David Wright demonstrates that there is no right or wrong path to success
David is a pineapple on pizza kind of guy, occasionally even chilli. In some ways, his pizza preference is reflective of his character and personality.
“I like to be in places where they're chaotic and uncomfortable. I'm a terrible person to be in a place that's stable and going along fine.”
Half-an-hour with David and it’s obvious that he’s a people person who isn’t afraid of change or to ask for help, and he’s suspiciously humble when you take into account his expansive career history. He has never applied for a job (in the traditional sense) and was a CEO of a billion-dollar company in his late twenties.
His career was driven by exploration, which no-one tells you is a viable option - and a desire to be part of a new and upcoming industry - from law to telecommunications, software, university to industry collaboration, data science and artificial intelligence in the building industry.
His most current work with the RoZetta Group involves transforming markets using data science. According to David, the opportunity of data science is to create products that enable data to be used for a new purpose. Transforming a market involves increasing the capability of the market to manage data and employing analytics to solve real-life business problems.
“So, we look at new things we don't know how to do, or we invest in companies like CIM Enviro where we say, ‘You’re on the same journey as us, trying to use new technology to make businesses better...and we help them along that journey in the best way by bringing incredible capability to a small business to solve a problem.”
In CIM Enviro’s case, David recognised a clever company that had identified and made it its mission to improve a market by challenging the status quo.
“Any market that lacks true transparency enables people to take advantage of others or be taken advantage of. Whether it's intentional or not…..companies benefit from the fact that you don’t know that your stuff doesn't work properly or how best to fix it.”
A market opportunity isn’t enough for David to get involved in a business. He needs passionate people who are prepared to listen and are able to reach out and attract extraordinary individuals who are equally as passionate about working towards a common vision. People like CIM Enviro’s CEO, David Walsh.
“CIM Enviro has a leader who knows a lot, but also knows what he doesn't know and is very, very open to absorbing that, and brilliant at bringing people around him... I like that kind of environment, so it sort of is a natural match on a personal level.”
Additionally, David saw that the runway for CIM Enviro was high - CIM Enviro is capable of moving a technical capability to business transformation. He believes that CIM Enviro’s next step is understanding how we can leverage our software and machine learning to make the industry more efficient.
“At the start, companies believe they understand how to improve the market that they’re in, but until you see real growth, that’s when you actually start learning… You learn in market."
You dream outside of market, but you learn in them.”
Fortunately, we’ll be doing that with the guidance of David as CIM Enviro’s new Executive Chairman. Entering a new learning and transitional phase in his career, David is moving from CEO of CMCRC-SIRCA to focus on RoZetta Ventures and RoZetta Technology at a Board level. There, he will be able to continue working on his personal mission to improve the collaboration between industries, universities and communities.
“Australia has an unacceptably low level of engagement between universities and industry, ranking last in the OECD tables for collaboration between researchers and businesses. This has to change, and can change if the people involved are prepared to change”.
While the industrial PhD program of the RoZetta Group is unique in Australia, in all of the industries that RoZetta deals with, there are massive talent shortages revealing a real need for developing human capital, which is RoZetta’s main job.
“RoZetta's job is really a couple of things...The number one thing it does is produce people. We are famous for saying that we lose 30% of our top talent every year and we love it...To make that work effectively, we've got to be in the business of transformation. And so, we produce transformative people who create transformative business and technologies that do make those changes, and our students are in each of those businesses.”
Another one of his passions is people and helping them develop. Finding ways to work with people is a challenge he enjoys, where the products are of extraordinarily high value to him. To David, it’s not about being the master, but a learner, collaborator and a mentor at the same time, so that every time he works with someone, he learns just as much as they do.
It’s easy to find out about David’s career highlights online, however, behind those highs were lessons on life balance, confidence, collaboration and leadership.
As a young adult - at a time where we’re eager to take as many opportunities as possible - David was driven to provide for and support a wife with a chronic illness, and a son, whilst at the same time allowing himself to follow where his interests led him. The death of his late wife brought him to realise that you can’t miss what’s happening outside of your success.
“Be aware that there are other things outside of work that you can spend more time on, and still succeed in work. You can be pushier about yourself."
Upon asking him about his career progression, David tells me that his confidence comes from his admission that he isn’t that smart. He’s the type of leader that isn’t afraid to take on the harder stuff and learn and will sit in the back, helping those in front of him to achieve their best. He’s accepted that he needs other people to succeed, which in turn has become his strength.
“I'm not brilliant at anything that I've done, really... I need other people to succeed. But after a while, that becomes your strength - the finding people, picking people, understanding their motivations, moving them when they don't want to move, getting the best out of people.”
The good news for CIM Enviro is that we’re welcoming an Executive Chairman who is both incredibly humble and a real advantage in our next stage of growth. We’re very lucky to have a great teacher who brings with him real-life experience in scaling businesses but is also ready to get his hands dirty with the rest of the team.