Topic: Leadership


Changing To Meet the Future With Guest Nicolette Barnard

season 3, episode 8

Welcome to The Work Place, where we talk about the cultures we work in, and how to make them better for everyone. I’m Andrew Scarcella.

This episode, we’re talking with Nicolette Barnard from Siemens about managing change, building more agile cultures, and why apprenticeships are poised to be the future of lifelong learning.

Join us after the interview for Tangible Takeaways, where we’ll talk about the ideas and actions we can take with us and implement our own workplace cultures.

Nicolette Barnard is the Head of HR for Siemens Pacific region. A veteran HR leader, Nicolette is a champion for expanding educational opportunities, helping implement Australia’s first Industry 4.0 digital Apprenticeship in collaboration with Swinburne University and the Australian Industry Group, a first-of-its-kind program and recipient of the National Australian Training Award.

Nicolette was interviewed by me, and I think her passion for equitable education, especially in emerging technologies, is exactly what the world needs to rocket out of this pandemic depression prepared for an unknown future. Let’s get to it.

Tangible Takeaways:

Now it’s time for Tangible Takeaways, where we take big ideas down off the mantle and carefully disassemble them, piece by piece, sorting and labeling them before meticulously clean each part in a blend of oleic acid, ammonium hydroxide, methocel, and pine oil, removing the decades of dust, grease, and rust so that when we put it all back together inside the mahogany and ironwood inlaid case, it purrs like a newborn kitten as it ticks off the seconds until the heat death of the universe.

1. The first is to lean into change. Agile, adaptable cultures come from embracing the uncertainty and charting a new course with confidence. And they don’t do it by decree. They do it by building coalitions. With Siemens, they started small, identifying agents of change and empowering them to start making tiny tweaks in a new direction. And with each tiny tweak came a tiny success—results that they could use to prove that the new course they’ve been charting was the right one. Which allowed them to get more support and buy-in from the board, so they could make bigger changes, to start to innovate and revolutionize. It sounds like a slow and steady process, but really, it’s exponential. That is, it gets faster as it gets faster. Because every tiny success that gets the board on board, the more you can make. As Nicolette puts it, the more comfortable you are with being uncomfortable. Which means that even if you’re on a giant, 1,300 foot long container ship clocking in at 228,000 tons, you can still turn it like a dinghy.

2. The second is that while we don’t know for sure what the next industrial revolution will be (probably AI personal assistants that we can’t help but fall in love with) what we DO know is that apprenticeships are probably the way we’ll get there. As Nicolette’s work has proven in Australia with the digital engineering apprenticeship program, apprenticeships are accelerating the transformation of higher education. With a pay to learn model, they’re creating an entirely new class of professionals. These “new collar jobs” have the potential to close the skills gap for good and launch the careers of countless people who might otherwise have turned away from tech jobs, thinking it wasn’t for them. And considering how many digital engineers it took to start the last industrial revolution, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

3. The third isn’t a takeaway, it’s a question. What do YOU think the next industrial revolution will bring? History tells us that post-pandemic periods are filled with innovation. New technologies, new jobs, new ideas. And even though we’re not out of this thing yet by a long shot, it’s a good time to start planning for what comes next. So, what WILL come next? Send your guesses to and we’ll talk about them in an upcoming episode. And if you get it right, there’s a prize waiting for you in season 10.

As always, this episode was written and produced by yours truly—with original music and sound design by Daniel Foster Smith.

If you liked this episode, or even if you didn’t, please rate, review, and, of course, subscribe to The Work Place on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have a burning question about workplace culture, or a story about why YOUR workplace culture is the best (or worst) send it to

The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.

If you want your organization to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to

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