Special 11th Question – How have you found working through life and work during COVID?

Another opportunity to be thrown in the deep end.

You can reach Chris via LinkedIn.


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