Positive impact on people

Interview: Malcom Nixon, Head of Tenant Services, International Towers

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Malcolm Nixon has spent the majority of his professional life in the service of others. Almost three decades in service- oriented roles with Qantas has given him a sixth sense in anticipating people’s needs and resolving challenges. The secret? Positive thinking, a positive culture and seamless teamwork.

Tell us about your journey.

I grew up in country NSW, in a town called Corowa. I worked on the farm before heading to Melbourne to study Interior Design and Architecture at RMIT. That was cut short when my father had a heart attack and I went back home to help on the property. By 25 I decided I had enough of country life and landed in Melbourne again, where I spent four years working for the Yellow Pages and as a jewellery designer before enrolling in the Qantas training course in Sydney to become a flight attendant. At that stage I had never left the country and didn’t even have a passport!

I spent the next 17 years in the air, first as a flight attendant, then a supervisor, and then a Customer Service Manager. To this day I believe that environment is one of the most challenging from a customer service perspective – you’re 36,000 feet in the air, with no immediate backup, servicing a hugely diverse mix of people who are often agitated. It’s possibly the ultimate challenge in service training and diplomacy!

I then applied for a Coordinator role for Qantas lounges, with the view of becoming a Lounge Manager one day. That responsibility saw me involved with a number of the lounges all over the world; working with designers, furniture manufacturers, food and beverage consultants, and a range of other experts to deliver a world-class service experience. It was both fascinating and challenging trying to create a near identical product across completely different countries and cultures.

I spent 26 years in total at Qantas – almost my entire professional life. Within that time I had 11 different roles, so as the company evolved, restructured and grew, so did my responsibilities. It was an incredible learning experience, particularly in relation to service and problem solving.

How did that experience support your role now at International Towers?

In many respects, I view International Towers as being not too dissimilar to the environment of a Boeing 747, or a large cruise ship. Every day, thousands of people from a hugely diverse background come together in this one place, and our role as the service managers of International Towers is much like the ‘unseen’ crew of an airline, working behind the scenes to ensure the experience is as seamless, comfortable and enjoyable as it can be.

How would you describe your day-to-day role and responsibilities?

I lead the Concierge and Tenant Services teams; so we’re responsible for managing all operational and customer service issues across International Towers on a daily basis. I’m also deeply involved with building a strong service base and culture for our unique working communities, which includes understanding and anticipating the needs of our community partners and trying to make their experience as efficient, dynamic, innovative and as pleasant as possible.

I feel so fortunate, because I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives every day, often in very unconventional and creative ways, such as enhancing a particular space with music and forming a collaboration with students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to do that. We really try to have purpose in everything we do, and ask ourselves, “How can we make this experience unique, how can this benefit the wider community, how can we do this sustainably?” Providing young students the opportunity to be paid to play their music in front of an appreciative audience and expose themselves to the theatrics of live performance is a great example of delivering something extraordinary to our communities.

Another one was our recent Christmas installation, featuring traditional Aboriginal Dilly Bags. It’s not traditional, in the sense of a typical Christmas tree, and some people might not understand the approach. But once they’ve been educated about it, they understand the links to Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, and our decision to support a craft that is possibly thousands of years old – in this case basket weaving – how our support helps keep these traditions alive and how our installation is profoundly sustainable – being made from recycled materials – then they make the connection to the spirit of generosity and sharing that Christmas is all about.

So once again, there is purpose in all that we do, and we seize every opportunity we can to challenge traditional thinking, and to make a positive contribution to our environment, and to celebrate the heritage and history of our site.

Obviously there’s a great deal of work in delivering something that goes beyond the ordinary, however when there is a commitment to a true culture of service, then this becomes our standard. It’s all about relationships, and treating every individual with respect, whether that be a visiting young violinist, or a worker within International Towers. And that same ethos tends to be inherent within the organisations that have been drawn to join our community. So in a way, when values are aligned, culture breeds culture.

How would you define the culture within the IT community?

The culture I believe International Towers has fostered, right from the start, has been curated by the vision of our Fund Manager, Liam Timms, who has had the determination to change the way corporate real estate was managed. Our culture is built on an unwavering values system, which permeates throughout the organisation. The very first stage of on-boarding selected new members of the team, and new tenant partners to International Towers is a cultural training program, so that all our values are aligned from the very start, before anything else. That is absolute evidence of how important our service culture is. Within a month or so of joining the organisation, everyone is treated to a special day off-site, usually at a beautiful hotel with wonderful food, where we all share and learn through our specially developed ‘BarangaYOU’ program. It provides everyone a foundation, or a baseline, on which everything else is built.

| Read the full edition here |

Enhance your culture


The business of ethics

Interview: Maria Claudia, Samambaia, Florist and Owner, Samambaia flowers

Procurement - the what, how, where and why of buying goods and services - can play a significant role in the health and sustainability of communities, and the environment all over the world. An insatiable desire to prioritise quantity over quality, and a single-minded focus on cost reduction over the past several decades has created long-lasting, environmental and social effects all over the world, most often in communities that already struggle with poor living standards.

Thankfully, this is changing. As technology continues to shrink the global marketplace, and simultaneously improve the transparency and awareness about how things are made, companies and individuals are increasingly empowered to make better choices and insist that provenance and ethics are the solid foundation on which procurement decisions are made.

As is often the case, profound change often begins in small, simple ways; fuelled by a determination to do good. It was a small group of coffee-roasting entrepreneurs who began sourcing beans directly from farmers to ensure they received fairer remuneration that sparked consumer demand for ethically sourced product and the birth of Free Trade coffee, which is now a standard for major distributors all overthe world. This in turn has enabled increased investment in small farming communities through way of improved infrastructure, education and equipment; ensuring the long-term sustainability of thousands of micro- farms around the world.

The fashion, technology and food industries have had similar recalibrations relating to the role of ethics in recent years, as consumers collectively demand increased transparency in provenance, forcing global brands to take greater responsibility for supply chains and to improve the wellbeing of the millions of people tasked with making the things we
use and rely on every day.

“Change can only come about if we insist on it,” says Liam Timms, Fund Manager, International Towers. “If we only do business with people and organisations that share our values, and if we refuse to purchase from those that don’t, we’ll see changes in behaviour that will ultimately be better for everyone. Someone needs to be the first to take a stand before others follow.”

International Towers has been committed to the highest standards of sustainability, diversity and inclusion from the very beginning of operations. In fact, a Responsible Procurement Policy was developed well in advance of the community coming alive and outlines a detailed and robust commitment to the responsible and sustainable procurement of goods and services. The policy reflects the international conventions and frameworks, such as the UN Global Compact’s principles on Environment, to which a number of International Towers’ tenant partners are signatories, including Accenture, David Jones, Lendlease, KPMG and Westpac.

In the current globalised economy, it’s reasonable to assume that many products may have been manufactured overseas and that business standards can vary widely across Australia and internationally.

By asking questions of our supply chain, we aim to better understand and support suppliers who are committed to business practices which enhance the environmental and social outcomes that align with those of International Towers. These questions ensure the products we source are: responsibly produced and from socially sustainable sources; avoid contributing to or directly using forced, bonded or involuntary labour; provide workers with safe working conditions free from bullying, physical, verbal or sexual harassment; pay staff appropriately and in line with all applicable laws; ensure no child labour or illegal labour is employed in the business; remove any discrimination on the basis of gender, faith, ethnicity, age, disability, marital status or sexual orientation.

The policy also extends to supporting our local Indigenous communities. The long cultural tradition and heritage of First Australians has a deep influence on every aspect of life at Barangaroo and, as such, International Towers is committed to improving Indigenous participation in the workforce by either directly employing Indigenous staff, or sourcing goods and services from Indigenous-owned or controlled businesses.

In a tangible example of our commitment to support Indigenous communities, we commissioned Indigenous artists from the Northern Territory to create 44 unique Dilly Bags to adorn the lobbies of International Towers, Tower Two and Tower Three, during the festive period.

The installation brought the work of Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation in North East Arnhem Land, home of the Yolngu people, to Barangaroo, the traditional home of the Gadigal people.

Dilly bags were historically used by Aboriginal people to gather food, carry tools, babies and receptacles for various cultural purposes, but today have a more decorative purpose. The artists from the Ramingining community craft their work to convey the region’s ritual and spiritual significance.

The artists, who hail from clan families and language groups in the area, used natural materials - Pandanas leaf from the Screw Palm being the essential material. The Pandanas leaf is dried and dyed using pigments from the surrounding country, compounded and applied by the artists using ancient knowledge and techniques.

Celebrating stories of diversity

The story of Australia is inseparable from the story of migration itself

Australia is often described as a nation of migrants. Apart from First Australians -
our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - our population has its origins
in a uniquely diverse mix of other lands and cultures. The story of Australia is inseparable
from the story of migration itself, a tale that marries despair with hope, struggle with opportunity, and oppression with freedom.

In their search for a new life in a better place, Australia’s migrants have given
so much more to their new home than they’ve received. Despite an enormous
diversity in language, culture and beliefs, there is a commonality amongst
all that have settled on this land: an inspiring determination to succeed,
an entrepreneurial work ethic, and an unblemished optimism and belief in the
moral value of a ‘fair go’.

Global fintech TransferWise was inspired to create a photographic exhibition to
celebrate the achievements of Australian migrants and their incredible journeys.

The exhibition, ‘Faces of Australia’ - a portfolio of 20 curated images by
photographer Kurt Tilse, displayed in the ground foyers of International Towers,
Tower Two and Tower Three - inspired a panel discussion event, held to give a
voice to some of the individuals featured in the exhibition.

Opening the event, Liam Timms, Fund Manager for International Towers Sydney,
stressed the importance of providing a platform to support the diverse networks in Australia, such as through the exhibition and its ensuing spotlight on the importance of  diversity.

“One person doesn’t do anything alone, corporate Australia has a big role to play. At International Towers, we are proud of the rich fabric of our community,” Mr Timms said.

Co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus said, “We believe being Australian is more about recognising where and who we are now and where we hope to go, as much as where we’ve
come from.”

International Towers General Manager Tony Byrne said the inspiring exhibition was as much about the stories and storytelling as it was about the exquisitely-shot images. 
“Diversity, in its truest word, means acknowledging all forms of background and identity. At International Towers, we are committed to celebrating the heritage, beliefs and values of our
diverse workforce and visitor base. We are proud to host this exhibition which shows on a macro level the contribution migrants make to Australia and, on a micro level, the diversity of
our own thriving business community,” Mr Byrne said. Many of the other exhibition subjects attended and shared how they were able to achieve their dreams, drawing on support
such as startup incubator Catalysr. Since its launch in 2016, Catalysr has helped 66 “migrapreneurs” start more than 15 successful businesses. Its professional community has more than 500 advisors and investors, who help these migrapreneurs with advice, support and forming valuable business connections.

Catalysr “graduate” Walid El Sabbagh founded vegan, Egyptian eatery Koshari Korner.
He arrived from Egypt in 2015 with experience as a marine engineer but couldn’t find work in his field. The change of course gave him a change to bring a piece of Egypt to Sydney. 

Faces of Australia is proudly being  exhibited at International Towers throughout summer 2018 /2019.