Leading A Culture of Innovation – An Interview with MIKE BOYLE, Managing Director, HP ANZ

Mike Boyle, MD at HP on Leading a culture of innovation

Mike Boyle talks about how innovation touches all areas of the HP universe as a sneak preview of his keynote at the Executive Leadership Summit on November 26 – 29.  


How do you tell an innovation story beyond tech? At HP, leaders are creating a consistently outstanding brand experience inside and out – for the people who work in the tech giant, industry partners and the customers.  

When you talk to Mike about innovation, he can take you through the whole tech landscape of hardware, software, data security, manufacturing, and what’s happening in 5 to 10 years. But at the heart of all this is people.  

Innovation for Mike and HP is ultimately about caring for people in new and exciting ways. And you don’t have to be in tech to start a culture of innovation in your company. Here are some tactics, a few of them serious, but a lot of them fun and delightful, that you can steal from Mike and HP.  


Leadership style   

Mike loves to surprise his team by having chats with HP’s customers ahead of his salespeople, to casually check up on them. He is amused as he talks about the time when he caught one of his salespeople off-guard “They look shocked and say, “Oh, so you’ve spoken to them?” And I think that shows the organization that I’m listening. I’m probing at all levels.”  

He is passionate about being agile, as in to physically move around the office. Mike feels strongly about being ‘anti-desk’, adding that he is not the typical executive who is perched in his ivory tower.   

“I think that makes a statement to staff around accessibility. I’m not some person sitting in a boardroom the whole time and that I’m just accessible. I’m doing my job just like them. And I think that helps level the organization and remove, hopefully, some of the politics that can occur when you’ve got people with status and position.”  

Just genuinely caring about people, listening to them and the simple gesture of trying to know everyone by name is high up on Mike’s priorities as a leader. “I hate it when I don’t know someone’s name, and I’ll test myself until I know as many names as possible and what people do in the organization. To say ‘thank you’ a lot and bringing meaning in terms of what people do at work is so important. And I remind staff as well that we are making a difference.”  


Team engagement  

Mike is passionate about getting feedback from all sides at HP. “I love getting feedback. And I always say thank you when I get feedback because sometimes if you get into a business that doesn’t have that feedback loop, then nobody’s growing.”  

He recalls how a company-wide meeting turned into a fun musical jam session. “We do a quarterly, what we called Coffee Talk. No one knew why it was called coffee talk, and no one drank coffee at the coffee talk. So we renamed it, we called it our Quarterly Connect. It’s got nothing to do with boring PowerPoint slides and business analytics, et cetera. It was really, “Hey guys. This is about you. What are you thinking of? How’s the meeting going? What would you like to see more of?”   

“And in the end, we heard that they wanted coffee and they wanted to do it in the afternoon. They also said “we want to hear an HP band”, and I’m a keen musician. So we opened with a band in Melbourne and a band in Sydney. And it was amazing — the connection that people have made through seeing their peers get up and have fun and perform. It wasn’t an expensive exercise.”  

Mike also likes to start random conversations to check up on his staff.  

“I always sort of ask, “what do you tell your friends at the barbecue on the weekend?” I hope that they all go home and say, “You know what? I work in a company that does this and this and this. They’re agile. They’re removing processes.”  

“I had someone say, it was replayed back to me from someone in Singapore, “Oh, I heard about your boss. He actually listens, and then he acts on things.” You know, simple stuff, innovation.”  


Customer focus  

Mike is famously quoted for saying “You will never grow a business staring at a spreadsheet” because it’s just a reflection of what happened in the past. He says, “My job as a leader is to know what’s going to drive customer demands, brand engagement and brand positioning in the future.”    

Another charming story that Mike likes to tell is when customers slip him a complaint on Linkedin 

“I will get a disgruntled person and end up having some great relationships with people who have problems, and they tell their friends that HP from the top-down deeply cares. I think that if every employee and every partner that we’ve got delivers that same experience, then we’re a great brand to be on board with.”  

“Close to 90% of our business is done through partners. So if our partners are saying, “Deal with HP, you’ll have an exceptional experience,” then we’re in a really good position.”  


Next level technology  

Finally, an innovation story is not complete without talking about all sorts of cool tech that’s coming from the tech stalwart. Mike gives us a teaser for now as he will dive deeper into this subject in his keynote — “We’re a company that’s gone from scientific instruments, to computing, to printing and now into the world of 3D. And then that will also be AR, VR, 3D. So we are bringing the skills and the knowledge of how do we bridge that future.”   

The big thing for HP in 2020 is 3D. Worldwide, it’s a $7 billion business. Only a few years ago it was a 3.5-billion-dollar business. When asked, Mike remarks that “3D is going to change the landscape, as I say, around that manufacturing volume. We’re getting to a point where we’ve got tens of millions of parts that are being produced on our devices, on our printers as such, on an ongoing basis. And in some ways it’s not realistically printing, it’s actually a form of manufacturing.”  

One of the things that drew Mike to HP was the fact that it owns all of its IP from software, hardware and handling systems. It’s a little-known fact that HP is one of the biggest chemical companies in the world.   

“We’ve got huge IP around chemistry. And that has possibilities to move into med-tech, fin-tech, you name it. It’s about how do you get the cooks in the kitchen and use all of that IP and technology to create something. But whilst we’re on that journey, we innovate to the next level. For us, it’s about how do we build that bridge to the future and make it accessible to people.” 


Join Mike Boyle at the Executive Leadership Summit and learn how you can ensure your organisation stays relevant by driving meaningful innovation. 

Executive leadership summit


5 Strategies for Attracting, Engaging and Retaining Talent


For most companies, it has become a strategic imperative to transform traditional HR methods to adapt with the changing times and needs of the new generation of talent. Let’s look at the innovative HR practices in 5 areas of talent management to help you nurture and grow your organisation’s best asset. 

1. Performance Evaluation

 Employees perform different functions, engage in varying projects and workstreams. They operate on different timelines to achieve the same company goals. So it only makes sense to view performance from an agile perspective. The one-size-fits-all approach to performance evaluation is best left in the industrial age where people are assessed as part of an assembly line of workers. 

It may be time to think about designing appraisal methods that are custom fit for various employee groups. For example, hard metrics are useful for assessing rote workers while customer-facing teams are appraised on qualitative feedback. 

2. Coaching 

Companies who prioritise culture and value formation are investing in the training of would-be supervisors and managers on how to become effective coaches. We also see significant emphasis on communication and feedback training (the giving and the receiving) in an informal way from their peers and senior management. The idea is to fill the pool of future leaders in-house through self-paced learning. 

3. Compensation 

The approach to compensation and benefits is changing as well. In retail for example, spot bonuses are awarded as soon as a sales goal is achieved. Studies have shown that compensation is the best motivator when it is immediately awarded after the desired outcome. Instant reward and feedback can work wonders in driving performance, while projecting for an annual bonus is less effective because too much time goes by. 

In some companies, salary increases are not dependent on annual performance reviews. For example, increases are only given to employees who put their hand up for difficult projects or go above and beyond their current role to solve big, hairy problems. 

4. Recruitment 

Recruitment is no longer an exclusive function of the HR department. These days, the fight for talent is so aggressive that companies need to harness teams across all functions to get positions filled with the right people, fast! 

Companies are also relying on tech solutions to hunt and track candidates online who are best matched for their requirements.  

5. Learning and Development 

The challenge for L&D, just like recruitment, is to bring new modules for teams to learn and perform new skills, fast! While there are online learning tools for employees to access on-demand, the question remains whether a digital learning platform is enough to keep your best talent in the company. 

L&D needs to pay close attention in the actual “development” part by institutionalising mentorship as an essential component to growing and retaining talent.  


infograph- 5 strategies to innovating HR


Lead innovation in all areas of your business and navigate change to survive disruption by reserving your spot for The Executive Leadership Summit. 

Executive leadership summit


Check out this related post — 


Manager Tool kit # 1 Managing with a Global Mindset 

Inspiring a New Generation of Business Leaders – An Interview with ESME BORGELT, Managing Director, Kellog’s

Interview with Esme Borgelt, MD Kellog's ANZ

Esme Borgelt’s career has taken surprising turns, from finishing a law degree in her home country of South Africa, to spending 10 years with Kimberly-Clark and the last 15 years at Kellogg’s where she is now the Managing Director for ANZ.

“I am originally a law graduate from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and coming straight out of university, joined Kimberly-Clark as part of their graduate recruitment program. Did a couple of stints, as they moved graduates around. Landed in sales and pretty much never left, ” jokes Esme.

“At the end of her 10-year stint at Kimberly-Clark, she was the Sales Director for the Consumer Division. Esme then left Kimberly-Clark to join Kellogg’s where she has been a key member of its ANZ Leadership. After almost 15 years of leading a massive team of passionate salespeople for the iconic cereal giant, Esme was tasked with the role of turning around Kellog’s ANZ as Managing Director.

Ahead of The Executive Leadership Summit 2019, Esme sat down with our CEO Dana Lightbody, to discuss all things leadership and how her priorities have shifted over the course of her career. Mentoring is high on that list of priorities for Esme as she talks about how it delivered great outcomes for Kellog’s business and culture.

Moving into Leadership


When asked about her career trajectory from sales to the C-Suite, if that was typical of her industry, Esme notes that her climb up the corporate ladder was far from traditional.

“I think in the past you would typically find finance and marketing leaders at the helm. In recent times as there is a great appreciation for execution, you see more and more salespeople step into more generalist roles. And it makes sense if you think about it.”

“I joke with people at Kellogg’s – I say ‘everyone’s in sales!’ We are all focused on delivering the same outcome, which is generating more sales. I think that is what makes Kellogg’s such a special place.”

With the new roles, came a new mindset and approach to what leadership looks like for Esme.

“When you get appointed to your first management position, you got thrusted into this role that you are nowhere near equipped for being responsible for people.

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery and development ever since. When I started my career in the mid-nineties, good leadership was all about command and control,” remarks Esme.

“Being a woman and developing my career in sales in those days, you learn quickly to become mentally tough, not to show emotion, not to show any weakness.”

“But I think in more recent times, as expectations on managers and leaders has evolved from the command and control model. Those things that I learned early on in my career that made me good and strong, are the things that started to hold me back.”

After going through an intense leadership training program, it soon became clear that the ‘keep your emotions in check’ approach to leadership wasn’t working, and Esme realized she had become an ineffective leader.

“The mental toughness that I brought to the table meant that I wasn’t relatable for people. I couldn’t inspire people to be their best self or do their best work because they can’t relate to me. That was a huge personal turning point for me, and I had to learn to become more comfortable with being vulnerable.”

Changing her style from ‘command and control’ to leading with purpose and passion has enabled Esme to be more creative and strategic. It has come to a point of prioritizing team results over taking charge. For Esme, leading is ultimately about loving what the team has achieved together.

Leading with Purpose and Being a Mentor


Esme sums up the lessons of her long career by identifying the top two skills to lead teams well into the future – first, self-acceptance, and second, to lead with purpose.

“Learn to become comfortable with being you. When people are comfortable being themselves, all that energy can be redirected into achieving business results.”

The second skill is around finding your purpose in life – why you do, what you do and helping others to find theirs.

“Purpose to me has changed over time, and it has become a relentless focus on creating an environment where people can bring their best self to work. I take a great amount of energy from the success of others and enabling people to achieve outstanding results.”

According to Esme, “if you’re doing what you do in service of something greater than you then it doesn’t always feel that hard, and you get through anything.”

“I take a great amount of energy from the success of others and enabling people to achieve outstanding results.”

The Future of Work


There are big things happening at Kellogg’s, with some exciting initiatives that highlight exactly how work is changing and what the future looks for individuals, teams and organisations. Esme makes work exciting for her team at Kellogg’s with opportunities to play around with cross-training. For example – who would have thought that the massively popular Baby Shark Froot Loops was conceived from idea to shelf by a team member from HR?

“We gave her this project, and she absolutely nailed it from beginning to end. Her intention is to continue building her career in HR but she’s going to do it in a completely different way,” notes Esme.

Another cross-training project at Kellog’s is what Esme calls the ‘SWAT Teams’. At the beginning of the year, they put together multi-functional teams to solve ‘meaty’ business challenges. The SWAT Teams are not typically involved in the area where the problem is.

“The results that we got from that were stunning! People brought the time and energy to the work and came up with new and different solutions for us,” remarks Esme.

“In some ways we are changing the future of work. Which is going to be a lot more objective-driven rather than function-driven.”

Esme’s brand of leadership is just as surprising and exciting as her journey. It is inspiring to learn how she is innovating work by starting a collaborative and creative culture. With Esme at the helm, the next generation of business leaders is off to a great start.

Learn how you
 can empower your team to achieve outstanding results! Join Esme Borgelt at the Executive Leadership Summit where she will deliver a keynote on leading your organisation through mentoring. 

Executive Leadership Summit 2019

The Importance of Values

Values. The word is now such a part of the work vernacular that it’s almost hard to recall a time without it being at the top of the list as a question (what are your values?), a characteristic (are values important to you?), and a demonstrated quality (will you be bringing your values to your role?) when employees look to hire quality, key people for their company.

You may have even come across a survey on values, designed to uncover what makes you tick, what drives you, where and how you see the delineation between personal and work worlds, and quite simply: what makes you happy in all areas of your life based on your core belief systems.

And here’s the thing: values are based on your personal beliefs about what’s important in a workplace, and the varying degrees of what makes you tick is what you’ll then demonstrate in your role.

Values can include: a strong work ethic, how adaptable you are, your loyalty level, your honesty and integrity, how self-motivated you are, your professionalism, and your willingness to learn, and your positivity levels.

It’s little wonder then that core values are as important as your education and where you’ve worked, because values are what keep you churning through your workday with clarity and enthusiasm and energy.

We truly believe uncovering your value system is best done in discussion, or at least in an environment which requires introspection.

The Executive Leadership Summit 2019 lays the perfect foundation to have that conversation with yourself.

Back for its second year, the Summit will focus on the core learnings of an MBA with practical, experience-based keynotes and case studies from the leaders of Australia’s most successful companies.

Core values are front and centre too, and this Summit will help you discover what that means to you.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Executive Toolkit # 2 NAVIGATING – How to Lead Through Change and Uncertainty

Executive Tool Kit 2 - Navigating Through Change and Uncertaintly

What keeps most leaders up at night is the possibility of doom and gloom from external forces. Disruptive change has never been so swift and far-reaching in today’s connected world. 


While your instincts are sharp, and your experience and knowledge has enabled you to remove blind spots, no one has a clear vision of the future.  


A multitude of factors can still ruin your business. 


Welcome to the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) where the biggest threats that could take you out are the ones you won’t see coming.  


If you don’t know what VUCA threats are, here are some examples:

  • Macro-economic events that can impact national and global economies, for example — natural disasters, political unrest, foreign trade policies, market recessions, data breach, and fuel prices. 


  • Micro-economic events that affect individuals, markets, and communities where you operate, for example — emerging technologies, demand, supply, product pricing, and government policy changes. 


But it’s not all bad. Some disruptions may turn out for the best. Nevertheless, a rational framework can help you process all your fears, hopes and expectations and make the best decisions.  


Introducing the 4 Ds of VUCA


Use this mind tool to help you plan to navigate and mitigate the negative impact of VUCA. 


Discern. Challenge your assumptions about the future by imagining a range of business outcomes from best to worst. 


Determine.  Identify all the issues and problems that could arise with each scenario. 


Decide.  Choose the way forward or the strategic response with each scenario using this formula — “If (X) then (Y) 


Do.  Communicate the strategy to the team for implementation. 


This is not about fear mongering. This is about smart navigating – looking out for all kinds of scenarios that could harm your business. More importantly, it is about being prepared with better ideas to move your way around VUCA and head towards success. 

Infographic - Lead your team through change and uncertainty

Unleash your leadership potential and learn the skills to thrive in an evolving global economy. Reserve your spot for Executive Leadership Summit 2019 


Check out these related posts on building your Executive Skills —

Executive Toolkit #1 Influencing

Developing Your Executive Toolkit by Dana Lightbody 

Develop your executive toolkit

Having an executive toolkit under your shiny corporate belt is seemingly top of the list as ammunition to succeed in the competitive corporate world, and having your team work and create to the best of their ability.

When I started Konnect Learning, at the core of my thinking was that I could create something different ‘out there’.

Seeing as one of my core focuses is to ensure that every single product that is delivered from my company reflects my values, it’s also super important for me to have takeaway tips you can use in your work life – immediately and easily. I don’t mean ‘takeaway’ in the context of UberEats, although Mr Crackles = Winning. I mean tips you can apply immediately.

Hello, the executive toolkit.

An executive toolkit equips leaders and teams with knowledge, capabilities and tools to drive strategy, organisation and processes to lead to a better and more efficient framework for work life.

So how do you create an executive toolkit?

Start with what drives you, what you deem a ‘win’ in your work life, and what you see as a ‘win’ for those you manage. More importantly, what motivates you? And what do you see motivates them?

Motivation – the extent to which people look forward to going to work, and are enthusiastic about the task at hand and are committed to their to do list – is an important part of keeping your team engaged.

In leading a team, a leadership toolkit gives you a way to measure yourself against some of the qualities of an ‘ideal leader’. And it assists your team in measuring themselves in a positive way, which essentially leads them to feel valued, and as a by-product, even more motivated.

For me personally, my executive toolkit includes:

  1. Making tough calls is hard, but clear is kind
  2. Take risks because fear can be motivating
  3. Stay true to your values
  4. Let people see who you are, be vulnerable and honest
  5. Listen more than you speak

If you feel you need some help in getting your executive toolkit in order, then I suggest you join us for our Executive Leadership Summit. Keynote speakers include Mark Bouris, Todd Sampson, Suzy Nicoletti and Marnie Baker to name a few. Tickets are available here.