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The Life cycle of Unfinished Business

Thursday July 13th, 2017 in In the News

Let me start by saying, my simple business, people and customer philosophy is that we don’t stop until it’s done…and it’s never done.

Holding ourselves to account on behalf of our clients, their experiences, their aspirations, development agendas and growth goals, are the things that keep us up at night…and if they don’t, they should. The same should be said for our own personal and professional career and life aspirations. When we rest our heads on our pillows, the pursuit for restful sleep and peace is what should awaken our spirits the very next morning and drive us to deliver our promises – to ourselves, each other and those we interact with on any level, on any day.

This is how Cassandra Kelly has managed her enviable and respected career…and her collected head, heart and mind.

Cassandra has had a diverse career having worked overseas and with a resume of titles including founder, chair and director. In an article that deserves attention, Michelle Keomamy writes in MarkingMag and reveals a career story of success and inspiration from which we can all learn and benefit from. She describes Cassandra as a cross sector champion of financial services, technology, philanthropy and entrepreneurship.

Michelle, “She’s articulate, genuine and easy going which may not be the first impression that you would get from the standard issue executive portraits and the incredible list of resume titles.”

The Australian Financial Review has named Kelly as one of the 10 most influential women in the boardroom. She is cross sector champion of financial services, technology, philanthropy and entrepreneurship. She is also a digitisation and entrepreneurship advisor to the G20/B20 and deputy chair of the Treasury Corporation of Victoria. She coaches and advises world leaders, chief executives and politicians and she’s also the co-founder of Glass Elevator, a not for profit that works to increase the number of women in senior executive positions. And a number of other important projects.

Michelle, “In a climate where it’s relatively easy to fly under the radar and stay in the same senior role in the same industry, Kelly’s career represents someone that doesn’t settle for the status quo and is driven by what she hasn’t achieved yet.”  Kelly reflects on how she started in business. An early and somewhat simple job in a small town where she worked as a teenager for a local business person who didn’t speak English. As such she was forced into running the business and communicating with all the suppliers and managing the  accounts. This job was part time as she studied. Kelly said that this job taught her the fundamentals of how a business should be run. She is forever grateful to this small business owner who relied on her to basically run the show and communicate with the customers, of all types, at all levels. Kelly, “That was a lovely memory for me, and if I knew where to find the business owner now, I would love to say thank you, because it was a very lucky part of my life.”

Kelly draws on advice she was given from Anna Bligh the former Queensland Premier. Bligh told her, “leadership isn’t meant to be safe!”. She decided not to stick to tasks she was good at, but rather take on roles where she would be tested. This mantra has allowed her to contribute in a very meaningful way. Kelly doesn’t need to use catch speak to describe the factors which have contributed to her business success. Plain, simple and there for all to absorb – DATA & INSIGHTS are her simple answer.

Let’s consider the top five data tips she provides:

  • It isn’t about how much data you have got but how you use it. Many businesses are not even using the data they have.
  • Don’t believe salespeople that tell you that you to have your data all in one place before you can analyse it. Nonsense. Helpful yes, realistic and cost effective, not always.
  • It isn’t about big data, it’s about big analytics [insights] – the sophistication of it.
  • Focus on cost efficiency. How cost effective are you at extracting actionable information from the data? You don’t need an army of people, you need automated, objective and reliable systems.
  • There is some excitement over the democratisation of data: people may argue that you need to make more data available to more people in the organisation but too often that overwhelms them with information they cannot use.

Kelly’s thoughts on loyalty and disruption:

“What business used to confuse as loyalty was simply lack of choice. Switching is becoming the new norm. The traditional view of loyalty has faded – there is no such thing as a customer for life. The last interaction any customer has is the benchmark for the next interaction. You need to move from being the disrupted to the disrupter – adopt a mindset that your customers are there for you to lose, not for others to win.”

Agree.

As co-founder of the Glass Elevator she has some interesting thoughts on the roles women play or should play in business. Kelly, “I drew my inspiration not from what I could see, but from what I knew I could be.” 

The dial is slowly moving and she has also learned to look beyond her own industry to find inspiration. “If you ask me would I have preferred to go down a path where there were more women? Yes absolutely; imagine how much easier that would have been.”  She points out an interesting double standard. “Why are businesses afraid of targets or quotas for women’s equality when they use them in every other area of business?”  A data source tells many truths. The numbers rarely lie.

To finish on a note which I think defines her; “Satisfaction for me is waking up knowing I haven’t finished. I’ll never be done, and that’s such an incredible privilege.”

Further agree. I / we share this same philosophy. Holding ourselves to account in this pursuit sets a very clear expectation of growth, development, important failures and learnings in the ultimate pursuit of success, or rather, happiness.

Cassandra Kelly shows us to learn from real life experiences and add them to the mix, as a very important ingredient in building a successful business career. She simplifies issues and is driven by believing that her work is never finished. There is always more to do and she relishes the opportunity to keep developing so she can be what she believes she can be. The way customers should be treated is very much in the front of her mind. The task is to retain them for life and accept disruption which many see as a major threat, in a positive light. She comes across as a very open and caring person with an intelligent, down to earth approach to everything she does.

Refreshing Cassandra, thank you.

Hayley James.

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