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new leaders emerge from the global financial crisis: alcoa MD
The current economic climate is the ideal time to identify potential new leaders, according to Alcoa of Australia Managing Director Alan Cransberg.
 
Addressing 100 professionals at the Australian Institute of Management Business Leaders Breakfast Series in Perth this month, Mr Cransberg said that if anything good can come out of the global financial crisis, it’s that these times will really set good companies and good leaders apart.  
 
“Leaders will emerge, who might not have been noticed otherwise.  Businesses will start to make decisions about who cuts it, versus others who were great leaders during the up times but who are not so good during the hard times.”
 
Mr Cransberg also stressed the importance of employee engagement, saying it’s more crucial than ever in this time of economic uncertainty.
 
“In my experience an engaged workforce is more productive, and businesses with an engaged workforce are more profitable.
 
“It’s critical, especially as we manage our way through the global financial crisis, that leaders articulate a simple business strategy to align and engage their people with their business objectives.
 
“At Alcoa, our people must understand where they fit in the puzzle, so their personal goals are clear and understood – which ultimately makes for a business that’s more likely to come out of the economic downturn stronger than it went into it,” he said.
 
Mr Cransberg said all Alcoa’s employees were at the heart of every business strategy, but that it was up to the leaders to get the workforce all running in the same direction.
 
“The challenge is this:  people want to be motivated not manipulated, inspired not ordered, committed not obedient.
 
“I want our people to have the same passion as me and, as leaders, we need to inspire them to have that - rather than for them to feel it’s their duty to say yes to orders.  I want our people to challenge us and be involved in the business success,” he told the audience.
 
He added that the company’s engagement with its employees included Alcoans being a part of the communities in which Alcoa operates.
 
“We believe that if our people are engaged in their communities, then they are also engaged with us.   We’ve certainly found that employee volunteering, while it is the right thing to do, also assists in building cohesive teams.
 
“Alcoa has long been accountable to and engaged with our communities - you can’t run operations like ours without corporate social responsibility being embedded in the DNA of your organisation.”
 
He said Alcoa’s work/ life blend philosophy played an important part in the company having high retention rates, with 60 per cent of Alcoa’s people having been with the company for more than 10 years.
 
“I’m a father of four, under 13, and I’ve made it clear to our people that if their child has a special school assembly, and they’re at their desk - then there is something wrong with that picture.
 
“I’ve certainly found that leading by example has helped foster loyalty and commitment from employees and it’s enhanced our platform of mutual respect – they get more out of life, and we get more out of them as employees.”
 
Among the many tools Alcoa uses to engage its people, is an Employee Suggestion Scheme which captures employees’ ideas and rewards those who come up with smart ideas for the business.  Last year Alcoa received over 14 thousand suggestions and over 10 thousand were accepted by the company.
 
“As a leader, it’s what you do, rather than what you say.  The suggestion scheme is a working example of our management taking on board ideas from employees of all levels – the essential element for true engagement.
 
“I strongly believe that we simply would not have a business at all without engaged dedicated people, and therefore engaging employees is not a nice to do, it’s a must do.”
 
carbon pollution reduction scheme 
Alcoa continues to work through the detail of the Federal Government’s Exposure Draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation.
 
Australia’s move to implement emissions trading is a key plank in responding to the challenge of climate change. However, the CPRS also represents a significant risk to Australian aluminium industry jobs while overseas competitors do not face comparable carbon costs.

Alcoa believes a few key changes need to be made to the white paper version of the CPRS before it can work effectively without compromising the viability of the Australian aluminium industry.  Government has the opportunity to strike a balance that responds to the demands of climate change while ensuring jobs remain in Australia.
 
For example, emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries, like aluminium, should receive at least 90% permit assistance and this should be preserved until international competitors face a comparable carbon cost. Furthermore, changes are necessary to issues of detail such as the Electricity Allocation Factor proposed in the white paper to ensure Victorian industries are not penalised because of their limited energy supply options.
 
These issues were raised by Alcoa in its public response to the CPRS Green Paper.
 
Please refer to the Australian Aluminium Council for a more detailed response from our industry. www.aluminium.org.au
 
Read more about Alcoa and climate change.

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Alan believes all Alcoans have to be at the heart of every business strategy



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"An engaged workforce is more productive, and businesses with an engaged workforce are more profitable" - Alan Cransberg