Meet Kerryn Fewster, Managing Director of Change2020

January 19, 2021

 

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself (who you are, what you do etc).

I am immersed in the world of change and leadership, having founded Brisbane-based consultancy Change2020 some 15 years ago. 

I have the privilege of working with some of Australia’s most forward-thinking and courageous business leaders, helping them to lead themselves and their people through uncertain times and workplace disruption. 

Over my 25-year career, I have developed a passion for change and ambiguity and specifically how it can impact an individual’s wellbeing and performance in the workplace. I am a bit of a change junkie myself – I’m very comfortable with change and ambiguity, but not everybody is, so my job is to help our business leaders become more adaptable and more resilient so they can move forward, despite the unknowns.

Over the past 12-months, I have been peppered with questions about changing our name now we have hit the big 2020 – but absolutely not, it is all about 2020 vision and given the year we have had, we have to keep an eye on the future, 

Beyond this, I have a revolving door of children, some mine, some my partners, and some are friends, nieces and nephews – just how I like it! I am passionate about AFL, in particular, my beloved Carlton (an upside of COVID-19 has been having the AFL on our doorstep!) and am at my best when surrounded by good conversations, lots of laughter and planning my next holiday. 

Q: What are you most proud of?  

I am proud of many, many things. My children, of course. I am proud of my mum who has been on her own for nearly three years since we lost Dad and has been so brave and wonderful. I am proud of my team; being a small business means you just have to dig deep, be prepared to stretch yourself and find a way to be comfortable even when the market is challenging when things don’t go to plan. I am proud of myself; I continue to push myself well out of my comfort zone and learn and stay grounded – for example, writing that I am proud of myself is a push! 

Q: What drives you?  

I honestly believe the world will be a better place if we can lean into ambiguity, change and uncertainty. Our world will continue to change at an increasingly fast pace and we must equip ourselves with the skills to step towards the change, not run from it. I want to inspire people to get curious about uncertainty so their performance and wellbeing flourishes rather than languishes due to the fear of change. 

Q: What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt (in life or business)?

To be authentic and tenacious. To be yourself while you chase your dreams; people will remember the experience of working with you and therefore ‘want more’. You will have super hard times, you will be plagued by self-doubt and you will feel exhausted, but remaining true to yourself and finding a way to push further and harder will reap rewards.   

Q: How can employers remain relevant in their workplace?

Our research with the Queensland University of Technology found that only 10 per cent of leaders have a clear tolerance of ambiguity which means in the face of uncertainty – they are decisive; they explore different approaches to deal with complex and unfamiliar problems they engage widely to plan a way forward and they are agile and flexible, taking people on the journey with them. 

That 10 per sent share common traits and habits, some of which include being courageous, being curious, being mindful and being creative at work. So to remain relevant in the workplace and guide Australian business through uncharted waters, leaders and employees need to aim for that top 10%

Q: How can businesses best prepare their employees for change?

The best way businesses can prepare their employees for change is to embrace it! We cannot avoid it, fight it or hope it goes away – change will continue to move at a faster pace and become increasingly complex. Leaders and their teams have no choice but to lean in and equip themselves with skills and techniques that will allow them to embrace the uncertainty and ambiguity. 

We know that people respond to change differently and our tolerance and acceptance levels are not the same. But we were curious and wanted to know ‘why’; why do some people adapt quite readily to change while others struggle? We have been partnering with leading academics at the Queensland University of Technology to explain this and as a result, have developed an assessment which measures how adaptable you are to ambiguity and uncertainty. This gives us a starting point to then work with people so they can better adapt to ambiguity.

Change2020’s research was able to identify the essential traits and behaviours that those in the top 10 per cent for tolerance to ambiguity practice which enables them to step towards the disruptions and uncertainties and make decisions, solve problems and carve a way forward.   

The good news is, we can all get better at dealing with change and uncertainty. We run coaching sessions to help individuals build their skills in this area. 

Q; Quote to live by?

In the end, we only regret the choices we didn’t take.