Throughout an impressive 30-year career history at Zinfra (and its various entities), Lisa Lett has tread her own path in electricity and gas infrastructure, and gained unique leadership insights in what is typically a male-dominated industry.
Throughout her tenure in the business she has gained a broad range of experience in different divisions, after starting her career journey in administration, and building her skills in everything from industrial relations and warehousing to client management and business planning. It’s this depth of experience, combined with her strong work ethic, people skills, and calm, easy going and compassionate working style that has supported her in her journey to leadership.
In her current role as Portfolio Manager, she is responsible for the establishment and enablement of the work program to ensure the operational teams have a reliable plan and available resources to deliver the work.
“It can be challenging to work across many areas in the business. My role is diverse and has a broad scope – but that’s what I love about it. It can be a catch-all role, from facilitating daily COVID updates, to leadership and strategy meetings.”
If your goal is to achieve career success through leadership, here are five lessons Lisa has discovered throughout her journey.
1. Seize new opportunities
As a large organization, Zinfra has provided Lisa with plenty of opportunities for career progression and to grow her skills. Interestingly, many of these opportunities have come from taking on roles no one else has wanted to do.
After working in administration and stepping into a worker’s compensation and injury management role, Lisa accepted voluntary redundancy to have her first child.
“When I rejoined the workforce, I gained a part-time position in the AGL call center as a customer service representative. After a few years, I was promoted to team leader within the call center. Retail call centers are a baptism of fire for leadership! This role was the start of my leadership journey in the business and gave me the foundational skills I needed to succeed. I also had a lot of flexibility in my hours, which reinforced that I had made the right choice to work here.”
Now, her range of experience allows her to evolve in her role and be drawn into discussions and be part of the decision making. She’s also accepted a variety of leadership training opportunities – including undertaking an MBA.
“Don’t be narrow and inflexible in your focus – a breadth of experience is invaluable. Do the roles and tasks that no one else wants to do. Actively listen, believe in yourself and remember opportunities give you the chance to grow and add something special to a position. What’s something unique you can bring to your role?”
2. Use data and analytics
More businesses have data at the core of decision making. Which is why having a strong grasp on key data points can be invaluable for leaders. One of Lisa’s biggest lessons has been gaining broader insights into data and analytics with the help of her team.
“Our data and analytics team are an absolute powerhouse. They translate business requirements into automated reporting that provides insights and analysis. The right data and systems ensure we can make effective operational decisions and get the best outcomes.”
Good data and analysis ensure the business has the workflow, materials and resources for delivery, that teams are aligned, and the business is moving in the right direction.
3. Lead through change
Change is an inevitable part of business growth and success. For Lisa, her proudest career achievements have been leading her team through these periods.
“Early in my career, we centralized functions, closed depots and moved people to one operational location. This was coupled with significant organizational changes and restructuring, as well as system and process changes – a never ending cycle.”
Many significant change pieces throughout Lisa’s time in the business saw her successful in an opportunity to be seconded into the role of GM Planning and Contracting. Lisa’s success in securing this role was her ability to help the business navigate change, as well as her people skills.
“Never underestimate the impact of change on people. My time in the planning and contracting position saw roles dissolved, and people leaving the business through redundancy. This type of change can be highly emotive and confrontational. I embraced this role and opportunity, because I knew what the business’s expectations were, and the impact it would have on people. Reflecting on this position, I was honored to be chosen to steer our teams through this difficult time.”
4. Lean on your team
Great leaders not only help their teams navigate change; they also rely on other team members for their expertise, insights and support.
Lisa enjoys working with various people throughout the business, including her leader, team members and colleagues in other departments. These moments come in a variety of forms, like daily check-ins, brainstorming sessions, operational and strategy meetings, and casual conversations.
“I have amazing mentors and sponsors in the business who believe in me. They’ve pushed me beyond my perceived abilities and comfort zone. I also work with great teams and lean heavily on them for their expertise.
“I love face-to-face interactions. I enjoy talking to our field and office staff to understand their ‘day in the life’ – what works well and what are their issues. It’s important to take the time to have conversations with everyone who contributes to the business.”
5. Strengthen a diverse workforce
As a leader, hiring diverse talent isn’t enough. It’s workplace experiences that shape how people work and thrive.
“I’m incredibly proud Zinfra is partnering with WORK180. A diverse workforce enables a richer conversation – women hold up half the sky! So, it’s important to gain different perspectives and to make sure women are at the table for important conversations and decisions.”
At times, we can all experience self-doubt, fear of failure or even Imposter Syndrome. This has been true for Lisa too. At the beginning of her journey, she never would have believed she could achieve so much in her career.
“Back yourself, rely on your work ethic and extend beyond your comfort zone. Never underestimate people. And knowing your ability to work with people at all levels will take you a long way.”