Curiosity – Jane Grover, SMCT CEO, On International Women’s Day

08 March 2019
Jane Grover, SMCT CEO, On International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s day! We decided to sit down and have a chat with one very influential woman; Jane Grover, CEO Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT).

Not only has Jane taken SMCT into a new direction, but she’s also paved the way for a new narrative within the sector of cemeteries and crematoria throughout the whole of Australia as well as making time to enjoy two things she’s very passionate about- fitness and football.

With a breadth of experience in different areas, did you have any previously formed expectations moving into the sector of cemeteries and crematoria?

Moving into this sector I had no real expectations or experience but what I did have was a great deal of curiosity; a wanting to understand customs and traditions. Through curiosity I set my own expectations about what the sector could and should be, asking myself - how does a trusted organisation keep connected and stay relevant to the ever-changing needs and values of our community?

Is there a key change that you’ve seen within SMCT and the sector as a whole?

Yes - we actually talk about memorial parks now as being for the living - that is a huge shift, a quantum change that is really a big step forward for the sector.

In changing this narrative we introduced wellbeing programs through the Centre for Care & Wellbeing as well as food and beverage services (Cafe Vita et flores) and have now begun to see a shift to services across the entire sector nationally. In some ways, it’s been quite a revolution that’s been occurring in the sense of people within the sector looking outwardly, rather than inwardly - challenging their dominant logic, challenging their thinking and assumptions of the sector have really changed.

Out of that, there’ll be more curiosity, more opportunities, more possibilities that equals better connections with the Victorian community as well as sustainability for the sector as a whole, and that really excites me.

What change would you still like to see within the sector?

More curiosity! That’s my word - curiosity. The importance of asking questions and being curious about possibilities rather than limiting yourself to what happened in the past, about being curious and saying what could the opportunities look like for future for this organisation and for the Victorian community. Keeping a fresh perspective on your thinking is really important.

How have you continued to grow yourself as CEO and thought-leader of SMCT across the whole of the sector?

I’ll say as a leader and as an individual, a person, the willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn has been a continuous cycle. To anyone that continues to evolve within their career, it’s their willingness to learn, unlearn and re-learn. If you can continue doing that you’re going to keep moving forward and I think that that has been a corner foundation of becoming a CEO. But it’s also been a foundation of personal growth, professional growth and not being scared to go into the unknown thinking ‘I don’t need to know all the answers, but I need to get a good group of people around me that can challenge my thinking, inform my thinking and be willing to shift’.

The hunger and the appetite to keep learning has underpinned and will underpin anyone’s success, whether they want to run, be a CEO, better themselves at cooking, or learn a language, it’s how willing are you to keep persevering at what you want and that really underpins success.

Is there one piece of advice that you were given that has impacted the way you do things today?

Yes, I’d have to say ‘You are the sole architect of your life and your career, so take responsibility.’ Through underpinning this with curiosity and a thirst to keep learning it’s a mentality of – ‘it doesn’t happen to me, I make it happen’ because at the end of the day the responsibility lies with you.

What advice would you pass on to others?

When you are genuinely committed to ongoing learning and curiosity – new insights and paradigms will surface. Be the change you want to be

Knowing that you enjoy your football, having time to exercise and be active, how do you go about juggling health and wellbeing throughout a busy lifestyle/ CEO?

Being committed and forming lifelong habits and patterns of behaviour have underpinned everything that I’ve been able to achieve. All of us make excuses ‘I can’t do that’, and ‘I’m too busy for that’, and when I think about my personal journey – having raised two children, having a husband who travels two weeks of every month, with my family living interstate – it’s through creating habits and patterns in my life I’ve been able to do all the things I’ve needed to do.

I have taken responsibility to make sure that I can run, that I can exercise and that at times has been incredibly challenging. I would say to all men and women that are wanting to pursue a career and keep themselves active and mentality fit, create lifelong habits and think I want to be fit, I want to be well, I want to be well for my children, I want to be mentally well for my colleagues, and then decide what responsibility you’re going to take to achieve that.

Connect with Jane Grover on LinkedIn here.

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