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Sam Bell FIML: Meet IML ANZ’s New CEO

In January 2022, the IML ANZ Board of Directors announced the appointment of Sam Bell FIML to the role of CEO. Sam has been with IML ANZ for six years and has already created a lasting impact on the organisation during his tenure as General Manager of Corporate Solutions and Membership, and more recently as Interim CEO from March 2021 to December 2021. We sat down with Sam to find out more about him, his insights on leadership, and his vision for the Institute. 

What most excites you about taking on the CEO position at IML ANZ?   

My ambition is to build on the Institute’s 80-year legacy by ensuring it is credible, purposeful, and relevant in the workings of businesses and in the lives of Members. 

IML ANZ has a fantastic opportunity to expand its Membership community and its delivery of training and professional development by tapping into a growing thirst for management and leadership skills. 

Organisations big and small are desperately looking for people who bring management and leadership skills to a role. While technical skills may be enough to get you a job, it’s management and leadership skills that will progress your career. Skills such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving, productivity and time management, resilience, change management, strategic thinking, and many more—these are the skills that will advance a career. More and more we are seeing employers upskilling their people with these skills because they see an immediate lift in productivity and performance.  

The Institute has a proud 80-year legacy of developing these skills as the peak body for management and leadership. It is this growth potential that excites me most about taking the CEO role.  

Could you tell us a little bit about your leadership journey and how you discovered your passion for management and leadership? 

I believe leadership is about bringing people with you. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with great people during my professional career who have mentored me and supported my career growth. My leadership journey really evolved by listening, learning, and watching these people manage relationships, while also building-up those around them to enable growth and achieve success. Having worked in different cities around the world, I’ve had the privilege of seeing some diverse leadership styles and was able to absorb the traits that I thought were the most effective for positive leadership. I’ve also invested in further training and professional development skills along the way. I think leadership is a journey of learning—both through formal training and development and through experience by listening and watching those people you most respect.  

How would you describe your leadership style? 

I’d like to think I am a collaborative leader who asks for people’s opinions and advice before making decisions. I’m also a strong believer in giving people responsibility and accountability for the role they play in the organisation. It creates empowerment and I find this often brings out the best in people. 

As a leader, who inspires you? 

I think every single human being has strengths and has weaknesses, so there’s not one great leader that I admire. I’ve always tried to understand and implement the strengths of those leaders I admire most, the people around me whose opinions and advice I respect. My family, friends, colleagues, and mentors are the people who inspire me most.  

What do you believe are the most pressing challenges leaders face today? 

Constant change in all facets of business and life. The goalposts are constantly changing for businesses and the speed of that change makes it very challenging to adapt and keep up. From new technologies that upend a business model, to global health pandemics, and fluctuating societal expectations, these create challenges for leaders to navigate on a regular basis. How leaders can navigate this change for their people and business is the biggest responsibility they have. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new or emerging leaders? 

People will always gravitate to new or emerging leaders who demonstrate energy, proactiveness, interest, passion, commitment, and new ideas. Those who want to be part of the solution rather than the problem will always get ahead.  

These attributes, alongside further training and continuous professional development in your skills and capability, will stand you out from the crowd.  

Could you share with us your vision for the future of IML ANZ? 

For IML ANZ Members, it’s to support a vibrant community of professionals with the opportunity to learn and develop management and leadership capability, to meet new people from all walks of life, to find mentors and those who can expand their thinking, and to lift their career prospects by being a part of a professional community. For our staff, it’s to improve and develop their skills so when they leave IML ANZ they are better people, with greater career prospects than when they started. For IML ANZ as a peak body, it’s to deliver world-class training and development and lift the standard of management and leadership across Australia and New Zealand. 

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