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Stephen Pitt-Walker—Episode 37 - Westgate Career Coaching
Stephen Pitt-Walker

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Stephen Pitt-Walker is a strategic advisor, lawyer, general counsel, international executive, and board advisor. He is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship and constructive, sustainable, and ethical, business practices, as well as stakeholder equity and ‘good’ corporate governance. 

Transcript

Maureen Farmer

Stephen Pitt-Walker is a strategic advisor, lawyer, general counsel, international executive, and board advisor. He is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship and constructive, sustainable, and ethical, business practices, as well as stakeholder equity and ‘good’ corporate governance.

 

With more than 30 years of global professional experience across multiple industry sectors, he has lived and worked in Australia, East Asia, the UK, Europe, and the US, holding global and multi-geography responsibility in several multi-national corporations.

He is a former Vice President and regional practice lead at Gartner Consulting (Asia-Pacific), Global Account Director at Honeywell International, and Global Lead at BHP. He is a Fellow of the Strategic Management Institute Australia and a past Fellow of the Strategic Planning Society in London.

 

Stephen is also a graduate of the Royal Military College of Australia, the Australian Defence Force Academy, and served for ten years as a commissioned officer in the Australian Defence Force in Australia and overseas.

 

He is a life-long learner, educator, and academically published author, holding an honours 1st BA (Honours 1st) in Government, Grad. Dip. Social Science in Asian Government, MA in International Economics, Master of International Studies in International Relations, and Graduate Diploma in Asian Politics.

 

He is a Juris Doctor (Doctor of Laws) and is admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of New South Wales and licensed to practice law internationally.

 

He also has longstanding experience as a human rights advocate and advisor.


Welcome Stephen to the Het Hired up Podcast!

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Thanks, Maureen. It's a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Maureen Farmer

It's an honor to have you and it's been a little bit of a test getting here. This is our third time. Third time's the charm, I guess they say.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

True enough. The wonders of technology.

Maureen Farmer

Yes. And here I am sitting in my office in Halifax, Canada, and you're in your office in Sydney, Australia. I'm in the morning, and you're in the evening. So good evening, Stephen.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

And good morning, Maureen.

Maureen Farmer

Thank you. So look, I'm so honored to have you here on the podcast. Your background and career is absolutely intriguing to me. And I know the topic we're going to talk about today is the timely topic of artificial intelligence as it relates to business. And the technology of artificial intelligence is barely 60 years old. But its emergence has led to such applications that profoundly affect our lives. And I'm just going to recite something here that came from some research that we had done through McKinsey. According to the news here, the fatal crashes have already resulted in trials of Tesla's partially autonomous vehicles due to the system's misinterpretation of unique environmental conditions that it had not previously experienced during tech testing. And I mentioned that because the McKinsey report indicates that AI adoption is continuing its steady rise. 56% of all respondents reported the AI adoption. And at least one function is up from 50% in 2020. And then I'm just going to read one more quote, and we can start our conversation.

The newest results suggest that AI adoptions since last year has increased in most companies headquartered in emerging economies such as China, the Middle East and North Africa. 50% of respondents report adoption up from 45% in 2020. And across regions, the adoption rate is highest in Indian companies closely followed by those in Asia Pacific. So I'd love to kind of start there and get your particular point of view on AI from a business perspective as well with that sort of legal landscape.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

The two go hand in glove, though, they're easily separated and need to be to some extent, but clearly what those quotations demonstrate (the numbers supporting those), the rapid expansion, exponential expansion of the use cases and the applicability and the application of artificial intelligence, narrow artificial intelligence that is, to the business space. I think that underpins the understanding that it's the technology of the future. And that means that in order to maintain competitive positioning in your market, you're going to need to expand that capability and indeed utilize that capability along with the data that is available to you, which is a very, very important part of that mix. I think not only international, but national competitiveness is going to be governed to a large degree, by the capacity and the capability to implement and effectively use artificial intelligence to service your customers better. That is in the narrow sense. I think that those who don't, will be...and along with...that's part of a package, along with other technologies that have been emerging as well. Augmented reality, Internet, all of these are part and parcel of a holistic trajectory of emerging tech and taking that into the future, I think they're going to be determined, amongst other things from an organization point of view. But if we stick to the technology, they're going to be the differentiators. They're going to be the preeminent. And I think that'll lead to the winners and losers to, unfortunately, to use the zero sum term. But that will be the case, there will be losers. And there will be winners out of this process. I think that's equally the case for corporations as it is for nation states, interestingly enough as well, I think that there's different ways that different nation states, and different nation states within frameworks for regulation, are going to be able to affect their competitiveness in global markets, as well as their own in terms of data security, data management, privacy, law, privacy concerns, as well as algorithmic ethics and issues of opacity versus transparency and intrusion with respect to regulation. So I think that, you know, this is really where the legal and the business model or the business corporate perspectives merge, as well.

Maureen Farmer

And it's interesting to talk about the nation states and government from a governance point of view. And the research I've done preparing for this conversation talked about the balance of information is clearly—this is what I read—clearly in the hands of corporations who have the timely data. And it looks as though some of the governance around its application is a little bit behind sort of the corporate and the business acquisition of this data.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Yeah, no, you're right. Absolutely. And I think this is where there's going to be an issue, I think this is an intersection of concern. And the intersection is between business strategy, corporate strategy, technology, and the law or regulation, as well. And certainly the law and regulation  are not caught up to where the technology has developed to. I think there's significant concerns around that, in terms of outcome, in terms of competitive fairness, in in terms of consumer protection, for example, which is of major interest to me, as well as in terms of people's data and the value created through that data being colonized by digital platforms, that is large providers of digital services that are either aggregators, or have access to vast volumes of data which they can analyze, and analyze behaviors and patterns through algorithms in order to achieve outcomes and play those back to their consumers, for example.

Maureen Farmer

So this is an interesting question for you. This report also talks about more than three quarters of consumers surveyed by Accenture are willing to share the data required for benefits such as personalized offers, more efficient and intuitive services, and more competitive pricing. And an almost equal number 73% are willing to share more personal information, if companies are transparent about how it will be used. What's your position on that?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

I think that's a really interesting report. I haven't seen that report or that survey. I'm not necessarily surprised by that. Because I think the consumer sees advantage to them personally, in providing data openly or access to their data openly if they're going to get a return on it. I think the question is what return do they get on it, because that's the value that they're creating, or that their data creates for the user of the data, but also there needs to be an equal and opposite protection for them. I think that's the part that was missing in that calculus that you just mentioned. In other words, the benefit is clear, but is the compound or aggregate effect of multiple users data, then being able to be potentially used to provide them or to persuade them perhaps is a better term to use any particular product that sort of infers some form of manipulation. Now there needs to be protection and equal opposite protection against that, along with the benefit they gain. So that would be my position on that. I have no issue as long as consent is free and fair and full. And there is full disclosure on for example, or potentially full disclosure, on how that information is going to be used. And perhaps this then relates to the transparency issue with respect to algorithms, if the algorithm is a black box, then that consumer has no understanding of how they might therefore be subject to the use of the data in and through the application of artificial intelligence to then create a trend or put information, other information in front of them, which causes them to make decisions.

Maureen Farmer

So this goes back to the opacity issue. So what is clearly communicated to the user, the customer, the client, can you give us an example of an unintended, maybe an unintended outcome of an AI type of product, where maybe opacity wasn't super clear? I mean, not to point fingers. But just as a general example.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

As a general example, potentially, with any outcome that would cause disadvantage, or a greater advantage to the user of the information and the artificial intelligence to then position products or messages or information back to the users of their digital platform.

Maureen Farmer

We see that all the time. We see that every day, don't we?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

We certainly do. And I think it's, you know, the question is, what regime of governance needs to be in place to do that effect or to give greatest reasonable effect to the balance, which is between the advantage to the consumer and the disadvantage to the consumer? Or conversely advantage and disadvantage to the digital platform, the user of the data and AI? And I think that question hasn't been answered as of yet. There are a number of regimes that have been put forward in various places around the world, which have sought to do that. There's a very reasonable act. That's been that's been legislated in Europe, it's not yet come into effect. So it's not been an enacted, but it's underway. There are various other regimes as well, clearly, they are all going to interact. But also clearly, they'll have a determinant effect on the competitiveness of the organization for businesses that are operating under the jurisdiction of those frameworks. I think that alludes to a global issue as well, which is where there are differences today that are becoming clearer, between the ways in which various regions in the world if I can put it that way, though some of them and nation states are approaching the problem. So there's, there's vast differences between, for example, the United States, Europe, under GDPR, and others at all, other legislation, such as the, the artificial intelligence act in or bill that's in the in making in the EU, as well as China with its data security legislation in particular. And also its cyber security authority, and being able to regulate the artificial intelligence space, along with other things as well. All of those have different approaches. And all of that all of those approaches, I can name them, I can give them a name, I would call the United States approach and market oriented approach, the European approach or rights oriented approach, and the Chinese approach would probably best be characterized as, as a sovereign approach sovereignty based approach. Each of those, though, because of the difference in the systems of governance and the end the approaches or the themes, the underpinning principles of the approaches, creates a a future competitiveness differential. The easiest example to see that is between, for example, the United States, and the market approach, and China and the sovereignty approach, where the United States being a common law, free market jurisdiction, liberal capitalist society, the Lord doesn't as easily nor nor potentially at all, allow for government intrusion into private sector behaviors, such as down to the level of regulating algorithms or multiple algorithms that are produced in a blackbox situation that produce an outcome, whereas in China, they can be very intrusive. You know, the government certainly has in the data security authority, cybersecurity authority has the the ability to be that intrusive and therefore create, some would say, and potentially a fairer playing field that's also regulated for the future and therefore potentially more future proof than a market based governance regime where the private sector is moving headlong, as you alluded earlier, into the development of the technology for business but Episodes without the regulation in place, or the ability, in some instances to regulate the ethics of the use of the technology. But you know, in terms of digital platform and behaviors with respect to artificial intelligence, and decision making through AI, decision making, or in terms of representation of information to use it, so consumers, governments are a huge digital platform today.

And so their ability to affect people is huge, through AI, as well. So, I think that it's not just corporations, certainly, in terms of the competitiveness or consumer protection and competition frameworks, it's it's corporations, but governments need to be held to account by artificial intelligence frameworks for regulation as well, because they're the amount of information that government has today, of of all of ours that can affect decision making of this. For example, you know, who to target and who they may target for particular things. I don't know, there'll be a picker, who they may target, as you know, off pattern recognition through AI. For auditing of tax...

Maureen Farmer

Yes, I was just going to say so, oh, yes.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

It goes along with facial recognition programs that have...this is underpinned by the bias issue, because an algorithm is built by somebody who already has a bias. That's why the facial recognition systems that try to make assessments of people's integrity, through facial expressions don't work across ethnicities or racial groups. Because we have different understandings of those cultural understandings which create a bias. It's why in Australia, in the law, for example, Aboriginal people have principles. And those principles are meant to be applied to people, particularly law enforcement people who are interviewing Aboriginal people, it's because they have a different way of relating. So they may, they may smile and laugh when asked direct questions, but that's not because they're being disrespectful. They may not look at you, when asked direct questions, they may look down. Well, that may seem furtive to us. But to them...

Maureen Farmer

It's deferential. Yeah, no, I hear you and I understand.

I'm seeing a major increase in the number of positions, openings in companies primarily at the moment in the United States, for data ethicists and data, you know, analysts and their relief, you know, dating applications, financial services, companies, I don't know about Europe, or Australia, or even China for that matter. But I know the companies that I'm following, and what I'm seeing, I'm seeing a lot of attention paid to...I don't know how closely paid, given, you know, your reference to the European and other jurisdictions...but it causes me pause. And I wonder how organizations, how companies with multiple international operations, how is it going to play out would you say in the next 10 or so years, what would that look like?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

That's not a simple...it was a simple question, but it doesn't have a simple answer. I'm not sure that I can effectively answer the question necessarily over the 10 year timeframe. But what I can say is that in the West, for example, under common law, regimes within the context of more liberal capitalist economies or degrees of social democracy along that span as well, that the idea of self regulation is a very good one, what is the term for that? Autopoietic social systems, those which are self referential, therefore by creating the principles and inculcating those values and principles, in decision making. This comes from a chap by the name of Luhmann, who was a German scholar, who initially was a biologist and transferred that concept to the social arena. I think self referential organizations are something where every organization...really complex systems, as an organization is self referential. We do create those cultures and we do create those values and I think it's a good step. But I only think it goes part way to resolving the problem. I think this is where there needs to be that relationship between the law and regulation, and business ethics and business behavior. And that creates the contention, I guess, between or some would say, a conundrum between innovation and regulation. So we don't want to stifle innovation we certainly don't want to do that. This is economic development 101. We don't want to stifle that through government regulation, or government compliance that creates a barrier unreasonably but I think the word unreasonably there is a really important word. It's a word I use in terms of social entrepreneurship as well. It's a word I use in respect of the balance between shareholder and stakeholder in what sometimes today is termed as stakeholder capitalism, which you know, may or may not be relevant, or it may or may not be a reasonable nomenclature, but exists, we need to balance reasonable reward against reasonable behaviors and outcomes.

So I have no issue with the shareholder gaining a reasonable reward from the application, for example of a new technology or emerging technologies, which is clearly going to happen because the law, as we've said, hasn't caught up with the technology as of yet. But at the same time, there's a requirement for protections, on the other hand, so obligations and responsibilities have to be balanced in the corporate sense. This, I think, has great relevance to the question of whether or not data ethics or analysts who are employed as data ethicists are actually making contributions to real decisioning. I think one of the issues that we can cite for that is the contention and polemic existent today, in respect of the ESG framework for businesses in the whole context of ESG, as it's been spawned out of Corporate Social Responsibility evolving into global citizenship and the environment, social governance framework as it's applied to business, and in business, so whether people will invest in ESG, oriented and positively oriented businesses or otherwise, and who make the decision about whether they are or whether they aren't. And there's great issue with that, because we can't really see into...we don't have a great again, transparency into the reality of the ESG metric or standard, because there are really no standards. I think this could be transferable or transposed in the same way to the use of artificial intelligence and self regulation. We're seeking to regulate ourselves and be ethical. I'm sure everyone intends to be that. But I think that it becomes blinded. And we've had certainly a number of examples of that in Australia, where bad behaviors or corporate misconduct have gotten very out of control in what is a very highly regulated space. I think there's issues there of political will. I think there's regulatory will. And I think that there's corporate governance and corporate behavior, that are also playing into that interaction, I think the idea that we can have a good set of data ethics and design data ethics.

I know one of my former firms talks about this a lot in terms of self regulation of artificial intelligence and data. It's wonderful to have those things. I think they're an absolute requirement. At the same time, I think that what we've seen in other regulated environments is that even the regulation at times doesn't work. And the corporate behaviors have been extremely poor. And we see in ESG, as well, and some of the manipulations of greenwashing as a broad concept, even not just greenwashing itself, but those kinds of behaviors where corporations are not disclosing fully or fairly or reasonably, or are disclosing in manners that would be to some people suspect and unreasonable.

Maureen Farmer

Well, I think you would be absolutely shocked or maybe not...I was. This is something that's happened over the past few months, I've been working with an individual who is a world renowned expert in diversity and inclusion. And interestingly, she was invited by global multi billion dollar fortune 500 companies, some of whom invited her to speak without consideration. And we talk about greenwashing. I don't know what we call, we will call this but it's a, I guess, inclusion washing? I don't know. But you know, companies that clearly have these values published in their materials. And throughout our experience, it wasn't all of them. But it was a handful of organizations. Steven, I think you would be shocked to learn who wanted to bring this person into their organization to speak to their board of directors and employees, without even offering to pay for any expenses whatsoever, let alone her fee to speak. And I see this happening more, there's this trend to where there's a lot of talk about ESG, a lot of talk about DEI, and all of these things that are really, really important to society at this time. But just absolutely shocking to me how this topic was treated over the past three or four months, really opened my eyes. 

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Yeah, I think I'm not surprised, actually. I think it's a trend, I think also that this trend is not seeing, for example, service oriented business or social oriented business. As the real deal. I think this is still the notion, and this is where I would say and believe that there needs to be both systemic and legal change, maybe two sides of the same coin there in that corporate social responsibility. ESG business ethics are considered to some extent, I know there's a lot of work that's being done at the moment, particularly in the US on reputation and brand. From this point of view, I tend to think that systemically it needs to be more than merely a concern with how our brand is received or our reputation is in the marketplace, which drives businesses to behave adequately, or conduct themselves properly. To use another term, ethically is another term, simply because they're seeing this still under the auspices of shareholder orientation, you know, it's still the same application of the same mental model. We haven't changed our mental model. And that's a mental model that's been around for a long time, you know, the Kelsen Friedman model, which Al Dunlap in the 90s was professing and many others who would have said that anything but shareholder orientation for businesses is actually an excuse to mismanage or poorly managed, which I think is fundamentally wrong, particularly in a day and age where sustainability in every sense, is in question, particularly through corporate behavior, given that corporations are fueling industry, which is where, you know, some of our existential concerns come from today, particularly in the environmental space, for example, the social space as well as the one that we were talking about a moment ago with respect to the use persuasion, or indeed, manipulation of users, or consumers, even if they may achieve benefit out of that, to some degree, they may also achieve some disadvantage or detriment. I think that needs to be monitored.

So coming back to the original point, this doesn't surprise me that people today are seeking to do things without paying for it, because they get to wave an ESG flag or global citizenship flag, but they don't really see it as real tangible value. I think that opens the question of intangible value and intangible assets for business as well. Purely pragmatically, I think brand and reputation of course, a major one of those, is goodwill. So, not wanting to get into the debate about what goodwill is, but all of that seems to me to be pretty important. But really, my underlying thesis here to your Maureen and the listeners is that I don't believe that this change or transformation will take place without some more systemic, overarching, legal, and compliance regime taking it there, along with the self regulation, along with systemic or organization autopoiesis , which is certainly relevant and part of the puzzle. 

Maureen Farmer

It's certainly a complex ecosystem right now. There's no question and, you know, I wonder from a product development point of view, companies that are emerging we have a lot of technology startups around the world and I'm wondering if one of those founders or CEOs or inventors were listening to this conversation today, what would you say from your unique vantage point would be a guiding principle for building a robust, sustainable and ethical product?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Gosh, product development is really specific area. So I'm going to expand product development to productizing the output or the outcomes of the firm, in that instance. You could also take this back down to the individual products that are developed within the firm. I think, an overriding or underpinning principle, on the basis of what we were just discussing, I would think that reciprocity is a good place to start.

Maureen Farmer

What do you mean by reciprocity?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Thinking about what's good for us and what's good for them. And thinking about that in terms of what I mentioned earlier, reasonable reward for reasonable inputs, innovation, and also application and also also engagement. So a moment ago, you said people who are experts in DEIJ, extremely important today, from a social cohesion and social coherence, globally, as well as nationally, you know, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, all of those things are something we need to think about in terms of both what we give and what we receive. So reasonable return for reasonable industriousness or reasonable effort. And I don't think there's reciprocity that in the example of a corporation, asking an expert in DEIJ, or in ESG, or sustainability or any of those terms, perhaps sustainability and DEIJ are the best terms to use here in asking them to speak or come and contribute value without reciprocating that value.

So reciprocation...of there are many others: sustainability, integrity, also transparency, accountability, fro a leadership and also organization point of view, from a governance point of view as well. Beneficent is another one, I think that is a pretty reasonable principle to have underpinning everything that you do in your organization. So that relies on behaving properly and proper. What is proper from a business point of view is probably something that needs to be looked at, again, legally, as well as ethically from the business point of view. The reason that I say that as well, is that the word at least in Australian law, and I know certainly in UK and US law, the term proper isn't defined, it has to be defined by argument and by an agglomeration and an exercise in doctrinal case law. So you can define it, but you need to go to the case law in order to define it. It's not legislatively defined. So what it means to a corporate officer to behave properly, or for a proper purpose, for example, is not necessarily clear, which means it's very difficult at times to hold somebody to account for proper behavior. That's, that's certainly an issue I'm actually looking at at the moment.

Maureen Farmer

So tell us a little bit about the work that you are doing right now. I know you're very excited about it. We had a conversation in our pre interview a few weeks ago. Would you like to talk a little bit about that?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So the company's name is Orenda learning. And Orenda learning is a service learning organization, which has a program which is rolled out to high schools at the moment, but we're planning expansion of that to other sectors and other segments, including corporate, the program is a package. So it's an educational program. That's called "Be the Change" and Be the Change is about, certainly oriented to sustainability. But it's about equipping young people through service orientation and service learning to make contribution and effective externalization of their contribution in terms of value development in this rapidly changing and complex world. It's both theoretical and then has a practical aspect and is used already around the world in high schools, particularly with IB, International Baccalaureate curriculums, but beyond that, as well. And I think that the program itself, where we're looking at at tailoring it to the corporate market, as again, a social oriented learning and development process. But today, I think the exciting thing is that all of the terms that I've used are represented in the values of the firm. It leaves its values, I think, in respect of that, I'd mentioned probably the the chief executive who is, he's a very powerful, very understated, but very powerful professional, educator, and businesswoman. And her name is Alice Whitehead. And I think she, as the instigator of the business came up with a fantastic idea, very innovative in terms of its delivery, and in terms of its content, as well. And so I think all of that, for me is, is a lever to youth development, and youth leadership, which is so relevant to the day in terms of changing or transforming the ideas, the mental models that we've been talking about that third wave, you know, they're very industrial age, the third wave industrial age. And so even in terms of strategy, you know, we've developed strategy there, I'm privileged to have been integral to the process, as well as developing strategy, which is modular and fluid. And it doesn't change the strategic intent, but it very much is something which allows us to take advantage of emergent emergent circumstances and emergent strategy and initiatives as well that come out of organizational learning, that come out of what the organization learns intrinsically, but also from the marketplace with which we're very engaged, as well as our partners as well. So, so it's very exciting space. And I think that, that as a youth learning tool, from a service point of view, and a mental model transformation, it gives students and teachers agency in their learning and the learning process, and I think it allows them to understand how contribution can be made through a value oriented service oriented program, that that really contributes outside themselves.

Maureen Farmer

So Stephen, is this part of the curricular framework of schools and corporations? Or how does the service base principle play out on a practical level? What does that look like?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

So, what the I think you're asking about is the content of the program...what it looks like. So a service learning program, or a service orientation, and service learning program has a number of elements where it looks at the theoretical aspects of service. And it talks about it informs in terms of what service is for the youth, I think, and, and after having done that, having taught them and walk them through the theory of what service is and how service can be applied. It also does some other things as well in terms of actual actually implementing that in a practicum or during a practicum. So they'll take things, for example, in terms of connecting with their inner world, in terms of developing 21st century skills, and service approaches, and understandings. They take things like learning about relationships, and open heartedness. So it's very, it's very holistic, mindfulness, the service context, things like developing global goals, qualities, passions, reciprocity is in fact, one of the terms that's a part of the curriculum. So reciprocity and service, thinking in systems. So set systems thinking comes into play in this as well, particularly in terms of intersectionality, and, and consequential concerns, you know, making sure that we think through as many consequences of what we do and how we behave as possible into global citizenship. Having done all of that, they take those concepts and that program of theory, and they develop a practical project. And then they implement that. And that might be as simple as building a garden in the local old person time, or it might be digging a well, in a village in Africa. It can be it can be any of the above, but it's again, it's about a service orientation and developing a service mindset.

Maureen Farmer

Well, that is intriguing to me. And when I think back to my own public school career, I would say that, you know, there was focus on certain types of service, but I don't think it was always accessible to everyone. So are you saying that this program, this asset is available to everyone? Or is it just the IB program?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

It will be available to everyone. Absolutely, I think the intention is, in fact that we are available to everyone. And it's about creating impact. So, you know, supporting the mission of a renderer is that, you know, in terms of vision, it's dreaming of reaching a million young people, and creating impact through and delivering impact through the program in that way. So no, it's not limited to IB schools. I know that there has been some interest from the American marketplace in this as well, I think it would serve there certainly. And yeah, in terms of also agency, it's giving the young people the youth agency over how they make the contribution. It's very much about their initiative and their agency, I think that it's, it's also very much about not being what perhaps you and I were, in our day, which was passive receivers of information. It's very much about being interactive with the information and being facilitated by or guided by teachers and advisors in the approach.

Maureen Farmer

And giving students that sense of empowerment and to your point agency. And we talked a little bit about this before in helping the students. I'm particularly interested in how students decide on their post secondary future. And, and I think that the more information, and the more self awareness that students have, will help to inform good, positive decision making for post secondary decision making.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

That's a very good point, isn't it? And I think the more exposure, and again, the more agency or empowerment, and therefore controlled agency over their learning, is giving them a greater understanding of the breadth of things that they can do, and how giving them some initiative, you know, sparking some initiatives about where they might want to place their energies in the in tertiary education, or not in tertiary education, but in other areas of endeavor. 

Maureen Farmer

Giving them confidence, I see a lot of people who a lot of young people, young professionals who have have struggled, because they were guided towards something that was was not the most appropriate choice for them. And it's interesting, you know, I was talking to my adult daughter, over the weekend, and we had this conversation about, you know, learning how to learn. And for her experience, she graduated from university a couple of years ago. And she did very, very well, both in high school and university, but in her earlier school career, she really struggled from a learning point of view. And because she learns in a different way, so she had to teach herself how to learn. And she was certainly very persistent at it. And I think this program that you talk about, can really transform the outcomes of young people as they're making their decisions.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

And certainly I've had discussions with the CEO, and members of the team, some of the education consultants, who are all exceptional about these things, such as divergent learning behaviors or modes of divergent learning, and that that's considered in the program, not just in the program, but in the organization as well. And that (not necessarily) can also pertain to neuro-divergence, but certainly, certainly divergence in learning, you know, ways of learning and modes of learning. And I think that your daughter's example is going to resonate with a lot of people. And the reason for that is because we're all different, but the education style is particularly yesteryear...just wasn't built to be flexible for anything, but the band of normality that was seen as the bulk of students in the center. I think we're learning today that that simply isn't, you know, we hopefully we have learned that one size doesn't fit all.

Maureen Farmer

Hopefully, we're teaching the entire bell curve, not just the middle.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Exactly. And taking some time and effort to do that and understand that as well. I actually think Incidentally, the middle band is nowhere near as large as was perceived previously. It's absolutely not, I think I would include myself in that. To be honest, Maureen, I think, same as your daughter. I think that any people who knew me at school...I was no dummy for sure. But anyone who knew me from school and hadn't seen me for, you know, 30 odd years, whatever it might be, would possibly be surprised at where I've ended up. Perhaps the qualifications that I have.

Maureen Farmer

Certainly, they're very impressive, Stephen. It speaks to your undying sense of curiosity. We talked about this before. I often say I inherited that from my father. I think the program that you're talking about, Orenda learning, I would encourage anyone listening here to to look it up. And I can't wait to learn more about that. Maybe you can come back another time. And tell us a little bit more about that.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

I would love to as we progress, you will be welcome.

Maureen Farmer

I'd like to close off the conversation that we're having today, reluctantly. But I'm going to ask you, in your career so far, Stephen, what has surprised you most? And maybe you've just said it? Maybe you've already answered the question. What has surprised you most in your career so far?

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Yeah, I think that's one part of it, for sure is that I'm not surprised that the human factor, and perhaps greed, the prevalence of that in the bad behaviors or the the poor conduct that it sometimes drives. But I think also that we held, and I don't want to even exclude myself from this, I think because we need to pull our heads up and look around every now and again, because just how insular we become. The idea of that systems thinking orientation. And taking a view to that even when we're doing a very particular task is important. We need context and I don't think that we always do that very well.

Maureen Farmer

Context is critical.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Critical to how we pin our actions, to the broader, the external, and therefore, align our outcomes to what might be called positive values, our values, which hopefully are positive.

Maureen Farmer

And my very last question, it's a fun question is, we're pulling together a list of, of restaurants from our clients, and podcast guests and friends and colleagues, I would love for you to name one or two of your favorite restaurants that we can put on the list. And we will be publishing this at the end of the year, but we will include them in the show notes if you wanted to share maybe a favorite place where you'd like to frequent.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Whoa, there's a few of those. I'm going to name two in Sydney. And one of them is the Flying Fish. It's called Flying fish restaurant. And it's fantastic. That's a restaurant that is obviously seafood. It's on Sydney Harbor, absolutely fantastic food and also dining atmosphere just from the harbour itself. This is not specifically on the harbour that everyone would know, it's a little bit off that but nonetheless, that area on the water is beautiful around that space. And the other one is a restaurant called the Wock Pool, the Wock Pool, which is in also it's in the center of Sydney, and it's it's actually multicuisine in inner Sydney suburb of called the rocks, which is one of the earliest settlement areas of Sydney. So it's very old. It's got some very old buildings around it. It's got some great ambience in the rocks area itself. It's right on the harbour, basically right on circular key, and does all sorts of cuisine. And not just certainly not just seafood, but it's, it's, it's a wonderful restaurant. I'll tip my hat and say that's run by a former school friend of mine as well. He's the head chef.

Maureen Farmer

Excellent. Well, I plan to go there. Not sure when that's going to be but it's going to be on the top of my list. Well, Stephen, thank you so much for participating in the Get Hired Pp podcast. I know it's been a few months since we started organizing it and I just can't thank you enough for your generosity and spending your time with us today.

Stephen Pitt-Walker

Oh, you're very welcome. It's been a pleasure and an honor.

Maureen Farmer

Thank you, Stephen.