March 2017

118 APAC / March 2017 , As CEO of a successful recruitment agency based in the APAC region, Paul Barbaro talks to us in depth about the firmand his leadership skills. The Best in the Business IPA is a labour hire company providing permanent and temporary work solutions for clients in all sectors. The firm has operations throughout Australia and more than 2000 employees. Clients range from large multi- nationals, to family owned businesses and IPA provides services in all states of Australia. It finds people permanent roles, and places temporary staff into assignments ranging from one day to its longest temps who have worked with the firm for more than 10 years. IPA’s strategy is simple, as Paul Barbaro, the firm’s CEO, explains. “Everything we do, we do to enhance the lives of people,” he begins. “Our strategy is to produce exceptional results for people in pursuing the jobs of their choice. “Our strategic value is to have operations which are easily accessible to both clients and candidates, and to attach ourselves to local communities. We believe the value of business is to be community leaders, and our sponsorships include local sporting clubs, community groups and other services which impact positively the communities in which we operate.” From the off-set, Paul set a clear strategy for the business, based on financial and operational growth targets being clearly communicated to staff. “I sought input from every area to ensure the plan reflects what staff want and need and not just what I believe is best for the business,” states Paul. “I have underpinned this with a clear plan for each manager to ensure they are meeting their personal, professional and financial objectives. My plan was simple, find and retain the best talent, nurture and train people, promote internally where possible, provide support and training, and the results will look after themselves. “The business is 43% better than the previous year in profit and continues to grow using these principles.” As a successful CEO, and indeed the winner of the CEO of the Year – Australia in the Labour Hire category, Paul has come up against challenges over the years. “The biggest hurdle was my own self-doubting,” he embellishes. “I don’t care what anyone says, being conscious of your weaknesses is a great strength, but ensuring they don’t dominate your thinking can be difficult. Controlling my “inner voice” was initially very hard. “Being a CEO can be a lonely job, I was once told “success has many fathers and failure is an orphan” and being able to deal with the highs and push the credit to staff, whilst absorbing the lows and staying positive was a challenge. “Owning my credibility and ensuring I provided context about what I was doing to staff so they believed in me was challenging. There is a healthy level of scepticism about leaders, and trying to “win” over staff initially proved a challenge I wasn’t expecting. Gone are the days when a title provides credibility, you need to earn it and this means leading with conviction, and giving people a reason to believe in you.” By his own self-admittance, Paul possesses the rare attributes of courage, discipline, empathy and presence – and it is these qualities which have helped make him the formidable leader he is today. “I also don’t take myself too seriously and love a laugh at my own expense,” he grins. “I think humour and personality is lacking in a lot of Australian workplaces, which is one reason we have such high levels of disengagement and lack of productivity. “When it’s all said and done, no- one really cares about corporate success unless it benefits them personally so I always try and relate corporate success back to what it means to the people who are delivering the results. I truly believe in delivering shareholder value, but I believe it will only be achieved if people get to live more financially successful lives, and do things with their families because they are meeting their financial and professional objectives through the work they do.” It is clear that these attributes will stand Paul in good stead for the future, as he envisions change as well as seeing himself in a mentoring role. “I’d like to be mentoring young managers who want to become CEOs. I don’t believe you should be a CEO for more than five years in any one company. I intend on handing over the reins to someone new who will create a new legacy and give people a new vision to believe in. “If I am a success, I will be able to look at other CEOs and know I have contributed in some part to their success. I think leaders have a responsibility to create new leaders.” K Company: IPA Personnel Services Pty Ltd Name: Paul Barbaro Email: [email protected] Web Address: Address: Level 4, 271 Collins Street Melbourne Telephone: +61 400 232 181 1701AP27