By Emanuel Gherardi, Director Energy & Mining Group

Boy George said it best when he said… actually no, he didn’t.

Let’s start again. In my opinion, Peter Drucker, the renowned writer and management consultant said it best when he said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. The comment was then made famous when Mark Fields the once President of the Ford Motor Company ran with it. The reality is this: any business not paying attention to the connection between the two is going to be up against it.

Over the last 20 years as a recruiter, I have been privy to some amazing workplace cultures, and conversely, I’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum. The businesses that just don’t understand why they can’t hang on to their people or get the most out of them cry “we pay better than anyone in the industry, and we’ve got the biggest pipeline of work.”

Clearly Peter Drucker wasn’t downplaying the importance of strategy, but for the purpose of this article let’s focus on how a great culture affects your people and your ability to attract, retain and inspire their performance.


Your brand, or how you are perceived in the marketplace, is in no small way influenced by the message transmitted to the same market by your employees. Performance is clearly key to your brand, but a sub-par culture will limit your ability to attract good people, and the knock-on effect will affect your ability to deliver a quality outcome for your clients. The gold standard is an army of ambassadors spruiking your wares to the market and attracting not only new employees but new clients, new business and potential new suitors.


In a recent article in Forbes magazine, they looked at what the next generation of employees is looking for in potential employers, and the landscape has changed significantly since I first entered the workforce. The survey showed us that most important were factors such as work-life balance, commitment to health and wellbeing, a sense of purpose in the work that they do, recognition, the meaning and value of what the company does in the marketplace. All of these sit quite clearly and comfortable in what we would deem the domain of workplace culture.


Let’s say your company culture needs a little work but on the back of some big projects, high remuneration and a great sales pitch by the interviewer, you’ve managed to get that gun recruit with great values across the line. What are your chances of hanging on to them in the long run? Well in my experience, not great. The challenge arises when there’s a mismatch between the core values of an individual and the values of the organisation. If the individual’s values aren’t up to scratch then the organisation’s strong culture and great people will organically and almost unconsciously at times, squeeze that person out. On the other side of the coin, if there is a misalignment in core values and the deficit is on the company’s side then eventually no matter how good the salary package is or how interesting the work is, and how secure the business is, that person or those people will leave. As human beings, our true nature propels us to seek happiness and connection and these days that is especially true professionally.  If your culture doesn’t offer it and your competitors do, then it’s clear where the curious gaze of your workforce may wander.


Put quite simply, great company culture is good business practice. Great culture creates a fertile ground for passion, innovation, creativity, productivity, superior decision-making and retention of your highest performing people. The result being the delivery of a superior product or service for your customers. That’s the end-game we’re all seeking. right? That’s where we thrive over survive and the stuff that legacies are made of.

What we’re seeing is the beginning of what may  be a skills shortage within resources sector – particularly within the mining industry – and with companies falling in to line around remuneration, rosters and the technical aspect of the work, the way to separate yourself is going to be in the environment and culture you provide for the people that work for you.

Maybe Boy George was onto something after all when he said “karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon. You come and go, you come and go”. Let’s create some of that good company culture karma and watch them come. If we do, I’m betting they won’t go.