Home' Be : Be Issue 23 Contents Q How have you been involved with CQUni until now?
A I first came to Gladstone in 1980 to work at the Gladstone
Power Station. I had been with the Queensland Electricity
Generating Board (as it was then) for about a year, and it was
my first assignment out of head office as part of the graduate
rotation scheme. I do not recall exactly how it happened, but
sometime during my stint at the power station I started tutoring
Engineering students from the CIAE (now CQUni).
Several years later I was asked by my then boss Bruce Hiskens
(who as you know was linked to the University) if I would chair a
group to establish the postgraduate maintenance engineering
courses to be based out of the Gladstone Campus. We had a
group of Asset Management and Maintenance managers from
the industry in the region who were highly motivated to get this
up and going. That was over 20 years ago now. I was involved in
the review of these courses in 2004, and again in 2013. During
this period I was also involved in the various Gladstone Campus
development and engagement committees.
In the middle of 2014 I was invited to join the Council of the University,
and attended my first council meeting in June of that year.
Q What do you think CQUni’s role in education is
A Australia is in the midst of a huge transformation. In a world
that is continuing to adapt to globalisation, and an Australian
society and economy which is struggling to find its place in this
new way – all universities can and must play a hugely important
role in the transformation. Whilst they can help society
adapt to the change, I believe that they have a role to lead the
change. Many of the careers of the future we will be training
people for do not exist today! So the role of CQUni is not only to
serve the current needs of the students and our communities,
but to help us to be in the front of it. CQUni has its roots in
regional Australia and whilst the world is becoming increasingly
urbanised, that does not have to mean ever yone and ever ything
is moving to the capital cities. CQUni has a role to play to ensure
that there is a huge value proposition for all governments in
investing in regional Australia, and that means in education in
Q How did you feel when you were asked to take on the
position of Chancellor?
A In a word – honoured! It is an enormous privilege to be the third
Chancellor of this great university. The former Chancellor Rennie
Fritschy has done an outstanding job as CQUni has achieved its
current position of strength. I am totally committed to achieving
the University’s strategic vision of Strong to Great.
Q What does CQUni’s future look like to you?
A Provided we do all that we do with excellence, then the future
looks terrificfor us! That means excellence in setting our strategy
to match the environment we live and work within. It means
executing everything we do with excellence, be it planning,
research or achieving learning goals. Finally it means excellence
in engagement with all our stakeholders – the students, industry,
government, and the communities in which we live.
Q Have you got a personal life philosophy you could
share with us?
A My life view is “never be afraid of success”. It is a bit hard to
explain this briefly, but it is not the opposite of “never be afraid of
failure”, in fact I believe it is the extension of it. To be successful
requires you to make some brave decisions, sometimes accept
and manage the risk of failure, always hard work to get there and
even harder work when you do get there.
Q What have been the key highlights of your life so far?
A Being appointed as the third Chancellor of CQUni is right
up there! Most of all though it is family – wife, children and
Q Who has been your most influential professional
mentor, and why?
A I have had many mentors over the years, and it is hard to select
just one. However, the former Chancellor Rennie Fritschy was my
boss about 20 years ago, and he was right up there. I am not sure
if Rennie remembers this, but he once counselled me that “...the
cemetery is full of indispensable people...”. I have used that one
gem countless times over the years.
Q What advice would you give to a 20-year-old
A It would have been handy as a 20 -year-old John Abbott to
know what a 58-year-old John Abbott knows! So my advice to
the young Mr Abbott would be to seek to the greatest extent
wise counsel from as many of those who have “been there, done
that” as possible. As a young engineer, regardless of how good
you might be with a calculator and calculus, wisdom comes with
experience and that wisdom can come from others! �
Meet our new
2016 marks a changing of the
guard for CQUni. For the first time
in almost 12 years, the University
has a new chancellor – John
Abbott. He spoke with Be editor
Priscilla Crighton about his
new appointment and the future of
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