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6 May 2010
Mr Kim Williams CEO of FOXTEL today gave the Kenneth Myer Lecture for Deakin University in which he reflected on the profound ways in which music had made him and how deeply music had informed and influenced his approach to management. Mr Williams also spoke of the fundamental importance of Australian film, television and radio in developing our contemporary identity.
In a speech illuminated by over 55 separate video and audio segments featuring 96 excerpts from a rich range of music, film, radio and television works, Mr Williams said that many of his leadership, management and persuasive skills he’d learnt were directly attributable to the discipline and experience of his music life, in all its strands, from school up until his 30s.
Over the course of over 20 years Mr Williams learnt music from a wide range of teachers including: Reg Bryson ("a peripatetic teacher who would arrive at home in his FJ Holden"); the scary Mrs Bulger ("at the eponymous Bulger Academy of Music ... in Reserve Street, West Ryde"); and some of the giants of contemporary Australian music including Richard Gill and Peter Sculthorpe.
In Mr William’s account music taught him a golden string of lessons that he’s sought to apply in management including: an open and focused approach to work; the value of criticism and considered feedback; professional accountability; the daily discipline of work (that arises from hours of daily practice) and the notion of absolute standards as embodied in multiple musical forms.
Music and musical management also taught Mr Williams many of the financial, marketing, creative and management skills necessary to run a large company. Mr Williams said, “I still remember the feeling of creeping incapacity when one of our then Board Members (at Music Rostrum Australia) – Donald McDonald said, 'Kim we must have a detailed cash flow'. I replied, 'Certainly Donald so long as you first tell me what it is.' So it was through music when I was 22 that I first learnt about balance sheets and P&Ls (more L than P I am afraid to say...)."
But the value of music exists beyond the lessons it can provide for management. “Music,” Mr Williams pointed out, "is the only creative art that is found in all human cultures. Music features virtuosity, illuminates the simple pure notions of love to the most complex romantic expressions of feelings, conflicts and bonds and lifts ones spirits and moves us like no other art form."
Mr Williams said that such was the value of music that the Federal Government should consider giving every child in Australia a musical instrument.
In the Kenneth Myer Lecture Mr Williams also spoke with great passion about the ways in which film, radio and television since Federation have been quite fundamental in developing our contemporary Australian identity including: "imbuing Australians with a sense of self reliance", and "reinforcing our quirky humour, matched with a projection of an uncanny optimism”.
“They also have reflected that sense of egalitarian idealism which is close to the heart of the Australian sense of self or at least aspiration,” Mr Williams added.
Mr Williams illustrated his themes by drawing on the remarkable richness of Australian film, television, and radio – from silent films like The Sentimental Bloke, and The Story of The Kelly Gang, to Newsreels, to the extraordinary output of ‘talkies’ by the likes of Ken G Hall and Charles Chauvel, to the breadth and energy of Hector Crawford and more recent film makers like George Miller.
Mr Williams also pointed to the critical place of film, television and radio in the stories of the First Australians including Jedda ("an enduring film landmark from the Chauvels"’); to "‘the highly original" Ten Canoes by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr; to Rachel Perkins “superb" First Australians; to Warwick Thornton’s "equally brilliant" Samson & Delilah.
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