LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?
Jeremy> I got my first taste of leadership in 2006 as Brand Manager at CUB (Foster’s Group) and, at the time, only had one direct report. From there I moved onto another role at Ford, leading a team of four product and brand managers, all working on different cars. I loved it. Leadership provides me a platform to help those around me achieve outcomes and reach their potential. Personally, I find it much more rewarding to work and succeed as a team versus working independently.
LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?
Jeremy> Leaders are always learning and growing, personally as well as professionally. I discovered the type of leader I aspired to be when studying Business Management. I wrote a thesis on how to lead different-sized organisations, focusing specifically on actions and outcomes. Since then, I knew I wanted to be an empathetic and motivating leader, playing more of a coaching role.
LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?
Jeremy> I’ve been really fortunate in my career to have worked for and alongside some great leaders. However, I’ve also experienced the other side with some not-so-great leaders. And what I found is, you quickly learn to take inspiration from the good and leave the rest.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in leadership is that your actions are everything. With that, I follow three ‘golden rules’. Number one, you must genuinely care about others. Number two, don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t or haven’t done yourself. And finally, number three, always treat people with respect.
LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?
Jeremy> Throughout my career, I have taken pleasure in working and nurturing a desire to learn, grow and develop. I consider myself lucky to have been presented with new experiences and opportunities in my career journey.
While I have never had a specific goal to pursue leadership roles, my focus has always been on finding fulfilling work and making meaningful contributions. As my career has progressed, I have naturally taken on more leadership responsibilities, particularly in the realm of general management.
LBB> When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned?
Jeremy> I believe that a lot of leadership can be learnt, taught, practised and refined. While some individuals may have a natural inclination towards leadership, with diligent effort and practice, anyone can become an effective leader. Leaders that are committed to becoming better are well-positioned to be exceptional.
LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?
Jeremy> As a leader, it can be challenging to keep your energy high and adapt your leadership style to best interact with your team. It can also be exhausting to always be "on" and constantly shift your approach to match the needs of each team member.
To work through these challenges, I tend to prioritise self-care and look for ways to stay motivated and passionate about our company’s mission. This often means ensuring I’m getting enough sleep, exercise and proper nutrition to keep my energy levels up. I also find it helpful to take breaks and delegate tasks to keep burnout at bay.
It’s also important to stay flexible and open-minded. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member enables me to adjust my approach accordingly. By actively listening to feedback, communicating openly and being receptive to new ideas and perspectives, I’m empowered to lead based on what my team needs.
Sometimes, I also remind myself to take a step back and reflect. Seeking feedback from others can be helpful, as once you’re aware of your areas of weakness, it’s easier to develop strategies to address them.
LBB > Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?
Jeremy> I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect. I’ve made some bad judgment calls on recruitment and, at certain times, I haven’t been as ‘switched on’ and present for my teams as I’d have liked. But what’s important is continually reflecting, learning and evolving as a leader.
Learning what my triggers are and practising mindfulness and gratitude have worked for me, ensuring I bring the best version of myself to lead those around me.
LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered?
Jeremy> Authentic leadership is a must in my view – don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Be transparent and vulnerable but also stand for something. As a leader, I like to remain calm, considered and consistent. People look to leaders to help them, so you must be able to take in a lot of input and make decisions whilst providing guidance.
LBB> As you developed your leadership skills, did you have a mentor? If so who were/are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship?
Jeremy> Yes, I have had a few mentors in my career. They were individuals that I respect, and I valued their perspectives. Even more, they acted as great sounding boards. My mentors helped me by listening, offering advice and providing different perspectives and most of all, encouragement.
I also really enjoy being a mentor and helping others. I think it’s important to give back, so much so that I set up a mentoring program at Megantic with Mac.Robertson Girls' High School for students interested in careers in digital. The program is now in its third year.
I also participate in the RMIT Mentoring Program and continue to help mentor final-year students. My approach to mentoring is to listen, support, encourage and provide the individuals with some ideas and information to consider from my experiences.
LBB> In continually changing market circumstances, how do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through difficult waters?
Jeremy> There are always going to be ‘ups and downs’ in market conditions. As a leader, you must be really open and transparent with your teams whilst also remaining calm and optimistic about the strategies and plans that you’ve developed. You need to continue to listen, encourage and motivate those around you, actively helping them with their needs.
LBB> As a leader, what are some of the ways in which you’ve prioritised diversity and inclusion within your workforce?
Jeremy> Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are so important. At Megantic, I continually work to promote pathways and programs for women in digital and technology through the creation of mentorship programs.
LBB> How important is your company culture to the success of your business? And how have you managed to keep it alive with increases in remote and hybrid working patterns?
Jeremy> Culture is critical to the success of our business. With remote and hybrid teams, we continue to put our people first. As a service-based business, our people are our lifeblood. At the start of the pandemic, we pulled together and let everyone know that there would be no redundancies and we wouldn’t be stopping work. In fact, we agreed that we’d work even harder to support our clients and partners.
During the period of time when we were fully remote, we organised virtual get-togethers, trivia events, and glammed-up virtual awards ceremonies. We also sent out care packs to our employees’ homes, ensuring they had the best work-from-home setup, replete with all hardware, stand-up desks, extra monitors, etc. they needed. Being very flexible with working arrangements as people adjusted was critical and non-negotiable. Over-communicating was also key as some of the informal lunchtime office chats were lost during that time.
We have now evolved to a hybrid work model with two days (meeting light) from home and three days in the office. We really use our time in the office to collaborate with a focus on learning and development. We’ve even hired a career coach for everyone and have also ramped up our culture initiatives.
LBB> What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey?
Jeremy> Having trusted mentors, reading leadership theories, journaling and reflecting on the impact I’ve had on those around me