How I Got Here - Liz Wilkinson
This month I was able to finally catch up with Liz Wilkinson (she’s an incredibly busy woman!) over a glass of red, and learn more about how she got to where she is today. Liz is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, yet finds time to develop those around her. She’s an inspiring example of how hard work, identifying opportunities and developing a deep understanding of your industry can support your journey to achieve career satisfaction.
What is your current role and how does it fulfil you?
I’m presently the Vice President of Move Management for ANZ/Asia/Middle East for Sirva Worldwide Relocation & Moving. I’m responsible for the move management coordination in the region, so whether people are relocating domestically or internationally and I oversee 102 staff in total. My team is responsible for that coordination across our vast client base covering consumer, corporate, government and freight & shipping. The key focus of my role is leadership, strategy, business process and stakeholder engagement with multiple departments and third-party vendors.
The role fulfils me as I love people interaction, and I especially love working with people and watching them grow. I thrive when developing teams and watching things evolve and the journey I’ve been on has literally involved breaking everything down and rebuilding it in a different manner. There’s been a strong strategic focus on how we want our function to work which has been interesting and scary and I’ve had to make some pretty big decisions which could’ve gone one way or the other. Knowing that I have that autonomy in my role within the realms of the business to decide on the approach and build the teams and processes around that appeals to me. I especially love leadership, particularly mentoring. What you see if what you get with me and what I’ve learnt over the years and in my current role, is that people appreciate it more and react a lot better if they see the real you.
What career decisions and experience led you to where you are today?
I’ve been within this industry for 14 years and have been lucky within the organisation as I’ve had multiple roles and am now on my 10th role. I achieve something in each role then feel I need to move onto the next thing. I had been at a crossroad in my career as I got older, and thought that I had pigeonholed myself, and at that point in time I was in Global Sales & Account Management and needed to work out if I wanted to stay in that role, change industries or jump back into operations. I decided to move to operations, and I think it was the best decision I made. I was told by others that it may not have been the right move but have got fulfilment from building those teams which ultimate service those global clients I was previously looking after.
I found myself in this industry through utilising my networks and taking a step back to move forward. I used to be in sales in the liquor industry and I also played and coached softball and wanted a change. I was coaching a girl and her mother was the HR Director where I am now, and she said, “I’ve got roles but they’re basic” and I decided I had to get into the industry somehow, so I started off as an admin assistant in the insurance sector. Within 3 months I saw another role advertised and applied for that and since then have shifted around and up.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to end up where you have?
You’ve got to have an element of ambition. People ask how have I done it, and I always say you’ve got to find something that interests you.We spend so much time working and putting in the hours, and to do that there has to be enjoyable elements. It’s all about helping people, being fulfilled by helping support people in one of the biggest life choices they have to make and supporting those stressful moments. There’s a lot of variety, not one move is the same and the industry has gone through a lot of upheaval during Covid, especially across shipping lines/port congestion and people’s lives are sitting on those ships and planes. As the service provider we’ve had to keep them informed and build relationships.
I’ve grown my career through seizing opportunities and working hard and not by getting 20 pieces of paper. You can’t just sit on your behind and wait for things to happen. There has never been a time in my career where I’ve waited to be tapped on the shoulder, I’ve needed to put my hand up. It’s all down to you doing the hard work and putting your hand up.