General Manager Health, Sustainability, Climate and Rail Safety at John Holland
"Alex is the most ‘non-consultant’ consultant we’ve ever come across – and is more of a trusted advisor."
After Covid, it’d been a while since we’d brought all the HSE and quality functions together in-person. We decided to hold some roadshows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to get feedback from across the business. We found Alex when we needed to find a facilitator quickly due to a late change and we haven’t looked back. As a segue to the roadshows, we’ve since engaged her to conduct independent reviews on certain parts of the business, with Alex now having helped us with four separate programs across the country.
During the roadshows there were up to 150 people in each room, and the way Alex kept the room engaged – the energy and the buy-in – that’s what gave me the idea that I could use Alex for some work that was a bit left of centre, in terms of going in and engaging with people face-to-face and facilitating independent reviews. I didn’t want a glossy report with graphs, pictures and recommendations, I just wanted the feedback verbatim, and in a format I could then share with our Senior Leadership Team. This was the approach we took and it worked because Alex was the person we sent in to talk to our workforce.
Alex didn’t use a survey or a generic set of questions, she went in and had conversations with our people during a series of carefully curated one-on-ones and focus group sessions. She spoke to senior and middle management, but the bulk of her engagement was with our frontline workforce. She’s so effective because she can engage with any audience, can read the room quite quickly, and can tailor her approach based on whether she’s working with frontline workers or executive level people. People talk to her like they’ve known her for 10-20 years because that’s the kind of rapport she builds, and quickly.
Across the four programs to date, and even where there were similar businesses with very different audiences, Alex had the ability to receive our scope and brief and within the blink of an eye, with minimum fuss to go out and get the job done. There’s nothing disingenuous about Alex – she is most ‘non-consultant’ consultant we’ve ever come across – and is more of a trusted advisor. Alex doesn’t have that typical ‘I’m going to come in and leave multiple hooks in the process so you need to come back to me’ mindset that some consultants can have. Her work speaks for itself, which is why we continue to give her more work off the back of each program.
While it wasn’t within Alex’s scope to prescribe specific recommendations (it was for us to work through the findings with each team thereafter), each review led to a variety of tangible outcomes including coaching, relationship building, and so on. The real impact with this work, however, was in the conduit it established between the workforce and our executives, and the opportunities and visibility it created from a due diligence perspective. There was one piece of work in particular, where my gut told me lots of things, but I wanted to know if my radar was right, so I got Alex to come in. I may know or think I know something’s going on, but the fact I can deploy her and within a week or two she can extract an incredible amount of feedback from our workforce, further validates the value she brings to our business.
Because of her agricultural background and her previous experience and history, she has an understanding that makes her very well suited to a multitude of industries that are heavy industry and high risk. Regardless of different dynamics, cultural levers, or diverse groups of people, she can mix with all walks of life and at every level throughout the business. Because of the way she works and the way she engages, I’d look to her any day.
Mathew + Denika Koch
Directors at Koch Farming
"Alex genuinely wants to get people safely home to their families at the end of each day, and to thrive in the industry that runs in her blood."
In 2020, we had an accident on farm with an employee who’d been with us for 12 months. We had to report that injury to SafeWorkSA, which then opened Pandora’s box.
Through the course of the investigation, we agreed to an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) in the hope of improving not only our own safety standards and culture, but that of our industry. We knew of Alex’s work around the place beforehand, had seen bits of what she’d been doing over the years and were really interested in it.
The EU initially required us to engage someone to do an independent audit of our farm and to refer to resources and implement ‘management systems’ that either weren’t relevant to the way we did things, or weren’t going to do much – if anything – in the way of actually preventing someone from getting hurt. We needed someone to come in and help us work with the Regulator, to advocate for a variation in the EU and to meet its deliverables in the most practical, meaningful way possible.
Before we engaged Alex, we were extremely overwhelmed. The word overwhelmed doesn’t even really cut to the core of the feelings we had. We were incredibly anxious and we avoided even talking about it together. We’re a married couple and we work together every day, but the anxiety that the whole topic brought up for both of us was so extreme, we kept pushing it down and moving on, almost ignoring it in a way.
Alex is a real asset to us and we’re grateful for everything she’s done. She’s real, and so relatable. The biggest thing with this is, we don’t get to knock off at the end of the day and walk away from it. It affects our life, our work and our relationships, and it’s real for Alex as well. Helping us is something she took on wholeheartedly. It’s so evident that Alex genuinely wants to get people safely home to their families at the end of the day, and to thrive in the industry that runs in her blood.
General Manager People + Culture at Qube Bulk (formerly Kalari)
"Alex doesn't come across as the sort who 'teaches' safety - she is more about the listening, open questions and the ability to make sure people are heard and understood."
In the world of truck driving, we’ve traditionally focussed on risk factors such as speed, fatigue, distraction, driver behaviours and drugs and alcohol, but felt we might have been missing something in addressing what we’d coined ‘complacent behaviour’.
Alex doesn’t come across as the sort who ‘teaches’ safety – she is more about the listening, open questions and the ability to make sure people are heard and understood. She’s very energetic and engaging, and she made people want to get on board and be involved. There were very few people who decided to stand back, she really drew people in quickly.