Five things I wish I knew before I started

Vanessa Frost, VP of People

In our new series, we ask our key thought leaders to share a more personal perspective on their career journey and current position.

Vanessa Frost is our Vice President of People and has enjoyed a career in the people function for almost 20 years. Originally working in FMCG, Vanessa found a real love for experiencing different industries and has worked in architecture, professional services, corporate healthcare and is now enjoying the technology sector. She has experience leading global and trans-Tasman people teams. 

Vanessa is passionate about helping businesses perform exceptionally through well honed, fresh and ‘real’ people ideas and philosophies.

Can you share with us five things you wish you knew before you started out?

Build good self-awareness
Understanding yourself and your style is a key component to being a great team member and leader.  It’s a hard thing to do but seeking feedback on your style and impact allows you to grow into a better version of yourself.  I’m a big advocate of a 360 (feedback tool) and aim to do one of these every few years.  Sometimes the feedback hurts (!) but it’s been some of my best training opportunities, particularly as a leader.  I’m passionate about being good at what I do and run with the philosophy that it’s better to know what people really think so you can adjust your course if you need to.

Be curious and ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask about the things you don’t understand.  I’m a big fan of this, having moved over time into environments where I needed to quickly build significant knowledge on areas or topics that are new to me.   Deepening your understanding is often mutually beneficial.  You’ll gain greater clarity – you can add far more value when you ‘get it’.  And the other party can see your engagement and genuine attempt to fully immerse yourself in what they are trying to convey or achieve.

Recruit people who are better than you
Find people who are talented at things that you are not great at.  Leveraging the strengths of others means that you can enjoy and make the most of the diversity that you have in your group or team.  Often the result is that people get to shine individually and your team as a whole achieves higher quality outcomes. 

Find a mentor
It’s incredibly useful to do some brainstorming and problem solving with a mentor. A neutral person who you can be really honest with.  When you find the right person, they can support you to think of things in ways you might not have thought.  This has all kinds of mind-expanding opportunities for your day to day work experience and your career growth as a whole. 

Your children will grow up faster than you know it
In the blink of an eye, your toddler is a teenager and you’ll be amazed at how that happened so fast.  Find a workplace that understands that people can operate flexibly and also be very hard working.  Workplaces/leaders with this philosophy usually know that their approach is rewarded with great workplace cultures and high levels of employee engagement.


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