Five Australian executives share their biggest challenges in being a father - and their best dad jokes

Father’s Day is this Sunday, September 1, so Business Insider asked some leading Australian company leaders how they want to spend the day with their family, what pressures they have to deal with in terms of home life along with work, and what they’d like to teach their children.

And of course we asked them for a dad joke, because dads always need more dad jokes.

Here’s what they said.

Grant Petty,
CEO & Founder for Blackmagic Design

Three children, 9, 9 and 5.

SuppliedGrant Petty and his children.

What’s your ideal Father’s Day?
Spending time at home with my wife and kids. I think anyone who has built a company would have spent a lot of time away when starting out.

So this means I had to put off having a family until the company had grown to the size where I did not have to travel as much. 

Now I have a family, I really enjoy spending time with them. With three kids, the balance of power shifts and the kids seem to run the house. It’s quite entertaining to watch them and their crazy antics!

What’s the thing you enjoy most about your family?
The intelligence of the kids is remarkable and watching how their brain develops is quite amazing. It’s shocking how quickly they can put up an argument to something and they have amazing clarity of thought.

I also enjoy their caring nature and getting the time to have conversations with them and see what they have been drawing or creating. The house is always exciting with the family around!

Is there a gift you really want?
I could never say no to chocolate!

What’s your biggest challenge in being a dad?
I think the biggest challenge a parent can face, is getting the balance right from being too authoritarian with your responsibility as a parent, but at the same time reconciling that with giving them the freedom to make decisions even when you know it’s going to be a mistake.

They need to learn and to be free, but at the same time they are so inexperienced that their decisions can be highly dangerous. So we don’t want spoiled kids, but we don’t want sheltered kids either.

How much freedom is enough? We are not their friends but their parents. It’s quite a tough balance and we have not gone through puberty yet, so that’s something to look forward to!

What’s the one thing you want your kids to learn from you?
I think kids learn love from parents. They learn how to care and how to be mature and become upstanding members of a community.

I don’t let them use iPads or iPhones and they don’t watch TV. They need to be bored and only then will they change over and become creative vs. being a customer of someone else’s creativity. So the biggest thing a parent can teach a child after love, is to teach them that they need to teach themselves.

It’s best to teach them that they can control the world they live in and change it in fun and interesting ways. Ways that will give them a full life of learning and making the world better for everyone. The world is an amazing place and most people are exciting. They need to see that.

Your best dad joke?
One of the most fun jokes was when my daughter Aaliyah told me her eye was a bit sore, and I replied that it was just her baby eyes and they are about to pop out and then her adult eyes will grow in.

I said not to worry as it only takes a few months and she will be able to see again. Of course she tried to do a comedy improv response and asked me what it feels like when your baby eyes pop out!

I replied that I didn’t know as most kids are too busy screaming to tell adults what it feels like.

David Link
CEO & Founder for Verrency

Two children, aged 9 & 13

SuppliedDavid Link with his sons

What’s your ideal Father’s Day?
Sleeping in, then a family breakfast, then going on a picnic with my family with some sort of activity.

What’s the thing you enjoy most about your family?
That everyone is so different yet all would have each other’s backs at any moment.  Our family goes from laughing to fighting to enjoyment in seconds flat – there is never a dull moment.

Is there a gift you really want?
More flexibility. And greater appreciation for what I have and the wonderful people I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by – at home, as friends, and at work.

What’s your biggest challenge in being a dad?
Spending time. It goes by so quickly. 

What’s the one thing you want your kids to learn from you?
Kindness. Respect. Integrity. Being Yourself. That’s more than one thing.

Your best dad joke?
“Guess what?”  “What?”  “If we lived here, we’d be home by now!”  “Dad, please stop.  I HATE that joke.”

Wayne Gabriel
Chief Marketing Officer for Toyota Motor Corporation Australia

Two children, aged 11 & 21

SuppliedWayne Gabriel and his family

What’s your ideal Father’s Day?
My daughter, Georgie, has put together an agenda for Father’s Day, which I think is perfect:
BBQ breakfast at home
Walk down to the dog park with Luis (our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) for some soccer
Lunch at the South Melbourne Markets
Bike ride
Lazy arvo at home
Dinner at our local pub in Williamstown

What’s the thing you enjoy most about your family?
There is lot of humour and cheekiness in my family, especially from the youngest who finds great pleasure in stirring the pot and having a laugh at the expense of other family members.

This keeps the entire family on their toes and constantly on the lookout for any opportunity to get one up on each other, especially if the victim is Dad!   

Is there a gift you really want?
I recently bought myself a meat smoker, so I am set for a while. What I really would like is to take my family on a holiday, we are well overdue.

Our last one was in Florence, Italy, which is where this picture was taken with my son Matthew, my wife Leonie and my daughter Georgie three years ago.

What’s your biggest challenge in being a dad?
Making sure I have a work-life balance. Being present with my family is very important to me. If they feel supported, important and cared for, my job as a dad (and husband) is done!

I recently challenged my staff to share their ‘flexible work arrangement’ stories, as I try to practice what I preach in promoting a healthy work-life balance.

I told them how I had started work early so I could leave by 4pm, go home and surprise my family.

What’s the one thing you want your kids to learn from you?
To always have respect and empathy for others.

‘Respect for People’ is one of the two pillars ‘The Toyota Way’ is built on, which has had a profound effect on both my professional and personal life over the last 30 years.

Your best dad joke?
“Did you see in the news that the man who invented fairy bread passed away last week? Apparently hundreds and thousands turned up to the funeral…”

James Muecke,
Chairman & Co-Founder for Sight For All

Two kids, aged 21 & 18.

suppliedJames Muecke with his wife and sons

What’s your ideal Father’s Day?
Watching a good horror film with the boys!

What’s the thing you enjoy most about your family?
Just being together, whether it be curled up in front of the TV watching the latest Netflix series, tasting a run of craft beers or exploring the world.

Is there a gift you really want?
To have my eldest son home again after finishing university interstate and for my youngest son to gain entry into medicine.

What’s your biggest challenge in being a dad?
Letting the boys become adults.

What’s the one thing you want your kids to learn from you?
Whatever they do, be passionate and give it their very best.

Your best dad joke?
Why do gorillas have big nostrils? Because they have big fingers!

Matt Houltham
Group Managing Director for Havas Melbourne

Two kids, aged 7 & 10

SuppliedMatt Houltham and his son and daughter.

What’s your ideal Father’s Day?
My kids love the beach in every season, so a day of beach soccer, sandcastle competitions and them swimming followed by a great pub dinner on the way home.

What’s the thing you enjoy most about your family?
Everyone has the travel bug so it is easy to create fun experiences and memories together.

Is there a gift you really want?
To turn back time. Harry Potter style, not Cher.

What’s your biggest challenge in being a dad?
Bridging the gap between the time I want to spend with my kids and the time I actually do.

What’s the one thing you want your kids to learn from you?


Your best dad joke?
Dad can you make me a sandwich. POOF! You’re  a sandwich.

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