ANZ chairman Paul O’Sullivan reveals the best business advice given to him

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What do you do when you’re not chairman of ANZ and Optus?

I’m very focused on staying in shape. I swim a lot. I try to swim a mile two or three times a week. I swim in ocean pools or local pools.

And believe it or not, although I’m in my 60s, I still play competitive water polo. I was a founding member of a club 20 years ago. It’s an LGBTIQ club called the Sydney Stingers. I always swim with them. They are very tolerant. I’m the second oldest guy in the club. It has over 150 members and a very good mix of women and men. It’s a very participatory and collaborative way to mix with other people.

I like to swim outside.

Are you tempted to work in the private sector, where the compliance burden is less?

Professionally, I’ve always wanted to work where the level of challenge is at its greatest. For me, running a public company involves more effort and more work. But it is also a very dynamic entity that allows the public to participate, to do well and to share. It is accountable and transparent. It’s a much more interesting entity to work with.

Does being gay help you as a leader?

many of us [LGBTIQ executives in corporate life] know what it’s like to be told you’re not in the club, or can’t be in the club. So I think it gives us a much better empathy and a better understanding of the importance of not pretending to talk about diversity, but doing something about it.

I think many of us do this in our personal lives as well as in our professional lives.

I think it makes us much more aware of the challenges women, for example, face in getting into the boardroom or in leadership positions, and the importance of not tolerating anyone who wants to stereotype others.

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