Patrick Aboud, the 205th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is a prison governor. So you might assume he’d be a my-way-or-the-highway sort of bloke.

But the exact opposite is the case. Pat is humble, open-minded and keen to learn. He also prefers the velvet glove to the iron fist.

Part of the reason Pat has climbed so high in his career is because of his genuine interest in other people.

No matter which facility he’s running, Pat will walk the corridors, talking to staff and inmates, and taking an interest in them as individuals. He prides himself on developing positive relationships and views his staff as his greatest asset within the challenging environment in which they work.

When he ran Long Bay Correctional Complex and other correctional centres, he knew the names of all his staff and many of the prisoners as well. When staff know you care, they become more motivated and trusting, Pat says. And when inmates know you respect them, it reduces the incidence of violence.

Pat is passionate about rehabilitating prisoners, rather than just locking them up. He says part of the reason some people reoffend is because they don’t have the support structures and life skills to reintegrate into mainstream society. He wants to help fix that problem.

For all his success, Pat says his greatest achievement is his three “beautiful, hardworking” children. Watching them make their way in their life and career brings him happiness every day.

Having lunch with such a friendly, smart person was not only enjoyable, it was also educational. Pat’s career emphasises that no matter what your profession might be, being able to build relationships and understand human behaviour are arguably the most important skills you can have. Pat scores very highly in both areas.