In this Q&A, Melbourne-based Hayley Morris, daughter of ComputerShare founder and highly successful Aussies businessman Chris Morris, explains why she decided to branch out on her own to spread the sustainability message to SMEs.
Social entrepreneur Hayley Morris left a secure job with ComputerShare to start not-for-profit organisation Sustainable Table and focus on supporting SMEs towards sustainability. Originally using Sustainable Table to take the sustainability message to the masses through the kitchen table, Morris has since expanded the organisation to support SMEs adapt to rising energy costs and reduce their impact on the environment.
With a background in finance and technology, she built an easy to use system that allows SMEs to measure and manage their impact on the environment. She is currently helping SMEs understand the changes they will need to make to adapt to rising energy costs and the incoming Carbon Tax.
My Business: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started in business?
Hayley Morris: It doesn’t matter how powerful or successful a person is, at the end of the day they are just a person and there is no need to be scarred or nervous around someone of stature or status.
MB: What are your most effective work habits?
HM: I’ve always been very organised with my work and never seem to have too much trouble managing my time. I generally have a high level of trust in the people I work with and know that people have skills that I don’t have, so I feel I’m effective at delegating tasks and jobs. I have a high level of focus and dedication. When I need to get a job done it’s hard to distract me. And generally, I’m able to stay level headed and focus on the way forward, as opposed to getting too caught up in why something didn’t work out or worrying about not doing something well.
MB: Best business decision you’ve ever made?
HM: To leave my job at Computershare and find my own way. I loved my job and my work at Computershare, but deep down I knew that I had more to offer the world than follow in my dad’s footsteps and I had a burning desire to do something for the greater good. I haven’t looked back once.
MB: What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in business? How did you fix it?
HM: Early in my career I sent an honest email to a colleague in management being brutal in my thoughts about the lack of leadership in a certain division of the company. I considered the colleague a friend and I thought the email would be kept in confidence but it was sent to the managers of the area I was concerned about. It was an awful feeling being exposed like that but it meant I had to face up to the issue and the people face to face. From then on I’ve learnt what’s appropriate to put in an email and what’s not!
MB: Share your number one sales technique with us.
HM: I am far from a sales person, but I read a quote recently that said, ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. This really appealed to me and is definitely the way I approach sales. I generally talk about the story behind what I do and why the solution of Impact Sustainability was created. I find this has much more of an impact then talking about the functionality of the system.
MB: Best tip for managing people?
HM: I say try and always have time for your staff regardless of what you’ve got on.
MB: Who do you most admire and why?
HM: From a personal perspective I most admire my aunty Penny. I believe she gave me the ‘social conscience’ that led me into the career path I have chosen. She has always been able to give me level-headed advice or just be someone I can bounce thoughts off. Most importantly, she has always believed in me and therefore given me the confidence and strength to focus on what I believe in. From a more global perspective, I really admire Aung Sung Suu Kyi. To sacrifice her life for her country, withstand almost two decades of house arrest and emerge and still fight for what she believes in is nothing short of amazing.
MB: I drive a ... because ....
HM: I drive a Mazda 6 wagon because I have a baby and needed a family car! For work I ride a Honda scooter to get to and from meetings. You don’t need to pay for parking and it costs me $6 to fill up.
MB: Generation Y: are they as demanding as everyone says?
HM: Considering I fall into this generation (by one year), I’m going to answer a definite no! I like that they (we) are loud and outspoken about social and environmental issues in a much greater way then previous generations. In general I think it is futile to try and sum up a generation with an adjective.
MB: The internet is a massively disruptive force. What’s your reaction to disruption?
HM: The disruptive power of the internet is hugely exciting for social change. I think disruption is needed to shake up tradition and create change in whatever way it is needed – whether it is destabilising governments, human rights, or environmental and social issues.
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