You're listening to KBkast, the cyber security podcast for all executives, cutting through the jargon and hype to understand the landscape where risk and technology meet. Now, here's your host, Karisa Breen.
Joining me today is Helen Hamilton James, Managing Partner, Western Sydney, from Deloitte. And today, we're discussing what you and the team at Deloitte have been doing in regards to making Western Sydney a working hub. So, Helen, thank you so much for joining the show. It's lovely to have you on today.
Helen Hamilton-James (01:05)
Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
So, Helen, I really want to start with what you and your team at Deloitte have been doing. Now, we've had a few conversations in the lead up to our conversation today, but maybe if you could paint a high level picture around what you're doing to make Western Sydney more recognized as a strong working hub.
Helen Hamilton-James (01:25)
Deloitte has been based in Western Sydney for over 30 years. We are out of the big four professional services firms, we are the firm that has been there the longest and has stayed in the region. So we show a strong commitment to what's happening in Western Sydney. At the moment, we have about 350 staff in the region and we actually provide services to our clients more broadly than that as well. Many of our Sydney team also work for West Sydney clients. We actually are moving into a new office in a Parramatter Square. Actually, next week, we're in the middle of moving at the moment, which is quite exciting. Again, I'm not sure if you've been out to Parramatter recently or West Sydney more generally, but it's really changing. We're moving into one of the new buildings in Parramatter Square, which has been built to essentially cater for the growing, I suppose, economic hub that's in that region. Lots of new businesses moving out, the government department, the banks are all moving out. The big four firms are all there as well from a professional services perspective. From our perspective, we've always been in the region and we've always focused on it as being a place where we see us being close to our clients.
Helen Hamilton-James (02:44)
We see it as being an area where that's where the talent is. Many of our talented staff live in Weston, Sydney. Therefore, it makes sense for us to have an office there and to actually invest in that talent and those staff members. In our new office, we've just won a actual global design award for the Fit ad. So it's brand new. It's been designed to be really focused on hybrid working, and the spaces are set up so that people can work collaboratively. There's space for us to bring our clients into the office. There's space for us to bring community in, work in different ways. The technology in the office is cutting edge. It's the first office in the whole of the Deloitte Network in Australia that's got really state of the art technology to allow us to do hybrid meetings and to really interact really well. It's a strong focus for us. We know that's where talent is, we know that's where our clients is, we know that's where economic growth is. And so we see it as a strong hub for our teams to be based.
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. I understand what you're saying. I haven't been out there recently, but I know over the years it has been a growing hub as well. But I'm curious then to know, why do you think historically, especially Western Sydney, hasn't really been known for that? I know that we spoke about this offline, but I'm really keen to hear your thoughts because I think I want to try on this interview to maybe change the lens, perhaps, and how people view Western Sydney. Now, I'm not even from Sydney originally, so I don't have a horse in this race. But I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on that.
Helen Hamilton-James (04:21)
No, that's a great question. And I think it is interesting. I think historically, Parramatter was probably substandard from an office perspective. It was secondary office buildings. A lot of people live in Western Sydney, but historically, there's not been a lot of jobs in Western Sydney. So the whole of Sydney has been set up so that people live further West because that's where houses are more affordable, that's where land is more affordable. So the city has grown. It's also where the space. So that's where the city has grown. We've got lots and lots of residential spaces. And many of the migrants that come to Australia actually live out West. But the planning of the city was interesting. Most people then had to get in normally trains or cars and transport and actually then travel to where the jobs were, which historically has actually been mostly based around the central CPD. So there's been this real mismatch between where people live and where the jobs are historically. So when the city deal was put together and the vision around the three cities, which was the Central River City, which is around Parramatta, the new Western Parkland City, which is around the new airport which is being built out West, and then the Harbor City, the plan was, what we needed to do was actually create more opportunities for jobs and for businesses to be based out where people live.
Helen Hamilton-James (05:55)
So people don't need to get in cars or trains or buses and travel for an hour, an hour and a half, even two hours sometimes to get to their job. They can actually live and work close by where they live. So there's been a really strong strategic focus on creating jobs in the West, which has just taken a long time, actually. And I think as that vision has been realized, places like Parramatta have been at the fore of that. And there's been a lot of development. There's been a lot of thinking around, how do we actually do that? And to actually bring the big employers out, the government departments, the banks, etc, out into West Sydney, you need places that are world class, really. So there's been a lot of transformation from an infrastructure perspective around mostly Parramatter, but starting to also happen in places like Liverpool, Penrith, for example, as well. So the idea is that we're actually creating the jobs near where people live.
And that makes sense because, look, even when I was working for a company, what, six years ago, and I remember speaking to a lady there and she's like, I have to get up at 4 30 in the morning to get here because I live past the Blue Mountains. That was just crazy for me. That's like four hours commute a day. So obviously when COVID and all that happened, really reduced people's commute time. So it makes sense with what you're saying. And then I was in the CPD recently and it's quite dead compared to what it used to be. So do you think that over time now, we will see less people working in the city? We're not going to have it back to how it ever was before COVID, for example, which I think is a good thing because it was always just so hectically busy and you're shoulder to shoulder with someone on a train or whatever it is. But do you think that over time that maybe people migrate towards Western Sydney and then in the CPD will have a lower impact? Or do you think they'll be evenly weighted?
Helen Hamilton-James (07:57)
I think there will still be a lot of jobs in the Harbour City. So around the centre of Sydney, CPD, as we traditionally know it, definitely. But I do think there will be much more of a balance and people will be able to work in really, really exciting jobs, get really cutting edge careers in sectors such as health, space, defense, education, some really interesting IT, for example. It is a big one as well. Advanced manufacturing, get some really interesting career opportunities and work experience in the West. So they don't necessarily need to come into the city. I think there'll be much more of a balance.
Yeah, absolutely. I'm in alignment with that because people have probably said, and maybe you can speak about this a little bit more is perhaps people haven't taken a job because they're like, oh, it's based in the CDD. It's just too far for me to travel.
Helen Hamilton-James (08:56)
Yeah, I think that's right. I think there's two angles to that. I think many people traditionally, and to your point about changing the brand of Western City, I think traditionally, many people have said, No, I need to go into the city. I need to get on a train for an hour, an hour and a half, two hours, whatever the distance is, quite a long way. Because that's the only place where I'm going to have a fulfilling career where I can really advance. And that may have been the case traditionally and historically. It's no longer the case. So to your point about changing the brand, I think there's still a way to go around convincing some people that those opportunities do exist in Weston City. But now when you come into Parramattaer and you can see names up on the buildings, QB, Deloitte, Westpac, NAB, CBA are going to be there. And some of the major government departments are going to be there already there actually and more are moving. I think by then you can actually start to change the narrative around actually there are some really exciting things to do. As the area around the airport develops, there are plans there to build some really interesting ecosystems for sectors such as, as I said, advanced manufacturing, ag tech, space and defense.
Helen Hamilton-James (10:14)
Australia's got the opportunity to lead the world in space technology because some of the work that we do, some of the research that's been done, how exciting is that? That will be based at West and people will actually want to come out West to have jobs in sectors such as that?
Yeah, I think that's excellent. And I'm in alignment with what you're saying about changing the brand because as I mentioned, and I can understand and have empathy because going up in a smaller country town in Queensland, it's like, Oh, we can't really have that fulfilling career because it's not the opportunity there. And that definitely hasn't changed. It's still the same. But that's a big reason as to why I moved to Sydney to have a career in something that wasn't trade based or something like that. So for me, I was like, this is what I have to do. So I can definitely relate on that level. But you mentioned something as well, Helen, when we spoke, that women have been underrepresented. So why is that the case? Is that based again on the location, on the jobs, or talk me through that.
Helen Hamilton-James (11:19)
Yeah, that's a really good point. I think, well, I don't think it's statistically been proven in the census data that's out publicly. But I think there's a couple of reasons. One is that the distances to get to jobs that we've talked about already impacts women. Again, generalising, but generally impacts women more because they have generally got the bulk of the childcare and responsibilities. So if you have to take your child to childcare, then get on a train for an hour and a half, two hours, then come all the way back, pick up your child. It's very, very difficult to be working full time. You might be able to pick up some part time work. So I think definitely the travel aspect and the time to get to jobs historically. I think there's also some cultural issues. We've got many people that live in Weston, Sydney are from migrant backgrounds, so potentially don't have the networks, don't have the language skills or the experience or the skills to get some types of jobs. So I think there's definitely a need there and lots of discussions at the moment around how do we help support education to help people in those situations.
Helen Hamilton-James (12:35)
I think as well, there is the childcare. There's a bit of a childcare desert out West as well. So do we actually have the facilities for children to go into care, for mothers to go and work, or mothers or fathers, but mothers in this case. So I think there's a few reasons. But I think certainly that the census data that came out recently also shows that there are proportionately more women in Western Sydney than in the rest of the of Sydney who have unpaid care in the community obligations, which is an interesting stat. So obviously, if you're providing unpaid care, whether that's to an elderly or a family member, then obviously you've got less time to be working full time, too. And that's an issue with where people are living at the moment.
And so do you envision, Helen, that over time that will change? So maybe, I don't have a timeline on it, but if we were to do this conversation again in 12 months or 24 months, do you think it would be safe to say that there will be more women working in these types of roles due to the location and also the growing hub and everything that you're doing with Deloitte? Do you think that that narrative will change?
Helen Hamilton-James (13:46)
I certainly hope so. And I think so. I think it's all about giving women options. I think that's the important thing. I think having jobs in the region, if you're within 20 minutes or 30 minutes of a job, then it's going to be a lot easier for you to juggle your other responsibilities. I think also as well that the move to hybrid working is helping women. And that's not just a Western Sydney issue. But I think it does particularly impact on women in Western Sydney because of those travel times and travel issues that we've spoken about already. So I certainly hope so. Yes. And so how.
Do you then believe positioning Sydney as a working hub will then unlock more opportunities for females? Do you think that's going to give them, perhaps, like you said, the education piece? And do you think it's going to give them maybe the confidence then?
Helen Hamilton-James (14:37)
Yeah, I definitely think so. I think there's a couple of lenses to that. There's the aspect of education, and certainly there's a lot of work being done in Weston City at the moment around how do we help to educate? And it's not just women. Women and males around opportunity, actually training as well. There's a lot of work going into what's called micro credentialing. So it's taking the concept of you go through school and you either leave school or you go to university or you go to tape. It's actually thinking more about what skills do you need through your life for different jobs and for different jobs and for different sectors. And you might go to TAF for some practical work. You might go and do some work experience. You might then go and do a short form university course. So as we get more sophisticated around that model, it gives women in particular that opportunity to actually build confidence, gain skills, rather than going in and having to do a four year degree to do something or to go into childcare or something. Actually to be able to build their experience and their confidence to an extent, I suppose, and also their ability to change and morph as their life experiences and their needs change.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you're right, especially talking about the micro credentials. And I think that this is something in the cyber space that we are often talking about. And if you look at a traditional degree, for example, especially in IT, you got to do something for four years. And by the time you finish it, a lot of the skill set and the skills potentially could atrophy because things just move so quickly.
Helen Hamilton-James (16:19)
Absolutely. That's a really good segue. If I could maybe talk about that cyber aspect, I think that's a great example of the micro credentialing. Deloitte has actually just set up in conjunction with government, industry, and two of the universities, Wollongong and Swinborne University, Swinborne College, rather, to actually train cyber workers. So to your point around that, things change so quickly. This is a three year program where they actually do two days a week study and three days a week in a business. It actually gives them practical experience, keeps them up to date. And it's actually really interesting. There's a lot more cyber work is going to be needed. Every day there's a new cyber attack seemingly in the papers. So I think it's thinking through, how do we do things differently to give people the skills as sectors are changing so rapidly to allow them to stay current?
Absolutely. And I think that depends on who you ask in the space. So many people are saying, Oh, we don't have enough cyber talent. I think there was an article that came out this morning that people sent me with the burnout that's happening now with all of, like you said, all these cyber attacks, people leaving the industry, it's just not worth it for them. We're going to have a deficit of people. So maybe I'm interested, from your perspective, Helen, with the work that you're leading now, how this will help build potentially the cyber talent pipeline, not only just for Sydney, but for Australia, because, again, going back to it depends on who you ask, people are going to say different things. But I think this definitely is something that we need to continuously keep packing that top of funnel from an interest perspective around cybersecurity as a career?
Helen Hamilton-James (18:02)
Yeah, absolutely. Couldn't agree more. I think it's taking it away from being maybe somebody that sits at home in a room. It's actually communicating as well as the technical aspects of a career in cyber is really important. Thinking through all the stuff, if you're in a business and you're responsible for cyber security, for example, how do you communicate around the risks? How do you make sure that people understand what they need to do to reduce the risks of cyber attacks. It's not just the technical aspects of working in the cyber industry. It's actually an all encompassing career where you've got to think through strategy, you've got to think through communication, you've got to be able to influence. You've got to be able to monitor and keep people accountable as well as understand changing technologies, changing security lenses. So I think it's definitely a great career. I think and hopefully one that more and more women can become attracted to as well. I think traditionally, many of the cyber graduates going through, I don't think women are particularly well represented and we need to change that. So just.
Going back to the micro credentialing for a second. Do you think that this is going to be what people as employers are focused on now? Because, again, depends which degree that you study, you don't need a degree to work in marketing. Yes, it'd be maybe ideal, but you don't need that. Maybe for a doctor or a lawyer is a little bit different. But do you think that we'll see more of these micro credentials coming through now for the next generation versus a traditional university degree?
Helen Hamilton-James (19:42)
Yeah, I do. I think there's a little way to go with convincing... Not convincing, but making it easier for business to change the way that they think. Certainly larger organisations, they tend to have quite robust and structured recruitment processes, and it takes a bit of time for them to think through actually how do we change that to bring in people with diverse skills? But then everyone, the businesses understand that diversity is really, really important and you get a much better outcome if you have diverse skills coming in. So it's not around getting the best candidates from a business course, for example. It's around how do you bring different people into your business who have different skills, different experiences, whether that's at work or culturally or their life experiences. So over time, it's definitely going to make a difference. One of the things that many people are working on at the moment and it's going to be needed is how do you actually record somewhere what you've done? If you get a degree, you get a certificate at the end and you've got a degree. But if you build up experiences and micro credentialing, it's important that there's a platform somewhere that's reputable, that's safe, that people can actually look at, so employers could look at and go, I can see that John Smith over here has done these small courses, and he's also got this work experience and he's got this life experience.
Helen Hamilton-James (21:09)
It's how do you build up that picture of a person's skill so that it makes it easier for businesses to actually understand the skills that they need and then to bring those skills into their business.
Yeah, this is where it gets interesting. Big firms that I work for in the past, some of them are very focused on where did you go to university? And like I said, I didn't go to university. So back then when I was early 20s, trying to get a job on paper for me, I probably didn't look great at all. But it was different in person because I had that experience behind me. And I had already had maybe five, six, seven years experience by the time the person was straight out of university. So I think that it's interesting because you are right. And I don't know if larger organisations are focused on hiring for aptitude, but talent and capability because you'd have so many different resumes and CVs that you got to look through, how to filter through. Some of them use AI to basically just cull a whole bunch out. So do you think there needs to be a change in place to cater for not only the way in which we work today, whether it's hybrid working, not only to encourage more women who are potentially underrepresented that we've touched on earlier in this interview, but also as well how we actually get that diversity and grow the talent that perhaps have been overlooked in the past.
Helen Hamilton-James (22:31)
Absolutely. And businesses are having to think differently now because of the skill shortages. So we talked about skill shortages in cyber. It's interesting. I was talking to someone the other day and they're saying, can't get enough welders, for example, can't get enough childcare, can't get enough nurses, can't get enough auditors. There are skill shortages across many, many different sectors. And it's not just an Australian issue. It actually seems to be a global issue at the moment as well, interestingly enough. So businesses need to look differently and how they manage to do that, I think the ones that do that better will be more successful in recruiting and ultimately retaining that talent. If you're sophisticated around how you bring talent in, you'll be more sophisticated around how do you keep engage with that talent so you can actually develop their skills in different areas as they grow and work with you. So I think definitely there's a definite need at the moment for businesses to think differently. The other angle that we've touched on, we've touched on women in the untapped resources that we've got in the female population. But there's also a significant migrant population where many of those migrants have got significant work experience, life experience, skills and capabilities that are not necessarily recognized here.
Helen Hamilton-James (24:00)
We all know the stories about engineers that come over from different countries and they end up driving taxis, for example. And I think that's the challenge as well is how do we get businesses to start to understand those different skill sets and then be comfortable to recruit?
Yeah, I hear exactly what you're saying. I knew a friend a long time ago. She was a qualified vet in Germany, but she's like, I can't get the qualification here, so I have to do something else. My brother's in Japan, but she's like, I have to do another couple of years study to be a nurse here, so she just doesn't do it. So do you think that's why maybe there's this deficit of you can't find welders and nurses? Is it because of the... It's not recognised here in Australia, for example, or is it just because people are choosing other career paths?
Helen Hamilton-James (24:47)
That's a good question. I think it's definitely part of it. It's not the whole solution, but it's definitely one of the pieces. If we can unlock capacity and capability in the people that are already here, it's going to help us significantly to fill those gaps. So just going.
Back to some of the roles for a second. I'm curious to really hear your opinion on this. So there's obviously Gen Z, for example, some of them are very focused on, I want to be a TikTok influencer, and then as a result, why would I go to university and study nursing for four years. So do you think that maybe there's going to be more of that that we see more people wanting to become YouTubers? There's nothing wrong with that at all. Absolutely not. But is that going to potentially take away from people doing more traditional jobs like welding and nursing and things like that because of these new jobs that have been uncovered recently?
Helen Hamilton-James (25:34)
That's an interesting question. And the answer is possibly yes. And I'm not sure how long you can be a YouTube influencer for, whether there's a churn of those. I mean, obviously, some of people will be very successful at that. But definitely, the nature of work is changing significantly. So we know that our children today, or the school leavers today, the jobs that we know and that they know now in 10, 20 years will be completely different. There'll be completely different types of jobs that we've never heard of. I mean, if you think back when you and I left uni or were in our early years working, we wouldn't know what... Even a cyber expert, I'm not sure, would have been a thing when I left university. So it's just that the nature of work is changing all the time, which is why as person coming through school, uni, and building that career and experience, that breadth of capability experience, and I suppose the micro credentialing courses that they've done, it's really important to keep that core of clarity around the ability that you do have.
Yeah, absolutely. You're right. Even when I was in year 12, they're like, What do you want to do? And you're older. And I filled out this form and I was like, I don't like any of these careers. But then it was so much... It back then was like the IT guy that comes around to your computer when you're at school. And I was like, Gosh, I don't want to do that. But it's so much more to it than that. And I've had multiple parents call me and say, Can you please speak to my daughter or my son? Because they may be slightly interested in what you want to do, or can you open their mind up to other things? And I think that some of these career counselors may be a little bit per se in some of the jobs. That job doesn't even exist anymore. Or I haven't heard of someone doing that job for such a long time. I think there's this stereotype of what jobs are based on Hollywood and movies and what we think we know because we've seen this job around for so long. I guess security is, or even tech more broadly, is an immature field still in terms of the depth and breadth of the jobs that are available.
And it's not all technical and it's not all just coding in a basement that people seem to always think. So it's about changing that narrative, which, again, to your point, it does take a bit of time. And again, even if we fast forward a couple of years, things are going to be different. Again, there's going to be more jobs that pop up and jobs when, I don't know, our grandparents were younger don't exist anymore. So I guess that's just evolution of society. But I think that it's just a common theme that we're seeing here in cybersecurity that depends on who you ask. Yeah, I.
Helen Hamilton-James (28:21)
Think that's right. Deloitte did a piece of thought leadership a couple of years ago around the different types of work because you're right, there's a question around as we get more automated, what does that mean for jobs? Some people are frightened that as we get more automated, there'll be no jobs. And it's actually, that's definitely not the case. But the jobs are changing and they're becoming... Before we had computers, it was generally jobs of the hand. So if you think about it, manual labour, caring jobs, then we morphed into more jobs where it was jobs of the mind. So maybe more technical professional services. And whereas now what we're seeing is that we're actually moving to those more jobs of the heart, where people are going to be successful in jobs is where they've got those soft skills, the ability to flex, to do different things, but with the basic communication skills, resilience, all those type of soft skills that's going to allow them to be flexible and agile in whatever part of the world they live in or whatever sector they're in. They can move between sectors then as well more easily. So it's around thinking around less of I'm going to go and do a more degree.
Helen Hamilton-James (29:32)
I'm going to go and do a math degree. It's more around, well, what are the skills and what do I want to focus on more generally? I think it's a changing world, definitely.
So I just want to zoom out now and maybe ask yourself, Helen, maybe corporations are listening to this interview, what can they do to foster this initiative the way that Deloitte is doing for fostering the strong working hub in Western Sydney? Is there any advice or anything that people could take away from today's interview?
Helen Hamilton-James (30:03)
I think a couple of things. One of the things we've done in Western Sydney is really engage with the Western Sydney University. So I think connection to universities and also then through to the schools as well, I think is really important for business. I think it's all around how do you communicate to school kids and then to uni graduates, but you actually need to get them when they're at school. I think it actually explain what the jobs in your business are. At Deloitte, for example, we have a million and one different types of jobs within the organization, everything from designers through to actories, through to auditors, tax people, consultant, sector experts. So it's such a broad range. I think, as you said, the jobs are changing so much that we, as somebody going through school, particularly as you comment earlier about careers advisors, maybe not keeping up to speed as well. I think if businesses can really connect in to the kids, connect in to the uni students and bring them into their business, explain what they do, it translates, I think, between the two. And then it helps for the businesses to identify talent and identify those soft skills and maybe the skills that aren't on a piece of paper because you're interacting with people.
Helen Hamilton-James (31:30)
Then also for the school leavers and the graduates to actually go, Now I understand what Deloitte want, or whatever businesses, what they want, and I've got those skills. You build relationships and then eventually being employed is an easier path. I think it's get to know your local market. And then what about.
Looking forward? Do you have any hypothesis around what you're envisioning as we traverse into 2023 and beyond in terms of the growth and the talent within Western Sydney?
Helen Hamilton-James (32:04)
Well, it's only going to get better. Western Sydney is the fastest growing area in Australia, really. We've talked about the untapped potential. We've got a large indigenous population. We've got women, we've got migrant populations that I think as we've talked about, expect to tap more and more of. We know that there's more and more businesses moving into the region, so there'll be a whole range of jobs in all sectors, nursing, age care, tourism, retail, some of those more advanced sectors that I spoke about earlier. So I think it's only positive for Weston Sydney. We're getting some great transport links put in. So obviously, one of the challenges we've talked about a lot is the transport and the time it takes to get somewhere. So with the metro's coming into Parramatt, I assume we've got light rail coming, I think the airport will open up the region as well. So yeah, it's only positive.
And in terms of any closing comments or final thoughts, is there anything specific you'd like to leave our audience with today?
Helen Hamilton-James (33:08)
I think a couple of things around. If you're in the area and you've not been out to Parramatta or Western Sydney recently. I'd really highly recommend that you come out and have a look. It's an amazing place now. We've got the new powerhouse. Museum is going to be opening in about, I think it's two years time, which will be, which is actually the largest investment in a museum or an art precinct since the Opera House. Again, really focused on STEM. So there's some great things to see out there. There's history, there's modern, there's the park. So come and have a look would be my closing comment. Great place to work and a great place to live.
I think that's excellent because there's so many different comments flying around around where people live in Sydney, which I found really interesting when I moved here, actually. So I wanted to bring you on the show, demystify maybe some of the preconceived notions people have around areas in Sydney that people live. I think that also showing that this is what's happening, this is where it's moving towards. I didn't know about the Museum, so I think that's a positive note to leave our audience on. Helen, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for coming on the show and thanks for, again, having this broader discussion about Western Sydney and then tying that back to our cyber security skill shortage that we may or may not have, depending on who you ask. Thank you.
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