Member in Focus- Jane Fetherstonhaugh

This week we are talking to Jane Fetherstonhaugh, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the Grant District Council.
Who is Jane?
I grew up on a farm at Kalangadoo and attended the local primary school and Tenison College before completing my secondary schooling in Adelaide.  After getting married I moved to Western Australia were my two girls were born.  We lived in a few different rural areas in the Wheatbelt and South West before moving back to South Australia after 20 years in WA.  My husband and I run a small beef and sheep property back in my hometown of Kalangadoo and enjoy being involved in the local community
2/ What are your main professional areas/jobs you have worked in over the years?
I have worked in management positions in two rural shires in Western Australia over a period of 12 years.  Predominately in finance roles, but working in smaller councils gave me the opportunity to learn about all aspects of local government.
I spent 2 years in private enterprise before moving back to South Australia.  In 2007 after moving back home I had a short stint as Corporate Services Manager with the South East NRM Board before I commenced as Deputy CEO at the District Council of Grant where I have been for the past 11 and a half years.
3/ What is your biggest challenge you have faced professionally or personally?
There have been allot of challenges along the way but perhaps the most significant challenge was managing my work life balance.  Working full-time, studying part-time with a young family, no extended family support and a FIFO husband certainly had its challenges.  What I learned is that success doesn’t depend on the amount of time you spend at work, but the quality of time you put in.
I believe a balanced life is essential, and I try to make sure that all of our employees know that and live that way.  Of course it would have made everything a whole lot easier if I had a wife – someone to keep all the balls in the air, a brilliant multi-tasker who ensures that everything is remembered and taken care of!
4/ What helped the most with your Leadership Journey?
One of my goals was to complete my MBA by the time I was 40 and I got there with 18 months to spare.  After completing my MBA I was looking for some kind of face to face leadership training to cement my learning’s and was lucky enough to get a scholarship to the Leadership WA program.  This was an experiential leadership development program, the structure is based on a part time, year long sequence of sessions, events and activities where you hear from some really high profile people on all sorts of current issues.  It was a full on 12 months but extremely worthwhile and got to mix with an amazingly interesting and engaging group of highly experienced leaders from across the community.
That exposure to such a rich diversity of leaders gave me greater confidence and maturity, clearer focus and provided a range of experiences that I would never have been exposed to without the benefit of participating in the program.
5/ What is your favourite place to visit in the Limestone Coast & Western Victoria area?
I have many fond childhood memories of summer holidays at Robe spent fishing, swimming, sailing, surfing and hanging out at the “Fun Parlour”.
6/ What motivates you?
What do you find most interesting or exciting about working in local government?

I am passionate about the regions and enjoy working at the grass roots level of the community.  I have always worked in rural areas and enjoy the development and implementation of community related projects across council.
I really enjoy the interaction with my staff and get a lot of satisfaction from seeing them develop both personally and professionally.  I also love the variety.  With such a diverse role, there are always new issues to be solved – usually with limited resources. 
7/ What are some of your recommendations for our members to focus on/ take away?

  • Don’t work long hours just for the sake of it. I’m quite happy to leave the office just after 5pm on most days and encourage my staff not to stay back  – what is the worst thing that could happen if something doesn’t get finished until tomorrow?
  • Don’t take things to heart – you will get some criticism along the way and this is quite normal – don’t dwell on it or let it get to you – just take it on board and move on
  • Put yourself in others shoes (Emotional Intelligence) and don’t worry about things that are out of your control
  • Believe in yourself and take chances – of all the jobs I have applied for and been successful in I haven’t been able to tick all of the boxes in the selection criteria. Women are their own worst enemies – we are less inclined to take risks – there is a lot of evidence that women don’t put themselves up for promotion unless they can tick every box in the selection criteria, whereas men will have a go with fewer skills and qualifications
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate – Delegating empowers your team, builds trust, and assists with professional development.
  • There’s also a bit of hard work involved. Education is crucial and I found that once I completed my MBA, doors opened for me – so make the most of Education, professional development & networking – get your name out there and create a profile.  This may mean putting yourself out of your comfort zone. 
  • always be truthful and admit when you are wrong
  • Most important – Leave time for family and friends and don’t let work rule your life. You can be so busy chasing after success that you forget to put people first.
  • And finally, be the kind of leader that you would want to follow

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