Aug 03, 2016

Ben Stubbs

Bridging the generation gap
The 39-year-old general manager of Lee Crane Hire in Central Queensland says he is an ‘in-betweener’

That’s by way of describing how he’s positioned as a leader between the baby-boomers and Generation Xers and the Gen-Y and younger staff.


One of the challenges in managing the privately-owned business was recognizing the strengths in both groups, said Ben Stubbs.

Mr Stubbs is in a good position to know. He is a Central Queenslander by birth who learned the ropes with early management positions at Ultratune in Rockhampton, the Vanderfield farm equipment retailers and with community organisations.

Lee Crane Hire is headquartered in Biloela in the heart of the southern Bowen Basin and employs more than 100 staff across the home and Gladstone bases.

The majority of the workforce is permanent though casual staff numbers vary in line with shutdown work.

The first step in managing people was in understanding your own strengths, weaknesses and passions, said the father of three children who are 10, four and two years old.

“I was married young, had my first mortgage at 24, have been in management roles since 25 and learnt about commitment and responsibility fairly early on in life,” Mr Stubbs said.

“Managing people is the predominant skill to take an organisation where you want to go,” he said.

“You need a bit of self awareness. If you understand what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, you can use those skills to understand what other people are passionate about.

“I’m strong in team leadership. The days of autocratic leadership are over. I think if you study poor governance, you’d find many companies failed on that.”

The younger generation had a lot to contribute and generally also had a lot to learn, he said.

“My job is to bridge the gap between owners who are 60 and 30-40 year olds driving cranes.  There’s a lot of strength in harnessing and learning from the generation before us but it goes the other way as well. I am definitely in the gap somewhere.

“I have a lot respect for people like (Lee Crane Hire owner) Greg Lee who sensed opportunity, worked hard, put the effort in and got results.

“Our industry led younger people to have a nice measure of success but it was from standing on the shoulders of the Greg Lees of the world. In saying that what the young people do have to offer.

“They’re happy to move around, they want to be involved and have ownership. They’re flexible, not frightened of technology and more adaptable to change and you can create a lot of efficiency out of that.”

Mr Stubbs has a second job as Pastor for the Biloela Assemblies and God Church. He and his family weekends are spent building strength and resilience in the community.