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Stand out and succeed: Leadership tips for Projects and Change - Caroline Perkins

Stand out and succeed: Leadership tips for Projects and Change - Caroline Perkins
Submitted by Sayoojya on

As part of our ongoing commitment to our specialist communities, we interview accomplished leaders on a monthly basis to bring you insights on their career progression and advice that will help you progress your career further.

Caroline Perkins

Caroline Perkins is an internationally recognized leader in organisational change. She sits on a number of advisory boards and is a mentor to senior executives around the globe. She is a published author and an established public speaker on the subject of Change Agility.

With over 30 years’ experience of successful strategic change initiatives, Caroline works with government, blue chip and not-for-profit companies, both locally in Australia and internationally, to help them achieve successful and sustainable outcomes.

1. What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?

Always be open to opportunities and take a chance. I don’t think I have ever planned too far in advance as I don’t like to close off any avenues that might make themselves available. I hate to be bored so I am always curious about what else is out there, most of my moves have been internal so this doesn’t always need to be an external move.

When the opportunity seems a little too scary, just make sure you have a plan B or find someone to share your vision and take them along for the journey with you.

Take any opportunity to learn. The MBA was interesting and gave a great understanding of how a business works in its entirety, which has paid off in spades. You can speak the same language (to a certain extent), but the Graduate Certificate in Change from the AGSM was such an eye-opener to me at the beginning of my change career, and potentially much more valuable in the long run. But I have never stopped learning, be broad in your options, and create a portfolio of learning - you never know where it might take you!

2. What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?

Several quotes stick in my mind that I have either read or someone has said to me.

‘It’s not having the answer, but asking the right question.’ As you become more of a leader and less of a manager this is so important – directing people does not benefit anyone – ask the right question and see what happens. You will be surprised and learn, and the other person will do the same.

When I started my consulting business; ‘Only work for people that can pay the bills.’ This seems obvious, but it isn’t when you are starting off and making a name for yourself, always know your value and never undersell. Otherwise, you will just lose money – of course, this does not apply to not-for-profit – but even then be careful.

‘Invest in the time to think about your own point of difference.’ Listen to what people say they value about you. If it aligns to where you are going, then bingo!

3. What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

I have changed countries twice and left permanent employment to start my own consulting business. All scary things, but nothing scarier than finding myself in Scotland at an oil rig fabrication yard, advising on their new payroll system, when I am the only woman aged 21, just out of Uni, with really no idea.

That sort of early work experience gives you the strength to know that you can do it. I try not to think too much about the scariness of a challenge, more about the value and growth you will get from saying ‘I did that’.

My advice is just to take one step at a time; there is always a bigger challenge coming and these are the building blocks of life.

4. If you were starting your career now, what would you do differently?

I am not sure I would change anything. Maybe I would be a little braver later in my career. I was much braver when I was younger when I didn’t realise or know any better.

I also think there may be fewer opportunities nowadays to be at the beginning of things. I was at the beginning of quite a few movements, so maybe it’s that; get on board…early! Be a changemaker, it’s more interesting and fun.