From directing award-winning short films to practising martial arts - what Kenny loves about Iress

Kenny Foo is a Client Solutions Implementation Specialist at Iress. Outside of Kenny’s day-to-day role supporting the technology that underpins the advice industry, Kenny is a martial arts enthusiast and a film-maker (writer/director). His short films, Corridor (2021), Man About A Wallaby: Neon Marsupial (2019) and COLDER (2019), were officially selected in a number of film festivals worldwide. We spoke to Kenny about how he brings his passion for creativity and collaboration into his work at Iress.

Tell us about your role at Iress - what do you enjoy most about it?

Financial advisers have the important and privileged role of helping everyday people make better financial decisions. Advice is really important - it can have a big impact but it's not always easy to get advice - and my role is to help advice businesses find new ways to scale up, work smarter, and see as many people as possible.

For example, through our advice template solution, we help drive scalability and efficiency into the businesses of advice practices and dealer groups. I also support them to get the most out of Xplan - a complete and comprehensive financial planning and wealth management software that helps advice practices to reduce administration, maximise business opportunities and deliver high impact financial advice.

I work with a fun team of people who are always striving to find better ways of doing things.

We hear you’re a Hapkido black belt - wow! How does this differ from the other types of martial arts?

Hapkido has a focus on joint locks and throws but is also well-versed in powerful strikes and kicks.

These days I mostly train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is affectionately known as the gentle art of folding clothes with people in them.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Iress?

The complex but supportive and self-organising environment makes it a very interesting place to work. There’s a lot going on at Iress at any one time, and there’s always something to learn.

Every new starter I meet remarks on how nice everyone is at Iress, and it’s true! There is a lot of care and respect in how we treat each other, as well as how Iress treats its employees, from providing additional leave benefits like The Long Weekend, making sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn and grow, to encouraging us to give back to the community through the various Iress Foundation volunteer initiatives.

Tell us about your filmmaking. What awards have you won and what are you working on now?

COLDER won the Best Cinematography award at SF3 (Australia’s international smartphone film festival), and Corridor won the Best Short Short award (the shorts under 5 mins category) at the Cannes Short Film Festival (not to be confused with Cannes Film Festival).

I’ve just finalised a couple of short films and will start entering those into festivals. Working on shooting a sci-fi film soon. Aside from that I’m working on a few feature concepts and trying unsuccessfully to write them all at once.

What got you into filmmaking?

I shot my first film over a decade ago with just a couple of friends and a DSLR in a cramped bathroom. Since then I’ve gotten the bug and have been making films with a team of collaborators. As a creative pursuit, filmmaking is a very collaborative and playful process, which isn’t too different to project management - you have to juggle people, schedules, locations, budget, and workflow in getting a film from script to finish.

If you were to pick one film to recommend to someone, what would it be?

Go see Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s insane.

What’s been your career highlight since you started working here in 2018?

Taking part in the Iress Hackathon last year where our Accessible Advice project won awards in both the regional and global categories. This is an initiative which connects advisers offering pro-bono advice with financially vulnerable people. We are now working hard to launch the pilot program - so fingers crossed!

How would you describe the culture at Iress in 3 words?

Collaborative. Supportive. Dynamic.

What’s your favourite piece of tech?

At the moment, Twitter.

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