ALP Graduate Kathryn Crofts
'education is the best investment for yourself'
Here at WLA, we are all about supporting female leadership. We have so many incredible women come and take leadership courses with us, to develop themselves as leaders in the workplace and their communities. This is the first in a series of blog posts where we go behind the scenes with some of these women about the courses they completed, their insights and what they think we should all be doing to step up and be better leaders. Today, we chatted with Kathryn Crofts, Board Secretary and Non-Executive Director of Road Sense Australia, who has completed the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP).
WLA: Can you tell me a little bit about why you wanted to do a leadership course?
Kathryn Crofts (KC): “I had actually been looking for a leadership course for quite some time. I did a course with the University of Queensland and absolutely loved it. It was a bit of a taster and I was ready to do something else.
I wanted to do my MBA but it wasn’t the right time. When the ALP came up at WLA it ticked all the right boxes and I thought, ‘why not?’ I enjoy learning new things and the peer network and coaching was something that piqued my interest."
WLA: What did you learn about yourself as a leader and as a person while you were doing the ALP?
KC: “To be honest, some of the work we did as we progressed through the course was quite confronting. I thought it would be quite theory based, like what you would expect at university, so I thought it would be fine.
However, when it came to some of the face-to-face sessions it was quite personal. We deep-dived into who we really are as a person and what our values are. A surprising topic, but so incredibly relevant. There were times I thought, ‘oh my gosh, this is really, really hard,’ and I wasn’t alone in the room thinking that.
I think everyone in our group quickly realised how it could be seen as quite confronting, but it was actually really good because we were all honest and really open to getting the most out of the experience and the journey. It was tough, but we learnt so much about ourselves and who we are, so we can be better individuals and better leaders as well.”
WLA: What did you learn and what have you put into practice?
KC: “We covered a lot in the program. In particular, for me, was a lot of reflecting in taking that ‘balcony view’ approach, looking at the bigger picture, and seeing things from other people’s perspectives. I think having the understanding to step back in some situations and look around is really beneficial.
“I was also amongst an incredibly talented, inspiring and remarkable group of women, some of whom I would give my right arm to possess some of their leadership traits! On the first day we all walked into that room uncertain with what to expect or what we could offer, and yet we all walked away empowered and energised.”
WLA: What would your advice be to someone who wants to boost their leadership skills in the workplace?
KC: “If you want to build on your leadership skills then I think you should do a course like this. A big part of the course is networking with the group you’re with and that has been beneficial as well. I’m part of lean-in circles, networking groups and mentoring programs, but the WLA program provided a different platform where everyone could equally grow, develop and support each other.
Reflecting on my cohort in particular, we all just clicked, and it was just an open, honest space where we could all support each other and grow. Having a career coach and a peer coach was pivotal in my learning journey, too. I haven’t experienced anything like it. It was really unique and I would encourage anyone considering it to just bite the bullet, put your hand up and go for it. Education is the best investment for yourself.”
WLA: Anything else you would like to add?
KC: “It is worth mentioning that it doesn’t finish at the end of the course. The relationships that you establish in the twelve-month period will last you for as long as you want them to.
On the last day of the course, we made commitments to ourselves and to each other to do something different that would help us with our professional and personal development. We agreed to support each other by being accountable to each other as a way of encouragement to follow through with what we promised to do.
“To this day, we are still supporting each other and continuing the journey through connecting regularly via webinars, social media and face-to-face meetings. Once you form your sisterhood it’s not something you want to let go of – we all need our promoter group.”
Kathryn is a founding Board member of Road Sense Australia and has been Board Secretary since 2015.
A specialist in media and communications, Kathryn currently manages the external and internal communications function for transport and logistics company CHEP. As part of the Strategy and Marketing team, she is responsible for PR and customer communications, media, advertising, sponsorship, events, graphic design and all internal communication for the business. In addition she is a Justice of the Peace and First Aid Officer in the workplace.
Kathryn also runs a private consultancy that provides communications and design expertise to small and large businesses in the areas of copywriting, graphic design, social media strategy and execution, crisis communications, media relations and public relations.