22 Mar Partner Profile: Mark Humphreys
- How do you describe what you do when meeting new people?
I have a long held view that the most interesting people I’ve met in my life have been those with whom I’ve not discussed what I do until quite a long way down the track. There is so much great literature, art, music, politics and sport to experience through being part of our society that I almost find it soul destroying how quickly everyone moves to the safe ground of ‘what do you do?’. When pressed, I say I help people and organisations define and rationalise their opportunities and challenges.
- How did you find yourself in this line of work?
In my first degree, I completed a module called ‘Disaster Analysis’ which led to a Masters and my first professional role. I’ve always been intrigued with that part of the human condition which allows us to feel confident that someone else is looking after our wellbeing. The people who died at Hillsborough, Bhopal, the Kings Cross fire and countless other catastrophes around the world are a testament to the fact that systems fail, but we can legitimately expect individuals and organisations to be in the best position to manage.
- Who is your professional role model, and why?
Having reviewed so many ‘real world’ failures in risk management makes me wary of role models. I now listen to a significant number of ‘leading lights’ and it can, please excuse the simile, feel a bit like listening to Milli Vanilli in the late 1980s just after you heard they were lip-synching. You suddenly realise that many don’t sound authentic. I have been fortunate to learn a great deal from all of the people I’ve worked with. I’ve learnt most about myself when I’ve worked with people who have really challenged my ability to manage or lead them – and that has made me better than I otherwise would have been at both those things.
- What is the project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
Having lived in the UK, Melbourne and Perth, the most significant accomplishment has been managing to build and retain positive connections with people in different locations over the years. Invariably that doesn’t happen with everyone you would like it to, but many people have helped me in my career to date – and they are in many different places.
- How would you explain ‘being risk averse’ to someone?
I’ve always loved poetry, so it is best described in a great poem called ‘Che Fece … Il Gran Refiuto’ by C P Cavafy. He wrote “For some people the day comes when they have to declare the great Yes or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes ready within him; and saying it, he goes from honour to honour, strong in his conviction. He who refuses does not repent. Asked again, he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no— drags him down all his life.”