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The Leadership Review – Lessons from the C-Suite

The Leadership Review – Issue 9
ASPL CEO Kris Grant shares her lessons from the C-Suite on The Leadership Review Issue 09 - "Playing the Long Game".

You have achieved so much at a young age. How have you managed to maintain a work-life balance?

It is all about mindset, prioritisation and continuously finding ways to make it work with balancing work/life with two incredible children, fur-babies and a growing business in Asia Pacific. Prioritising self-care is absolutely critical as well; whether it’s a Pilates session each day or a walk with my Cavoodle, Apple on St Kilda beach, this absolutely balances the day and allows me to have high energy at all times.

I was made a C-level executive for an international recruitment firm at 32 and I had two young children. Looking back, one of my greatest learnings was being conscious or present whether at home or work, which was essential for me being to be able to balance family responsibilities with executive level work. As I have held global roles, it was managing time zones, board meetings, day care pick-ups and drop offs and daily baths with the kids at the end of the day. Prior to COVID-19, I normally fly up to four or five times a week, so I have learnt to work in Ubers, airports and on many planes.

I take my learnings from this time and make a concerted effort to be flexible with our staff who have additional responsibilities with families and children. I am really understanding of the challenges we face as women in the workforce. Offering school hours and true flexibility removes the boundaries that keep so many incredible women out of work. And at ASPL Group, we’re all supportive of each other and have deep empathy for some of these challenges.

My greatest achievement are my two incredible children, Aimee and Adam who are such inspirational, engaged young adults.

During the current pandemic, what tools have you used to keep your employees feeling happy, safe and valued in the organisation?

Keeping our Tribe connected and engaged during COVID has been a top priority! I manage quite a large team and we are located throughout Asia Pacific, so its vitally important for me to continue to catch up with our people. With all of the upheaval and change, I have been focussed on my team’s wellbeing and check in regularly with them individually over Teams, Webex or Zoom to see how they are travelling.

We have organised extra ‘value add’ sessions over Zoom to help break up the day, be social and incorporate movement. This has included coaching and small group sessions with an ergonomics expert to make sure our home offices are set up for success, as well as online Pilates and Yoga sessions, led by an exercise physiologist to encourage daily movement, stretching and mindfulness. I would highly recommend organising a team exercise like this, everyone really enjoyed it.

How have you used technology to create, grow and maintain relationships?

At ASPL Group, I lead a diverse team across Asia Pacific and we provide management consulting, training & coaching and talent recruitment services to our clients. We have embraced technology during COVID and have shifted a lot of our delivery to online, so we’re meeting, doing workshops, interviews, coaching and training with our clients over Zoom, Teams and Webex.

Normally, I’m busy travelling around the country, meeting with clients, presenting and running leadership training packages or executive coaching sessions but we can replicate this online for now and we’re supporting our clients in making this change too. Instead of face-to-face catch-ups with my clients, we have been utilising all of the technologies and I think it has been incredible to see how we all have a deep empathy for each other and our work/life balance.

What is the number one value you instil in your employees and clients?

I’m really passionate about inclusion and diversity, ending discrimination and working towards gender equality in the workplace. This is something we live and talk about daily at ASPL Group. We created the #WeLead campaign as a way of amplifying the success of women in the workplace. By sharing their journeys and celebrating their achievements, we have created a platform and space which keeps the important conversations of gender equality front of mind. We love speaking to leaders about what tangible changes they’re making in this space and what hurdles they have had to conquer as women in the workforce.

I encourage my clients and my staff to keep on learning and to be open to trying new techniques and ideas. So many of our participants in our executive coaching sessions discover new techniques, backed by neuroscience, that makes such difference to their daily life. So too, making an investment into improving capability, leadership or their team can really transform the status quo at work.

What advise do you have for emerging leaders wanting to pursue a career in consulting?

I would highly recommend seeking a mentor who is an expert in your desired field of work. Having someone who is willing to answer your questions, listen to your ideas and support you in your career development is invaluable. They can share their insight and will often assist you in connecting with people within their network. Mentors, too, get a lot out of the role. It can be so enriching to see young and emerging leaders reach their potential and to be part of that journey.

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