Matthew Penfold of O’Brien Glass Brings a Global Perspective to AIB’s MBA

Matthew Penfold of O’Brien Glass Brings a Global Perspective to AIB’s MBA


AIB is proud to announce the most recent addition to our team of Industry Guest Lecturers – Matt Penfold! Matt has over 25 years of transformational experience across a range of industries in leadership roles with both ASX 50 organisations and global companies. He’s worked in mining, transportation, supply chain, high-tech, FMCG and professional services with big names like Wesfarmers, Kelloggs and Schneider Electric.

In 2018, he made the move to O’Brien Glass Industries, taking on the role of Group People & Leadership Director, and in 2019, he will add Guest Lecturer to his impressive resume. Matt will be sharing his strategic knowledge and expertise in AIB’s specialist human resources subjects Managing People in a Global Context and Performance Compensation Management.

Born and bred in Newcastle, Matt’s career has taken him all around the world, including across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America. His broad geographic experience has given him a global cultural sensitivity which he brings to his roles to best manage people.

Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Newcastle, which gave him a broad foundation on which to build his career. “The good thing about commerce is you can study a range of subjects. I did everything from law to marketing to economics and industrial relations. As I progressed through my career, I found that industrial relations was probably the most practical part of the degree that I studied. I was able to look at things that happened historically in the world and how the industrial relations framework had evolved over time,” he explains.

Drawing on this knowledge, Matt first took a role with the Master Builders Association in employer associations, and then moved into a graduate program with BHP. After moving to Sydney, he worked for the peak body for the electrical and communications sector in Australia, followed by Kellogg’s, where he managed the supply chain.

In the early 2000s, he accepted a position overseeing human resources in Australia and New Zealand with Schneider Electric. Then in 2005, an Asia-Pacific role with the company took him to Hong Kong, followed by a move to the US for a role with global reach. 

Australia called him home, however, and Matt moved home in 2009 to join Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety, where he stayed for almost a decade, overseeing the human resources and health and safety functions.

Matt commenced with O’Brien in 2018, which is part of the Belron Group. O’Brien is one of Australia’s most iconic companies and the leader in automotive, home and business glass replacement.

As an executive with such diverse experience – both nationally and internationally – Matt’s understanding of global people issues and how to manage them is an asset.

“International HR is a complex beast,” he says. “The number one issue that you face is cultural differences. Understanding that if you want to replicate something that works in one country, the way you go about implementing it in another is probably completely different. You need to be aware of the communication differences, and in particular, the nonverbal signs that you see. As a boy from Newcastle who headed overseas to Hong Kong and really didn’t have much of a clue about how to operate in those environments, that was a really steep learning curve for me.”

But whether or not he’s managing people across the world or in his own office, Matt believes that there are some principles that apply to every aspect of performance management.

“A good performance reward system requires a really robust system and documentation to make sure that you’re measuring outcomes. If you don’t have goals in place, it’s hard to give tangible feedback. Those goals might shift, but you need a starting point from which to measure an employee’s performance,” he says.

“The second step is measuring behaviours. It’s not just about whether you get the job done; it’s about how you go about doing it because that actually drives the culture and the landscape of the organisation. That’s really been at the cornerstone of a great performance management system. Then the supporting infrastructure that sits behind that is training the managers to have effective conversations and ensuring that performance management assists development.”

Matt’s generosity in sharing the breadth and depth of his global leadership experience represents a valuable new resource for our students. We’re sure they’ll learn a lot about the complexities of managing and compensating people, and we’re grateful to Matt for coming on board.

Learn from the best in business with AIB’s Industry Guest Lecturers. Meet the full team here.

Also read: Human Resources MBA From AIB Receives Coveted AHRI Accreditation

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