One of Australia’s best and brightest media minds, Kim Williams, admits his career has had plenty of downs and, he says, he’s the better man (boss and leader) for it.
The former CEO of Foxtel and News Corp revealed to B&T in a recent wide-ranging interview that “anyone who’s had a career that’s worth anything has had some really bad stuff-ups”.
Williams said: “One of the most important things that seriously thoughtful people recognise is that experience is a catalogue of failure, it’s not a catalogue of success.
“That’s because people rarely interrogate success, but they always interrogate failure; so anyone who’s had a rich career with lots of opportunity and lots of empowerment and lots of ability to do things will have a whole list of things that have gone from moderately poorly to catastrophically bad.”
And was Williams’ short and (reportedly) troubled tenure at the helm of News one of those “bad” experiences?
“Am I going to share all of those experiences with you? Of course not, but I am aware of them. And have I interrogated them and spent a lot of time thinking about them? Absolutely.
“And did they make me a stronger and better and more capable manager and leader? Of course they did. Hopefully… well I think they did because I think reflection on those sorts of things does make you stronger if you really confront the nature of the things that contributed to the nature of your failure.”
However, Williams said it’s important to remember that failure’s not always the fault of any one person. Instead, he says, failing can be “simply (a case of) bad timing and bad luck, and others it’s entirely you’re own work”.
Williams, who stood down as News CEO in 2013 is now a commissioner for the AFL. So, have there been any lessons learned as he transitioned from media to sport?
“It’s a very great honour to be one of the people who are custodians for the administration and general course setting for the game and that’s something where you have a really custodianship responsibility to contribute to the health and prosperity of the game and to leave the game stronger than it was before,” he said.
“I think the thing that’s significant about the AFL is it’s a wonderful leader in Australia for many things. For the good values of team, the good values of celebrating excellence, the good values of celebrating indigenous Australia and the good news of celebrating and promoting women’s issues and a destination for women to become full participants in the game. There are many things that recommend AFL to be one of the great products of our nation and one of the great binding agents of our nation,” he declared.