LUCKY 13 WITH ANNEMARIE ROLLS, CEO OF THE GENERAL SIR JOHN MONASH FOUNDATION
What is your business?
I am the CEO of the General Sir John Monash Foundation which is a NFP organisation that raises funds to award scholarships to our best and brightest for postgraduate study overseas, nurturing their capabilities to be the leaders who will shape Australia’s future.
What would your old school teachers say about you?
That I was very curious and asked an enormous number of questions – and very talkative.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
You can’t be your business and grow your business. It was a long time ago when I worked for myself as a communications consultant and my accountant pointed out that I was at that tipping point where I had to take the plunge to hire people to get the work done so I could grow the business.
What has surprised you most about running your business?
How energising and inspiring it is when you have a high functioning cohesive team of capable and committed people, an active and supportive board, and a fulfilling purpose.
If you could go back 10 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Do that boring tech training so you can own the useful bits. I still get irritated by my clumsiness with useful programs.
What distinguishes your business from its competitors?
We pride ourselves on our diversity – we offer scholarships to talented Australians of any age to study in any country at the university of their choice (post graduate degrees). We also put a lot of energy into growing our Alumni community and offer our Scholars a lot of support as they become part of a very special community of scholars and supporters who share the same values.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope I will be celebrating with our Scholar community and Board the growth and sustainability of the Foundation which will be a household name and be having an increasing and broad impact on Australia and globally for a better world.
Why do you do what you do?
Because if I can’t be the person who is solving the wicked problems of our world with great ideas, creativity, inventions, innovations and research, I can at least facilitate brilliant people to be able to do so. It inspires me to get to work every day.
What’s one piece of writing, speech or advice that you’ve consumed that has had the biggest impact on you? (book, show, TED talk, podcast, etc)
Shakespeare’s Henry V, Macbeth and To Kill a Mockingbird. Plus the John Monash Scholars Podcasts which remind me why I love my job. Sorry, it’s impossible to choose one.
If you could be mentored by anyone, who would you choose and why?
I have been fortunate to have a number of great mentors in my life (even if they didn’t realise they were) so honestly I couldn’t name a single person.
Name a situation where you failed and what you learned from it?
I don’t really consider any action a failure but always a learning experience – and there have been many of those. I did once fail a maths exam and learned that I didn’t love maths enough or see its relevance in my life to do anything but avoid it as much as possible. It was in primary school and what I learnt was I should have found a way to embrace the challenge because whatever you do in life numbers will be part of it.
If someone was to portray you in a show/ movie about your life, who would you want it to be, and what genre would you choose?
Helen Mirren in an adventure movie.
What do you like to do to relax and unwind?
Swim in a warm sea if I can get to one, read, throw clay on my pottery wheel, share good food and wine with family and friends, be still and listen to the birds.