My current assignment came about from a quick conversation at a community get together one weekend. One minute I was planning my Monday around my son’s swimming class and some grocery shopping and the next I was preparing to step into the CEO’s chair at a local community run family and children’s centre the following morning.
What do you know about running a childcare facility you may well ask? Well other than dropping my son off there 4 times a week – not a lot would have probably been my answer 8 weeks ago. But in that time I’ve learned a huge amount about leadership in what is a very emotive field. Your key customers are parents who leave their most precious possessions in your care every day and they expect the best in terms of educational service delivery. At the same time it is a field which struggles to retain the funding it needs and where operations are run on margins of as little as 3 – 5%.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much the role of a leader translates across disciplines and how much I have enjoyed using my skills in a new field. In a short time I’ve had the opportunity to learn about many of the challenges of operating in a sector where the regulatory requirements are high, staff turnover is high and yet the funding is low. It has been really insightful to learn from educators, health workers and other support functions about what a CEO can do to make to their jobs easier, as well as fulfilling and rewarding.
So would I do it all again if another opportunity came along? Absolutely. Taking on this role has really highlighted to me the opportunities that exist out there to support small community focused organisations that do not have the organisational depth to fill such senior roles when they become vacant. Whether your CEO wants to take long service leave, or you just have a gap while you search for the ideal permanent candidate there are alternatives out there for small organisations who need to keep the ship afloat. So don’t always look for obvious and you could be pleasantly surprised at the results.