New Year’s directions, trends and reflections on 2019 at BI.

Peter Dunn - Preparing To Lead In A Crisis book cover

Peter’s book – click the link to buy a copy

Here’s to a happy, safe and healthy Lunar new year in 2020.  Last year was a huge year for us, and for many of our clients.  It was also a tough end to the year for many people with the implications of climate change making themselves so apparent.  We would like to extend our gratitude to the many volunteers and emergency service workers who continue to do an extraordinary job.  At BI we’re also sending our thoughts and best wishes to our Associate Peter Dunn who lives in Lake Conjola and is now coordinating the area’s recovery post fires. We continue to recommend Peter’s book ‘Preparing to to lead in a crisis’. Peter is a member of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, and a part of the Beasley team.

We are grateful for the opportunity to work with so many incredible people.  In the last year, we have seen a continuation of many themes we saw emerging in 2018, both in the world of our clients, and in our own business.

Some of the team catching up in Sydney recently (L to R: Karen G, Rachel R, Matilda E, Ramona S & Tamerlaine)

Our clients are continuing their digital transformation, as are we.  In 2019 we moved our business HQ into a building with 2500 others working on digital scale up/start up –‘ Fishburners’ at the Sydney Start Up Hub.  Fishburners is an incubator which gives us unique access to expertise, a community of incredible others working on similar challenges, and a fabulous hub for our business.  Click here to see the music video put out by Fishburners for the holiday season (my little cameo in the lift scene!). An expanded, secure online ‘homebase’ for Beasley Intercultural and our clients is critical.  We’re in the building phase so watch this space!

At the Australian High Commission in Dhaka.

Digital transformation is also changing the way we deliver our services for our clients.  In  our facilitation of large events, we are now maximising inclusion and ‘making thinking visible’ through using live data gathering, aggregation and sharing.  It’s a bit of a mind shift to ask people to get out their phones, but it is incredible to aggregate and live feed the thoughts of hundreds of people on a topic and have the opportunity to facilitate dialogue and ‘conversations that matter’.  In 2019 we applied our efforts to facilitating highly inclusive and responsive dialogue on issues for leadership development, strategy and planning sessions.  We facilitated discussions to Deputy Secretary level on climate risk and adaptation, supported national strategic planning for large industry bodies and MC’d international events and forums focusing on regional and international collaboration.   We also worked with global teams in country in locations as diverse as Bangladesh, Vietnam, Fiji and the Philippines. Maximising inclusion, facilitating participation, and enabling people with diverse views and perspectives to effectively work together on shared problems is a critical area of need, and one we are committed to continuing to deliver on.

Our online and blended programs continue, in key areas of : inclusive leadership, global mobility, cultural capability, and resilience through change.  We are delivering an increasing number of small group programs for cohorts of participants in different countries as well as 1:1 Coaching/Advisory for senior global leaders around the world.  As geography no longer bounds us, we are able to match the best and most appropriate consultant with our clients and work with them throughout their global mobility – either relocating home base, or simply working in a role requiring travel or unusual hours.

Our learning and development expertise continues to be focused on getting the most practical outcomes.  We were delighted to welcome Dr Karen Gonsalkorale to the team in 2019. Karen brings deep expertise in behavioural insights, adding another dimension to maximising the impact of our work.

Global mobility support continues to be a significant focus.  Geoff, Ramona, Matilda, Liz and Camilla have all been busy working with both inbound and outbound participants.  Our longest programs are a week of intensive training preparation, or 8 month coaching and support for high profile priority postings, our shortest program comprises of online resources complimented with a one hour zoom session with a coach. It’s satisfying to see so many clients recognising how important this important area is for ensuring the effective adjustment, performance, and resilience of their staff and their families. Resilience through change was one of our popular programs, and one Ramona has been busy delivering through much of 2019.  We anticipate this need will only grow. Through preparing leaders and teams, it is possible to develop strategies to support people work together through change.

The importance of Inclusive Leadership is increasing as complexity and change defines so many workplacs.  Karen has been developing and delivering ‘Inclusive Leadership through Change’ to the top 200 leaders of the NSW Department of Justice (now Communities and Justice) with incredible results.  She has also been providing support to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and other corporate clients on this important topic.  Matilda has been delivering extensive ‘Addressing Unconscious Bias’ programs. Institutions across Australia are working

Graduation of the 2018-2019 VC’s Sponsorship program at the University of Sydney.

to tap into and better leverage the talent within, and ensure leadership ranks better reflect the communities they serve.  Tamerlaine has been delivering the one year in duration Vice Chancellors’ sponsorship program at the University of Sydney for a second year, working with incredibly talented future women leaders from diverse cultural backgrounds. The inaugural Asian Australian Leadership Forum was a great initiative in 2019, convened by PWC and Asialink and Tamerlaine also attended the Crawford Leaderhsip forum at the ANU.

In 2019 I also was active on the Board of the Australia ASEAN Council for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, actively Chaired by Christine Holgate.  Flagship programs we funded included the Australia-SEAsia Muslim

Australian ASEAN Board hosting Muslim Exchange program participants in Sydney

exchange program, the BRIDGE school partnerships and Australia Vietnam Young Leaders Dialogue.  Our Board also visited WA where we engaged in the Perth US Asia Centre SEAsia dialogue where I spoke on people to people linkages across the region.

The capacity of our leaders and organisations to adapt to a changing context, and harness the creativity and capacity of global communities will have critical implications for our future. We need to work together across difference, to apply evidence-based thinking, and innovate at a scale we have never done before.  There has never been a more important time to build resilient, culturally-capable, inclusive and effective institutions and businesses.   This is not only necessary when working internationally, but also at home.

We look forward to keeping in touch with our extraordinary global network of friends, colleagues and clients. In 2020, we hope the lunar new year is one of peace, good health and prosperity for you and your community.

Happy Lunar New Year – 2019: Year of the Pig

Happy Lunar New Year

It’s celebration time – Happy Lunar New Year! Tuesday 5 February will be start of the Year of the Earth Pig, the last of the twelve-year zodiac cycle. People born in1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, and 2007 will experience their Zodiac Year of Birth (Ben Ming Nian).  ‘Pigs’ are known to be genial and accommodating.

What is Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is one of the world’s most vibrant and colourful events, with celebrations taking place all across the globe.  It is also called ‘the Spring Festival’, or ‘Chinese New Year’.  Depending on where you are, the festivities typically last from 7-15 days, officially kicking off on 5 February, and in the case of Chinese New Year, ending with the Lantern Festival on 19 February.

Dictated by the cycle of the moon, the date of the Lunar New Year changes every year.  Celebrations can last up to 15 days and traditionally centre around friends and family, decorating houses, exchanging gifts, with loud firecrackers, drums, bells and gongs to ward off evil spirits and ring in the new year.

Is this relevant to me?

As this is the biggest holiday of the year in Asia, most companies will be closed and their employees away with families, often in other cities.  Please note this means that it will be difficult to schedule events and meetings or get any major decisions made around this time of year.

Travel implications

The Lunar New Year is the largest annual human migration on the planet when hundreds of millions of people will be cramming onto planes, trains, buses, boats and cars to go home or away for the holiday! Nearly 3 billion trips are expected to be made between during this period in China alone.

The Year of the Earth Pig – what to expect in the year ahead

The year of the pig is a perfect time to carry out an in-depth review of past years and build the energy reserves that are needed before the new cycle that starts in 2020 – the coming year of the Metal Rat.

Happy Lunar New Year to all our partners and clients from Beasley Intercultural.

Beasley Intercultural provides strategic advisory services and cross cultural education programs to global businesses in highly complex and rapidly changing environments.

Holiday Listening and Reading Guide

At Beasley Intercultural we’re looking forward to relaxing over the holidays and the luxury of uninterrupted time for reading, listening and thinking. Below the Beasley Intercultural team share the accompaniments for the upcoming road trips, beach and river time, or for just sitting on the couch enjoying some wine. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!


Saturday Extra ‘A Foreign Affair’ Geraldine Doogue – ABC Radio

Geraldine Doogue’s dulcet tones are always a pleasure, and her weekly program/podcast has an extraordinary breadth of presenters. Tamerlaine featured on ‘A foreign affair’ in August 2018 discussing ‘culture, collaboration and the region’.

The People & Culture Podcast with James Judge

This podcast is a series of in-depth discussions with practitioners and leading experts on the shape of the future workforce. During each discussion emerging trends are discussed, including their impact on how Australian’s work.

This podcast is in association with the Mandarin, which is always a great place to catch up on a range of topical issues relevant to all those working with, or for, the public sector in Australia.

Tamerlaine features in episode five ‘Navigating cross cultural communication.’

Still Jill

This ABC Series features Beasley Intercultural Consultant Matilda Emberson’s beloved sister Jill and the personal account of her battle with ovarian cancer.

Being a professional broadcaster Jill tells her story very poignantly, the highs, as well as the lows.  There are gendered aspects to ovarian cancer – as a rare, underfunded and lethal cancer – the symptoms of which women and their medical advisers don’t always have the language or comfort in discussing – more often than not until it is too late.

Hillbilly Ellegy, JD Vance on Audible

Although this maybe should be under the ‘reading’ category, as it’s also a great book, the audible version of this book is superb. There’s nothing better than listening to an autobiography narrated by the author.

Hillbilly Elegy is all about culture and context, and is best experienced when the names and accents are local, and just as they should be. This ‘book’ is strongly recommended for anyone who wants to understand more about Trump’s America, the risks of binary us/them thinking, and the importance of empathy in a polarising world. It’s a great story, a personal tale and one which Tamerlaine loved so much she was walking to work so she could finish listening to it.

Slow Burn

Season 1 of this American podcast dives deep into the President Nixon Watergate affair. Each of the major figures in the scandal are introduced and the presenter is excellent at helping the listener create a mental map of interconnecting people and events. Lesley, who works in Beasley Intercultural head office commented “For someone who wasn’t born, and only had casual knowledge of the events of Watergate, Season 1 required ‘binge listening’!”

Season 2 demonstrates how a United States Special Counsel investigation can begin down one path, but end up exposing many others! This season takes a very close look at the Bill Clinton Whitewater investigation. It provides fantastic history, which you could speculate still has ramifications for the political dynamics in the United States today.

Adding to the intrigue while listening to these podcasts is the looming shadow of the current Special Counsel Mueller investigations. How will history recount this time we are currently living in?

And if you like this genre, Beasley Intercultural Consultant Julie Webb loved a related podcast:
Russia if You’re Listening by the ABC.

Witness – BBC World Service

Never be without a good podcast in your life again. An abundance of high quality programs on everything and anything that appeals to just about everyone! Beasley Intercultural Consultant Elizabeth Morris loves these podcasts and they have accompanied her on her many travels to Bogota, Jakarta and New Delhi this year.

Chat 10 Looks 3

What a phenomenon this podcast has become. Chat 10 looks 3 has now spawned an entire global community of tens of thousands, an ongoing series of sell out events, and a range of merchandise. Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales have really hit a sweet spot with their focus on creating a ‘community of kindness’ where they ‘chat’ about movies, books, work, life and family. Elizabeth said this podcast got her through a long road trip this year. Tamerlaine also likes to listening to it on a plane as it’s a sound of home, and a source of great books and movies.

Fierce Girls

This is a great series for the holidays, particularly listening with daughters, nieces, and for that matter, sons and nephews! Each short episode gives a history of a remarkable Australian women who have made a difference. This podcast uses sound to bring each story to life. It’s a great collection of bite sized pieces of Australian history.

Julie says “I have learned a lot about people I had heard of, but didn’t know lot about beyond the headlines.”

Pretty for an Aboriginal

Julie says “Actor Miranda Tapsell and comedian actor Nakkiah Lui talk about life, love and work as an aboriginal woman in Australia (my words – theirs would be way funnier).”. It’s described online as “Nakkiah and Miranda have conversations Australia is uncomfortable having—about sex, relationships, dating, power, and, most difficult of all, race.” This podcast is a great snapshot of modern Australia.

The Art of Inclusion

The series is described as: “A look into the lives of fascinating people, whose stories shed light on the wider social issues facing Australia, and the world. We flip the script on who we include, who we don’t, and how we can do better in everything from gender, race, mental health and disability, through to the inclusion of LGBTQI+ and Indigenous communities.”

Over six episodes, you hear the stories of politicians, journalists, athletes and executives with advice on how to master The Art of Inclusion. Beasley Intercultural really loved this 6 part series from the Diversity Council of Australia and wishes they would make more!


Preparing to Lead in a Crisis, Peter Dunn

A book written and published by a member of the Beasley Intercultural team just has to be top of the list for us! Peter has had an extraordinary career, as a Major General in the Australian Army, working around the region and the world.

Peter has worked in many crisis situations, and conducted reviews of leadership and organisational responses, including in the ACT bushfires. In recent years he’s focused much of his efforts working with indigenous communities in his work as Chair of Malpa. He’s also been leading educational reform programs in Saudi Arabia. In this book, Peter explores critical elements of success: challenging unconscious biases, thinking strategically and leading inclusively.

Click here to buy a copy.

The Mekong Review

An amazing publication produced in Marrickville in Sydney’s Inner West and punching above it’s weight in global distribution and readership. The Mekong Review is a literary magazine from Southeast Asia. Every quarter, it publishes book reviews, essays, interviews, profiles, poetry and fiction from the region and beyond.

Put together by Minh Bui-Jones who was born in Vietnam and came to Australia in 1978 as a refugee. Bui-Jones began his media career in TV as a researcher and producer for SBS. He worked as a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald, then later founded or co-founded four magazines focusing on Asian current affairs, including The Diplomat in 2001. Why not subscribe, or buy someone you love a subscription for Christmas?!


The Founder and Editor Tyler Brule is quite a personality, and one of the few people who, in this day and age, manages to deliver a hard copy magazine with interviews, great articles and a network of writers around the world. It’s sometimes a little ridiculous on the design front– ‘the best fit out for your personal jet’, but we particularly love the international relations, community and small business focus, and profiles of fascinating people who make a difference.

Asia Society: Disruptive Asia Series

This series is edited by Greg Earle who is on the Board of the Australia ASEAN Council with Tamerlaine. It is a great collection of writing on contemporary ASEAN.

Volume one comprises ‘twenty essays from the leading and emerging Asia watchers on Australia’s foreign policy in the region, business connectivity, community links, shared regional challenges, Asia competencies and cultural diversity’.

Volume two focuses on the ASEAN region and Australia’s relations with its South-East Asian neighbours. The ASEAN edition focuses on the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit held in Sydney – the first time Australia has hosted the forum on its shores, and one of the largest gatherings of Asia’s leaders in Australia’s diplomatic history. Each article is a quick read and a good introduction into many of our friends and colleagues in the region.

Griffith Review 61:  Who We Are

Edition 61 focuses on the issue of multiculturalism in Australia, the opportunities offered, complexities involved, and how it has shaped our identity as Australians.

Beasley Intercultural Consultant Ramona Singh says “As the daughter of Dutch and Indian parents, people’s experiences and perspectives of multiculturalism have always fascinated me.  At Beasley Intercultural, we are always asking our clients to identify what it means to be Australian.  This is a great book to add to the conversation.”

The Griffith Review is a quarterly publication featuring essays, reportage, memoir, fiction, poetry and artwork from established and emerging writers and artists. Each edition focuses on a contemporary theme, enabling pertinent issues to be aired and discussed in a public forum.

Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe

One of Peter Dunn’s recommendations, this book shines a light on the misrepresentation of many elements of Australian indigenous history – particularly the realities of settlement and agricultural management of the land. The book provides fascinating evidence and insights into the way Australia was actively farmed, managed and lived in by Australia’s first nation peoples. It is critically important to not only record these stories and living memories, but also to understand them and the implications for our nation’s story into the future.

New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms

This was read and enjoyed by a few members of the Beasley Intercultural team. Elizabeth, Geoff Health and Tamerlaine all agreed it’s essential for understanding the way power is being exercised in a rapidly changing world.

New York Times columnist David Brooks calls “the best window I’ve seen into this new world.” Jeremy Heimans was co-founder of ‘GetUp!’ so it also has an interesting Australian angle.

Hit Refresh, Satya Nadella

Tamerlaine has spent a lot of this year deepening her understanding of how digital transformation is shaping dynamics in the region and the importance of leading change within our global clients. This book is written by the CEO of Microsoft and explains his personal journey of change in the past four years transforming the business through engaging with diversity, embracing agile and design thinking and radically transforming the approach of the business.

Nadella has made some missteps along the way, and as all leaders, is not perfect – he learned a valuable lesson on the power of social media when he suggested the gender pay gap would simply be resolved if women waited to be recognised! That said, his humility, willingness to own his learning and his explicit focus on growth mindset and inclusive leadership is interesting to learn more about.

Not Just Lucky, Jamila Rizvi

Ramona has been leading our gender training team this year and thinking a lot about related in issues. Ramona says “In these days when many men are feeling blamed for women’s woes, Jamila Rizvi shifts the focus from men to women in explaining why women are promoted less, listened to less and earn less in the Australian workplace.”

As women, when we do achieve success, we often attribute it to luck rather than acknowledging our own hard work and sacrifice to achieve our goal.  Ramona enjoyed the humour, personal anecdotes and solid research of this book.  If you’ve ever uttered or shuddered at the words “women are their own worst enemy”, you might enjoy it too.

Border, Kapka Kassabova

Ramona loved Kassabova’s book and said the complex history, politics and mythology of this particular border captured her imagination. The concept of borders and the people who cross them is always controversial.  Kapka Kassabova emigrated with her parents from Bulgaria to New Zealand at the age of 25.  Two decades later she returns to explore and understand the border that Bulgaria shares with Turkey and Greece.  When she was a child the border was designed to keep Bulgarians in, preventing them from escaping a totalitarian regime.  Today the border is designed to keep Middle Eastern refugees out.

Kassabova’s account is of personal experiences of villages and people that have been ruled by Ottomans and Communists, have survived as spies, smugglers and border guards and have observed Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

A Moonless, Starless Sky, Alexis Okeowo

Ramona loved these stories of resistance and survival, endurance and resilience, from a perspective of empathy and curiosity.  There are 4 stories in this book including a Ugandan schoolgirl who is kidnapped by an army, given to a young soldier as his bush wife, then builds a life and family with him.

The author, Okeowo, was raised in Alabama by Nigerian parents, spent time in Uganda as a newspaper intern and then in Nigeria as a reporter. Feeling neither wholly American nor African, an outsider in both places, enabled her to write with a unique perspective on the lives of “ordinary women and men fighting extremism in Africa”.

A few classics: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones

Matilda says she’s a recent convert to re-reading much loved books. She has enjoyed reading again Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (the latter so much more vivid after visiting Kerala).

Next on her list is one of her favourite books Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones – set on Bougainville, PNG during the crisis – the book illustrates the transformative power of great literature. With no resources other than a copy of Dickens’ Great Expectations, the stand in teacher reads aloud to the children, including main character, Matilda who subsequently goes on to study English literature in Australia. The descriptions are incredibly evocative and Jones doesn’t pull any punches about the misdemeanours of PNG soldiers trying to round up rebels.

Go to Top