What do rugby, hockey, ice dancing, and world-class data science and advanced analytics have in common? And no, the answer isn’t a sequel to Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s oscar nominated movie, Moneyball.
The answer we are looking for, is Cassie Jordan.
Cassie has recently taken on the role of Head of Delivery at Woolworths Group‘s advanced analytics division — wiq. She’s also a big fan of, and participant in, several team sports, including rugby and hockey. And as for ice dancing? Well, more on that later…
Cassie’s pathway to leadership
Cassie took on the Head of Delivery role in 2019, and then in December 2022, she was also invited by Woolworth’s Chief Analytics Officer to sit on his leadership team too.
“I remember being very calm and polite when he asked me and when he walked away, I high fived my fellow new leadership team member.”
She adds that while she was “ecstatic”, she also knew she had worked hard to get the opportunity and that she was ready.
“I was thrilled to have been recognized as someone who could contribute to discussions rather than just facilitate them.”
As Head of Delivery, Cassie now directly manages 16 team members and is heavily involved in the company’s data science and advanced analytics set-up. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also studying an MBA.
“I’m currently completing my master’s degree in business administration with great support from my team at work. They help me juggle all my commitments, proofread essays, you name it they have done it.”
But it’s her background in team sports, that has really shaped her inclusive style of leadership, and she is always keen to allow room to get ideas from all players. Something she says has made for a sharp and creative culture in the wiq team.
The leadership lessons learned from the field
Team consciousness comes very easily to Cassie.
“I played rugby for many years until too many injuries made me rethink my choices!
“I am now back to playing hockey. Last season I played for two teams, one on field and one in goal.”
Team sport is more than fun and games for Cassie though. Her need to be part of something bigger, a connection to a collective goal, is a central driving force for everything Cassie does.
“I have always loved team sports. I think they have taught me a great deal about diversity, inclusion, how to work with other people, and how to overcome adversity and setbacks.”
Bringing this mentality to her work and career has been a seamless exercise, she says.
“I love it when we have a session together, I get so much energy from them, and I love watching them interact with each other to have a bit of fun.”
But, for all her openness to fun, and to allow her team members to have a voice, she is also an inveterate planner.
“So much planning goes into my role,” she tells us. “I think people would expect it to only be about delivering projects or products, but it is so much more.
“My role is actually about people development, team well-being, operational effectiveness and, yes, a bit of delivery!”
The life lessons learned from the dancefloor
We mentioned Cassie’s role also had a bit to do with dancing, well it seems that for Cassie, there are just as many life lessons to be learned on the dancefloor as there are on the hockey field.
Cassie shares that her ‘best day ever’ at work was a team bonding session:
“The entire team was there,” she recalls. “There were some panel discussions, a few technical breakout sessions, and then the fun started.
“We ran a hilarious practice session with interactive game style activities that had the entire team crying with laughter. And we finished the whole event with a party,”
Cassie says she dragged people up onto the dancefloor, and the rest is office history. Cassie’s joy at the memory is summed up by the fact that she “got to do all my favorite things; engage with the team, get to know new people, present, host interactive sessions, deep dive into content, and dance!”
It seems a bit of bop is very much part of Cassie’s management style.
“I am usually the first one on the dancefloor. I’m an incredibly outgoing person who loves to laugh.
“I also hate the awkward feeling you get when you are around new people, and no one knows how to act, so I try my best to never let anyone feel like that around me.”
Clearing a space for women in technology and data science
Cassie credits several women who have encouraged her and helped her to reach her position.
“At Woolworths Group, we have embraced the diversity of thought, of culture, of gender — We have celebrated women in analytics.
“I have been empowered to make decisions within the organization, to bring in team members and to make changes where needed. I am surrounded by talented, smart, driven, and highly capable people who push me to be the best version of myself.”
Cassie’s commitment to diversity along with Woolworths Group’s energy in that space means that there is a truly diverse and inclusive vibe among her team.
“Having the right people in the right place is worth its weight in gold.
“As a leader you don’t have to be an expert in everything, you just need to surround yourself with the best group of experts you can. Better outcomes are driven by doing that.”
Whatever Cassie is doing is clearly working. Her career is booming and in March 2023 she won a National Women Leading Technology Delivery award.
As a cutting-edge team leader, Cassie is re-making just what it means to be a boss, with group culture and a team spirit being front and center of her approach.