Alan encouraged me to get my fingers burnt - Seven People That Changed My Life 3 By Bill Jarrard

At 30 I started thinking about getting a serious job and I had the great fortune to meet Alan Findlay a man with a vision for what I might do and the courage to give me a chance. It was 1983, my daughter Kylie was just born, and it was time for my career. So I wrote a major bank suggesting I’d be ideal for a computer security job, which I saw as a new growth area.

My boldness paid off and I was interviewed by Alan for a position as Security Analyst. Next day HR called to offer me a Senior Analyst, Security & Control position, a more senior role which hadn’t even been discussed.

I suggested a mistake had been made and insisted on going back to discuss the role, at which time Alan outlined the position as he saw it. When I told him honestly that I had no experience in such a job, he simply said “It’s never been done before, so take it and I’ll give you a month to figure it out. When can you start?” That was Alan.

I took the job and over the next 8 years Alan promoted me every 18 months to new more senior roles I again had no qualifications to take. But he knew I had talent I didn’t see, so he kept challenging me until we both had corner offices in a high-rise block and were on the management board of an 18,000 person organization.

This 8 year ‘career’ taught me I could do far more than I believed, and is summed up in a phrase Alan said often “Bill, you never know how far you can go until you get your fingers burnt, so go get some fingers burnt." That was Alan.


in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Founder Mindwerx International. Author, professional speaker, university lecturer, corporate trainer in Critical & Creative Thinking and Leading to Make Innovation Happen.

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