Business in a harmonious key: Colin MacLeod CA
Colin MacLeod CA, a respected ICAS member in Australia, has made a valuable connection between music and staff engagement for an innovative business.
One of the goals of staff engagement and workplace diversity programs is to ensure individual staff members come to work comfortable to be themselves and feel a real connection with each other.
It’s certainly not the case with all workplaces, but some are a lot closer to this goal than others.
Colin MacLeod, a CA now based in Australia and a member of the ICAS Melbourne Committee, believes he might have discovered a great secret to making people feel more in tune with their workplaces, and he has turned it into a business.
His company, Creativity For Growth And Business Pty Ltd, helps businesses utilise music to achieve their specific goals, and it all started with the experiences he has whilst travelling the world.
Adventures of a lifetime
After studying at the University of Edinburgh, Colin trained in the Edinburgh office of Grant Thornton, followed up with contracting jobs across the UK.
He completed an MBA with the Graduate Business School and then accepted an invitation from friends who were in Australia at the time.
“I just said, ‘Why not?’,” explained Colin. “I went over for about two months and had several lifetimes of experience - crossing the Snowy River in bare feet, cross-country skiing, going up to Fraser Island, the world’s biggest sand island, going scuba diving on the Barrier Reef etc.
During that time, music helped me to engage with the community and settle in.
"The warmth of the Australian people was amazing. Along the way I bought a violin, just to have it around. Its music created a real warmth amongst those I was travelling with.”
His return to the UK was followed by a six-month working stint in South Africa, and on this trip, he also bought a violin. The music he was able to play along the way, he said, offered him emotional balance and helped him bond with those around him.
A car crash several hours outside of Edinburgh, during his next stay at home, caused Colin to question his life’s purpose. The answer? To head back to Australia. He earned a working holiday visa and took off once again.
“I went up to Broome in Western Australia and met a guy who said he was looking for a fiddle player for a gig. He knew I played Scottish fiddle,” revealed Colin.
"He said I’d be playing in an Irish pub and that they’d put me up in the hotel for three weeks. Was I interested? Of course, I was! I’d never done anything like that before and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had."
Further travel and adventure followed until he found himself in an accounting job in Melbourne.
“During that time, music helped me to engage with the community and settle in,” he explained. “I returned home, applied for permanent residence and came back to Australia in 2004.
When people are productive, when everyone's working on the same page, they identify with the vision of the organisation.
"Once again, it was music that helped me to settle. It provided the emotional recharge; the energy required to make such a momentous move, from one side of the world to the other.”
This experience led Colin to realise the value and power of music, and what it might be able to offer the business world. If music can bring people together and provide an energy boost for individuals, isn’t that exactly what business managers are after?
Nurturing through notes
Colin works with each client business and customises a plan to create greater harmony and to leverage the skills of its individual staff members in a group setting.
“Music brings people together and helps to create a nurturing environment,” he said. “It helps people to be themselves wherever they are, and to get to know those around them.
“When people are comfortable to be themselves they're present and productive. There's improved teamwork as people work together in a more harmonious way. They see each other’s strengths.
"When people are productive, when everyone's working on the same page, they identify with the vision of the organisation. That impacts the bottom line in a very positive way.
“In the end, it’s not really about the how, it’s about the why,” concluded Colin. “Why does a business need or want change? Once I’ve been able to listen to the business’s needs, I then figure out the steps I can take to inspire people on their journey.”
About the author
Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.