Adapting to new challenges has been a hallmark of Christine Kaine CMgr AFIML’s career. From leading a multidisciplinary team of social workers, reporting to a Board at age 23, to building an early childhood training organisation and attracting multi-million dollar funding contracts and then transitioning to human resources leadership in the manufacturing industry, Christine’s commitment to her leadership development has been unwavering.
Her approach to continuous learning has allowed her to move seamlessly cross industry, and she now has a portfolio career. This includes a part-time human resources role and management consulting to the not-for-profit mental health sector where one of her current projects is Acting Executive Officer for Mental Health Carers Australia, developing governance structures.
At age 23, you were appointed as Executive Director for a rural counselling organisation. How did this role influence your leadership?
Moving into a leadership role so early in my career was a life-changing experience. I had to learn on the ground and fast. Navigating leadership, management, funding contracts, staffing, and working with a Board were critical experiences that supported my future growth and development. I quickly identified what I needed to learn more about!
Your career has spanned the not-for-profit mental health care sector, early childhood education and now manufacturing. How have you adapted to embrace these varied challenges?
There are differences in the workforces driven by profit and those driven by community outcomes, however in both cases, the need to succeed in the business is critical. I have learned that you need to be flexible, and that relationships are the key. Learning from peers and colleagues about the intricacies of the workforce, individual organisations, the politics and the nuances that surround this is critical for adapting to different roles and embracing challenges. This is where the art of active listening provides so many benefits.
Why did you decide to apply for the Institute of Managers and Leaders’ (IML) Chartered Manager Accreditation?
I have formal post-graduate qualifications but was interested that IML offer the opportunity to be recognised for current leadership practice. The ability to implement leadership learnings and achievements within a recent and short-term period is the cornerstone of the Chartered Manager application. I could see great value in achieving recognition for this. The application process itself helped me to enhance my CV, by really focusing on the key achievements in recent times.
In what way has achieving Chartered Manager status impacted your career?
I changed roles a couple of years ago after my daughter was born to take a step away from executive leadership and have more availability as a mother. My life had been focused on my career, and I wanted to find a way to stay true to progressing my career in this new role.
I am outcomes focused and driven, and in my current role I continued to strive for achievement in leadership. Being awarded with the Chartered Manager status has enabled me to demonstrate that while I am undertaking a different role now, I am able to prove my currency in leadership achievements. I believe this will assist my career journey into the future.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Moving from a female dominated non-profit, community-based environment into a male dominated, manufacturing/ building industry in a commercial environment. It has been an incredible learning curve, and one that has allowed me to diversify my skills and knowledge across industries.
What are you most proud of?
My study achievements have helped me to become the leader I am today, with a diverse range of skills and experiences. I studied my MBA early in my leadership career to help build a theory base for my practical skills and undertaking HR Certification over this past year has provided me with another level of knowledge and skills to apply in my current and future environments.
Professional learning and furthering qualifications are such critical components to ensuring you are an ongoing learner and open to new ideas, skills and approaches to leadership. Networking with peers to share and learn from each other’s experiences is important and being linked with professional membership organisations provides a great avenue to do this.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
Career and family can come hand in hand. The early years of my working life I was so focused on my career that I realised I was in my early 30s and had no social or family life. I learned to create a balance to make sure I had time for me, as well as my career.
The same was true when I had my daughter. I thought this meant that I would have to put my career on hold, but thanks to IML, further qualification opportunities and some great job options, I was able to have both. You don’t need to necessarily sacrifice one for the other. It is a matter of finding balance and having supports in both personal and career life.
To find out more about Chartered Manager, visit charteredmanager.com.au.