Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu

#39: Richard White CEO of WiseTech Global and CargoWise

April 12, 2019 Season 1 Episode 39
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#39: Richard White CEO of WiseTech Global and CargoWise
Chapters
00:00:59
How did you end up in the tech industry? Specifically, how did you end up doing tech for logistics?
Leaders in Supply Chain and Logistics with Radu Palamariu
#39: Richard White CEO of WiseTech Global and CargoWise
Apr 12, 2019 Season 1 Episode 39
Radu Palamariu
How Richard went from being a musician, refrigeration engineer and repairing guitars for ACDC and The Angels to founding one of the most successful Australian Companies
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Richard White founded software company WiseTech Global in 1994 to help logistics companies manage goods and information across supply chains. WiseTech Global is an innovative global developer of cloud-based software solutions for the international and domestic logistics industries. Since the company went public in 2016, WiseTech’s shares have soared more than five-fold, due to strong growth in revenue and acquisitions worldwide.

Discover more details here.

Some of the highlights from the episode:

Speaker 1:
0:00
Hello and welcome to the leaders in supply chain podcast. I'm your host, the Palomar you and it is my pleasure to have with us today. Richard White, CEO of Wisetech global and innovative global developer of cloud based software solutions for the international and domestic logistics industries. The company has over turf thousand logistics organization is using their software across 130 countries and their flagship product carver wise one, provides a comprehensive end to end logistics solution and forms and integrity link in the global supply chain. Richard, thank you for the time and pleasure to have you with us today and thank you very much. That was a great introduction. My pleasure. Um, let's start firstly with yourself because you have a fascinating story. So I was reading that they had, when you started your, your career, you are a musician, you have a background in refrigeration, your refrigeration engineer, uh, you did some computer wholesaling and at some point you were repairing guitars for, for ACDC and the angels and you build also the world's first digital lighting console. So how did you actually end up in the tech industry and how did you end up doing tech for logistics? Actually?:
Speaker 2:
1:05
Well it's a, it's a story of a development of knowledge and a career. I just, um, I like, I like discovering things and learning things, but I might take you back to the very beginning of that and just to walk you forward. Um, I actually lived in a, a large piece of land with my grandparents and parents and my grandfather and I wouldn't, I was named after my grandfather and they ran a function center. And from the age of 12 I worked on a Friday and Saturday night washing dishes, you know, huge machine within other expanding rotary thing dishes. And I remember very, very early age receiving at the age of 12 receiving these little brown paper envelopes with money in them on the Friday, which was my pay for the previous two Friday and Saturday nights. And that was the sort of beginning of my recognition of reward.:
Speaker 2:
2:01
And if I don't remember how much money I was paid, and I don't have any recollection of what I did with the money, but I remember feeling of how proud and motivated I was that I was actually being rewarded for doing something which I quite enjoyed. And I went on to work through my grand grand parents business, which I said was a function set up, working as a waiter when I was 16, serving, serving the guests and in, uh, helping the bride and groom around and that sort of thing. And then at the age, at 17 selling receptions. And that was a great experience and I'm pretty sure my grandparents were sort of teaching you something and trying to get me to the entrepreneurial. My grandfather was a true entrepreneur. My grandmother was one of the hardest working people I've ever met. She just, stripe made things work in Egypt, the whole place running.:
Speaker 2:
2:46
So that was great to observe those quite to be part of that. Every a school holiday while I was in high school. Uh, we'll practically every school holiday I went to my father's, uh, uh, refrigeration factory, which is a very heavy engineering and I would help him and I would fix things and I would learn to world and I've learned to wire wire up the air conditioning units and do all sorts of other things. And it was good. There's very good engineer and he did teach me about things and we talk about, I'm as Laura will talk about, you know, how electricity works and all that sort of stuff. And I was a Spanish for that sort of knowledge and that gave me a, a skill with my hands. I could use my hands to make things with mental. About the age of 16, I started really being coming interested in guitar and I practiced a lot by, played a lot and I became very keen on the idea of being a rock and roll star, I guess of Muser.:
Speaker 2:
3:40
And um, my father was pretty negative on that idea, but my talent was fairly obvious and I won some talent contests and so forth. And so he said, well, as long as you do you, um, you know, trade certificate in refrigeration, I'm okay with you being a position, which I did. I became a qualified refrigeration engineer long time ago now. And um, by the age of 20, I was playing around the various places near my home in Sydney and we were playing on stage as, as a backup actress, nine act with other bands. And that got me, I met the angels and I'm still very good friends with refers to it as one of the founders of the angels, one of the Barista brothers. I met Angus and Malcolm, so the backstage and I showed them how I set my guitar up and they said, oh, can you do that for us?:
Speaker 2:
4:34
So I ended up talking to lots of people and I realized that music was, it was a lot of fun, but it was a terribly, um, and a rewarding industry and there's a lot of charlatans and sort of cooks and that people in music. So I decided that I would much rather be economically sustainable. Then I was interested in doing a rock and roll star. So I opened up a business repairing musical instruments and I taught myself, you know, sort of from some books and some observations that how to do things that became very popular. I did most of the big bands in Australia cultures or their angels ICDC many other players and might cause I could play, but I could also do things mechanically, electrically and sort of physically. Um, I ran that business for a number of years and it was a, it grew as a business and we had it right reputation that I was given a, a premises in town next door, one of the big guitar stores.:
Speaker 2:
5:32
And I even did the Carlos Santana's work while he was touring. But I realized that after a few years, that the whole business, based on my hands, my talent, the things that I could do with my hands and my fingers, and I can't scale that I, that I had two hands, but I couldn't really delegate that to somebody else and trust the quality of their workmanship. So I ended up selling that business profitably. And it was a profitable while I was doing it. So again, those, this entrepreneurial thing coming through and I've solved that to one of my coworkers. And I started, um, uh, building lighting equipment. This was more physical. It was something that was more industrialized and ice built, lighting stands and trusses and uh, specialized lighting equipment. And I actually built a very specialized lighting, which became a very popular thing worldwide quarter ray lamp. It was named after one of the learning directors for the angels guy called Ray Hawkins.:
Speaker 2:
6:32
And um, it became a sort of a famous lighting fixture because of a very, you make beam, uh, these days. It's all led, so it's a bit different now. But back then it was very, very, um, the striking and I then merged that company with a company or Jan's who was a provider of concert production services and I became the R and d manager and again, set out to take the lighting equipment thing further. I became a shareholder of Janssen. I became Meriden manager. I ran a number of engineers and they were doing very clever things with electronics. And so I basically started reading about digital electronics. They were all analog engineers and I wrote, I basically wanted to build a computerized system. I ended up building a prototype using what is, what back then was very powerful computing, uh, huge amounts of memory, which today is with less computer power than my apple watch.:
Speaker 2:
7:30
But back then it was huge. Uh, and in 1994, we released the first truly digital lighting console, uh, you know, very lightweight, very powerful, seem controller, all those sorts of things. And having done that, I kind of had learned computing. I taught myself assembler and c plus plus C and I decided that I , those talents were more important than the sort of mining. So I sold my shares in the, in the business back to the, to the other founders. And I started delving into computer software, sort of stroke, stumbling around, trying to figure out how that worked. Uh, I also built a wholesale computer business at the time selling a Philips monitors and Willis has computers and other things. But that business was not that much fun because it was a buy sell business. I would buy something, it would make a margin to sell it.:
Speaker 2:
8:21
So I didn't think that was very interesting. But I really thought the software development was really interesting and I saw that business. So I saw by now I'm sort of three or four businesses into my business career. None of them were incredibly successful but are all successful enough. Um, and then I saw that business, I started consulting on software. I, I stumbled across a number of freight forwarders who had a real need for decent, uh, software and these databases and decent sort of functional systems. And they had lots of little tiny that did bits and pieces, but they were, there was nothing pogo stick, nothing integrated, nothing, nothing fundamental. And so I started in visiting this idea and thinking, I knew that there was a problem, but it didn't quite know what the solution was. And then got a contract building and logistics fulfillment system in the US. And that was a sort of startup, my coding of logistics software. And I went to that and that was a six month contract. I finished that, I came back to Australia. I started writing a system for freight forwarding and customs. Um, my CTO, Brett joined me in 1993 and in [inaudible] 94 we released them the first production version of a product called deliverance. And we founded wisetech global and the rest of the science history.:
Speaker 3:
9:45
Well, I mean it's incredible. It's the, I didn't know, I mean thank you for sharing and m and a and walking us through the, through the history. And it's interesting the pattern of, of you starting our businesses, how it ran in the family. I've had one, a, one or two other guests on the podcast and it's interesting how that family type of foundational and fundamental salesmanship and entrepreneurial spirit can shape people. Um, and it's also interesting that within, within your story and there's a couple of other, um, uh, entrepreneurs right now trying to do different things in the logistics industry, but in the same sorts of be a pattern that they're not necessarily from logistics. So just like yourself, you're kind of came across it, not necessarily by, um, I dunno, by a rational, logical, you kind of stumbled across it. There's, that also seems to be, seems to be interesting, right? Because um, it is definitely an industry that needs to be fixed or that needs, there's a lot of improvements to be done. Um, I think our goal has been an incredibly powerful tool to do that. And I was actually curious, cause you've seen the development in this, in, in the evolvement of the industry from the 90s and two where it is today, where do you still see, I mean, where do you still see that it is, needs to improve in the next couple of years?:
Speaker 2:
10:59
All right, well I think it's, look, I think the first thing to think about is what, where the district came from or why it has a problem and what those problems are false, very smoothly from that, once you understand it. She did the industry came of age after the Second World War and of course no sort of computer technology existed in those early years and even through the seventies and eighties when technology was starting to become more mainstream. It wasn't that a power or a level that could actually run a global company. There was some little systems that would run in single offices. There was no connectivity, there was no internet. And so, uh, and, and for efficiency reasons, the industry developed a number of practices and processes and I guess you could call them fragments. You can think about this, you know, there's a, there's a Stevedore, there's a land site or just kind of haulage is contained to pack and unpack depose.:
Speaker 2:
11:55
This is an empty container pox. Um, there's customs brokers, this fright forwarders, there's a variety of other people like fumigation for biosecurity, customs, inspection, there's a whole range of things. It became very, I mean the rubber, the road transport and this many forms of road transport, airlines, shipping lines, a rail. This is a very complex, uh, uh, sort of Lego set of bits and pieces and all of them were fragments of the total solution because anybody that moves goods either domestically or globally has to move through multiple components of the system. And in those days and those components were not connected. And in order to make it work. Um, the world, the, of the, of logistics built various, um, work around too because they didn't have the technology links like a true digital complete database and the truly linked system sort of straight through processing. So you'd have things like, um, buffers for time and buffer space face like a container package, kind of a buffer that allows the landside logistics to work.:
Speaker 2:
13:04
Uh, and you know, it shipping lines have to hold lots and lots of containers. They can't maximize the utility of those because it's hard to plan without a complete data set. And there are many other examples of where that the highly specialized nature of these fragments of the logistics system and the fact that they weren't connected because there was no connectivity in the beginning, evolved into an disconnected businesses that didn't talk to each other other than through paper. And even a paper is no longer the primary driver of communications. It's now digital paper, so it's now a pdf of the paper. So we didn't move to data. We've moved from printed paper to electronic paper and you know, people say put data in the system, perhaps, you know, typing it in. Then they'd print a document, like a pdf and send that electronically to the next person who then reads the document types.:
Speaker 2:
14:00
Then under the next fragment system and then they put it in their system. They put in another document to the next party, then read that document, put it in. And so this goes into data out of data, into data, out of data. You know, he'd taken out Rick, he'd taken out Rick kid taken out and of course that's an incredibly efficient system and each of those Ricky's and removal of the debt or adding and taking the data out is a kind of a little barrier and you can't see through them. You can't have a through system. There is no true connectivity. If you think of other electronic systems that have evolved further, like a think of a stock exchange and a trading system for a stock exchange. It used to be open outcry, people running around with bits of paper screaming at each other and bidding prices on shares.:
Speaker 2:
14:43
It's now computer trading and in fact in those systems where there is a completely straight through process and it's all digital, computer trading can happen in milliseconds and it can be seen from Indo end and the settlements completely tronic than the delivery of the stock is electronic and it's held electronically. That's a true straight through digital system. Uh, we don't have that in logistics and we've lived with us those disconnected fragments. Uh, and um, what CargoWise has done, what carb was one has done is really, it's taken a number of the most fragmented pieces, particularly around a frightful wording in the handling of international and customs and the landslide places and it's joined them together in a digital system that is able to do straight through processing. So the documents themselves don't have to come out of the system and go back in again and come out and go back in again.:
Speaker 2:
15:38
Literally, the data itself drives the system completely. Now we're not done with that. And that's just a part of the problem. But that's the fundamental problem. Everything is kind of disconnected. Even though it's linked together with electronic paper, that's not a very efficient system. It needs to be a digital system. It needs to be digital data straight through processing and document shouldn't be required by every party. They should, should arrive as data and leavers data. And then you can see the path through all the systems and things like that. The shipper can see all of the events and all of the visibility as their goods move towards the customer. And the customer can see the same thing coming in the other direction. And all the parties in the middle have the same data. Even though they might be adding little bits of information as they pass through a customs border. I'll get a clearance, we'll get a fumigation or whatever it is. But the fundamental thing is it's an additive process. Not, not, uh, not a rekeying process, not a, not a repetitive reaching process means that the, it's clean. It never has entered correctly the first time. It never changes. It only gets added to very powerful. But we're not there yet. There's a lot to do.:
Speaker 3:
16:49
Exactly. And, and I wanted to, I wanted to ask you, if you were to take from where we are today and you know that that ideal stage where it, it will happen in a flawless way. And I also want to bring into, into the conversation the recent acquisitions that you've made. I mean you've made a lot of acquisitions and just in the last one or two years you've, you've required I think the container chain which is a custom solution provider you've acquired system or which is uh, uh, from Sweden as well. Also for the on the, the customs and logistics side curve it, I think it was a parcel shipping solution. I'm just wondering, and I wanted to ask also, what's your strategy around this acquisitions? I mean I'm, I'm guessing and it, it makes sense that it kind of falls into that ideal image that you want cargo, cargo wise too to get to. But if you can tell us a little bit more about, about how you plan to integrate all of this.:
Speaker 2:
17:40
Well, most of those with except the container. Shane is very recent. It's by the way, it's a, it's landside logistics and everything. 10 impact management, not customers. Okay. But Kagawad to you that this customer and a system or as customs. And uh, if you look at a world map, those fragments, we talked a bit before also represented by the fact that every country in the world has borders. And those borders have mostly have electronic customers on the, on the import and on the export side and various other customs procedures around the borders. And those are almost all of them are electronic and all of the, almost all of them are different. So even in the EU, which is supposed to have a standardized custom system, a thing called the single administrative document and a standard across the EU. Remarkably every country in the EU has its own independent custom systems and they implement differently.:
Speaker 2:
18:40
And so it's not possible to have a single system. We're stop, easily achievable. They have a single system that processes entries in all countries. And that's been an enormous pain point for the big, uh, the big beneficial cargo owners, the big self reporters, the uh, authorized economic operators, trusted traders and so forth. And it's also in very, very complex and painful and expensive for integrated forwarding groups that provide the export and import services as well as the cargo grab movement. And because we've become very strong in the forwarding area and because as part of that we recognize that the pain of the customer processes needs to be resolved. We have been building out a global customs capability one country at the time and we did all of the English speaking world virtually by ourselves. And we're able to read the documents, talk the customs officers, speak to customers and do the engineering and the technical things work hard to make that work.:
Speaker 2:
19:42
But you then go to a non English speaking country, whether it's France or Germany or Brazil, these are very opaque. You can't read the documents because there are multiple languages involved and we're not expert in those languages and we don't have anybody in the ground. We don't have any customers in the, in those markets. And we don't really understand who in the customers, uh, uh, management is people to talk to and we could with the documents anyways. So we have been acquiring a number of customs providers. These are people who are very small version of what wise take is, it has been about, I'm gonna say about 32 acquisitions over the course of the last three or so years. Um, all of them are integrated in the traditional sense of the word integrated. Um, but there's a lot to do and most of them are quite small businesses as well.:
Speaker 2:
20:37
I mean, cargo chain was reasonably sizeable. The revenue about 14.4 million Australian dollars, but most of them are quite sporty. And interestingly, all of those came with their founders or those acquisitions retained the founders and all the team. There was no cost cutting or reduction of a facility when we bought them. And in fact, we have repurposed, uh, their efforts. Uh, but those founders were paid typically about half of the money up front and they are on earn apps to deliver an integrated system that is a part of cargo was one and on modern high class technology and uh, to convert the customers onto that platform so that the customers get x, the access to the entire cargo wise system. Now that whole strategy is called foothold and it gives us a foothold in each country that we've invested in a customer's vendor. And it gives us stuff on the ground, customers in the ground, talent, knowledge facility and capabilities, sales staff, access to the various government agencies that we need.:
Speaker 2:
21:47
So we can comply with taxation for our customers, comply with customs procedures for our customers, and provide a platform which is increasingly highly globalized in terms of customs procedures. That foot health strategy is attitude by another strategy called adjacency, which is about extending past the borders. We've been very strong across the international supply chain and at the board isn't just inside the borders and now we're pushing into domestic transport. And the law, what's called landside logistics that comes out of the terminal operators are still goes to the pickup and delivery of containers at the export in input points to make that a much more digitized and electronic process and a number of acquisitions in that 32. We're about those add on adjacencies. Again, they are converting the software to a, an integrated, uh, uh, cargo wisetech and that creates an enormous amount more consistency so we can do with it within the execution platform, the platform used by forwarders and three pills and carriers and tracking companies and other two pills as writers, they can do a stretch reprocessing processing. But then you come to the end of that, you realize that there's another community, the community of beneficial cargo owners, importers, exporters, freight users that are also disconnected and fragmented and need to be a part of the model. And so that's why you may have seen recently we announced the creation of our companion products called CargoWise nexus.:
Speaker 3:
23:24
Yes, yes. So I mean it's, it's a, it's fascinating. I mean that this process will take you many, many years to complete, but you're getting closer and closer to that platform, one stop solution or, uh, or, or aiming for that as far as I understand it, as far as you're describing it, um, which can provide the, your clients, uh, access to basically, uh, you know, so that they don't need to go anywhere else and that he can do it all throughout your throw your platform. Um, and I also wanted to kind of ask you, because there's a lot of discussions around, um, digital, digital freight forwarding, and there was a specific, very specific question from one of our audience who was, who was wondering if you're going to add a digital solution, which would enable small and medium size for this to compete with the bigger, bigger ones in terms of digitalization?:
Speaker 2:
24:10
Well, I, first of all, I don't think any freight forwarders that are in existence today, uh, surely digitalized or digitized don't they have, if they've got CargoWise one that probably got the most digital strikethrough process on the planet and they've worked extremely hard to make sure that it is that process and it's straight through every datadriven not document to them. But, um, uh, we are already provide a small freight forwarders with access to the same capabilities that they add. Cheryl and DSP and many of our other large customers have. We don't differentiate between them. We actually treat them very similarly. Um, and they actually have access to all the components and all the capabilities of any freight forwarder. You know, I think that's an important thing here. We serve the entire supply chain means all of the logistics and we're there to make the entire process a strike through digital process. Not a little set fragmented over here digital than middle fragment over there. Because when you do that, you end up with broken pieces that don't connect.:
Speaker 3:
25:18
Understood. And that's a good clarification. And I wanted to, uh, I wanted to also bring into the discussion a little bit. Uh, cause you know, you were talking about very large players, you're talking about a small and medium players and I know that some very large companies have already tried the spending a lot of, lot of money to create their own internal platforms. There's been a lot of, some failures around it and I know that why sticky spending more, more or less, I think 100 million this year on research and development. And I'd like to touch a little bit about r and. D. How do you think about R and, d? How do you make sure that basically your product remains relevant, that your r and d money is well spent? Are there some principles around it that you, you put into the business:
Speaker 2:
26:01
would definitely yes. With $100 million and just sort of throw it up and say who wants to build something? You, you actually think about the plan. There's a clear roadmap in, in a company and, and I have a lot to do with that roadmap. And because I had to envision the first really joined up system right back in the beginning of the nineties when I started building that. And because I coded it and because I understand the culture of a software company as a software engineer and as somebody that's written a lot of card myself or that I don't write code anymore. But nonetheless, I've got an extremely good relationship with the technical teams. Um, I do a lot of work around how we do, we hire, how we train, how we develop, how we qualify people, how we ensure that workflow is done. Well. It's not a one thing.:
Speaker 2:
26:52
This is a, there's a whole culture, we actually call it the Weiss tech way. And certainly it's about being very different to the established all the ideas of waterfall development and, you know, big design and, and big build. And we are very iterative. We're very agile and we have a number of cultural elements inside. Uh, we have, uh, a fusion of people from the industry, which we call them product managers or product specialists. We have people who are technical leads in the teams with those product specialists, project managers. We have developers in those teams and they sit side by side so they can talk to each other and we break the product up into teams and the teams are centered around capabilities within the product. And then there's another layer which allows the interconnection of all the product components that the straight through processing coming up in bed before.:
Speaker 2:
27:44
And if you've done that for 25 years, you've developed quite a bit of sophistication and subtlety around that. And we even went to the extent of building into our product and using that product by the way we use the tag was one to run our whole company. So we built a productivity tool called pave productivity acceleration and visualization engine. And without that we would not have been able to scale the company. We use it as a fundamental of the manager of the, of the person we work items or tasks, the team, the roadmap and the whole company. And I can literally click on a computer screen and see any team in the world, any staff member in the world, any work item in the world, and a task in the world. Now I don't look at all those things. I've got a lot of work to do, but that, that means that everybody has visibility of everything.:
Speaker 2:
28:39
And then you build a culture around quality and around efficiency and effectiveness and you, you blend that into the sort of both the cultural part of things and also went to the engineering dynamic that teaches us to be extremely efficient with things and to build tools like a universal customs engine like glow the designer tool for application development, other things that actually take a lot of the workout and make it really fast to do software development. So when you look at a large company spending hundreds of millions of dollars on software, you realize they're using the lowest common denominator strategies. And, um, we with a good reputation like we have listed public company and our staff who will get shares as part of their compensation, a strong track record of quality, of learning, of teaching, of a culture, of a real software company. If there, if anybody wants to do this as from your listeners, if you read our Credo, you will, you will be.:
Speaker 2:
29:39
You will see why people want to be part of the coat was tick. Um, we really do care about those people. We care about what we're building. We care about solving problems, we care about changing the world as we say, one innovation at a time. And when you get all that together and you keep pushing it, you keep fighting to, to be better and to be high quality and to be, um, you know, to do things that other people just can't reach because they're too busy fighting fires and you have a clean, highly developed, highly efficient culture that delivers high quality software at, at speed and at record low costs comparatively, you tend to accelerate away from everybody else and you solve problems that other people can't solve. And you don't file like, uh, you know, there's big projects fail.:
Speaker 3:
30:27
Yes. And I love your emphasis and the ankles, a little towns. We talk about r and d but I love how you linked it back to the culture and, and fostering the culture of innovation and creativity. And I will have a lot of questions around that. A lot of our listeners are curious about it. But just before we were going to that, I wanted to look back into an, you mentioned you listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and I wanted to just get your story and your, your thoughts of why you are also did that because that was a very strategic decision you could have listed obviously on the, on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and you didn't, you chose to list on, on the Australian Stock Exchange. Um, I think you even said that, uh, you did that against the advice of everyone and basically that was the best advice that you ever ignored in your career. So tell us a little bit about that.:
Speaker 2:
31:17
Okay. So I think it's a couple of different things. The first is you have to be true to who you are and not pretend to be somebody else. And so running off to the Nasdaq, look, it might be good for some companies and I wouldn't criticize somebody for doing it, but for us it's same like an abrogation of our fundamental principles in our fundamental truths that is in the company from effectiveness and efficiency point of view. It meant that we were actually able to stay in our home town, in our home market and talk to our, the cornerstone of our investors. And we do have obviously investors in Asia and the US and the UK and other places, but at our core investment is here and our COPD people are here. And we were just being true to where we grew up and what we did.:
Speaker 2:
32:05
And there's this Australian in strength culture, there's a kind of a cringe mentality about, uh, you have to go overseas to be successful. And I just think it's wrong. It doesn't actually work that way. It makes it very hard when you rip yourself out from your roots and you're going to stand somewhere else in a foreign land foreign market with foreign things all around you and you don't understand any of them. Your accent's a bit different and you don't understand the regulations. I just chose a very efficient model and at the time people were saying, you know, you'll get a better price than as deck. It will, you know, you're, all these things would be better. But what actually happens, what has happened in the last sort of five years is that markets are now completely transparent. They're completely electronic and anybody that sees a good company, they done, they don't really care what market it's on, they care what the company is and if they can use that market because it's all electronic and all visible globally.:
Speaker 2:
33:04
It's not about, um, being on the Nasdaq or being the London stock exchange or being on the New York Stock Exchange. It's about being a great company and showing the market that you can say what you're going to do as a company and then do what you said. And if you keep doing that, people trust you, they come to you, they realize that you're doing something different and better. You're a very longterm view and the growth of the company is very powerful and valuable and that's why people want to invest in wise think they want to invest in. Whilst we did what we said we were going to do and we continue to say we are changing the world. One innovation inside:
Speaker 3:
33:44
very well said to the point that you made with strength, true to yourself and the end sticking to to who you are at the core and being an Australian groomed company. There is actually a big success story in there because there's not so many that have done so well and being run and continue to be run out of Australia. So we also got this question, which is an excellent question is a around what are the crucial steps that you took in terms of growing the company, the logistics technology company from Australia into a global player? If there's certain success, again, I'm going to the principals because there's a lot of listeners that are entrepreneurs or they're running their own businesses. So if you can share certain success principles maybe that you followed in order to be able to, to become the global player that you are and still run the company from Australia.:
Speaker 2:
34:36
Well, I tend to not, one thing it's, it's a, it's a large and a sophisticated pattern, but again, I think I'd refer people to our credo because it gives some breadcrumbs about what we did and why, what we do and why we, why we do it. But also I think that we started and continued to be people that are systems thinkers. So I don't really look at something and go, oh, that's interesting. I look at it and go, why is that? I look at the, and I encouraged us and all of the people in the company and, and even in our customers, our CASP, it encouraged people to be curious, to ask questions, to really try to understand what's going on, why it's going on. And that's painful sometimes, but people really don't want you to ask cause it's like, oh, what do I have to explain?:
Speaker 2:
35:23
But when you actually do that much more information than would have otherwise got the next thing. And there's a quality that I really try to foster in myself and I've always really had this, I have a, a healthy disrespect for the status quo, the why things are in the world. I look at them, I go, well surely that can't be right. Surely we can do better than that. Surely that's not the way that we should be doing things. And that's a good thing. It's a pain in the ass to do that all the time because it means you need to set a really good thing for business or with a good thing for problem solving as a really good thing to grow a great company because you're always challenging the status quo and that makes it better. Um, the third thing I think of is passion.:
Speaker 2:
36:09
We need how to drive yourself mad. Passionate is very important. It's not a management strategy. It's the drive to do things. And you also need a grit or resilience so that when you do get a knock, when you do get a whacked for something, but you can stand up and duff dust yourself on the side, right. I learned from that are will continue forward and I will do better next time. And those things together, uh, probably the more fundamental things, anybody with those, those attributes can learn. Management strategy can teach themselves new things, can evolve and enhance themselves far better than somebody who doesn't have those attributes and wants to go to. You could have a Harvard education and the extraordinary opportunity and still fail without those attributes and new could have none of those things. If one was, you had those attributes, you would probably succeed.:
Speaker 3:
37:01
Hmm. So it's interesting that we are looping back to the, to the park with culture, right? So it's, and with the part with, uh, with fundamental soft skills at the end of the day and fundamental attitudes to foster within the team and within the company that makes it successful. And, uh, and since we were at the, uh, let's less, less come back to the culture piece. And, um, I'd love to get a little bit, maybe the term is tactical or very example focused. If you can share with us and with the listeners because, um, fostering that culture of passion, innovation, Grit, let's not take state of school for, uh, for what it is and less less continue to innovate. You obviously you are an entrepreneur at heart. You've done so many things. You're the CEO of the company. But how do you translate that and cascade that down where, I mean, I don't know, how many staff do you have today? There's this 200 of them, if not thousands of them. How do you ensure that it gets cascaded down to your managers or senior leaders and, and me and maybe some examples of how you put this, this, uh, principals issue may, uh, interaction. Yeah,:
Speaker 2:
38:03
this is a very good question and actually it has a couple of different layers to the answer. The first is you shouldn't manage people. You should manage yourself and lead people. So leading by example is a very powerful way of demonstrating the right thing to do. I'm a hard worker are focused on important things. I challenged people to do better. I look at the problems that we've gotten. I work with people to help them. Um, I often use that as a part of the sort of guidance, the leadership that you need to have. But we also have a, a number of sayings within the company. Um, and those are sayings that are kind of the mattress, like sort of global, truly universal truths, if you will. I'll give you a couple of them. So one of them that follows directly from that leadership is we sighted people lead with content.:
Speaker 2:
38:55
What that means is if you're going to teach people something or tell them how to do something or give them guides, standing up and saying things to a crowd will very quickly turned into a repeated and distorted dancer. If you put it in writing or in a video, uh, and you publish it on the internal intranet or you publish it publicly. If it's a public document, then I think that that's very, very powerful as a repetitive, reproducible, replicable thing. Um, and I think that at the end of the day, uh, those sorts of tools, just one, just that one tool is enormously powerful, but there's a couple more. Another one is anybody can talk to anybody at anytime for any reason. That's there to flatten management and stop people bringing other management practices, uh, in to the business. Uh, when what you're really trying to do is to win anybody.:
Speaker 2:
39:58
We're growing, so we always have new people coming in. We have to make sure they know there's not like a, it's not like it was when they're at the x, y, zed industrial company. When you come to wise tick, you join wise take to become likewise tick. Um, we talk about other little characteristics. We say a slower today, faster, forever. It means that you should build the technology and the tools so that you can be very efficient and effective in the future. And not just sort of rush it out, you know, make it work, but don't think about how to be making it that another a hundred times. And then, and that's, that's a really powerful idea. You know, there's, there's a fundamental set of these universal truth. I won't, I won't call them out to you because there's, there's, uh, there's a pretty reasonable list, but they are sort of guidance about the right thing to do the right way to behave. And we've added to them. I just recently, we added another, uh, another fundamental, a universal truth. And this is a very simple thing to say what I'm going to have to say, but it was profoundly powerful to tell everybody that this is true. We said delivery beats everything.:
Speaker 2:
41:11
Live beats everything's, if you can't make it work, if you kind of get done. So that doesn't matter. And I was using that because people were saying, oh, maybe it's, you know, maybe we can't do this in time. Maybe we can't. Maybe we should do it slower. Maybe we should investigate, you know, whether we should do it this fast. It's like, okay, this is important. We've got to do it. Delivery beats everything. Let's just do it. And it works it because you, you can bring in the people. That's a call to action. People stand up. And I got right, I know what my mission is now and that get out and they do it and they delivered on their standing proud saying look at what I did. Look at what we did. Yes.:
Speaker 1:
41:52
I liked you said, I mean all of this is, this is, this is, this is fundamentals and I love, I mean I love, I love the examples and a very good one with the, with the content one in terms of uh, putting or lead by content to it cause it makes it uh, well, uh, it, it makes it very clear and then people can can revisit it. That's a very good one. And then thinking long term of course is a, is a huge one and a lot of companies really, especially in today's, uh, today's economic situation if they really don't think longterm. So I loved that.:
Speaker 2:
42:23
That one as well. Slower. Slow it. How did you, how was it friends, faster threat long term that refers to building what I supposed to do is thinking long term. Actually, we look at it, what we're saying is if you build something, build a chair, the next time you have to build something similar, it's much faster to do because you built the architecture tooling or the templates or the skills or whatever it is the next time. You don't have to build that, execute that and then across the whole company or what some different things. And that's why we developed, we have developments. That hundred million that we spend is so much more efficient than anybody else in the microphone scope. We've spent years and years and years pushing down on the effect rights, pushing up on uh, development, performance, building the right things the right way, making sure that when we have to invest to make something better, that we do it. And that's this slow today faster forever really means you got to do it right so that it's much faster in the future.:
Speaker 1:
43:24
Yes, they're getting the fundamentals right, build the right foundation. Um, and then in the future it will be, uh, you know, you can reuse it. Um, really good sharing. And I wanted to cause you, you had, you know, again, I'd love those a little back with the acquisitions because there's an element, there's a big element of culture in there as well. And I, I like how you, you mentioned that you, you keep the team, you keep the founders, which is, which is incredibly powerful. Obviously there is a subculture, there is a culture of those organizations is coming to, into a Weinstein group. How do you integrate the culture? Why stick with all the microcultures of all this organizations that you have:
Speaker 2:
44:04
acquired over time? First of all, we select carefully when we do acquire these businesses and oftentimes the businesses, we're not for sale, most of them, in fact, we're not for sale, but I'm not on the market. They weren't representative by our business broker. Um, and when they saw wisetech right in the early part of our listing after listing, they hadn't heard of us these days. For most, every one of those people has heard of us and they're thinking, what's going on? Watch wisetech growing at 50% per year on numbers that are 10 times my size. How do they do that? And they're very curious about what's going on, what, you know, they want to be part of it. And most of those founders saw what they saw and went, oh, I really want to be that. I've been landlocked in one country for the last 20 years where I've been stuck in a marketplace that I just can't quite break out of. I can't get my growth up. How are you doing it? Why is tech? And we have a kind of a, a whole set of these tools that we use to show them how it is possible to develop themselves and develop this stuff and to do much better with what they were. And we, we actually say, look, you've never seen us by a company and Strip the costs. We buy a company and grow the costs. We grow the business. We make it a much more successful business.:
Speaker 4:
45:30
Yes.:
Speaker 1:
45:31
Oh, it's, it's fascinating. I, uh, because it's, it's, it's almost like you don't need them to integrate any culture because you're attracting, you're attracting similar types of cultures to you and, uh, and you're attracting similar types of organizations with a similar types of individuals.:
Speaker 2:
45:47
That's true. I didn't, I didn't, he mentioned that. I didn't mention that, but, but the people that we're talking to, we've chosen and five chosen us and win, even if there are macro differences between the cultures is a smaller companies. And so they tend to have a flatter organization of, they tend to be more willing to adapt and adopt. And when they come, we put some considerable time into explaining and teaching them the thinking behind why is tech. In fact, we put almost all of these people very quickly through a thing, a bootcamp, an eight day intensive called a black belt in thinking and it'll lock. But it has all the ys tech logic built into it. So the things that we do differently and why those things are the correct things to do.:
Speaker 4:
46:34
Yeah.:
Speaker 1:
46:34
Black belt in thinking. Well, super. Um, and I'd love to, we do a lot of, uh, and, and my background is in, in, in human resources, in executive search and in developing talent. I'd love also to, to ask you over time, I'm sure you know, you've grown a lot of talent within the company. As you grown, you're, you're keeping your phone as you're keeping the people that, that, uh, uh, that you acquire, which is great. But I'm sure that at some point you've had to recruit externally and attract the talent from, from outside. How, I mean, maybe maybe we started with what's the most challenging part in terms of finding the right talent from, from, from externally and then, uh, how do you make sure they would fit well with the, with voice tech?:
Speaker 2:
47:20
Well, so the first thing is that, uh, we, we recruit probably 10 plus people a month across the business because it's very high. The business is not growing through acquisitions. That's a small part of the growth. We are growing organically because we have great products and the access to market places that are very large and we've got a very strong, uh, strong commercial offer. And so we need good people all the time. And if you can recruit 10 people, probably have those 10, seven are in development, in software development, product management. And when you do that, you recognize that the fundamental problem that we've got is what we colloquially called the war for talent. We look, we're looking to hire the most talented people, the smartest, the brightest, the most sophisticated, the most experienced if possible. Um, certainly university graduates and undergraduates, but also mature, experienced senior people.:
Speaker 2:
48:23
And that do that by just putting an ad in the local paper on the local recruitment site, you've got to actively go out and find people. You've got to track them with a job, um, which is interesting and exciting for them that fits there desires. You've got to ensure that you, uh, develop them when they arrived, that you give them a reason to stay at the company and want to be a part of the longterm. If you don't really create an ecosystem of growth within the business. And if you do that and you keep working at it and you, you focus on talent and not on, um, headcount, which is a term that I dislike the quite a lot. Um, then I think you have, uh, an opportunity to really, really high exceptional people. And the only way you can have an exceptional business is to have exceptional people. There is no way to have an exceptional business with, with less than exceptional people.:
Speaker 1:
49:22
And then talking about this, these exceptional people and they're obviously different layers. And I'd love to talk about your senior leadership team and people that report directly to you. And then the, and, and you did say that the organization is very flat. There's a big, big merit in that. But if we had to take the senior leaders within the organization, I'd love for you to share, uh, some of the key attributes or, or, or what's your kind of expectations from the mine? What's sort of the, I mean, you have a very strong manifesto. You have a very strong credo. I'm suspecting that you want them to live and breathe it, but I'm just, I just wondered if there's some additional things that may come to you to share in terms of, okay, these are my kind of top expectations from my senior senior management in the company.:
Speaker 2:
50:05
Sure. Well, this, there's this, it's quite a few layers. Sorry. There's, there's not many layers in the management, but there's quite a few hearts of that discussion. So for instance, you need, uh, obviously people with financial skills, you need people with product skills management skills. They're not necessarily all in the same package. Um, and, uh, you don't want everybody to be just like you and you don't want everybody to be, to agree with everything you've said. In fact, challenging me is actually quite fun. I do like, uh, intellectual argument about something. I don't want people to be critical of each other. I want people to be challenging of the ideas. You know, you, you need to be, to be able to ask questions and challenge things, right. Uh, but obviously there's the face of the company as a number of people. Um, a CTO, Brits been with me for 35 years.:
Speaker 2:
51:02
My coat, my cofounder has been with me since much longer than that. Uh, it's Marie male who's a chief growth officer. She brings an enormous set of talents and she is extraordinary in many respects. Um, and uh, there are, you obviously have to have a broader management team than that, but I, if I mentioned everybody, because it's very flat, I'll be mentioning 30 or 40 people I interact with on a daily basis, probably 10 people at least, and possibly across a month, probably 30, 40, 50 people. I sit in a couple of meetings each week. One for instance is a senior senior leadership meeting, which has got about 10 people in it on a Tuesday. There's a different group on a Thursday, but it's similar senior managers and I have a product development meeting every second Wednesday. And then I will meet with individual people and individual issues and on the projects that I'm pushing forward and all submit with the managing directors of the subsidiaries.:
Speaker 2:
52:05
We have acquired a guile and I will often do invest in meetings and market issues and we'll talk about various other growth mechanisms. So it's not something that's, it's not patent as a hierarchy. It's patent as a collective, uh, sort of almost like a hive mentality. You come together at the right times from the right places. And I'm very comfortable people coming at me from any part of the business. I mean, just a simple thing to reference to. We try to hire receptionists that are very smart as in you know, cognitively powerful and have an opportunity to grow. So that will actually promote them out of reception. And that's, it's remarkable that that many of the people we've had in reception and now in the administrative roles or in a junior management roles now instead of just stuck on reception for the five years and then leave.:
Speaker 2:
53:00
And I have the view that everybody that comes in needs to be developed, has made to Mr to be able to grow. And it'd be offered the ability to develop. You can't force people to develop themselves. Of course I'm a live and let live kind of guy. But ultimately that's a very powerful idea that people need to be, need to be in, want to uh, develop themselves, grow, learn and improve and challenged where they would go somewhere better. And by the way, even if you help people learn, if you educate them and if you develop their skills and they become through experience, you actually have to pay them for the experience that you helped to deliver. So, uh, I actually had a very sometimes shops maybe shocking, maybe humorous experience with a couple of customers who have said to me and now I don't really like training my staff because when I train them, they leave and I s I reversed it. I said, well, the problem is that when you don't train them, they stay. Yes verbal. That sounds you have an obligation to lift your people. You have to obligation to develop. Everybody, even outside the company, we do a lot of work with high schools, with the Australian computer society, with the Sydney University, ut, ut UTS to help young adults and uh, and uh, people in hospital and even right back into primary school to try to find their way into technology. Careers into logistics. Curious. Yes.:
Speaker 1:
54:26
I love, I love the quote and the, and I think there's the, there's the, yeah, there's, there's so much meaning and so much purpose into it because they are people, people will stay where they feel that they're being developed and taken care of. Um, and just to, just a couple of weird joint was near the end of this interview and just a couple of more questions cause I'd love also to flip it a little bit in terms of hiring and I like to ask these questions, but this question specifically, um, maybe you can share with us in your 25 year career, I mean, career building the company really also, what were some of your mistakes when it came to hiring? Yeah, hiring:
Speaker 2:
54:58
people. So I don't think there's no one has even close to perfect track record in hiring people. It's a very complicated problem. Chemist in, in, uh, in, uh, the, the, the truly best why to hire some Missouri, have them and measured them on the job. That's the only way you can really measure someone's ability in someone's commitment and someone's, someone's drive. We do cognitive testing. Uh, we do, um, some personality testing, some psychometric testing. We do behavioral interviewing and when we placed somebody in their initial period, we put them through a number of experiences and measure those experiences straight closely. But not the best. Hiring in the world is made be a 90% success rate may be a little bit less than that. And at the end of the day, I actually take up a lot of, uh, I put a lot of importance on the idea that you have to own up when you didn't hire the right person.:
Speaker 2:
55:57
You've got to tell them the truth and you've got to help them to understand they're not suitable for the company. And you have to do that with empathy, which you have to do it. Um, so the mistakes have been to not do that, to not move somebody on when they're not gonna, not gonna cut it and to not be honest and truthful with people about the performance. It doesn't have to be a criticism of the person that has to be honest about the performance itself and about what you require for people to be a good longterm employee. Most people, not everybody, but most people want to be a great employee. I want to be part of a good team and I want to be part of the crack company, but that's not true universally. And ultimately there are people that just want to come in and find a soft spot to sleep and that can't be how it works in a great company. You have to move them on and you have to make every effort to not hire them in the first place. But ultimately it's an imperfect system.:
Speaker 1:
56:54
Um, and, and Richard, I was just wondering also because the industry, uh, in in particular, and I think diversity and gender diversity and gender balance in the industry may be technology or logistics is quite disproportionate a little bit. I'd love also to pick your, pick your views in terms of what you think about that, what you're doing at wisetech and, and how do you see it for the, for the long run. I mean how can we balance it a little bit better?:
Speaker 2:
57:18
Well, the first thing I have said that see it as a gender in balance, I see it as a fundamental engineering problem that is we are missing a very large part of the talent pool who are female and who probably in technology particularly chosen early hospital to move into a career or a subject set that wasn't a technology subject set. And you can say that, you can see, you know, parents and grandparents almost create this cultural split. They talk to their young children, they say, oh girls do this. And boys did that. I describe it as the trucks and dolls problem, you know, and it's a social issue as much as anything else. So we've been very lucky. We very much focus on getting the best people. And if you always choose the best people, you almost accidentally do better balancing your male female population in your company.:
Speaker 2:
58:12
But it's impossible to balance a completely because the, the, the resource set that is talented female and moving off into other other things that are becoming flight at 10 when working in a law firm or they're going into accounting and they're not going into technology and that that is a terrible loss for them. Technology technologies are very well paid industry and it's a terrible loss for us because we need the best talent now. And that's not just gender diversity, it's also the idea that people are different to you actually offer something of value that doesn't matter whether you come from Australia or the US or the Ukraine or Japan or Indonesia or you know, I don't know Brazil, it's not important where you came from, us, what you bring to us, that methods. And so all those differences become positive because you know, a hybrid culture is very, very strong culture. You get this, this a crossbreed strength out of a culture like that.:
Speaker 1:
59:11
And final questions, final question, because we have a lot of walls, a young young people, people from the logistics on the supply chain side, people from the technology side and, and the, we've, they've been curious in terms of what should they be learning, what should they be focusing, what kind of skills should they be acquiring in the next five years in this, you know, forever changing world. What would be your advice in terms of, you know, this, this younger population?:
Speaker 2:
59:37
Well, I think the first thing you always have to do that you, you have to start from some basics like this, your passion and curiosity and so forth. But ultimately if you can learn to teach yourself things, if you can learn to be curious and research what you need to know. And I had to do that yourself and not expect development to come to you by itself or to you to be taught by, by somebody who just turns up and tells you. But did you want to find a way of growing yourself? If you do that, people will also help you grow and you have to recognize that going forward. Low skilled jobs, low value jobs, low paying jobs in fact are the ones that are all at risk. If you're a data entry operator, you need to be very afraid. If you are someone who is doing a job, which is easily replaceable, uh, with automation, you need to be very afraid.:
Speaker 2:
60:36
If you're a person who is developing their skills, their knowledge, their talents, their value to a company. And if you care to help and you care to pitch in when there's made you care to want to grow yourself and grow your talents and grow the people around you, particularly, then you are incredibly valuable and you're the easily retain and there'll be a job for you in the future. And I think that's the fundamental thing here is that we need to be willing to help each other. We need to be able to build depth in how we treat people and how we lift people. I mean we're, we're building a, a full training organization. We already have a very comprehensive training program for our customers, staff and our partners, uh, consultants. But we are going further, we're going to be teaching the whole of logistics and um, I think we've got a very profoundly strong lord of Management Platform, but we intend to make that a much bigger thing and a much broader thing. We even go into the technology side and help people learn in high school and even earlier, but ultimately smart people, valuable people are people that can learn and grow and improve and help other people learn and grow and improve.:
Speaker 1:
61:48
Yes. Valuable piece of advice for Richard. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for the time. Thank you for the sharings. Thank you for teaching us some of the, or sharing the wisdom of the seeker and the principles of success at, at, at Wisetech. I'm sure you will continue to do great. I mean you're is just mind blowing. Actually I, we haven't really touched upon this a today, but you know, you're, you're 50% up year on year almost. It's just incredibly successful what you've managed to build and I'm sure you will continue to, to build it. So good luck and it's been a pleasure to have you:
Speaker 3:
62:20
as our guest.:
Speaker 2:
62:21
It was an absolute pleasure to talk to you and it was a very interesting, uh, getting through those things and understanding them so I can express them well to you. That was, that was fun too.:
Speaker 5:
62:33
Okay.:
Speaker 3:
62:34
Thank you for listening to a podcast. If you liked what you heard, be sure to follow us on [inaudible] dot com slash podcast for all the show notes, links and extra tips covered in the interview. Make sure also to subscribe to our email in this to get the news in the nick of time. If you're listening through a platform like iTunes or stitcher and you like what we do, please kindly review and give us five stars so we can keep the energy flowing. You'd get more people to find out about our podcast. I'm most active on Linkedin, so do feel free to follow me to stay tuned for our latest articles as well as future guests for the podcast. And if you have any suggestions or any other idea, please feel free to write to me. I respond to all, and also please make sure not to miss our next episode where we will be having a few other c level and top leaders in supply chain joining us. Stay tuned.:
How did you end up in the tech industry? Specifically, how did you end up doing tech for logistics?
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