Matt Cooper Top 5 Pearls of Wisdom

For this month’s Top 5 Pearls of Wisdom, it was great to catch up with an ex-colleague who has taken great strides in his career.

I first worked with Matthew (Matt) back in 2008 where we both delivered various projects at Arrow Energy. Since then Matt has gone on to study for an MBA and has taken great leaps up the corporate ladder including recently landing the role of COO at (ASX-listed engineering services company) Verbrec.

Matt is a passionate energy & resource executive with a reputation for integrity and performance. His track record includes successfully developing and operating energy infrastructure projects and resource tenements with budget accountability up to $320M together with capital investment processes focussed on assets valued up to $20bn. His corporate experience has included client-side project and operations management roles together with general management and executive roles with mid-cap engineering, construction & consulting firms.

Matt’s unique blend of practicality, enthusiasm, technical aptitude and commercial acumen is collectively applied to deliver value to his clients and stakeholders alike.

Here are Matt’s Top 5:

  1. Get Yourself a Sponsor – Find someone senior to provide advice and support you. In fact, find 2… You never know when you will lose a supporter to the game of corporate survivor. I was looking forward to a long and distinguished career working for a blue-chip resources company and things were going swimmingly when my (executive-level) sponsor and mentor got ‘speared’ out of the blue. I got a new manager and things went downhill quickly. I subsequently swore that I would always have at least one contingent sponsor.
  2. Grow and Maintain your Network during the Good Times – Because you will likely have to draw on those relationships during the bad times. For a period of about 4 years, I was ridiculously busy working hard and successfully delivering some exciting projects on the client side. When the commodities crash (and subsequent redundancy) came, the only job offers I had was from the network that I had been neglecting. I told myself I would never again neglect my network.
  3. Establish your Core Values and Stick to them – Engage in some introspection, consider your cultural cues and think about how this equates to your core values. Write them down and stick to them. Not only will this provide a valuable touchstone in times of uncertainty, but this is also your brand and represents the most valuable thing you own: Your reputation!
  4. Pareto your time – Map where you spend your time and make sure it is spent with the 20% of people that will contribute to 80% of your performance. Years ago I spent time with a leadership coach who mapped out where I spent my time. It turned out I was spending way too much time helping underperformers improve and nowhere near enough time with my key stakeholders. It was difficult to shift my mindset, but once I did my career really took off.
  5. Book recommendation – One book that really changed the course of my career is Kouzes and Posner’s 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership. In a similar vein to Jim Collins, these authors have utilised the techniques of management science to analyse leadership behaviours and distil down effective leadership into 5 key behaviours. These behaviours have been proven to result in individual and corporate success.