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Major General Mick

Experienced Global Leader in Military Innovation & Preparing Organisations for the Future


Mick Ryan is a highly skilled leader and strategist with more than three decades of experience working senior roles in the Australian military and beyond.

Mick is most comfortable when leading or belonging to a diverse team of professionals, and he also has significant experience in developing and establishing new organisations. In particular, he enjoys nurturing the next generation of leaders - in any industry.

Current Work:

Mick’s work reaches a global audience, and he is a recognised expert in leadership, institutional strategy, technology, organisational adaptation and change management, institutional reform, and adaptation, as well as personnel development. A prolific writer and speaker, Mick’s expertise in thinking about and preparing for the future is sought after by institutions in Australia, the United States, India, Canada and the United Kingdom. He has experience working with elected representatives (in Australia and the U.S.). He has appeared in the media with organisations such as CNN International, NDTV (India) and ABC TV in Australia.

He has deep leadership expertise and has led groups of professionals that have ranged in size from a couple of dozen people to several thousand. Mick is a collegiate and empathetic leader, and he is valued for his strong work ethic and high levels of integrity. He has many years of experience in assembling diverse teams of people from military, public service, contractor, and academic backgrounds to achieve high level and enduring institutional outcomes.

Mick likes to challenge the status quo, to lead and nurture ‘responsible rebelliousness’. He also enjoys being an advocate for research activities, innovation, and leading change in a period of rapid transformation in the global economy and geopolitical environment.

He was the inaugural President of the Defence Entrepreneurs Forum, and has established different fora for innovation and collaboration, including The Cove (2016), The Forge (2018), and The Perry Group (2018).

Talking Points

The Russian Conquest of Ukraine: Strategic Insights for Australian Security and Business

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has fundamentally changed the global security outlook. It has reintroduced the spectre of large-scale conventional warfare in Europe and beyond but has also reinvigorated multinational security and economic relationships. It also heralds a change in global norms about the use of force. Both government and corporate leaders must be aware of the implications of this war as they develop and implement successful institutional strategies for the years ahead.

Audience: Senior leadership in private and public sector organisations

Key takeaways:
- The post-cold war era, and the mindset that accompanied it, is over. All organisations - private, government and societal - will need to evolve.
- Business and government must consider their institutional resilience (cyber, supply, personnel) and trusted supply chains more than ever.
- National security is now a higher priority focus (and funding need) for the Australian government, which will have implications (and opportunities) for its relationship with business and the wider community.

Leadership - Good Leaders are Failures: The role of acceptable failure in leadership.

Failure is an integral part of any institution’s operations, or the career of any leader. But it is a topic that many senior leaders - in Government, the military, and the corporate world - seem to avoid unless it is talking about the failure of others. However, every good leader has failed multiple times. This is not what makes them good leaders; it is their capacity to learn, adapt and grow out of their mistakes that defines great leaders, regardless of the sector they are in.

Audience: Senior and mid-level leadership in private and public sector organisations

Key takeaways:
- Senior leaders, across all sectors, must be more honest with their people about the role of failure in developing leaders and building successful organisations.
- Organisations need to define what is acceptable and unacceptable failures for their people and their institutions.
- Organisations must build and nurture a culture that understands and uses failure in innovation as well as in personal and organisational improvement.

Innovation: Building successful 21st century organisations

Contemporary leaders need to appreciate the interaction of humans and technology. These leaders require a minimum level of technological literacy-the ability to understand (and keep up to date in) the broad range of existing, evolving, and new technologies. At the same time, they need the cognitive capacity and mental agility to appreciate when external environmental demands are changing, to know and understand the capacity to adapt the organisations they lead. Organisational reform is no longer a “once in a career” event or even just an annual one. We all will exist in a milieu where change, decision-making, and institutional evolution will occur at a much more rapid pace.

Audience: Senior and mid-level leadership in private and public sector organisations

Key takeaways:
- Institutional leaders, in business and government, must lead change and nurture curiosity in their workforce to provide a foundation for innovation and transformation.
- These leaders must develop a working understanding of organizational theory, institutional cultures, adaptation theory, and change management methodologies to lead and continuously improve their organisations
- Current and future leaders must be capable of acting as facilitators for change and innovation. It is not a simple skill to master. Organizational culture and deeply ingrained personal and institutional habits can obstruct even the most creative and energetic innovators. We need to educate future leaders to embrace in this role of innovation supporter and nurturer.
- High performing organisations must have a design that blends institutional, educational, and technological elements to develop the kind of people required to thrive in the 21st century.
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