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LIV Leaders: Carolyn Harrington, General Manager, Commercial, Law Institute of Victoria

LIV Leaders: Carolyn Harrington, General Manager, Commercial, Law Institute of Victoria

By Melissa Lirosi

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To celebrate our upcoming Women in Leadership Conference on 28 April, we had a chat to some of our own LIV Leaders about their careers and the advice they have for women looking to move into positions of leadership. Our second interviewee is Carolyn Harrington, General Manager – Commercial.
 
Can you give us an overview of your career and let us know some of the highlights?

My career is very different to what I studied at University, nursing. I actually never wanted to be a nurse as I am not great in such a structured environment. Also I spent my whole time crying on the ward – no one wants their nurse to cry!

From nursing I moved into marketing and business development. I got the role that set me up for life at age 22 working for a small marketing and PR agency. The owner had a baby 10 weeks early and called me at 7am to tell me I was now in charge of everything! For a year I ran the business while the owner took maternity leave. I helped the company acquire clients like Axa, NAB and BHP and significantly grow the yearly revenue.

I was offered partnership which was a huge compliment but I declined. I realised I wanted flexibility to move around. When I was approached by an IT start-up company for an international role I couldn’t resist. I spent a couple of years helping them get acquired by a NASDAQ company before moving to London for ten years.

Moving back to Australia I got approached to be the CEO of a data analytics IT start-up. This role exposed me to Boards and raising investment. The CEO of the LIV approached me for the new role of GM of Commercial after I did some consulting at the LIV.

How do you approach leadership in your role at the LIV?

When it comes to my team I make sure I have great line managers (which I do) and I give them clear direction on what they should focus on. I leave them to get on with it and let them know I am here if they need me to help or bounce ideas off someone.

Also I think saying thank you goes a long way with your team. I also genuinely value my team and love having a laugh with them.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a leader and how have you overcome them?

A key challenge for me was my age. I got a lot of great experience early on in my career however recruiters wouldn’t put me forward or push for me as I was too young for the role even though they acknowledged I was more than qualified.

What is the greatest lesson you have learnt in your career?

I have learnt four things. The first is there is always a solution to every problem! Keep calm as you won’t remember it when the next issue comes along.

The second is if you can add time so you can make an informed decision then do it. People feel they need to solve things straight away but sometimes they solve themselves.

The third is don’t avoid confrontation by putting it off. You are going to have to sort it out so take out your emotion and chat to the other party.

Lastly, not everything needs to be said and sorted out in email. Why not try something old school like go and see your colleague or pick up the phone and call them. A good working relationship isn’t created and maintained solely through email!

What advice would you give women looking to move into positions of leadership?

As a manager your role is to help your staff achieve in their roles. You do this by giving your team their focus, the resources they need to deliver, support when they need it and appreciation. You also need to give them enough space so they can own their project.

Being a manager is a privilege and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

To learn more from inspiring women leaders including well-known author and journalist Tracey Spicer and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton, don’t miss the LIV’s Women in Leadership Conference on 23 May 2018.”


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