"The greatest gift any teacher or trainer or educator can give their students is how to think, not what to think" - Fiona Maybery
The quote above is one of the many reasons that we're privileged to have Fiona as part of Team MADI. I first met Fiona over a year ago in a professional capacity and I jotted down my thoughts about Fiona in my notes at the time, which were intelligent, caring, people-focussed and grounded. I love Fiona's career journey which has been truly organic and not by design, but she has always recognised her strengths and skills and how they can be transferred. I hope you enjoy learning more about Fiona and I couldn't agree more about her one piece of advice!
What is your current role, and how does it fulfill you? I work as a Coach, Trainer, and Facilitator both at MADI Talent Studio and various training organisations in both the VET sector (Accredited and Non-Accredited) and Professional Development Sector. At MADI I am an Associate Career Coach and as a Trainer and Facilitator, I deliver training in Business, Leadership, and Mental Health as well as Professional Employability Programs.
In all of the various hats that I wear, I see my role as a coach, trainer, or facilitator as helping and supporting people to discover what’s important to them, not only in terms of their personal and professional development but also how they can further develop their knowledge in their chosen field or how they might reinvent themselves as well. As a coach, I love working with people 1:1 as well as 1:Many and creating a safe place for people to learn and explore more about themselves and make decisions for themselves about how they want to contribute to the world of work – whatever that means to each individual. It is incredibly fulfilling and a privilege to see people develop confidence in themselves and discover what is possible.
As a trainer and facilitator, the most rewarding part of my job is not just seeing people growing in confidence and expanding their knowledge on any given topic, but that they are learning to think about ideas, interrogate them and make their own minds up about ideas and concepts and how it fits into their own world view. The greatest gift any teacher or trainer or educator can give their students is how to think, not what to think.
What career decisions and experiences led you to where you are today? After finishing 1st year of university, where I was studying Journalism, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up! I knew I wasn’t passionate about Journalism as a career but knew that whatever I did moving forward I should be. So, it’s fair to say that my early career decisions have been organic and not planned by design.
In all the industries that I have worked in over my career to date (Medical, Brand Loyalty, Management Systems, Insurance) there is a consistent theme of working and connecting with people and a passion for people leadership and relationship management. Whilst I am not a lover of strict rules, I discovered that I like to understand rules, processes, and systems, so I can bend not break, by being creative and innovative at how we improve our processes and systems with people at the core everything we do. Being able to improve “how we do things”, by understanding “why we do things” is for me the first step in creating change.
Working in the medical field for nearly 12 years as a Medical Receptionist - Medico-Legal Typist and Office Manager in General Surgery, General Practice, and Podiatry is where I learned a lot about people, often seeing people on their worst day as well as their best. It taught me the value of human connection and empathy when working with people and understanding their needs. From here I went on to work with Qantas (Qantas Club and Frequent Flyer Service Centre) initially in the call centre, as I had made the decision I needed to start somewhere if I was going to change industries and career, and this was one of the best decisions I made in my career as is pivotal to where I am now in my career.
The call centre environment was a great place to understand the inner workings of a corporate environment and learn and develop the skills in leadership and managing complex teams that spring-boarded me to more senior career opportunities. The confidence that I gained from working at Qantas, allowed me to take the biggest risk in my career at that time and that was to leave with nowhere to land. This was big, I had grown up in an environment and had it instilled in me that when you leave one job you always have one to go to.
So, when I had to re-apply for my role as a Team Leader (it had been a secondment role for over 3 years) as it was finally being made permanent didn’t go my way as expected (I had a high performing team, receiving great feedback and performance reviews), I had to deal with probably for the first time what felt like professional rejection and of course made me reflect on who I was and who I was being both personally and professionally. And of course, I made the decision to leave, and I gave 6 weeks’ notice (just before Christmas), took a deep breath, and set about getting something new where I felt I would be appreciated, I could continue to grow and develop as a Leader. By the time my last day rolled around, I had two job offers and it was from here that I started working at Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) as the Australasian Client Service Manager managing the Customer Service team and eventually Key Accounts.
My time at LRQA was filled with incredible opportunities for personal and professional development and growth, working on global projects and international travel (not as glamorous as it sounds). After 5 years with LRQA, my role was made redundant as a part of a global restructure and again I found myself in unchartered territory and the experience of my first redundancy. I initially took some time off to recharge and reset before securing another senior role in Insurance with Domestic and General. It was during this time that I started feeling like something had shifted and that the work I was doing, was no longer as fulfilling as it had been and so after six months, I made the decision to leave (again with nowhere to land) to pursue studies and a career in coaching. This was a much easier decision to make because I knew I would be OK and I had a renewed purpose and focus on what I wanted to do with my life.
Not long after I had started my coaching journey, I had an incredible opportunity to work with Bounce Australia (not the trampolines!) and upskilling as a qualified trainer and assessor, delivering a 25-day program behaviour change program, transforming the mindsets and beliefs of long-term unemployed and supporting them in their journey to finding self-belief and self-worth and meaningful employment. And the rest as they say is history. The greatest skill I have continued to hone is networking. Never underestimate the power of your network and the value that you add to the people and the organisations you work for. It has been through networking that I secured new roles and opportunities which I am ever grateful for.
The journey over the past 7 years since I stepped away from a corporate career has been ultimately fulfilling, challenging (I have truly learned what it means to hustle!) and one I wouldn’t change. I now know what I want to be when I grow up!
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to end up where you have?
Develop and foster your network, it is the most valuable tool you have in your job search tool kit!
If you would like to learn more about the wonderfully talented Fiona, and the work she does as part of Team MADI you can check it out here! Be fabulous Lisa xx