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Boarding call

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Regular readers of this blog know that my wife and I take a break each August. This year we are again crossing the equator to enjoy the northern summer. We will be traversing Europe via some well-trodden tracks and visiting a few iconic destinations.

We return to London each year for an annual reunion with our daughter and her family. This year, however, Leanne and her family will be in my home in Sydney while I am in London. Sounds bizarre, but there is a logical explanation. Leanne recently relocated back to Sydney (due to a job offer), but not before I had booked and paid for our return flights to London!

What this means is that Bev and I will be able to stay in the heart of London this year and not 40 kilometres outside of the city precinct as we normally do to be close to family. We are excited to be genuine tourists this time around and intend to see parts of London that we have missed on previous trips.

After five nights in the British capital, we fly to Cologne in Western Germany. This 2,000-year-old city spans the Rhine River and is home to the magnificent Cologne Cathedral. The cathedral is a magnet for pilgrims and tourists making it the single most visited landmark in all of Germany. Cologne’s other claim to fame is that it has the most pubs per capita in Germany.

Following our four-day “pubs and piety” stop, we head off to Lisbon. We are told that the Portuguese capital will offer us a warm Mediterranean climate and a postcard panorama of cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals. The Lisbon coastline is dotted with sandy beaches which should make it easy for me to take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.

As Portugal borders Spain, it will be a short hop to our next port of call - Madrid. While Madrid is renowned for its bullfights and soccer team (Real Madrid), Bev and I would much rather watch the city’s famous flamenco dancers. Visiting some art galleries and museums will also be on our “to-do” list.

As I’m gallivanting through Europe, life will go on as normal at Gateway including this blog. To this end, I’ve invited four experts to act as guest bloggers during my absence. Each will provide an insightful opinion piece relevant to Gateway Members. Here’s the batting order.

Mike Lawrence will lead the charge and his blog post will be published on Tuesday, 7 August. Mike is CEO of the Customer-Owned Banking Association - a position he has held since December 2017. He has over 30 years’ experience in financial services, primarily gained with AMP Bank and National Australia Bank. Mike was Managing Director of AMP Bank for eight years and prior to this, Mike undertook senior roles in all distribution channels of banking, namely, corporate, commercial and retail and having done so across three continents - Australia, UK and USA. He is Vice Chairman of Heart Research Australia.

Following Mike will be Dr Melinda Muth and you can read her post from Monday, 13 August. Melinda is an educator and consultant who specialises in personal and team effectiveness. She is a facilitator and guest speaker in a variety of executive education programs in Australia, and has worked in Asia and the USA. She is a Facilitator, Faculty Adviser and Fellow of AICD as well as a member of the adjunct faculty at UNSW and has previously held a number of senior executive roles. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Science in Design, magna cum laude, from the University of Cincinnati, an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a PhD from the Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW) for research in the field of corporate governance. Melinda has recently co-authored a book with Bob Selden – Setting the Tone From the Top: how director conversations can shape company culture. The book is available from the AICD.

Next to step up to the plate will be Faz Fazal who will share his thoughts with us in a post to be published on Monday, 20 August. Faz is one of Australia's leaders in Talent Acquisition & Executive Search. For over 20 years Faz has built, managed, developed and led teams that support organisations in achieving their growth strategies - realised through the successful recruitment, retention, management and development of their people. With a passion for people, teams and cultures and as an expert in talent, Faz regularly shares his insights on effective leadership and management in order to support the career aspirations and goals of others.

Finally, Lisa Montgomery has agreed to be our concluding guest blogger and we will publish her post on Monday, 27 August. Lisa is a respected leader, commentator and consumer advocate within the Australian financial services industry. In 2004, Lisa joined Resi Mortgage Corporation as Head of Consumer Advocacy and was elevated to the role of CEO in 2010. Prior to her time at Resi, Lisa was Head of Consumer Information and Advocacy for Wizard Home Loans. In this role, Lisa became the most quoted individual in the country for home loan products, services and related issues. In 2012, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently retired from her role as CEO of Resi Mortgage Corporation to focus on her health. Today, as a nationally recognised consumer advocate, Lisa provides regular commentary for, national radio and television. She is a Board member of the Breast Cancer Network Australia.

I have told Mike, Melinda, Faz and Lisa that as guest bloggers they can offer ideas, analysis or opinions on any topic of their choosing. I am confident that, as thought leaders, each will provide a conversational yet authoritative voice to the blog.

Well, that’s it from me for a few weeks. Bev and I have been planning our vacation for some months and all that remains is to pack our bags and give the house sitters some final instructions. Failing any delays or mishaps, I’ll be back online on Monday, 3 September.

Bon voyage!

Paul J. Thomas, CEO


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CEO Paul Thomas