It’s been two years since Australia’s top business leaders last gathered in person for The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards – and the 10th iteration was bigger and better than ever.
For the first time in the awards’ history, two CEOs of the Year were celebrated for their inspiring attributes to the business industry at The Star Sydney. Hundreds erupted with elation when Andrew Hume, CEO of Probe Group, was crowned CEO of the Year – A$100m+ turnover for 2021.
For the seasoned executive, the pinnacle award came as a complete surprise, recognising his commitment to improving leadership, passion, innovation and growth.
"It’s a great testament to the hard work and dedication of our team, and my personal passion and dedication to providing strong leadership to deliver on our vision," Hume shares with The CEO Magazine. "It’s a wonderful recognition for what has been an extraordinary period of time for many – a lot of challenges for people on a personal level, a lot of challenges for companies.
"We’ve been recruiting thousands of people to support businesses through their COVID-19 management activity. And we’ve been supporting people offshore in a difficult environment where it’s hard to work and hard to escape the challenges of COVID-19.
"And while we’ve been doing that we’ve kept growing our business; we’ve been acquiring companies and gone through a change in ownership ourselves. It’s been a whirlwind couple of years."
The past two decades have seen Hume work his way through a number of leadership roles within the customer experience industry including at Aegis, Hollard Financial Services and Salesforce Australia.
But it’s in his powerful leadership at Probe – an outsourcing services business – where he has truly shone.
After working at DDB early in his career, Hume became inspired by DDB Chairman Emeritus Keith Reinhard. He continues to carry these earliest lessons through to his CEO role, ultimately bringing the vision of customer management business process outsourcing to life.
"I have taken the power of creativity and injected it into every business I’ve run since," he says. "Our business is run on the principles prescribed in our Book of Ideas, which is a story about how through a high engagement culture we deliver on our promise of Doing it Better."
Hume ensures passion runs through every aspect of Probe culture, right from the moment visitors walk through the doors.
"When visitors arrive at any Probe site, they enter into a cultural immersion experience," he explains. "Every section of every wall is a colourful, creatively illustrated mural story introducing the visitor to Probe’s passion culture.
"The wall has been designed to embrace and engage. When we greet our guests we ‘walk the wall’ together, which involves us explaining the story. Guests then receive a memento of their visit."
Passion is the not-so-secret ingredient to Probe’s success, where Hume believes it inspires creativity, energy, enthusiasm – all qualities he carries with him in his role as board member of Auscontact Association.
"Passionate people deliver exceptional performance, contribute ideas and challenge the status quo," he says.
This exceptional performance has seen Probe grow over five years from around 300 employees in two locations to now 18,000 people across five countries and more than A$630 million in revenues.
Having built a scalable global delivery platform, the determined executive believes a 10-figure goal can be achieved through effective leadership.
"I believe strong leadership is essential to enabling us to deliver on our vision," Hume says. "Leadership to me is about being the acknowledged leader of a team, a collection of individuals, and simultaneously being a member of the team. It’s about urging freedom and yet channeling freedom; being there at the start and at the finish; showing not telling; and doing as much heavy lifting, perhaps more than you ask of your teams. It’s also being last in the cafeteria line, last to enter the elevator, last through a door – but first in engaging; and it’s about being a steadying influence and a passionate celebrator."
While the hands-on CEO has a company video outlining his ‘Eight Bees of Being a Leader’, he also believes accolades like The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards are crucial to motivating employees, fundamentally leading to business success.
"It is important to celebrate high achievements in all walks of life," Hume says. "Recognition is a motivational force – it provides people permission to try to reach higher achievements.
"Recognition inspires others, and inspiring others creates a pathway to opening connections between people to help and share best practice."
Hume follows in the footsteps of Louise Adams, Aurecon Chief Executive of Australia and New Zealand, who was named 2020 CEO of the Year during The CEO Magazine’s first virtual ceremony.
2021 CEO of the Year – A$100m+ turnover – Runner-Up went to Antony Karp, CEO of Prezzee.