Supporting others to realise their potential
If you’ve ever started a new role that’s a big change from anything you’ve done previously, and wondered if you’ve made the right choice, Brooke White probably knows how you feel!
However, her advice is to give it three months before determining if your decision was the right one.
“I think that three months is long enough to know if you’ve made a horrible mistake or not,” Brooke says, with a laugh. “It’s also a good time to connect with your manager and find out how they feel things are going as sometimes their perspective is different to yours.”
Seeking feedback for success
Three months in on Brooke’s role as Project Manager for Ventia’s Digital Services Project Management Office (PMO) she did exactly that, meeting with her manager to get some feedback.
“I still felt like I had a lot to learn, as I came into this role without an IT background, so I felt like I spent the first few months just learning the lingo,” Brooke says.
Recognising value and success
It turned out that her manager thought Brooke was doing a great job, which gave her the confidence to push forward. Four years later, Brooke now holds that manager role, leading a team of project managers and administrators as the General Manager PMO and Project Delivery.
Brooke says she’s learned a lot in that time, including that as a leader it’s more important to know what questions to ask than worrying about having all the answers yourself.
“I manage a team of extremely smart, capable, high performing individuals,” says Brooke. “It means I don’t need to know all the details as I trust in their expertise. But I am here to guide and support if or when they hit obstacles.”
“For me as their leader, I know how important it is to keep them engaged and challenged at work.”
Brooke says it’s all about helping her team recognise the value they add through what they do, and that they’ve been able to use their strengths.
Brooke is currently participating in Ventia’s Women Leading program, through which she has access to one-on-one coaching, something she has already found to be extremely valuable.
“We’ve only had one session, but during that we set my intentions for the course, basically what do I want to get out of it,” she says. “One of the things I am already realising is that my perception of my skills and abilities is always going to be more critical than that of others.”
“I don’t think I am alone in having that experience of being in a room full of very talented people and wondering how I got to be in their company.”
There’s no question that Brooke’s manager, Group Executive Digital Services Karen O’Driscoll, thinks that she deserves to be where she is.
“Brooke has critical leadership skills that you can’t easily teach,” Karen says. “They’re more important to me than the technical skills which you can learn on the job.”
Paying it forward as a team leader
In addition to the leadership training she’s participating in, Brooke is giving back by stepping up as a mentor to high school kids through Ventia’s involvement in the ABCN mentoring program. This has given her the opportunity to use her skills to support and mentor students to build on their own skills.
“One of my favourite sayings is ‘you’re not a leader until you have produced a leader who can produce another leader’,” Brooke says.
I’m passionate about supporting others to realise their potential, and this extends to the students in the ABCN program, to my team and colleagues across Ventia.
Brooke notes that when her previous manager gave her that positive feedback a few months after joining Ventia, it ignited Brooke’s confidence and motivated her.
“I’ve been so lucky to have fantastic leaders at Ventia,” she says. “Now I have an opportunity to have a positive influence on others and I’m welcoming the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’.”