Phil Sims (ILF2017)


Institution: Said Business School, Oxford University (UK)
Course: Advanced Management & Leadership Program


As the Chief Executive Officer, a Director and a Shareholder of Robern Menz, in my 111 year old family business, I am respectful of our past and to the legacy of our brands including Menz FruChocs, Violet Crumble and Polly Waffle that have emotional connections for generations of Australians. The opportunity importantly is to embrace a continuous improvement culture of change for the future needs of the markets we operate in but also aspire to. Whilst at the same time being mindful of the role we play in our community and to the many stakeholders including our employees, partners and future owners whom are influenced by our businesses actions and performance.

Importance of self-investment in learning

I am both proud and see it is a privilege to be able to lead our 4th generation family business. Professional development in improving ones skills in management and leadership can easily be overlooked when immersed in the day to day and year to year implementation of strategy and tactics to achieve goals and objectives. It is the importance of ‘creating enduring value’ in our business and enhancing ones skills to assist in this that has driven me to continue to invest across my career in professional development to better manage and lead. For me the next step opportunity for advanced learning to benefit the business needed to involve a learning platform with world’s best educators and peers working across the globe. Tapping into new knowledge was a key criterion. Selecting and attending a program like the OAMLP and an institution like Oxford University was vital in that they attract the very best global talent.

Oxford University’s AMLP

After extensive research, Oxford University’s Advanced Management and Leadership 3 week live in program was identified. The June 2019 program had 39 participants from 25 country’s all at the top of their industry fields. It was a transformational experience and the benefits were huge.

The program was intense and involved fully immersing oneself. The value creation was not only what comes from exposure to world leading educational learning but also from peer to peer learning from an immensely smart cohort that included self-made billionaires with diverse business’ to country heads of NATO. It is only a process like this of living with and relying upon each other in a 24/7 environment that creates a system of such supportive and participative dynamic learning. The cohort will be a lifelong network of friends encouraging of shared success and is a pathway of access to new knowledge.

Importantly throughout the 3 week journey I was cognisant of applying learning for the benefit of the business and that a wicked problem can be seen as a great opportunity. The outcome was a creation of a personal action plan and a long list of action items which will guide our business into the future and the skills learnt will heavily influence the future pathway of our business.

A snapshot of concepts explored, developed and learnt involved strategy processes that create superior performance, self-analysis processes to enable gaps to be filled to better lead and manage teams and a process that challenges the dominant logic that leads to transformational change.

The role of the Industry Leaders Fund

The ILF provided not only the funding support but also the triggers around the importance to invest in oneself to benefit the business and the role this has flowing through to our economy and community. The application process was rigorous as it should be but not painful. The screening process is important and if successful there is comfort in the knowledge that upon acceptance of a grant you will belong to an exclusive club that will have made significant benefits to South Australia and to its future generations.

I am very grateful to the ILF’s support and encourage other South Australian business leaders to apply and invest in their professional development.

The biggest tragedy of life is the fear of failure or not doing.