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Interview with WPB Property Group’s HR leader, Damien McLeod

posted by Suzi Sarkis 07/11/2016 0 comments

In your experience, what are some of the key attributes of an effective leader? 

  • Being realistic and understanding the differences you can face with people;
  • Passionate about coaching people to get the best out of them;
  • High EQ – is self-aware as well as aware of the emotions of others;
  • Walk the talk.

Legislation that governs the way businesses employee and manage staff is frequently updated and changed. What are some of your strategies for keeping up to date?

  • Subscribe to updates, check the Fair Work website; I also subscribe to Portner Press and I’m a member of AHRI, the Australian Human Resources Institute;
  • Make time in your diary for reading articles and keeping up to date;
  • Talk to other HR professionals and stay in touch with previous colleagues;
  • View even the most difficult situations as learning opportunities;
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know everything; knowing where to find answers and not being afraid to seek advice is enough.

As a national People and Culture leader who has managed large teams for some of the world’s biggest brands, what are the most successful strategies you have enlisted to build and drive high performing teams?

It starts with attracting the right people. It’s important to identify the skills, attributes, values and experience required to be a high performer. A good way to do this is to look at your team and ask ‘why are the top performers your top performers?’

Once you have identified what your top performers need to possess, it is important to then identify what can be taught and what is hard wired in people. Typically, values can’t be trained, so someone who doesn’t possess the right values will most likely not be able to sustain high performance. In my experience, people in high performing teams are typically passionate about the business and their own personal success; they are also resilient and positive in their approach.

Next, the recruitment process is critical. Having a values-based recruitment and selection model is a key element to this strategy. Your recruitment methods need to identify values and the recruiter needs to know what values to look for.

In the past, I have had some experience working under an open book management model. Based on this experience, my tips on driving a high performance team include:

  • Know and teach the rules – make sure your team knows the factors that impact on the business’ financial performance;
  • Keep score – keep your team informed on how your performing, good or bad;
  • Provide a stake in the outcome – if you want a team that views performance as a company-wide outcome, then incentives linked to overall company performance are perfect.

Businesses are a lot like sporting teams. Upper management are the coaches and trainers who come up with the game plan and strategy. The employees are the players and, like any sporting team, only the players can change the score. Players who don’t know the rules, the score or the strategy are not really players, they’re spectators. Don’t treat employees like spectators.

If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your professional career?

I was given a couple of pieces of great advice that I always refer back to:

  • If you aspire to something – most commonly a role or position – display the required behaviours before you get there. If people already see you as the HR Manager, it will put you in a good position when the opportunity presents;
  • Walk the talk;
  • You’re better off feeling foolish and asking a question than looking foolish by making a mistake as a result of not asking a question.

If I could give myself advice when I started my career it would be ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. There is always a solution and you don’t always have to think of it yourself.

How have you found working with Brook Recruitment? 

Very positive. Ashlea and Vanessa share my views on identifying quality candidates and the attributes they should possess. They have a very high standard when it comes to candidates and, in my dealings with them, this results in high quality candidates being provided first time.

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Catch-up with receptionist rock star Laura Warne

posted by 24/08/2016 0 comments

Tell me a little about how your role at LJCB
My role is a Receptionist and Office Administrator. We don’t usually have a high flow of people through the doors so I rely for most of my work to come from within the office.

Laura Warne

Laura Warne

What does a typical day for you involve?
The thing that I love about this job is that no two days are the same. My mornings are pretty standard with mail delivery, kitchen tidy & restock and preparing meeting rooms. After that, it is whatever the office requires my help with. Some days I am helping accounts with balancing credit card statements or creating spreadsheets. Other days I am booking flights and accommodation, ordering catering and drinks for a function, or, I could be out in the city hand delivering documents, buying doughnuts for a staff members birthday or assisting the PA’s with their many various jobs.

In your experience, what are some of the key attributes that make a successful receptionist at such a prestigious firm?

With being given so many tasks throughout the day, flexibility and prioritizing is key.

I need to manage my time and decide how long things will take and how urgent they are so I can then complete each task efficiently. This is something that I revise throughout the day to make sure that I am working to my best capacity.

If you could go back in time what advice would you have for yourself when you were first starting your professional career?
I got caught up in the hospitality circle for a while and although the management level kept it challenging for me, I quickly grew tired of the shift work and unsociable hours. I would tell younger Laura to start working in reception and office admin roles as soon as you can. If I had known earlier where this career would take me, I would already be in the role that I am currently striving for.

How have you found working with Brook Recruitment?

Brook recruitment was a life saver for me.

I was miserable in my previous role but wasn’t in a financial situation to just up and leave without having another job waiting for me. I also didn’t want to just settle for a job that I would be bored with in 6 months’ time. I met with Vanessa and she made the process really easy. Our first meeting was short and sweet, I explained my current situation, what I wanted in my next role and where I was wanting to go with my career. Before long, we found the perfect job for me.

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Crunching the numbers with sales maven David Norman

posted by 24/08/2016 0 comments

David NormanDavid Norman is the General Manager at Wingate Consumer Finance. After 4 years in sales management roles in South Africa, David relocated to Australia and began his career in the consumer finance industry with GE Capital and Wingate Consumer Finance. His spanning career included a 2 year post in New Zealand as the Head of the GE Capital personal loan business based in Auckland. He was then appointed the Director of Sales & Distribution for the GE Consumer Finance business in Australia. Since joining Wingate Consumer Finance in 2013 he then took on the role of General Manager. David is known as an inclusive senior executive with proven success in leading large teams, across many distribution channels, delivering sustained business growth with expertise in strategic planning, people leadership, commercial excellence and sales force effectiveness.

In your experience, what are some of the key attributes that make an effective sales leader?
You need to be a strong and effective communicator that instils confidence in the team.

An open and honest style is really important to get this right. Have the confidence to empower your staff to do what you hired them to do.

If you don’t feel you can delegate and empower your staff then you have hired the wrong people. I also believe you need to be balanced and measured regardless of how the business is performing. This will inspire your team to have confidence in you as a leader and in the direction of the business.

There are a myriad of sales coaching techniques and styles. What are are your top tips for cutting through the noise?

I think we can over complicate sales and I don’t get too caught up in the theoretical side of sales coaching. For me it is down to a few points:

  1. Targets – Make sure that the sales targets are clear and all staff understand what their goals are.
  2. Feedback – Meet with each sales person regularly to identify gaps and provide them constant feedback on what you want out of them. Leave them after each coaching session with clear, agreed actions you wish them to take to improve their sales and provide this in writing.
  3. Follow up – Set a follow up time to gauge improvement and adoption of the actions you agreed on.
  4. Repeat – This process is ongoing and you will need to refine the actions as you go.

As a sales leader who has managed large teams for some of the world’s biggest brands, what are the most successful strategies you have enlisted to build and drive high performing teams?
Always hire people that are potentially better than you. You need to surround yourself with the best people. Don’t compromise when you are recruiting. Once you have the right people in place make sure you continue to develop them both personally and within their role.

You need be a very effective communicator with your team and be open and honest both on their performance and the direction of the business.

You need to get your people to do what you want them to do for their reasons. You can only do this by gaining their confidence, trust and respect. No longer does this come with the title only……you need to earn this.

If you could go back in time what advice would you have for yourself when you were first starting your professional career?
Continually seek feedback. When I first started my professional career I found feedback and constructive criticism very confronting and at times I resented it. You need to embrace this feedback as it is designed to help you improve in your role and to build your career. I also would have got a mentor right at the beginning of my career and I would encourage everybody to have a mentor that you can trust.

How have you found working with Brook Recruitment?
I have found the team at Brook Recruitment to be very responsive and thorough in their dealings with us. They have managed to successfully fill a number of roles for our business and have done this well within expected timeframes. The quality of candidates have been strong which has been a real positive for our business.


A typical day as an Executive Assistant for a top property developer

posted by Emma 14/07/2015 0 comments

RachelAfter completing her Agent’s Representative Diploma back in 2008, Rachel Bergstrom parlayed her passion for property into a coveted role as an Executive Assistant at property development firm, Gurner TM.

She reveals what a typical day as an EA is like, shares her career highlights so far and offers advice for candidates looking for a similar position.

Tell us about your current role; walk us through a typical day in the life of an Executive Assistant.

I am the Executive Assistant to the Director of Gurner TM, which is a luxury Melbourne-based property development company specialising in inner-city off the plan developments.

Our Director, Tim Gurner, is a young successful entrepreneur, so I can say that there is no ‘typical’ day for me! I thrive with juggling dozens of balls in the air and problem solving; some days will be quite structured while other days I may not get through anything on my to-do list!

It comes down to the ability to apply common sense and resourcefulness, to think outside the box and pre-empt what is required on a day-to-day basis.

What do you think are the most important qualities to have as an Executive Assistant?

The obvious ones would be multitasking and organisational skills.

I personally think the most important thing is the relationship and trust you build so you become a team together. Once this has been established it becomes a natural relationship and you are able to understand them as a person and how they like to operate. Next is the way you execute things… which should be seamlessly!

Ultimately, as an EA we are here to make their lives easier and to remain one step ahead of them.

How have you put your previous experience to use in your current role?

I originally studied at RMIT and completed a Bachelor of Communications majoring in Public Relations, but I fell into working in property and I loved it.

Prior to working for Gurner TM I worked for five years at a family run commercial property company with approximately 270 employees. One thing that did help me with the transition from commercial property to residential property was the fact that I had my Agent’s Representative Diploma from RMIT.

Having the background in property definitely helped me to settle in quickly to the new role. At the time we were only a tiny team of 10, and there was no previous EA to train me, so it’s fair to say I had to learn on my feet!

Assisting with the public relations side of the business is also something I help with and it gives me a chance to apply what I learned from my years spent at University.

What has been your career highlight so far?

Working in property has always been exciting for me, particularly my role at Gurner TM.

Operating as a small team means we work very closely together and this has allowed me to gain valuable knowledge about the business side of property development, from the acquisition stages right through to settlements.

Being a part of a development from its infancy; the floor plans in the marketing stages, through to construction and then practical completion is definitely a highlight of the job. Typically not all EA’s will be so involved in all these aspects, so I enjoy the fact that I have been given the opportunity to do so.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of being an EA?

Diary management is particularly challenging in my role. Our Director is extremely hands on and super busy so it’s always a challenge to manage his days, interstate travel and meetings, etc. and to ensure we maximise his working day and maintain some sort of balance. It’s a work-in-progress.

What advice do you have for people looking for a similar position?

From the start of your search for an EA role, consider the working environment and the person(s) you will be working for; it is imperative that your personalities click.

When you meet with your recruiter sell yourself, but also be yourself and show your personality. It is very important when they are placing you for interviews that you fit in culturally.

In the interview make sure to ask questions, such as what characteristics and qualities are required for the role – this will demonstrate that you’re proactive, which is a sought after quality in an EA. Then once you obtain the position as an EA, ensure that you verse yourself in as many aspects of the business as you can. This will make you a valuable asset to the business and someone your colleagues will rely on.


The network effect

posted by Emma 17/06/2015 0 comments

image1Arguably one of Australia’s best networkers, Tanya Oziel is the Deputy CEO of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle – a strategic growth partner which provides events and networking opportunities for business people and government leaders in Australia and New Zealand.

With over 25 years’ experience working closely with corporate Australia, Tanya has built influential and diverse business and personal networks.

Today, she shares her advice on how you can network successfully and how it can take your career to the next level.

What does networking actually mean?

Networking is about building solid and long-term relationships. It’s about creating a group of like-minded people around you who will actually enhance you both professionally and personally.

Do you think there’s a stigma that networking is about using people?

I think it’s about intention. If you actually go into a networking opportunity with the intent of using someone then that’s what it’s going to be, but if you go in there with the intention of building something that’s going to be sustainable and mutually beneficial I think it can be so powerful.

Can anyone benefit from networking?

Absolutely; it can be daunting but anyone can do it. Again it’s about how much you give. For us at Trans-Tasman Business Circle, it’s all about giving and creating opportunities to network; opening doors for people is really rewarding.

What can good networking do for your career?

Fundamentally, people do business with people, and I think that’s where networking starts and ends. Face-to-face is the most powerful way of networking because you can actually really connect with the person, and if you don’t connect you just move on.

Not that it’s like speed dating! But if you’re not in an environment where you’re with like-minded people and your personal network is not being enhanced as well as your professional then there’s no point you being there.

If you’re a networking beginner, what’s the first step you should take?

I think it’s about being prepared to to come out of your comfort zone. If you’re already going into that room knowing you’re about to network then I think you’re already set to leave that comfort zone and are ready to overcome your fears.

Is it wrong to try and network with someone more senior than you?

I don’t believe so, and I think senior business leaders love the energy of young and emerging leaders.

If someone is confident enough to actually approach a senior business leader I think more than likely they’ll get a wonderful response from that leader. They will in fact encourage that. After all, if our senior business leaders don’t give back to the young then how are they going to grow?

Is it important to self-promote?

I think personal brand is very important but that’s very different to self-promoting. If you have your own personal brand where people have trust in you, you have integrity and you do things with the right intention people will know you for that and they will always be open to you.

Do you notice the more senior people get the less they feel they need to network?

I think you can never network enough and I believe it’s a mistake to stop networking, because networking is growth – it’s personal and professional growth.


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