Three minutes with WISE staff member, Anita Wood
Three minutes with WISE staff member, Anita Wood
At WISE, our passion and purpose is to support our clients find work that they love and in an environment that embraces diversity. Often, we highlight job seekers’ success stories and their employers, but we rarely show you the people behind the scenes that helped make that happen. Without further ado, please meet one of our own, Anita Wood.
How long have you been working with WISE and where?
I’ve been working with WISE for 11 years. I’m currently the Business Manager for the Maroondah Region, which covers Lilydale, Belgrave, Wantirna South and Ringwood plus neighbouring suburbs.
I applied to progress my career and have been really fortunate to work across the business.
WISE has always thrown different challenges my way, they still do and that’s what I love. In the last 11 years I have taken on various responsibilities across different locations including managing a site to being part of the Operational Support Team. The latter has seen me extend my support with site performance assistance, relieving Business Managers on annual leave which included travelling interstate. Our Darwin site was managed by the Operational Support Team in the early days when we set up in the NT.
What do you love about the community you’re working in?
The Maroondah site is only 12 months old. Despite living in the area, I have only worked in the area since I took on this new role. Apart from playing sport and local shopping I am fairly new to the community. When the opportunity arose to build a new team within my neighbourhood, I had to put up my hand. It has been challenging, daunting and exhilarating all at once.
As soon as we opened, I had to build a caseload of both employers and clients. What I’ve loved is having the opportunity to really connect with the community through WISE pop-ups at local shopping centres. It’s been a great way to display our services and inform the community on how we can support. We started off with one staff member and have grown to eight staff in 12 months, providing more chances to reach out and support our locals.
What does a typical day at work look like?
Shopping centre pop-ups, meeting with the local community, meeting with clients, assisting them as required and working with the team to make sure they have the necessary tools and support to help them achieve their client’s employment goals. The Maroondah Employment Services Region went from five providers to 17, so my days are spent driving and promoting our Disability Employment Services. It’s just the best especially when we’re able to place clients in great working environments.
What’s one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
I think in the disability arena, it’s probably tapping into employers, their job vacancies and pathway to recruitment. At WISE, part of our job is to encourage employers to be more progressive in their approach, looking beyond the standard recruitment processes. For instance, if we’re working with someone who has autism, a formal interview may not allow them the opportunity to adequately present themselves.
This was the case when we recently placed a female client with adult autism into a large national company. Her passion for the product meant that stacking shelves combined with the repetition of the daily work has enabled her to secure ongoing work. We reverse market for this reason. That is when we go out to market, chat with employers, take out the formality, identify potential recruitment gaps and then match that with a client’s interest and skills.
What’s been a career highlight?
Winning the Leadership award, being the Business Manager within the Operations Support Team. This included working on Tenders and supporting our then new Darwin site in its infancy. In my current role as Business Manager in Maroondah, there is so much work to be done with continuing to build our business in this region.
How do you juggle the management of a team, client workload and admin? Any tips?
It’s a balance of just do, diary management, being flexible, maintaining a disciplined approach, being available to the team, and making sure that clients and employers always come first. The team are very customer centric so I know that they always have the best interest of the client front and centre. You have to be satisfied with the juggle at all times as the variety of the role and work means there’s always a lot of things on the go. If you have to finish one thing in order to move onto the next, then working in this industry can be tough. As such, multitasking with a smile and an attitude of: nothing is impossible.
What gets you through the day?
Determination to succeed, being part of a great team and believing in what you do. Also, our culture, team and music. To me, whatever is on the radio, I’m good with. Although I must say I love Christina Aguilera and her song ‘Beautiful’. It’s fitting given its message is about inner beauty and self-esteem, not worrying about what people say. When clients choose us, I feel thrilled and delighted and hope to share that same, beautiful sentiment to anyone that walks through our doors.