To mark this year’s International Leadership Week, we’ve spoken with some of Quest’s most cherished leaders about how they’ve grown, learnt new skills and dealt with the unexpected challenges and pressures the past year has thrown our way.
In one sentence, what do you do at Quest?
BRAD: I support the Franchise Relationship Managers and network throughout Australia as Group Franchise Relationship Manager.
NATASHA: I am predominantly responsible for the financial management, compliance, reporting, cash flow, and budgeting of Quest’s business format franchise model and related entities.
DAVID: My role is in the Learning & Development space and am tasked with ensuring alignment of our vision with the training needs for our network of Franchisees and corporate office colleagues.
EMILY: As Senior Legal Counsel, my main area of responsibility is drafting franchise documentation, providing strategic advice and resolving any legal issues that occur in the franchising space.
How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
BRAD: Having a learning mindset as always been my approach to any role I have had, so in this role I continue to participate in external training courses and sit on key project groups to support and expand my skill set.
NATASHA: Keep challenging yourself and step outside of your comfort zone. Do things that the person you were 12 or more months ago never thought was possible. Earlier this year I decided to do my MBA and it has given me a new set of skills and opened my mind to better understand and appreciate the multifaceted world of business.
DAVID: I ensure I keep listening to those around me, and challenge myself on how I can further the company’s vision and purpose for those individuals within it. Keeping a pulse on what future generations of the workforce needs are, and how I can support the required adaptation to be employer of choice.
EMILY: I like to watch other leaders in action and see how they handle different situations. It is also important to ask those around you for feedback – particularly team members as they can guide you as to what they need from you as a leader and how you can continuously improve.
Favourite project you've worked on so far?
BRAD: Best Practice Program was such a large project steered by Michael Bevilaqua which delivered a very clear framework for Franchisees to understand the key fundamentals of our Business Format Franchise Model.
NATASHA: We introduced an automated solution to reduce the manual processing of invoices and increase visibility and control over the entire process. No-one joins finance for the praise and glory but it was rewarding to see and feel the value of the change across the wider business.
DAVID: I would have to say a recent project of rolling out the first dedicated Learning Management System to Quest. This roll out revolutionises the learning and development of our business.
EMILY: Despite only joining Quest in June, I have had the opportunity to work on numerous interesting and challenging projects. I have found providing support to our Franchise Relationship Managers and franchisees as they navigate COVID rent relief legislation to be very rewarding as I am (hopefully) making a difficult time a little bit easier.
How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
BRAD: Regular check in calls are important to see how they’re going and how I can provide further support.
NATASHA: We communicate regularly and make time to listen to each other. I feel it’s important to build relationships individually to understand what motivates each person professionally and personally so we always start our weeks with one-on-one catch ups. It’s also important to get together away from the office or workstation so as a team, pre-Covid, we enjoyed a good steak at the local steakhouse however with remote working, we’ve had to adjust expectations a little. While we’ve enjoyed the odd Deliveroo lunch and friday virtual drinks, we are very much looking forward to getting together to celebrate our achievements as team.
DAVID: There has never been a time where resilience is needed more in my opinion. Always bringing the conversation back to the original purpose I think is key, and keeping that at the heart of the decisions made. As we know a lot of background noise can enter the day to day, but staying disciplined to the purpose at hand helps re-calibrate the team and clear away any of the distraction that invariably comes along with it.
EMILY: A lot of the time people just need someone to listen - this may be by giving them an opportunity to vent or by providing a sounding board so they can talk through how they want to approach an issue.
How do you see leadership changing in a post-pandemic world?
BRAD: I believe we will need to continue connecting more than ever with our teams to ensure we provide a high level of open and transparent communication and support.
NATASHA: I think there will be a lot more emphasis on being flexible and adaptive. Leaders need to embrace the use of technology, generational change, new ways of working, and also be prepared not just to lead locally but also cross-culturally.
DAVID: Quite significantly. Employees, if not already moving in this direction, have really experienced a different environment over these past 18 months. Work and personal life has never intertwined so much for most. Leaders will need to adapt swiftly to the new expectations and flexibility needs of employees. The traditional 9-5, 5 days a week Monday to Friday, in the office; I do not see this as the successful formula moving forward. Leaders will need to listen to their teams even moreso than before, and support them in achieving their goals outside of work as well as inside. Mental Health and Wellbeing has been impacted negatively and taken its toll over the pandemic, and leaders must be much more attuned to this moving forward. Those that fall back into the ‘comfortability’ of the traditional work schedule will swiftly find they lose all of their great people.
EMILY: Obviously with more people working flexibly we don’t have as much time in the physical presence of our teams. As such, it’s important to regularly check in and stay connected - but also to trust each other to do the right thing.
Best career advice you've ever received?
BRAD: When dealing with conflict or challenging conditions, sleep on it, provides a clearer perspective the following day.
NATASHA: Don’t underestimate the power of networking and keeping up to date with industry trends that are relevant to your role and company. This reminded me of when I was offered my first professional role as a Graduate Accountant. I was working as a waitress at the Boxing Day Test match in the members dining room at the MCG. I had no idea a partner of the firm was a guest at the table and after 4 hours of listening to my whole life story (all 22 years), including the 15 or so Graduate applications I was up till 3am most nights completing to ensure I had the best chance of securing a role midst the GFC, I was given their business card and told to call the office on Monday to set up an interview. I remember having mixed emotions at the time - excited about this potential opportunity, annoyed I was so efficient with my 15 or so applications (perhaps I should have waited a few more days), and perplexed as to why they didn’t leave a tip (a running joke).
DAVID: Nothing stands out to be honest! I have been lucky to be around some very smart people though that naturally allowed me to be myself.
EMILY: Good communication is vital – if you don’t voice your opinions (whether positive or negative) then you can’t expect them to be heard.