🏏 What makes the Head of Customer Experience at Cricket Australia an Elite Operator?
Kieran McMillan on habits, heath, goal setting, books, weekly design and more
Hey, I’m Reuben and welcome to the VERY FIRST edition of SportsGrad Pro - the newsletter here to help Young Professionals in the sports industry level up and become the best they can be.
Meet Kieran McMillan (AKA Kmac), Head of Customer Experience at Cricket Australia. Kieran’s experience spans almost 20 years in cricket. 6 years with Auckland Cricket as a Game Development Manager, 6 years with the ICC as a Regional Development Manager in East Asia Pacific, and now almost another 6 years at Cricket Australia as Head of Clubs, Competitions & Diversity, Acting EGM of Community Cricket, and now Head of Customer Experience.
Kieran and I met working at CA together when I got introduced to the ‘lunchtime boxing’ crew. Kmac was the leader every Wednesday at 12 pm in the park outside the MCG. Later on, we were paired up in a Cricket Australia Mentor Program, it was here I got to know what a day in his life looks like and the thought behind every decision, and I loved it!
When I thought about who is an elite operator with incredible systems underpinning their success, Kmac was the first person who came to mind.
What's one thing you've done consistently for 5-10 years that's made a tangible impact on your career growth?
Get up early (5am) and exercise. It lays the foundation for a successful day, and you just keep stacking those up. Consistency. Discipline. It forms part of your identity, which is what really makes it stick – “I’m the type of guy who…. gets up early & goes for a run.”
What are 1-3 books that have greatly influenced your career? What lessons did you take from each?
Players – The Story of Sports & Money and the Visionaries who Fought to Create a Revolution (Matthew Futterman). So important to know where the industry has come from so you can understand your place in driving its future.
The Effective Executive (Peter Drucker). Time is your most valuable resource and you cannot get more of it! Know where it currently gets spent (do an audit), work out where it should be spent, and regularly check how effectively you’re spending it.
Any books by Chip & Dan Heath (Switch, Upstream). So many case studies and practical examples that you can apply in your own work when it comes to soft skills like change management, decision making, communication.
Explain your approach to personal and professional goal setting. What does this look like for you?
I know it has its critics, but I quite like the process of New Year resolutions. Mine are more like 4-5 themes that would contribute to a great year that cover me, my family, my friends, my work – although they are specific enough to drive action.
I then break them down into quarterly chunks. And then spend about two hours at the end of each month reflecting on the previous month – what went well, not so well, what do I need to concentrate on next month.
I also have an accountability buddy – we meet for breakfast on the first Tuesday of every month, exchange our monthly reflections and discuss over breakfast.
I would not have kept the discipline of these monthly reflections if not for these breakfasts. And the 12 x reflections documents are great to read back through at the end of the year as you re-set for another 12 months!
How do you design your week at work so that you can stay on top of long-term business goals, but also deal with the busy day-to-day?
Weekly architecture is a thing! Mondays & Fridays are at home to set up and close out the week, Tuesday – Thursday in the office with a lot more interactions with people, workshops, meetings.
In any week I also aim for 3 x 2-3 hour “Deep Work” time blocks (preferably in the morning), where the focus is on the big strategic priorities that you need a decent amount of time to get into flow with.
At the end of every day there is 45 minutes carved out (usually 415-5pm) to respond to emails, phone calls, messages; plus review each meeting from the day to ensure I’ve captured any action items that I’m responsible for in my To Do list.
Have you been deliberate with seeking promotions or do you go with the flow and see what comes? If yes, what actions have you taken to be promoted?
I’ve just tried to do the very best job I could with the responsibilities given to me. No ego, no posturing. Play the role that’s needed, do it exceptionally well, keep trying to get better. And the rest has taken care of itself.
What importance do you place on health, and what do you do to stay healthy despite being in a busy and important role?
My health is the most important thing. The key ingredients are sleep (7 hours a night), exercise (every day), water (2L a day).
Even when I’m busy, I would still prioritise getting out for a run – no one is able to shift that meeting from my diary!
And if I’ve had to work late and miss out on my 7-hours sleep, I know I can’t afford to do that for two nights in a row. So you’re regularly reviewing where you’re at to ensure you don’t slip into bad habits and get sick.
Are there any setbacks in your career that have later set you up for future success?
No huge setbacks at this point (touch wood). But two things come to mind. One was some feedback on certain language that I was using that was not inclusive, particularly for those that aren’t sports nuffies like me.
It is now front of mind whenever I communicate with my team – I want to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable to express themselves at work. The second was being late to react to a situation / project that was reaching crisis mode. Have good lead indicators and act quickly & decisively to address issues before they snowball.
If you could give your direct reports one piece of advice to reach the Senior Leadership team at Cricket Australia in the next 10 years, what would you say?
Be proactive and take the initiative – don’t wait for permission. Leaders need to love doing hard things, so seek it out rather than waiting for instructions or next steps.
And one more if I may – the best leaders are those that have got a really strong understanding of the big picture and how all the different pieces work together. So that they can be the ones that join the dots and remove siloes. Be curious about all the other business units around you that you may not be involved with every day.
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