What does it take to be a CEO? Meet Sean Sammon

Ever wondered how people end up being CEOs of companies?

  • What was their journey?
  • What qualities and skills did this person have to enable them to become so successful?
  • How did they view and overcome challenges?

These are all questions that I have been curious about; so recently I sat down with our CEO Sean Sammon to really understand what it takes.

He shared with me 5 of his most valuable insights, examples of situations in his life that he was able to translate into successful outcomes.  

1.     Born in Mildura, Sean went to boarding school in Melbourne and then moved to Canberra for university, graduating with an accounting degree.

During school I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and often at times I would doubt my ability to succeed. I soon realised you don't have to be the smartest guy in the room to get ahead; you just have to be driven. Being motivated can go a long way; I believe it’s essentially the first step to success. 

2.     Sean’s early career as a political staffer saw him survive one ministerial resignation and two leadership challenges. However, by the third challenge Sean lost his job.

Being resilient, accepting and understanding that things don't always go to plan was a huge step forward for me. In business and in life things rarely turn out how you plan or expect- being resilient and continuing to move forward can be the differentiating factor in making your next move.

3.     His greatest learning after politics was to realise - it is rare that your profession can be your passion (such as politics). Instead, endeavour to find a passion and a profession; then they can be mutually exclusive.

It would have been very easy for me after losing my job to freak out, doubt myself and just rush into any job. However, after politics decided I needed to reassess what I wanted from my professional career and how I was going to use my unique skill set in a different way.  Being flexible with my skills and not being stuck in my ways opened up many different opportunities. It enabled me to view different challenges as potential opportunities.

4.     He believes that government relations is an organic style of consulting- its all about teaching our clients how to build the foundations of a constant relationship with Government. The client can then activate this relationship in order to generate their outcomes.

Once I met Phil Martin (Managing Director and Co-Founder of Bastion S&GO) our aim was to deliver a distinctive core offering that helped organisations to navigate the political, community and international trade landscape while also providing strategic advice. Having the confidence to back our idea was critical to Bastion S&GO’s success. There is always a point in business where you doubt yourself and your decisions. Having belief in your offering makes the world of difference- always believe in what you are offering.

5.     Sean became a CEO at age 27, a founder of Bastion S&GO, giving him the ability to put his own stamp on how businesses can best to engage with government and their community.

I am now in a position where I have the ability to introduce new ideas and innovate within my business. This is something I am very passionate about- developing new business offerings, how can we better service our clients? What else can we offer them? These are questions I am constantly asking of my team and myself. With confidence I can say I love my job, I love coming into work everyday and being apart of something new and exciting. This isn’t to say that it was easy and smooth sailing the whole way- there were challenges and roadblocks, however the thing that always remained with me was my passion to succeed.