Spotlight on Louise

15 June 2023
Five people in dressy attire stand in a row in front of decorative balloons.
Louise (far right) and her ELP cohort at the 2020 SMCT Awards night.

Our Spotlight series highlights some of the incredible members of staff that makes Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust a wonderful place to work. Today we are meeting our General Manager for Marketing, Louise, and learn about her experiences in the Enterprise Leadership Program and her surprise interest in dinosaurs.

Tell us about your role at Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.

I’m the General Manager for Marketing and have been at SMCT for almost 5 years. Among other things my team look after our brand, advertising, and digital channels such as the website.

What was your experience during the Enterprise Leadership Program?

The Enterprise Leadership Program (ELP) was an in-depth, practiced growth plan for leadership skills. It was facilitated by Hamish, who is possibly the best facilitator of a program I have ever experienced. It covered three modules: leading self, leading teams, and leading enterprise.

This was the longest ELP at SMCT due to COVID as we kicked off right about the time the pandemic did, which meant we took most of our journey online and over an extended period. Even with the restrictions, it was wonderful to build long lasting connections with colleagues, and genuinely grow through the process.

What benefits did you get from the ELP?

We built a cohort that still connects meaningfully to this day. I learned that honesty and vulnerability have a central place in strong leadership skills. Also that self-care is vital to success to truly lead in a sustainable way – “fit your own oxygen mask first” if you will. At times, the process was uncomfortable, but we trusted in Hamish’s skills to guide us through the three modules. He made the whole process enjoyable. The skills learned in this program are things I use every day, so this is not a toolkit which will live on the shelf.

What is one thing that surprised you about working within the cemeteries industry?

The diversity and level of skillsets. I knew the industry was complex, but the skills across our organisation required to keep everything working well is mind-blowing. Our people are phenomenal.

What advice would you share with new or future employees at SMCT?

Never lose sight of your ‘why’. Even seemingly adjacent tasks and supporting team functions mean the Victorian community have a better experience at a difficult time.

Why would you recommend applying for the ELP?

As someone who values personal and professional development and have had my fair share of both over the years, Hamish facilitated the single most useful and enjoyable course I’ve completed. I would encourage anyone who is interested in growing and open to being vulnerable to put their hat in the ring. You are not too busy. At the end of the day you get out what you put in, so if you are interested commit to really being present through the process and stay curious.

If you can, share one memorable interaction you have had with a customer or colleague during your time at SMCT.

It’s hard to forget the times that Jake has made appearances at multiple events over the years dressed as a Christmas elf… That’s an impressive costume!

What did you want to be when growing up?

A palaeontologist. I was about 5 when I discovered dinosaurs and it became an infatuation. Not many years after that I started reading biographies of the palaeontologists and their discoveries in the USA. The librarians kept redirecting me to the children’s section thinking I was lost, but I kept finding my way back. This was the precursor to an archaeology camp I attended aged 11 (there weren’t a lot of palaeontology camps in Northern Ireland, so that had to do) and I still have fossils I found on that trip.

What was your first job?

I worked in a pharmacy at 15. I was terrified of giving people the wrong medication accidentally.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’ve just finished writing an EP and am working on the demos at the moment. I’m hoping to get this into production before the year ends, but we’ll see what happens.

I’m also doing a science degree part time and am wrestling with a second-year biochemistry and molecular biology module currently.

It’s good to challenge yourself - that’s what I keep telling myself anyway!

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